“And when He got into the boat, he who had been demon-possessed begged Him that he might be with Him” Mark 5-18
“Jesus did not permit him but said to him, ‘Go home to your friends and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you.” Mark 5-19
I can certainly understand and agree with John’s conceptualization at the end of his gospel that there are not enough books to contain the things that Jesus did and accomplished during His short time on this earth. Although I am constantly amazed, I shouldn’t be concerning the incredible amount of grace and spiritual/life education that is derived from each of Jesus Christ’s actions.
Take for instance the healing of the demoniac among the tombs and the herd of pigs. We could focus on the world trying to heal or at the very least detain and deal with the forces of evil to no avail. We could focus on the world’s fear of the man and Christ’s complete lack of it. We could talk about the power of the healing itself. We could learn from the instant recognition by the demonic legion of Jesus Christ as the Son of God. Orrrr, we could even investigate the seeming grace of Jesus Christ in granting the desperate request of the demons to leave the man and enter into the pigs. All those things are worthy of our deeper exposition.
Yet, in this post, I want to focus on the interaction at the end of the story. I want to explore Christ’s understanding of the “big picture” and how He uses the man (and will use us as well) to best fulfill Our Heavenly Father’s Plan of love, mercy and grace. So here goes….
First, the man was definitely healed. Mark tells us that when the people of the city came out after the report of the herd of pigs running into the sea, they found the man, clothed and in his right mind, sitting with Jesus. We don’t know how long the man had been demon possessed but it was long enough that people of the adjoining area had tried several times to subdue him, but to no avail.
Second, we are told that the people of the surrounding town witnessed the dead herd of swine as well as this man, now healed and they reacted in fear. It is interesting that no one came forward to acknowledge and greet the now healed man or express pleasure in his healing. Instead, witnessing the power of God come to earth, the carnage of the herd of pigs, the unearthly healing of the man they had written off; they pleaded with Jesus Christ to depart from them. Jesus agrees to do so.
So if you or I had been the man, having experienced the miraculous power, mercy and grace of Jesus Christ in our own being; what would have been our response? I believe we would have been extremely grateful. I also believe, like the man, when we saw our Savior leaving us; we would have been greatly moved with desire to continue to be with Him; to follow Him, to serve or repay Him. In our hearts we might feel that the only way to repay His healing, also understanding that we had a debt of servitude is to be right there at His side, to accomplish any task He would have for us.
However, then Jesus steps in. The man pleads with Jesus to allow him to follow Jesus; but what does Jesus see. This is the region of Decapolis, that is ten cities, 10 CITIES; ten cities of population, ten cities of lost lambs needing His Salvation. Jesus also realized that the populations of these cities might not be so open to hearing His message of the Kingdom of God and the wonderful fruits that come from following Christ. After all, they had just witnessed an amazingly disturbing scene of miraculous healing and swine death. As the previously possessed man was scary, now Jesus Christ was just as scary. However, Christ does not want to leave these people alone in their fear. Jesus does not want them to be ignorant of the graceful plan of salvation that their Heavenly Father has for them. So, Jesus sends the, now healed man to them. His mission for the man was a straight forward one; tell about the compassion that you have experienced through the Lord.
Straight forward yes, but was it easy. I find it interesting that Jesus Christ uses the description, “friends” when telling the man who to go to. I find it interesting because these were the same “friends” who had tried to seize him and put him in chains. Do “friends” leave you to live among the tombs and smash rocks into your head? No one would blame the man for wondering what reception he was going to receive when he went back to his home.
Yet the man did go. The man followed the call of Christ by not physically following where Christ was, but following the command of Christ to carry out his appointed mission. Thus again, we come to you and I. If you have continued to read to this point, something tells me that you, like I, proclaim that you are a follower of Christ. What I have to constantly reflect concerning myself is; on the basis of whose terms do I define “following Christ”. I think we must be careful to ask ourselves, are we following Christ based on our own desires; our own definition of what following Christ is? How would we know?
Dear Sisters and Brothers; we have God given talents. And like the story of the three servants, God does not want us to “bury” our talents, either by not using them at all or only using them as we deem fit. Jesus Christ has also promised us the Holy Spirit, who will dwell within us. Part of what the Holy Spirit will do for us is to reveal to us how we are best to serve Our Heavenly Father. We may want to push back. We may disagree. Yet, whatever our misgivings, let us never get the point where we refuse to go. Never let us decide that it is our way or the highway as far as deciding what proper following is. For that highway is wide and will lead to our destruction. Let us be open to the guiding of Jesus Christ. Let us desire to serve and follow as Jesus Christ would have us follow. In so doing, not only is there the promise of blessings, joy and peace for us; but also the spreading of joy, blessings and peace to others along with the message of Salvation through Jesus Christ.
Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, may it be that we long to follow You. Thus we call on You to pour out Your Holy Spirit upon us that we might be truly led to know how You want us to follow You. Forgive us when we are tempted to decide for ourselves what following looks like, refusing to humble ourselves in Your service. Allow that in our following You, we might share the Good News, of Your Love and Salvation to a world so in need of both. In the Name of Jesus Christ we pray. Amen