They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit. He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones. And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him. And crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” For he was saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. Now a great herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and they begged him, saying, “Send us to the pigs; let us enter them.” So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the pigs; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the sea.
One of Satan’s most effective deceptions is convincing a person that those around them can’t handle their problems; that their issues are too deep, too horrible to ever bring out into the open. In the short eight years I’ve been doing ministry it’s always been those who are the most in need of help that are the most afraid of opening up and asking for it.
In his ministry on earth, Jesus encounters a mind-bending array of needs and issues. He encounters dead people, blind people, diseased people, liars, manipulative mothers, thieving tax collectors, and countless others in unending succession. Perhaps one of the most shocking and needy of those that Jesus encounters is the man known as the Gerasenes demoniac – a man so given over to demonic power that he has supernatural strength, engages in ritual cutting, has no discernable sleep patterns, and has been given up on by his people who apparently couldn’t control him even with iron chains.
We have a lesson to learn from this terribly demonized man. Yes, there is the standard lesson drawn from this text about Jesus’ power over the demonic and Christ’s love for all people, but I believe that we can learn from this man even before his deliverance. Despite the fact that he has the very forces of Satan battling within him, he doesn’t buy into the deception that Jesus is going to be surprised by or unable to handle his problems. That, my friends, is a lesson that we need to learn.
Run to Jesus!
“And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him. And crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.”
Note how this man sees Jesus from afar and runs to him. He doesn’t wait for Jesus to come to him. As soon as Jesus sets foot on the shores, “immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit.” He doesn’t wait for permission or the appropriate moment – he simply runs to Jesus.
In Christ God has set foot in your territory. You don’t need to wait for him to come a little closer. Don’t waste time waiting for the appropriate moment. Do you have hidden sin or a desperate need that you’ve hidden for so long that it’s no longer in your control? Run to Jesus! He knows your need and is more than able to meet it.
This demonized man doesn’t ask for freedom, but Jesus gives it. He’s so far gone that he can’t even express his needs, only cry out “do not torment me!” Jesus knows his longings, knows his needs, and gives what he desired but couldn’t request. He casts out the demonic forces and frees the man from his captivity.
Sometimes we’re in so deep that we don’t even know how to ask for freedom. The Apostle Paul writes in one of his epistles that even when we don’t know how or what to pray, the Spirit intercedes for us with groanings. Come to Jesus – you needn’t even ask – simply by coming close to him he will give you what is needed.
Jesus is unphased
Perhaps most beautiful to me is the fact that Jesus seems completely unsurprised by this man’s horrible condition. I seem to have this expectation that Jesus will be impressed or perhaps even surprised by the significance of my problems; that in his holiness he will draw back in horror once I finally reveal my deepest issues.
We’re absolutely wrong to think that way. If Jesus was unphased by this man, he won’t be phased by us. He knows full well the depths of your struggle, deception, and hidden sin. He’s already embraced it, absorbed it on the cross. When you finally come to him and confess it all he’ll simply smile, nod, and pull you up from the dirt into a warm embrace. You’ll find yourself free and “in your right mind” (Mark 5:15), seeing the world through new eyes.
Is there a portion of your life that you’ve kept hidden from those around you for fear of their response? Have you hidden among the tombs rather than running to Jesus? Now is the time to come forward! He has set foot on your shores. All you have to do is come to him and he will speak but a word and you will be free. That is good news indeed.
A closing note for Christians here. Be like Jesus. Don’t be surprised by other people’s issues. Don’t shy back from the relationship when someone reveals their addiction, homosexuality, deception, or other secret sin. We of all people should know well the depth and quickness of human brokenness, and therefore know all the better the power of the Gospel of Grace in Christ. As we learn our identity and position in Christ we, like him, will be able to stand before someone like the gerasenes demoniac unphased, gently ministering to them and leading them into the freedom of the children of God.
We Christians ought to be a people who welcome others regardless of how deep their issues are because we KNOW that God will restore them. Jesus is unphased, so we won’t be either.