Monday, February 21, 2011

Commands of Jesus: "Go home...and tell..."

The Commands of Jesus: Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you (Mark 5:19).

The Context: Mark 5:1-20 – Jesus restores a demon possessed man.
[Either read this passage or recap it].
Jesus is in the region of Gerasenes. It is a heavily Gentile (non-Jewish) area. This man is more affected than other people that he has encountered with demon possession. He could not be bound by chains (verses 3-4). Again, as Jesus approaches, he runs to him and confronts him.
Verse 7 – What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God…Don’t torture me.
Jesus asks the demon for its name. Legion, for we are many. Could be Jesus displaying his knowledge of the tactic of gaining the name of an opponent in spiritual warfare.
The demons beg Jesus to send them into the herd of pigs rather than cast them out into space. It is thought that perhaps the demons would prefer to possess any kind of body instead of being without a body.
The pigs run down the side of the hill into the lake and were drowned. The reaction is curious. The man is in his right mind and calm next to Jesus. The people become afraid. They are not astonished or amazed. They are so fearful that they want Jesus to leave.

We’ve seen Jesus heal a man possessed before (Mark 1.21-29). This seems to be more of a challenge according to verses 3-4. Was also called Legion, for they were many. A legion represented 1000 soldiers in a Roman army.
Jesus sends the demons into a herd of pigs. The people are afraid. Why? This was a region of Gentiles. They did not think that pigs were unclean. These pigs were probably their property or someone’s way of life. They were probably more concerned about their livestock than about someone’s well being. They want Jesus out of there. Asking Jesus to leave was probably a mixture of things. One, is the fear of losing more livestock. One could have been they just didn’t know what to do with this man who had so much power and so much authority. They may not have had a very well developed understanding of the God of Israel. They just knew that Jesus was more powerful than the most powerful demons. What could he impose on them to do? Could he dominate them like Legion dominated the man?

The man wants to follow Jesus (and rightfully so). Jesus tells him to go home? Why do you think he doesn’t let him follow him?

Jesus, in other healings, told people to not tell anyone (see Mark 1.44; 5.43). Why did Jesus tell this guy to go to his people and tell them what had happened?
Jesus is heading back to that vicinity (see Mark 7.24-37). Perhaps this man’s testimony is preparing the way for Jesus to visit?
The people who live in the man’s area responded to his testimony. They were amazed at what Jesus had done for him. They were amazed at the man sharing what God had done instead of amazed at amazing signs and wonders.
We see this in John 4 with the story of the Samaritan woman at the well that Jesus encounters. Jesus shows insight into this woman’s life that he could only know through some sort of prophetic revelation. Read John 4.28-30, 39 (Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony.)

There is tremendous power in our testimonies. Sometimes the best form of witness for Jesus that we can give is to tell others what the Lord has done for us. Sometimes we simply need to tell of how he has had mercy on us.

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