The Demoniac, Part 4—Valuing a Human Life | Mark 5:13
So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the pigs; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the sea.
One of the trends within Evangelicalism of late is animal activism. It’s true Scripture that teaches proper stewardship this world, and that those who lack empathy for other living creatures become cruel beasts themselves (cf. Pv 12:10). Even so, we must also affirm the principle of the imago dei of man—that human beings bear the image of God universally and uniquely. These principles come to bear in this account.
Jesus knew that the spirits wanted to remain for their own nefarious purposes. These wicked spirits begged Him in v. 10 not to send them out of the country, screeching with disrespect all the while. So, their request to remain in the country and go into the herd of pigs would seem to indicate they sought to somehow further interfere with Christ’s work. That the people then asked Jesus to leave the area (v. 17) evidenced the demons’ success.
Jesus cared more for the demonized man than the swine. It’s not that Jesus didn’t care for this expensive herd of animals. God notices all His creatures, and Jesus said, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father” (Mt 10:29). Even so, God knows the number of hairs on a man’s head because he’s “of more value than many sparrows” (vv. 30–31). This man endured torment from these demons—and Jesus came to set him free, even at the cost of a couple thousand pigs.
Know the love of God and how He values you—He laid down His life for you (not an animal). That should motivate you to do the same (1 Jn 3:16–18), and you can know you’ve been converted by the love of God because of your love for fellow believers (v. 14). Indeed, His love extends through you should extend to all people, because we all bear the likeness of God (cf. Js 3:9–10). Jesus values human life so much that He came to set those captive to sin and Satan free, for God is love (1 Jn 4:8).