The Healing of a Demon-possessed Man
1 They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. 2 When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an evil spirit came from the tombs to meet him. 3 This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him any more, not even with a chain. 4 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. 5 Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.
6 When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. 7 He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won’t torture me!” 8 For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you evil spirit!”
9 Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”
“My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” 10 And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area.
11 A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. 12 The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.” 13 He gave them permission, and the evil spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.
14 Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. 15 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. 16 Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man—and told about the pigs as well. 17 Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.
18 As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. 19 Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” 20 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.
“Waste Of My Time”
(The description is long, but worth it!)
This passage makes more sense when you look at what preceded it. In previous chapters, we see that large crowds are following Jesus because of his teachings and miracles, and chapter 4 is an account of the teachings he provided this large crowd. Now, I imagine that this was quite fulfilling time for Jesus – having all these people following him, learning about the kingdom – seems like a blessed and effective use of his time, doesn’t it?
But then he abruptly tells the disciples at the end of chapter 4, let’s go over to the other side. I’m sure his disciples must have been confused, because after all, they are doing such great ministry here with all these thousands of people! They must have been curious as to why Jesus would want to do this…maybe to meet more people, minister to tens of thousands! And to boot, they cross during a huge storm, risking their own lives!
And the purpose is revealed here in this passage: they left those thousands of followers behind to meet this completely solitary, self-mutilating, demon possessed man. Immediately, I think to myself that this is a waste of Jesus’ time, ministering to this ONE man who is a total lost cause. But Jesus does not turn back, but frees this man from demonic possession, and tells him to testify to God’s power.
And here’s where it gets interesting – the man then goes to the Decapolis, the intersecting point of 10 major cities, and tells everyone his incredible story. If we say there were 10,000 people in each of those cities, that would mean that he could tell 100,000 people of Jesus’ compassion and power, far more than the crowds that followed Christ on the other side of the sea. What seemed like a waste of time was in fact, an investment of time. What can we take away from this?
– Jesus focuses on individuals: In your life and ministry, focus not on numbers but on individuals. The change you bring about in one person’s life may become a powerful testimony to many more people in the end.
– Jesus does not believe in “lost causes” – never label anyone as a lost cause, unusable or un-redeemable by God. Even the most unattractive and unlikable can be transformed, and used to great effect!
– Jesus has no comfort zones – he crosses a raging sea to confront a man who is known to be extremely dangerous. He has no boundaries when it comes to ministering to others. We need to do the same, be willing to sacrifice and get out of our comfort zones to help others.
– Jesus feels this way about you – all of the above points apply to everyone…even you. God loves you as an individual, you are a never a lost cause to him, and would spare nothing (not even his Son) to give you the best!
1. Who is one individual that you think God is calling you to minister to?
2. Who is one “lost cause” type of person that God is calling you to pay special attention to?
3. What is the main thing you are unwilling to sacrifice when it comes to helping and ministering to others?
4. In regards to yourself and how you think God views you, which of the above is hardest to remember?