Mar20MonMarch 20, 2023
TELL YOUR STORY
As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon possessed begged to go with him. But Jesus said, “No, go home to your family, and tell them everything the Lord has done for you and how merciful He has been.” So the man started off to visit the Ten Towns (Decapolis) of that region and began to proclaim the great things Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed at what he told them. (Mark 5:18-20)
Greetings Transformed Ones,
It’s the first day of Spring! It has been a weird winter, warmer than usual, with heavier snow to shovel, more gray skies, more freezing rain, which has kept many inside their homes. But Alas, that season in which we anticipate the warmer weather, more sunshine, the flowers coming out, the leaves returning to the trees and just being able to spend more time outside, is finally upon us. It is like a re-emergence of life! Maybe that is why we have set Easter at the beginning of this season – that celebration proclaiming that Christ has conquered death, emerging from the grave in a burst of life and praise. From death to life! That is the message we as followers of Jesus have to tell and have hopefully experienced personally. It is a message of deliverance and freedom like no other! Mark 5:1-20 is just such a story – a man living a life of death and destruction, set free from demonic oppression and bondage, to walk in newness of life after encountering and being set free by Jesus. It is one of my favorite stories because it is such a powerful picture of what Jesus can do to and for an individual who is outcast into darkness and isolation, and then restored, “clothed and in his right mind.” Take a moment to read this amazing portion of the Word of God.
It is a sad picture of a man that nobody wanted to be around. Yes, he was possessed by a legion of demons (that’s 3,000 to 6,000 demons!); but honestly…. putting shackles and chains on him to restrain him! What an awful picture! He was put out of fellowship by family and friends, ostracized, banished, shunned, from society. The world had had enough of him, and sentenced him to a life with dead people – among the tombs (vs. 5) – with the dead! He spent his days crying out and cutting himself with stones! What an existence! How many in our society today live a similar life due to mental illness and addiction? But that is not the end of the story for this man. As we read, one encounter with Jesus changed his life…forever. The man was delivered from death and sent to live his life in freedom and joy. Praise God!
Now the interesting thing about this story is found in our text today. The newly delivered man wanted to accompany Jesus on His mission, but Jesus thought it better for the man to return to his own people and start testifying about God’s mercy and deliverance. Jesus sent him to tell his story to his family and friends! It was an incredible testimony to tell! Imagine coming back to the people who sent you out into the wilderness to fend for yourself because they didn’t know what to do with you. I’m sure he had anger and unforgiveness issues against those who gave up on him and confined him to the tombs. His own family abandoned him – rejection issues! His friends turned their backs on him – bitterness issues! Oh my, what a mess this man could become if he did not confront what was in his heart. Jesus, the all-knowing, loving God, sends him back to be reconciled and restored to his family and friends. The man, who remains nameless, goes back and begins to tell his story, and the people marvel and are amazed. The testimony of the man, the focus on Jesus and His power, the emphasis on the mercy and goodness of God, rather than the hurt caused by abandonment, brings this man back into community and acceptance. This story is so incredible because it has such a powerful impact, not just on the former demoniac, but on the whole community the man belonged to. Healing and restoration! What a picture! From Crying in Chains to Proclaiming in Power the glory of God. Jesus saw it fit for this man to, “Go home to your people and report to them what great things the Lord has done for you and how He had mercy on you” (vs. 19 NASB). It’s like Jesus instructed the man, without even saying it, “I don’t want you to focus on all the people that hurt you, I just want you to go and tell them what God has done for you – don’t allow bitterness and anger and unforgiveness to get a hold of you…focus on Me, not them!” This story reminds me of the woman at the well in John 4. Even though she was shunned by her community for her sins and lifestyle, and she had every reason to be bitter; after encountering the Thirst Quencher, she went and invited everyone to come and meet Jesus (John 4:29, 39).
Friends, I believe there is a powerful message for us here in this story. We all desire for our loved ones, family and friends to meet this Jesus who set us free, and brought us from death to life. Many of us struggle with what to say so that we avoid that proverbial “theological argument”. There is one thing people can’t argue with – that is your testimony – your experience with the person of Jesus. Easter is a great time to tell others what the risen Savior has done in your life. I always find it amazing how we can recount other experiences in great detail, like vacations, sports events, etc., but we stumble over what to say about encountering the God of the universe and finding true life and joy, for which everyone is searching. You are My witnesses because Holy Spirit has come upon you (Acts. 1:8). A witness just describes what they experienced! Have you seen them on the news report – they are not articulate scholars defending a thesis – they are just relaying their experience. That’s all Jesus wants us to do! Do you want to see spiritual advance in your circle of influence? Just tell people the great things God has done for you in Christ Jesus, and how he had mercy on you. Just….tell your story!
Have a great week!