When I hear talk of pigs, three stories come to mind - two fictional and one historical.
- Charlotte's Web by E. B. White
- The Three Little Pigs by James Halliwell-Phillipps
- Jesus Casting out Demons by Matthew (and Mark and Luke)
Focusing on the latter story, I must confess that piece of inspired text puzzles me greatly. I relate to the words of the late Halford Luccock, a professor of homiletics (preaching). He wrote, "This story of Jesus' conjuring the evil spirits into the swine had best be left to the exegetes" (Interpreter's, p 715).
While things turn out pretty well for White's Wilbur and Halliwell-Phillipps' third pig, all the other pigs meet their demise from either the teeth of the Big Bad Wolf or the fall from the Gadarenes region's cliffs.
The fable's less-than-bright pigs teach us the value of diligent work.
But what do the pigs of the Bible bring to our attention? We believe that the answer lies not with the pigs. We fix our focus rather on the two demon-possessed men and then notice the one reaching out to those violence-prone men. There stands Jesus. Jesus sees past the violence and the external and internal filth of the tomb-dwellers and sees two men in need of restoration and love.
I thank God that He continues to see past violence and filth. As the Year of the Pig (whatever that means) begins, recall not the cliff-diving swine; instead, praise the Lord who restores and loves and keeps us from a fate far worse than falling off a bluff.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9 (NIV)
Luccock, Halford E. The Interpreter’s Bible. Ed. George Arthur Buttrick. Vol.7. New York: Abingdon, 1951.