It’s been 50 years since Bob Dylan first sang about “changin’ times” with our reluctance to take risks and embrace change, instead opting for the old and familiar.
Our Scripture reading today, Luke 8:26-39, tells the story of a madman who hadn’t worn clothes in a long time and lived in a cemetery in the pagan countryside around Galilee. He had been under the influence of many demons, but Jesus ordered them all to leave the man and cast the demons into some pigs. The pigs became crazed and drowned after throwing themselves over a cliff and the man was cured.
The pig-herders were frightened and went into town to tell the story of what they had seen. Other people from the village found the healed man, sitting at Jesus’ feet, wearing decent clothes and making sense.
This is where the story turns. For a short time the people were reverent and curious, but instead of embracing Jesus and his healing power, they were scared to death: it was too much change, too fast and they didn’t know what to make of it.
So they asked Jesus to leave, and He did. They had a chance to be healed, too, but they turned it down.
What was the difference? The demon-possessed man was willing to admit his brokenness and his desire to be healed but his neighbors preferred their status in society. As pig-herders they were businessmen, but now that their pigs were gone they were no better than the man from the cemetery. They didn’t want to take a chance on inner healing and relying on God, they wanted their pigs back and their superior status to those less fortunate. They were afraid that if they followed Jesus, the little they had would be taken away.
In his song, Bob Dylan asks people to give up their status quo and be willing to change. As the kingdom of heaven is breaking in, our world will be as Jesus described:
- For the loser now will be later to win
- For he who gets hurt will be he who has stalled
- The slow one now will be later fast
Just as the lowly demon-possessed man was changed into a disciple of God, all those who are willing to change are called to “preach all over town everything Jesus has done in us.”
Are you willing to change?
The Times They Are A-Changin
(video of Bob Dylan below)
(click below for MP3 file of this post)