Today’s full story is found in Mark 5:1-20, Luke 8:26-39, and Matthew 8:28-34.
In all three gospels, the encounter I’ll talk about took place after Jesus unsettled his disciples by instantly calming a storm while they crossed the Sea of Galilee.
After that awesome manifestation of Jesus’ power, they disembarked in the Decapolis (Gentile region of the Gerasenes) where they met a demon-possessed man who:
…lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones. Mark 5:3-5 NIV
A few more details emerge in Luke 8:27-29 NIV:
,,,, For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house…When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don’t torture me!” For Jesus had commanded the impure spirit to come out of the man.
Later in the narrative we find this man was possessed by approximately two thousand evil spirits who begged Jesus to cast them into a herd of roughly as many pigs. After Jesus cast them into the pigs, the animals plummeted to their death over a cliff into the sea (Mark 5:13).
To me, Jesus’ instant calming of the storm and instant mastery over more than two thousand demons are “totally awesome” acts – ones only God can accomplish.
Now here are the responses to Jesus’ mastery over demons in Mark 5:14-20 NIV:
Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man—and told about the pigs as well. Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.
As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.
The focus of this week’s sermon has been encounters with Jesus that lead to next steps. So let’s recap:
First, the swineherds hurried to report their catastrophic loss of livestock to city authorities and other townspeople.
Second, the first responder citizens and authorities became fearful and pleaded with Jesus to leave the area.
Third, the formerly deranged man begged Jesus to whisk him out of town too.
Shockingly, Jesus fulfills only the demand of the townspeople and tells the newly restored man to go back home and tell everyone about his marvelous encounter with Jesus. My inner, amateur counselor ramps up to high alert. This vulnerable man’s hometown is probably very unsafe – the place where his demonic issues started. Please, Jesus…take him with you!
Here’s what happened though:
So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed. – Mark 5:20 NIV
Which of these next steps after seeing Jesus’ mastery over demons (and other colossal storms of life) do you normally favor:
Appealing to other humans for their expertise?
Limiting your exposure to unusual aspects of Jesus’ ministry in your life experience?
Fearing what Jesus’ continued intervention might do to your status quo?
Desiring to escape into a safe space with Jesus?
Or, telling the potentially scary people around you about the “totally awesome” things Jesus has done for you – “Celebrating (your) Recovery” as the restored man did?
Meditate on these two amazing stories displaying Jesus’ power. Relate them to a situation you or someone close to you may now be facing and ask him to intervene.