When Jesus was on earth, he did many great and mighty miracles. On more than one occasion, he even confronted the powers of darkness head-on. In the scripture, we are given accounts of Jesus rescuing people from literal possession by evil spirits. He was God in flesh, and that was no problem for Him.
One familiar story is the man who lived among the tombs in the country of the Gadarenes (Mark 5). We’re told the man was too strong to be bound with chains, and that no one could tame him. He cried day and night, and he cut himself with stones. What a miserable existence!
But when he encountered Jesus, his life was instantly transformed. Jesus commanded the devils to leave the man, and they had to obey.
A part of the story that sticks out to me is found in verses 18 and 19.
“And when he (Jesus) was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil prayed him that he might be with him. Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.”
The account of the story in Luke is worded this way:
“Now the man out of whom the devils were departed besought him that he might be with him: but Jesus sent him away, saying, Return to thine own house, and shew how great things God hath done unto thee…” Luke 8:38,39a
As an aside, I enjoy seeing how the gospel accounts differ in language, yet do not contradict one another. These corroborating versions from different sources give us even more confidence in the accuracy of the scripture.
This man whom Jesus rescued from horrifying circumstances, asked Jesus for one more thing: just to be with him. There weren’t any conditions around the request. The man didn’t ask where Jesus was going or where He might be staying. It didn’t matter; he simply wanted to stay near him.
I can’t help but wonder if there was fear in the man’s heart that the demons would return and try to possess him again, and he wanted Jesus nearby for protection. Or maybe the request was solely a response of adoration for the one who had redeemed him.
Either way, he was wise in wanting to stay with Jesus. Where is there a better place to be? But Jesus denied his request. He told him he must go home and tell others what had happened to him. Jesus sent him away, with a mission. I wonder how many people learned about the Messiah through the testimony of this man.
We too were bound by the devil. Our spirits, like the poor man in our passage, could not be tamed by anyone. No matter how good we may have seemed from the outside, before Christ, we were possessed by our sin. But then Jesus arrived, and now we’ve been transformed. He delivered us from the powers of darkness.
The application of our story is probably obvious. Jesus has done a great thing for us, and though we may be tempted to just bask in our redemption, we are compelled to go and tell what He has done.
He had compassion on all of us, and gave his life so that we can have fullness of life here and eternity with Him. That’s worth sharing. I used to struggle with depression and anxiety. Now I don’t. I believe God healed me, and I think that is something people should know, so they understand that there is hope. That's something I need to "go tell".
Fortunately, when we “go tell”, it is different than it was for “the man out of whom the devils departed”. Jesus goes with us. We don’t have to leave him behind in order to share the story of his great compassion with others. May God make us bold to tell “how great things the Lord hath done”.
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