Nathan Nettleton, a Baptist minister in Melbourne provides alternative translations of the lectionary texts that are designed to connect with the modern Australian. Here is what he provides for Luke 8:26-39…
Jesus and his followers sailed across Lake Galilee and landed near the town of Gerasa. As they stepped ashore, they were confronted by one of the locals – a dangerous madman who was tormented by demons. For years he had wandered around naked and dirty, and made his home in the graveyard and the rubbish dump outside the town. He had a long history of violent outbursts. On many occasions he had been locked up and straight-jacketed, but each time the demonic torment would drive him into a crazed frenzy and he would smash his way out and flee back into the bush.
When the man saw that Jesus was ordering the vile spirit out of him, he threw himself down on the ground, screaming. “What gives you the right to interfere with my life? You’re Jesus, the Son of the Supreme God. You don’t belong here. Leave me alone. I’ve been tortured enough already.”
“What’s your name,” Jesus asked him.
“They call me ‘the Mob’,” he replied.
He had been given that name because there were so many demons raging within him. The demons began pleading with Jesus not to wipe them off the face of the earth. They begged him to send them only as far as the herd of pigs foraging in a nearby paddock. Jesus agreed, and ordered them out of the man. No sooner was the man free of the torment, than the pigs went berserk, stampeding off the edge of the cliff and drowning in the lake below.
When the farm hands who were in charge of the pigs saw what had happened, they dropped their bundles and bolted. They reported the incident in town, and word of it was soon all over the district. A delegation came out to investigate, and they found the man who had for so long been out of his mind sitting with Jesus and hanging on his every word. It was the first time they’d ever seen him clothed and clear-headed, and the change was so dramatic that it unnerved them. The eye-witnesses filled them in on how the demon-crazed man had come to be healed.
All this was too freaky for the people of the Gerasa district. They were completely spooked by it and asked Jesus to clear off. So he and his followers piled back into the boat and headed for home. The man who had been freed from the demonic torment pleaded with Jesus to let him go with them, but Jesus sent him home, saying, “Move back into town and tell everyone what God has done for you.”
So the man went on his way and never let the townsfolk forget the wonderful things Jesus had done for him.
Nathan’s work is found at http://laughingbird.net