“As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged him earnestly that he might remain with him. Jesus did not let him but told him, ‘Go home to your own people, and report to them how much the Lord has done for you and how he has had mercy on you.’ So he went out and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and they were all amazed.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
I was a band nerd in high school. A proud one at that. And this was a good thing too. The community in the band was remarkable. This was mostly thanks to our absolutely outstanding director. Every year there were some excellent senior leaders whose departure left all the underclassmen weepy for weeks. This was especially true my sophomore year. That particular class of seniors that year was just special. We all wanted nothing so much as to see them stay for another year. But they couldn’t. When Jesus was preparing to leave the place where He had healed the demon-possessed man, he begged Him to stay, but He couldn’t. What He left him to do instead is a reminder for us of what we’re supposed to be doing as well.
When word began to spread around the region of the Gerasenes about what had happened with this demon-possessed man and the pigs, folks came to see for themselves. We imagine them coming in anger about the loss of the pigs, but as we talked about yesterday, that wasn’t really a concern of theirs. Instead, their first concern was that this Jesus had power over evil spirits. In their minds, this meant He was a divine figure with the attendant powers. This terrified them. And think about why. They were afraid of the powers that had been possessing this man and Jesus had demonstrated His own powers were even greater. You don’t fear first the powers that intimidate you; you fear the powers that intimidate them. Jesus had those powers. And He terrified them.
That’s why they begged Him to leave. They were afraid that if He had that amount of power, while it may have been used to their benefit this time, next time it might be directed against them. We tend to fear things we don’t understand, especially when it is a powerful thing we don’t understand. Jesus checked this particular box with a thick, bold, black marker. So they begged Him to go.
And, true to His character, Jesus acquiesced. He wasn’t in the business of forcing Himself on anyone. If they were this frightened of Him, they weren’t really going to listen to what He had to say anyway. Jesus wanted to love people into His kingdom, not scare them in. So He left.
Yet while nearly everyone was relieved at Jesus’ departure, one man was not: the man who was healed. He knew there was nothing for him in this community. His structures of support had been destroyed by his possession. No one trusted him. They definitely weren’t going to let him into their homes. He had no one and nothing there any longer. He wanted to go with Jesus. Jesus had saved his life and cultural expectation then would have had the man remain with Jesus until he could repay this incredible debt of honor. So he begged Jesus to take him with the group as they were leaving. But Jesus refused.
Instead, Jesus left the man there with instructions: Go and tell everybody what you have experienced; go and tell them what the Lord has done for you. Now, we hear that with a context. This man really didn’t have that. All he knew was that this man named Jesus had saved him. He had restored his soul. He had revived his honor. He had made him well again. All he had was his story. There weren’t Scriptures. There weren’t apologetic methods. There weren’t tracts laying out the Gospel in clear terms. Just his story. That’s all he needed. Jesus was sending him to tell his story.
Let’s be clear: This was no small task. All the reasons the man wanted to go with Jesus and not stay there were still in force. Jesus was not leaving him in an easy situation. There were going to be innumerable hardships and challenges he was going to have to struggle through. It was going to take a lot of time and effort to get people to trust him again. Seeing his basic needs met was going to be a challenge. But his work was vital. He was going to be able to share the good news of what Jesus had done for him in a way Jesus could not have done. Remember: they were terrified of Jesus. They were probably scared of this man too, but he was one of them in a way Jesus was not and so they would be willing to at least hear what he had to say.
This man’s experience should resonate with us. Why? Well, probably not because we’ve had multiple demons exorcised from our bodies. But, if you’ve had a transformational experience with Jesus and you’re still around today, that means you didn’t get to be with Him right away. He’s still there and you’re still here. He’s with you in the person of the Holy Spirit, but you can’t see Him. You don’t have Him standing there to give you the confidence of His physical presence. He’s left you transformed and where you were before He saved you. But He hasn’t just left you there; He’s left you there with a task to do: share your story.
That’s the call Jesus has on your life. If you’ve been saved, you’ve been called and sent to share your story. That’s your first and best apologetic. That’s the one you know better than any other. No one can question it either. It is your story. Your story to share. Your story that you must share. If Jesus has changed your life, your task is to tell someone else about it. As for why and what that will accomplish…the answer to that question will come soon. Stay tuned. For now, share your story. Somebody’s life depends on it.