Redemption not Rejection



Sometimes, we read the stories of Jesus’ miracles, and we forget that inside the stories are people.  Real people, who lived in real moments in time.  These things actually happened.  So when we read these 2000 year old stories, we would do well to use our minds and imaginations to think about what’s really happening in these scenes.

 

So they arrived in the region of the Gerasenes, across the lake from Galilee. As Jesus was climbing out of the boat, a man who was possessed by demons came out to meet him.   First of all…the scene here.  Gerasenes, across the lake from Galilee.   Sounds like a hop, skip and a jump.  But, some lakes are larger than others, this is actually 8 miles across the water, and worlds apart culturally for Galilee.

Second – the demon possessed man.  This is what I want to focus on.  All it says here is a man possessed by demons came out to meet him.  We don’t know his name.  We don’t know his story.  We just know he was demon-possessed and not in his right mind.  

 

For a long time he had been homeless and naked, living in a cemetery outside the town. As soon as he saw Jesus, he shrieked and fell down in front of him. Then he screamed, “Why are you interfering with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?    Now we know more about this man.  Not only is he demon possessed, but he’s been living homeless and naked on the outside of town.   Like I said, not in his right mind.  He’s probably the town joke.  He probably would have been the town scapegoat.  Anything that went wrong – blame that guy.  We still do this.  Something missing from the garage?  Blame the homeless guy up the street, right!   Anything that goes wrong, we like to have somebody to pin it on.  Lose my job?  Blame the President!   Miss a couple of days at work because I’m sick?  Blame my sister in laws sniffling kids!

Have you ever been identified by your weakness or defect?   Do you know people who are?   Do you know Jon the drug addict, Scott the pill popper?  Kenny the thief, Brittney the stripper?   Remember Otis the drunk from Andy Griffith.  How often do we define people by their weakness and character defects?   This guy is Demon Possessed, the town crazy man! 

 

Please, I beg you, don’t torture me!” For Jesus had already commanded the evil spirit to come out of him. This spirit had often taken control of the man. Even when he was placed under guard and put in chains and shackles, he simply broke them and rushed out into the wilderness, completely under the demon’s power.   How often do we see someone resist the call of Christ when they are first introduced?  Do you ever wonder what this guy’s story is?  Rejected, maligned, and outcast.  Living under guard and in chains and shackles…when they could actually hold him.  Where did he come from?  Who were his parents?  What happened to his family?  We read this and it seems like he did not exist before this meeting with Jesus, but there is a whole life story here.  Imagine the hurt he’s felt in his life, the abandonment, the betrayal.  No wonder he resists the call of Christ!!!!

 

Jesus demanded, “What is your name?” “Legion,” he replied, for he was filled with many demons.  Guess what?  I don’t think “Legion” was really his name!!!  I wonder what his name really is?  He’s been out in the wilderness, on the edge of town, that he’s lost all sense of who he really is.  I think this guy and his story are what the Celebrate Recovery ministry is all about, so that’s what I’ll call him – “CR”.  

 

The demons kept begging Jesus not to send them into the bottomless pit. There happened to be a large herd of pigs feeding on the hillside nearby, and the demons begged him to let them enter into the pigs. So Jesus gave them permission. Then the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the entire herd plunged down the steep hillside into the lake and drowned.   God showing up and showing off!!  The demons who had defined this man left his body, with Jesus’ permission, and entered the horde of pigs nearby, according to the Gospel of Mark a herd of about 2000.   He expelled these demons simply by word.  What power exercised by the Son of God here – the power to command demons!   Do not fail to notice that the demons instantly recognized He had this power…

 

When the herdsmen saw it, they fled to the nearby town and the surrounding countryside, spreading the news as they ran. People rushed out to see what had happened. A crowd soon gathered around Jesus, and they saw the man who had been freed from the demons. He was sitting at Jesus’ feet, fully clothed and perfectly sane, and they were all afraid.  The Good News of Jesus spreads quickly after a real life miracle!!!   The people come running, and what do they find??  Ol’ CR, fully clothed and restored to sanity by the love of Jesus Christ!!  It doesn’t say who clothed him, or even how he asked for the clothes, just that he is fully clothed and restored.  So now, he’s not just “demon possessed” – he’s CR – believer in Jesus Christ, formerly demon possessed!  And some of those who knew him were spooked…

