How good are we at obeying Jesus’ instruction to “tell how much God has done for you”?
Luke 8:26-39 (focusing on 34-39)
26 They sailed to the region of the Gerasenes, which is across the lake from Galilee. 27 When Jesus stepped ashore, he was met by a demon-possessed man from the town. For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs. 28 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!” 29 For Jesus had commanded the impure spirit to come out of the man. Many times it had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and had been driven by the demon into solitary places.
30 Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”
“Legion,” he replied, because many demons had gone into him. 31 And they begged Jesus repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss.
32 A large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside. The demons begged Jesus to let them go into the pigs, and he gave them permission.33 When the demons came out of the man, they went into the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.
34 When those tending the pigs saw what had happened, they ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, 35 and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus’ feet, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. 36 Those who had seen it told the people how the demon-possessed man had been cured. 37 Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear. So he got into the boat and left.
38 The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39 “Return home and tell how much God has done for you.” So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him.
How many of us struggle with obeying instructions? Whether the instructor is a parent offering advice to a child, a teacher allocating homework, or an IKEA Assembly Sheet, we have all encountered instructions at some point that we are expected to follow. Some of us may be very good at doing this, while the rest of us are not so good. In today’s passage, Jesus gives a very clear instruction.
This passage tells us of the powerful and life-changing healing that Jesus gives to a man that has been possessed by a multitude of demons for many years. When news of this miraculous event had spread through the town, people came to see the cured man and found him sitting at the feet of Jesus. He was dressed and of a sound mind. Once, strong chains could not contain him, but now these people were witnesses to him willingly humbling himself to Jesus’ authority. And this made them afraid! It made them so fearful that they asked Jesus to leave them. He did.
This reaction has always seemed puzzling to me. Why would they be afraid? After all, this man who had for so long lived a tortured life was no longer possessed by evil spirits. I would expect that the people might take comfort, and even joy, in this and give praise to God for this profound miracle. This man who had been on the outside of the society and had scared people was no longer a threat to them. This was no emotion driven hoax, they had been direct witnesses to the events and knew that it was true. There could be no doubt that Jesus worked a miracle and has astonishing power to go with his claim to be the Son of God.
It makes me wonder what really made them so afraid. Perhaps they were afraid of Jesus power and authority and of submitting themselves to him? Perhaps their hearts were hard and were unwilling to yield to a greater authority? Perhaps they are just like the rocky soil in which the good news cannot grow. Do we at times harden our hearts still? Are we reluctant to submit to and obey Jesus instruction to us to share with others how Jesus has released us from the power of the evil one? In contrast, the man who has been healed hears Jesus’ words and acts on them. He is like the good ground, the ones who having heard the word with an honest and good heart, hold on to it and by enduring, produce fruit (Luke 8:15). Like the healed man, are we willing to obey the instruction given by Jesus to “return home and tell how much God has done for you”?
I trust that today we both know what we have been freed from – the evil one and that we also follow Jesus’ instruction to us and share with our City all that he has done for us.
Head: Am I prepared to obey the call of Jesus or do I just want to go my own way?
Heart: Do I need to soften my heart so that I be more like the good soil that produces fruit.
Hands: Consider how I might take hold of opportunities to share all that God has done for me with those around me this day.
Heavenly father we pray that you would guide us in each moment of our days and remind us that you are not only all powerful but have rescued and called us, like the man who was demon possessed, to share what you have done for us with the world. Help us to be obedient to the call you have made on our lives and to live a life of obedience and purpose.
A song to listen to: It Is Well
Sharon Mensforth- Creek Road Presbyterian Church- Carina