The other side

The original word used to refer to God’s people, “Hebrew” was an ethnic term that referred to “a diverse mixture of nomadic wanderers or at least those who appeared to have at one time been nomadic” (5680).  The term Hebrew or Eberite is derived from the word ‘eber (ay’-ber). “When speaking of rivers or seas, ‘eber means the ‘edge or side opposite the speaker’ or ‘the other side'” (5676). The word ‘eber is derived from the Hebrew word abar (aw-bar’) which means “to cross over” (5674). This word can be found throughout the Old Testament of the Bible in conjunction with major events that occurred in the lives of Abraham’s descendants, primarily before they settled in the Promised Land. The Hebrew word abar communicated the idea of transgression, or crossing over the boundary of right and entering the forbidden land of wrong. An example of this was when Jacob “crossed over” the Euphrates to escape Laban (Genesis 31:21).

After concluding his detailed teaching about the kingdom of heaven (Mark 4:1-34), Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us pass over unto the other side” (Mark 4:35). Upon reaching the opposite shore of the sea of Galilee, Jesus was met by a man possessed by a demonic spirit who referred to himself as Legion. This seems to suggest that the territory known as the Decapolis was associated with sinful behavior and may have been considered off-limits to people that were obedient to God’s commandments. If so, the fact that Jesus directed his disciples to go to this god-forsaken location seems to suggest that he wanted them to see what was going on there. Most likely, the reason for their visit to the country of the Gadarenes was so that Jesus’ disciples could see him exercise his authority over Satan’s army because, like their ancestors,’ his disciples would have to conquer these enemies in order to occupy the Promised Land, a.k.a. the kingdom of heaven.

While their ship was crossing the sea, it says in Mark 4:37, “there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full.” In spite of the sudden violent gust of wind and the torrential rains that accompanied it, Mark indicated in his account of the incident that Jesus was asleep on a pillow in the hinder part of the ship (Mark 4:38). Jesus’ disciples had to physically arouse him from his peaceful slumber and then, in a panic asked him, “Master, carest thou not that we perish” (Mark 4:38). The Greek word translated perish, apollumi doesn’t refer to death, but what is often associated with death; ruin, the loss of well-being. In other words, the disciples were suggesting that Satan could ruin their trip in order to stop them from doing damage to his kingdom. After rebuking the wind and telling the sea to be still, Jesus asked his disciples, “Why are ye so fearful? how is it that you have no faith” (Mark 4:40). His point being that they hadn’t even made it to the other side yet, and his disciples were ready to concede to their enemy.

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