Summary: Jesus has the authority, power and desire to help us overcome the problems that overwhelm us.
Have you noticed how popular entertainment has made some pretty fearsome, terrible beings into loveable characters?
Real pirates like Black Bart Roberts and Blackbeard were kidnappers, thieves, rapists, and murderers. Not the stuff heroes are made of. [picture on-screen: Johnny Depp in character] But in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” trilogy, Captain Jack Sparrow and his crew are “heroes” who also make us laugh.
When I was a child, trolls were really ugly critters who terrorized innocent billy goats trying to cross a bridge. [picture on-screen: troll doll] But now they’re these cute little dolls and characters in cartoons.
Also, when I was a kid, aliens were terrifying beings determined to annihilate the earth. [picture on-screen: E.T.] But along came “E.T.” who proved aliens really are loveable and kid-friendly.
Of course we all know that dragons are born to incinerate or devour people. [picture on-screen: dragon from “Shrek”] But then we discover in “Shrek” what loyal and loving companions they can be.
There are plenty of creatures and monsters that are captivating to our imaginations for the purpose of entertaining us. But there are real fire-breathing dragons that bring misery and terrorize – emotionally, physically, even spiritually.
Here is the story of a man in misery because of the “dragon” of demon possession, and of the difference Jesus made for him.
Read Mark 5:1-17.
What are some of the dragons that trouble and terrorize?
• Physical disease
• Financial debt, addiction to gambling or spending
• Emotional discouragement, depression, doubt
• Compulsion for alcohol, drugs, food, porn
• Obsessions with gossip, self-doubt, worry, fear
• Explosive temper; verbal or physical abuse
Is there a dragon roaming some region of your life? Are you living in fear, in hiding, with terrible pain and much of life controlled by that dragon?
Today I want to encourage you to embrace Jesus as One with the authority, the power and the desire to slay your dragon.
In the story we read, Jesus showed power over natural and spiritual forces. I’m interested in how people responded to his presence in a crisis.
Matthew sets this story in the context of his eighth chapter. In verse two, a man with leprosy came, knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”
In verse five, the centurion came to him, asking help for his servant who was paralyzed and suffering horribly.
During the storm on their way to Gadara the disciples woke Jesus, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”
But in our story, the people of Gadara asked him to leave. They weren’t moved by His power to say, “Wow! I have a problem. Maybe He can help me too.” No. They said, “Leave us alone!” Why?
The first answer we’d think of is that they lost a lot of bacon, ham and sausage (these people were gentiles).
But I think it goes deeper than that. Sometimes we’re afraid of the changes that come with good health because we’ve found a peaceful coexistence with the “dragon” or an equilibrium that has to be kept in place. Jesus upset that equilibrium because they no longer had this insanity around them that made them feel pretty healthy by comparison. Sometimes we want to leave the dragons alone because they provide an excuse for ongoing failure. So don’t disturb the status quo because it’s familiar and it’s comfortable.
Are there times you just want Jesus to leave you alone? I do. In my morning prayer time I’ll ask His Spirit to help me be strong when I’m tempted or if I find myself doing something that displeases Him. But later, in the moment He comes tapping on my heart, I’ve known myself to say, “Leave me alone. I want this. It’s comfortable, or comforting.”
We all have our dragons – problems we can’t slay on our own. But Jesus can help, and He often does it through other believers. Does pride or fear keep you from seeking help? Do you have to keep up appearances? Or can you say, “Help me”?
Michael Slater tells the story in "Stretcher Bearers" of a teen at the beach with his friends. He was in trouble in the water but didn’t call out for help. A lifeguard noticed his struggle and rescued him. He asked, “You were drowning. Why didn’t you cry out?” The response; “What would my friends have thought?”
Pride often keeps us fighting the waves and current alone when were drowning. It keeps us propping up an outer facade when we’re going to pieces inside.
I understand it all too well. About two and a half years ago everything was going pretty well for me, outwardly. Things were good at home with my family. I had done a good job of getting into better condition and losing weight. The ministry here was going well and God’s blessings were evident in several ways.