 

Then those who had seen what happened told the others how the demon-possessed man had been healed. And all the people in the region of the Gerasenes begged Jesus to go away and leave them alone, for a great wave of fear swept over them.   Not everyone appreciates a supernatural healing right in their faces!!  It was probably comforting to them to have Mr CR in his role as Mr Demon Possessed.  It made them feel better about themselves.  No matter how far short they fall, at least they could point to him, and know that they weren’t really so bad.   Not only that, they had probably just suffered an economic loss with those pigs that went over the cliff.  So, really, who could blame them?  Nobody like Jesus THAT MUCH even today!!

 

So Jesus returned to the boat and left, crossing back to the other side of the lake. The man who had been freed from the demons begged to go with him. But Jesus sent him home, saying, “No, go back to your family, and tell them everything God has done for you.” So he went all through the town proclaiming the great things Jesus had done for him.  Jesus doesn’t force us to accept Him, even today.  Just like the people of Gerasenes, we can reject Him, and He will go away.  But He will always be there, waiting for us to accept His invitation.   That is why, outside of the 12, He always seems to send those who want to follow Him away with the same instructions – “tell them everything God has done for you”.   The same instructions he gave CR.  So he went all through the town proclaiming the great things Jesus had done for him.  So, demon possessed has a new identity.  He’s back in his right mind.  He wants to be a follower of Jesus.  He IS a follower of Jesus.  Not only is he a faithful believer, he has gone from being demon possessed to being a PREACHER of the Good News of Jesus Christ!!   A true story of redemption!!  That’s what CR is all about!!   That’s what Jesus is all about.  And, that’s what Christianity itself is supposed to be about.  Redemption, not rejection.

“So they arrived in the region of the Gerasenes, across the lake from Galilee. As Jesus was climbing out of the boat, a man who was possessed by demons came out to meet him. For a long time he had been homeless and naked, living in a cemetery outside the town. As soon as he saw Jesus, he shrieked and fell down in front of him. Then he screamed, “Why are you interfering with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Please, I beg you, don’t torture me!” For Jesus had already commanded the evil spirit to come out of him. This spirit had often taken control of the man. Even when he was placed under guard and put in chains and shackles, he simply broke them and rushed out into the wilderness, completely under the demon’s power. Jesus demanded, “What is your name?” “Legion,” he replied, for he was filled with many demons. The demons kept begging Jesus not to send them into the bottomless pit. There happened to be a large herd of pigs feeding on the hillside nearby, and the demons begged him to let them enter into the pigs. So Jesus gave them permission. Then the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the entire herd plunged down the steep hillside into the lake and drowned. When the herdsmen saw it, they fled to the nearby town and the surrounding countryside, spreading the news as they ran. People rushed out to see what had happened. A crowd soon gathered around Jesus, and they saw the man who had been freed from the demons. He was sitting at Jesus’ feet, fully clothed and perfectly sane, and they were all afraid. Then those who had seen what happened told the others how the demon-possessed man had been healed. And all the people in the region of the Gerasenes begged Jesus to go away and leave them alone, for a great wave of fear swept over them. So Jesus returned to the boat and left, crossing back to the other side of the lake. The man who had been freed from the demons begged to go with him. But Jesus sent him home, saying, “No, go back to your family, and tell them everything God has done for you.” So he went all through the town proclaiming the great things Jesus had done for him.”

 

http://bible.com/116/luk.8.26-39.nlt


John Lewis

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5 thoughts on “Redemption not Rejection

  1. Thank you very much for the kind words!! I agree, we are way too detached from the stories in the bible. I think in a way it’s intentional, then we don’t have to see how much of ourselves is reflected in what we read. We want to pick and choose what we apply to our own lives, staying detached helps us do that…

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