“What we need is a desire to know the whole will of God, with a fixed resolution to do it.” —John Wesley
PRAYER: (from the Lectionary)
“O Lord, make us have perpetual love and reverence for your holy Name, for you never fail to guide and guard those whom you have set upon the sure foundation of your loving-kindness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, AMEN.”
SCRIPTURES: (from the Lectionary)
1 Kings 19:1-15
Luke 8:26-39 (This story is also presented in Mark 5:1-20)
Now the man from whom the demons had departed begged Him that he might be with Him. But Jesus sent him away, saying, “Return to your own house, and tell what great things God has done for you.” And he went his way and proclaimed throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him (Luke 8:38-39, NKJV).
PRAYER FOCUS: Witnessing Where You Are
“My name is Legion, for we are many…”
I don’t remember exactly when they came. But by the time He found me they controlled nearly everything I did.
It was horrible—worse than you can imagine. There were lots of them, more than a thousand. They were inside my body, inside my flesh. They felt like maggots crawling under my skin, devouring me alive. I used to cut myself open to let them out. But they didn’t go.
Their voices were a constant nightmare. Terrible and full of hate–always accusing me about the very things they made me do. No matter how much I cried out and begged them to stop they never did. I couldn’t rest. I couldn’t sleep. It was torture.
They made me do unclean things I can’t even describe. My family and my neighbors put me in chains and leg irons to keep me from hurting myself or anyone else. But the dark ones gave me strength to break those restraints. No one would come near me unless they were armed with weapons. No one could help me. So I lived in the tombs among the dead, running naked among the bones and the corpses. It amused the dark ones who drove me.
I was aware of His coming by the change in their voices. Their concern grew into alarm and then into a frenzy of fear. I heard them say the name “Jesus”. Then I saw the boat come onto the shore and He got out. Maybe it was the way he carried himself, but I knew only such a man could save me. For the first time since the demons entered me I dared to hope.
I started towards this Jesus, but they wouldn’t let me. So I fought them. In a moment of defiance I lurched down the hill to the shore, throwing myself at His feet. There, the dark ones took control again. Some of them mocked Him. Others were afraid. Against my will, I heard my own voice scream “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?”
Jesus asked me my name. When I looked up and saw His eyes—His eyes, so full of compassion and love and understanding and forgiveness—I knew my hope was true. I tried to say, “Help me, please, help me,” but they wouldn’t let those words come out. The words that did come out were not my own. Full of lies and blasphemy, the voice mocked me and it mocked Him. They said my name was Legion, as though that were very funny.
But it was the last time they would mock me. Jesus commanded them to release me and come out. His voice sounded like thunder and it boomed with authority. They begged Him repeatedly not to send them into the Abyss (they were terrified of this). They asked Him to send them into a herd of nearby pigs and He permitted it. Then the swine did what I couldn’t do—reacting to the demonic violation of their bodies, they stampeded down the hill and into the water where they drowned themselves.
Suddenly the darkness was gone. The awful voices were gone. Their hateful accusations were replaced by His gentle words of love and forgiveness. My tortured, fragmented mind was whole again. I felt clean. I looked at the One Who Healed me and his eyes spoke to me a peace and love that words could never carry.
Jesus and His men gave me clothes and ministered to me. Sitting there talking with Him, even my thoughts were healed. It was wonderful just to be near Him. I never wanted to leave His side. I had only met Jesus, but I knew I owed Him everything…
All three of the synoptic gospels tell the story of the demon-possessed man of the Gerasenes (also called Gadarenes, on the southeastern shore of the Sea of Galilee, in an area generally known as the Decapolis). They paint a chilling, heart-rending picture of this man’s torment, defilement and despair. And the gospels agree that he had been this way for a long time. The Devil is a cruel master to those he leads into captivity.
Now the Gerasenes/Gadarenes region was heavily populated by Gentiles and not Jews. The swineherds who were tending to the pigs “ran off and reported this in the town and in the countryside.” The curious people came out to see what all the fuss was about. They found the formerly crazy naked man cured, clothed and in his right mind. Oddly, instead of expressing gratitude they were overcome with fear. They asked Jesus to leave.
The man begged to go with the One who set him free. But Jesus told him, “Return home and tell how much God has done for you.”
How difficult these words must have been to hear! While surely Jesus was moved by this man’s devotion and gratitude, our Lord nevertheless had other plans for him. Like so many of us who have been misled into sin’s captivity, this man was now a witness against the evil darkness that once bound him. Jesus didn’t tell him, and He doesn’t tell us, to pretend that none of the bad stuff ever happened. Our scars are as much a part of our testimony as our words themselves.
You see, the swineherds could testify to what happened to their pigs. But only the healed man could witness to the power and the identity of his Healer. Obedient to his Deliverer and Savior, the man we now know as the Gadarene Demoniac returned to his home, healed and restored, and started telling people throughout the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. He witnessed where he was, not where he wanted to be.
It’s Monday Morning. Consider how much the Lord has done for you. Have you shared that with the people in your life?