Grace, mercy, and peace be
unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,
Is there a spiritual difference
between this demon-possessed man and an unbeliever? The answer is, “No.”
There is no spiritual difference between these two. Both are spiritually
dead, blind, and enemies of God.
Now obviously, one is greatly
more visible before one’s eyes than the typical unbeliever, but both
are the same. Now wouldn’t it be nice if we could see which ones were
unbelievers by their very actions and say, “Ah, now there’s one
we need to evangelize. Oh, there’s one we have in our own fold”?
It’s not so easy.
This is interesting because
this historical account is remarkable in many ways. Jesus leaves the
fairly Jewish region of Galilee and goes across the Sea of Galilee to
an area that was decidedly pagan both in its culture and in its worship.
Going across the Sea of Galilee to evangelize over there and to proclaim
the Good News…we know it is a very pagan region because they kept
pigs. That never would have been done in a Jewish region.
Now note the condition of the
man whom Jesus comes upon. First off, he has no clothes. He has no home.
He lives among the tombs and is driven into the desert by the demons.
And he is not in his right mind because later in the text it says now
he is in right mind. He is demon-possessed.
Merely by seeing the Lord Jesus
does he bow down before Him and cry out both in shame and in fear. Now
an interesting aspect of this text…When he bows down and cries out,
there ensues a conversation and in fact, of all the situations of demons
encountering Jesus, this is the longest conversation by far that’s recorded
in Scripture. But after this great, long conversation, Jesus takes these
unclean spirits, drives them into unclean animals, and sends them into
an unclean death. End of story.
It is really what happens to
the man afterwards. It is really what happened to you at the font. For
if you are in agreement with the initial statement that spiritually,
there is no difference between this demon-possessed man and an unbeliever,
then we have a lot in common with this man. Now granted, we were not
running around without clothes on, although lots of times, little kids
do that a lot around the house.
But Jesus takes what is unclean
and makes it clean. He takes you and me, who have no faith in God, who
are not possessed by God, and cleanses us
and makes us clean, driving out the unbelief and demon, and instilling
Himself in that space and that place of emptiness and makes us clean.
Having cleansed us, He doesn’t
leave us alone and wash His hands of us and say, “Okay, now you’re
on your own. Go and do great things.” He brings great protection
to you and me, for having cleansed us by making that which was unclean,
clean, He clothes us, just as He clothes the man in the great
Paul talks in that epistle
reading about this clothing or raiment that God alone gives.
“For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ
[have been clothed with Christ].” And having been clothed as you
and I have been, after having been cleansed, we are protected by Christ’s
He does not let us go then.
He brings more support. He plants us in the field known as the Church,
and having planted us in the field known as the Church, He knits us
together into a family, whereas Paul says in the epistle reading, we
are all sons of God through Christ Jesus. We are all heirs of the same
heavenly Father. We’re not alone in this venture in which God has placed
you. He supports us in this that He alone has brought upon us.
Next, He enables us to speak.
The demon-possessed man could not speak and could not receive. After
his healing, he is found at the feet of Jesus, just as you are at the
feet of Jesus this morning. And each time you are opening that Word
of God, you are at the feet of Jesus. He is the instructor. You are
the receiver. He is the confirmation instructor. You are the confirmand.
He is the catechist. You are the catechumen. And by being in such a
position, you are the one who is being enabled to speak and proclaim
that which God has done for you.
But having protected us and
supporting us and enabling us, He now commends us as He commended
that man. The man wanted to follow Him and go about Galilee with Jesus
and the disciples. Jesus says, “No, you stay here. You do the work
of My heavenly Father here.”
And before we think, Oh,
that’s easy. He just went about preaching and proclaiming God, you
have to put yourself in this man’s shoes. He was well known in that
region as a demon-possessed man. The people all kept their distance
from him and now the very people who have kept their distance from him
have heard about this same Lord Jesus Christ who changes this man’s
heart, having slaughtered a whole herd of pigs.
They don’t want Him around.
The text says the people of that region say to Jesus, “Get out
of here. We don’t want you around.” They’re fearful of it. And
that’s the kind of environment in which God has placed this demon-possessed
man who now is in his right mind, clothed, clean, and enabled to proclaim.
The region in which he has been placed, the people in whose lives he
has been placed, and all that has been brought about by this event makes
it very difficult for this man to proclaim…which is just like you.
God has placed you in among
people who are fearful of the Lord Jesus and what He brings, just as
this region was. For most of us who have grown up in the church, this
does not cause us fear. This place causes great comfort. Jesus and what
He brings to us does not put us at odds. It is embraced and received.
But for most of the people
with whom you interact, who are not believers, one could say it scares
the you-know-what out of them. They are the ones who need to hear it
the most and they are the ones whom God has given to you to tell what
God has done for you.
When we think of God’s design,
how He brought into this man’s life the Light of Life, and how He illumined
his darkness…when you and I ponder what God has done for this man
and where He placed this man, you and I cannot think that we were haphazardly
placed where God has placed us. The people with whom we are interacting
have been placed in our lives for your proclamation.
You are the one who has been
made clean. You are the one who has been clothed. You are the one who
has been made heir. You are the one who sits at His feet and you are
instructed and are given words to speak. And you are also the one who
has been commended by God to go forth.
We, like the man who has been
healed from the demon, wish to follow in His steps and go elsewhere.
Absolutely. You and I know there are those people with whom we have
to interact and we’re thinking, Lord, send somebody else.
Even family members who are difficult…Lord, please, somehow bring
me a different family. But they are the very ones whom God has placed
in your life for that reason. It is not haphazard. It is divine in its
The same Jesus about whom we
just finished singing, who comes and brings all these gifts with Him…You
and I know we’ve received such glorious gifts, and if that’s not enough,
you and I know we’ll receive it again this morning when He gathers us
again around His table to feed His hungry chicks, telling us to open
wide our mouths that He may fill it. But then He commends us to go and
proclaim that with which He has filled our mouths, with those people
in your lives. No one else has been commended to proclaim to them what
He has done for you, but just you.
But don’t forget. Just as He
sent this man into waters unaware and unknown, remember He cleansed
him. He protected him. He supported him. He enabled Him and He commended
him. So He has done to you. Do not forget that.
That is Satan’s desire, for
you to forget such glorious things that He has done, and that is your
and my own flesh fighting such a commendation. And yet that is where
God has placed us, for those people are the ones for whom He has designed
your words, out of your mouth, that which has been filled by your God
to proclaim. Go and do likewise as a son and daughter of the King. In
Jesus name, Amen.
The peace of God which passes
all understanding keep your hearts and your minds on Christ Jesus to
life everlasting, Amen.