The Case Of The Dead Swine

Posted on February 26, 2007
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pigs-1.jpg What does a herd of pigs have to do with the question of evil?  This evening I was reading about an event that occurred in the life and travels of Jesus Christ that made me think about that question exactly.  The event is reported as true and not just a story trying to make a point.  If so, the case of the dead swine raises some very challenging and important questions about God.  That question is: Who is responsible for the bad things that happen?

In the words of Inigo Montoya (from the movie, The Princess Bride), “Let me explain, No, there is too much. Let me sum up.”  After crossing the lake of Galilee with some of his closest friends and coming ashore in the region of the Gerasenes, Jesus was confronted by a man who was known to be possessed by evil spirits.  Knowing that Jesus had the authority to send them out of the man the evil spirits begged Jesus not to send them far away and instead asked him to send them into a herd of 2000 pigs that happened to be feeding nearby.  At which time Jesus gave them permission to do so and after they entered the pigs, the entire herd ran off a cliff and drowned in the water below.

Sooooo, one might ask, who is responsible for the death of the pigs?  Answering this question is no simple task.  When you think about it there are numerous other questions that come into play which must also be considered.  For example:  What would have happened if Jesus could have, but chose not to do anything about the situation he faced when confronted by the possessed man?  Should he have ignored this man’s plight if he knew what might happen?  Is there a difference between granting permission and causing to happen?  If doing something desirable results in some undesirable outcomes, should that action be taken?  Is the life of one man more valuable than a herd of pigs?  Is there actually evil in the world?  Does God have more power than the forces that challenge him?  If he does and chooses not to prevent them from harmful actions is that wrong?  What would you think if you, or a loved one, were the one possessed?  Would you answer the previous questions any differently?

Think about it some more and you are sure to come up with even more questions raised by this one incident (remember, the questions are not do you believe this happened or is the Bible an accurate record of historical events, those are another set of important questions).  The question is:  Who is responsible for these dead swine?  If you were the judge, how would you sort it out?  Do your answers change your picture of God?


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