The Madman of the Decapolis

The view from the Tombs. Sunset on the Sea of Galilee. Photo taken by the author, June 2013.

My name is Kyros. My family is from the Decapolis. My father is a teacher. My brother is a soldier. I was studying to be a teacher as well. Our family is close. We enjoyed good times together. Rome has treated us well. Some of the publicans have asked my father to enter politics. He would be good at that.

My story is simple, really. And, yet, for some reason, many in our region say it is extraordinary. I was a typical kid growing up. Studied hard. Played hard. I guess the turning point in my story starts on a night a few years ago. I was 18 and desired to prove my manliness. One night some of my friends and I hired a slave girl. It was innocent fun at first. But something about it was controlling… even though it was out of control. That first night led to night after night… you know that Rome is known for such wild parties.  It really consumed me… every day I’d make plans for the night….

And then the guilt came… it ripped me up inside, but I tried not to let others see that side of me.  Soon the behavior was controlling me… and the guilt was consuming… something I just could not handle. I would easily fly into fits of rage. My friend Lychas tried to help, but I would tell him to “Shut Up!” and I often followed the verbal abuse with a punch or two.  Then I would feel guilty and ask him to forgive me. Which he would… but then I would engage in more immoral behavior… and feel guilty all over again.

I moved to the tombs.  I found solace in just being alone… and cutting myself. I thought if I punished myself it would make the guilt go away. But it only made things worse. One day Lychas came to visit and this supernatural power came over me. I threw a large bolder at him and almost killed him. My best friend. He brought ten men with him the next time and they chained me up for my own good.  As soon as they left, again this power came over me and I broke the chains and then engaged in more immoral behavior.  I was a mess. Something was inside of me.  No, many things were inside of me. They controlled my feelings. They controlled my thoughts. Yes, they even controlled my actions. I could never get free. My only freedom was found in continuing to fly into fits of rage and hurting myself.

How did I get like this? It drove me mad. Why I was once a decent citizen of the Decapolis. My family was respectable… I was planning to be a teacher, like my dad.  Now, I was Crazy Kyros, the naked mad man of the tombs.

One day, there was this terrible raging storm on the Sea. I loved it! I shouted to the lightening to strike me and it did! And I was filled with power and rage. But then suddenly, in an instant, it got calm… and I saw this small little fishing boat breaking through the mist of what was left of the storm… it came up on shore. There were maybe 8 or 10 people in it.  A man got out and walked right up the hill to see me at the tombs. He asked me my name and the demons in me told him my name was Legions, not Kyros, for there were many of them living inside of me. With compassion in his eyes I had never seen, he commanded the tormentors living inside me to leave. I spoke, but it was not me, nor my voice. “Can we go into those pigs?” There were 2,000 pigs grazing in the fields around the tombs. The man said “yes” and before I knew it I collapsed to the ground and I heard the pigs stampeding over me and over the cliff and drowning in the sea.

I was physically spent, but not sure why. He sat down next to me. He ran his hand through my hair and touched my shoulder. I still cannot put words together to describe the sudden peace I felt. I had no immoral desires any longer. There was no need to hurt myself. There was no rage. There was only peace. I washed myself for the first time in months. He gave me clothes to put on.

Somehow, word spread to town… I think it was the pig shepherds… people came to see me and were very confused. I just felt peaceful.  As he climbed back into the boat, the man told me his name was Yeshua… Jesus. I begged him to let me go with him. But he told me to return to my family and tell them my story.

I did. My first stop was the home of Lychas. He couldn’t believe it was me. Then we ran to my parents’ home. My father also was full of disbelief.  But when my mother entered the room and her eyes caught mine, she smiled and shouted and cried and jumped up and down all at the same time. I told them all about Jesus.

Together, every day now, we start our day by praising the God of Israel. I cannot fully express my thanksgiving to the one I now call Master.

It’s been a year since that day and we have heard that he’s coming back to our town next week. The people are already preparing for his visit. They want to bring the lame and the deaf and the sick to him. I’m sure he will set them all free… just like he did for me.

My interpretation of the story in Mark 5.
(c) 2013. Rich Ronald.

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