Last Wednesday night I had the opportunity to sit in on a bible study taking place in my church. They were reading through Mark 1 & came upon the story where Jesus delivers a demon out of an unruly man in the synagogue.
Entering Capernaum upon the Sabbath, Jesus & his followers went to a synagogue where Jesus began teaching. While many were amazed by the authority & wisdom for which he spoke, one man became indignant, shouting & rebuking Jesus’ teaching saying, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” Stopping him, Jesus exclaimed back in a laud voice, “Be silent & come out of him!” Immediately the evil spirit left the man & all were amazed.
It’s a great little story that offers many insights but, I couldn’t help reflect differently on it after watching the video clip with the group a few seconds later. Showing a large group of Jewish men in a crowded room, the character of Jesus stood up & was teaching. Then off to the side of him a crippled & deformed man burst out at him. After Jesus then cast the demon out of him, the man became normal & all evidence of him being crippled or deformed has disappeared.
Our small group was then asked, “What did you think of the video?” In honesty, I couldn’t get past the depiction of the man being crippled & deformed. No where in the passage does it say that he was in such a state & even in his outburst, he seemed fluent & clear voiced. So why does it seem like all media & social expectations of demonization project it as a disability or physical disfigurement?!
It is reported that approximately 3.8 million people in Canada have a recognized disability. That’s one in every seven Canadians struggling with a physical or mental challenge of some sort. Are we to believe that this is a statistical recognition of demonized individuals in our country?! Common people!
Several years ago I remember listening to a song Eagle Eye Cherry performed called Rainbow Wings. It starts out very pointedly, “I met the devil in disguise, With his rainbow wings and a pack of lies.” It resonated with me as I recognized, the very nature of demonization is not grotesque to the senses but rather attractive & drawing. How else can we find ourselves in temptation?
All this to say that we need a more realistic perspective to what the demonic is & how it is projected in our culture & media. As a person who struggles with the challenges of life in a wheelchair myself, I think the images of physical disability should be cast in the light & narratives of inspiration & not that which is meant to be rejected & cast out.