Summary: We need to go to where people are at to reach them for Christ!
Purpose: We need to go reach people where they are at—invest in people’s lives
This morning I want to have a little audience participation. Come on it will be painless. Hands raised, how many of you this morning love to bowl? How many of you love football? Nascar? Scrapbooking? Sailing? Shopping? Shopping? Working on cars? How many love gardening? Playing games? Hunting? Watching Movies? Video Games?
We’ll come back to this in a few minutes. Thank concludes my very scientific survey. Now let’s turn to the Scriptures. Pastor Marc read from Mark chapter 5 about the healing and deliverance of the demon possessed man. And right off the bat, we notice the Jesus is doing something different than people had always done. In fact, it probably made his disciples very uncomfortable. In fact, the religious leaders and Pharisees, had they known what Jesus was doing and about to do, they would have condemned him for sure. What was all the hubbub about?
A little history and geography is important here. The sea of Galilee was at the northern end of Israel. Jesus grew up just south west of the sea in Nazareth, while many of his disciples came from the towns surrounding the sea. As you know, many were fishermen. But the Jewish towns were on the north and west side of the sea of Galilee. That’s where the “ good “ people lived. Those are the ones you ought to go to Jesus. Those are the people worth saving—according to the religious, according to those who strictly held to the faith as the Pharisees practiced it.
You see on the east and south side of the Sea of Galilee, were towns that were not Jewish. They didn’t follow God’s laws. They didn’t care to worship at the right times at the temple in Jerusalem. They didn’t follow the dietary laws laid out in the commandments. They ate pork! Can you imagine? They were foreigners who had settled there, probably while the Israelites were exiled to Babylon, and they were not welcome.
God was very clear that he didn’t want the Israelites inter-marrying these kinds of people because they might influence God’s people to abandon Yahweh and serve foreign gods. Which by the way, is exactly what ended up happening. And so those who really wanted to live a godly life, would go out of their way not to go to those cities, not to bother with those people, not give them a second thought.
And Jesus sets out across the sea of Galilee with his disciples, knowing very well where he was headed. To those towns--to the place good Jews would never go--to the cities full of pagan people. And once on the shore, verse 2 says that “When Jesus got out of the boat, a man who had an evil spirit came from the tombs to meet him.”
To the Jews of that day, even to touch a grave was to be unclean for 7 days. (Numbers 19:16) This man had been living in the tombs—probably caves near the shore where people were initially buried. This was not the kind of person that Jews of that day, or people of today would really have wanted to be around. The man lived in a graveyard after all. Not only that, but they are keeping a whole herd of pigs nearby. Okay Jesus. This is not where good Jews are supposed to go. Pigs are unclean and God told us not to eat them.
(By the way, do you know that all the food God said not to eat, was for the Israelites health. He said in the OT, don’t eat shellfish, vulture type birds, pork and other things. Think about it. If you don’t prepare pork well, you can get very sick. Refrigeration was not an option, so God said, don’t eat it.)
The encounter is explosive. The disciples’ boat beaches near a graveyard and a herd of pigs. Both are ritually and culturally unclean for Jews. As Jesus steps out, a crazy man storms out of a cavern. Wild hair. Bloody wrists. Scratched skin. Fury encased in flesh. Naked bedlam. Arms flailing and voice screaming. The apostles gawk and gulp and put a foot back in the boat.
He had an inner spiritual problem. The people tried to help him by restraining him physically when his problem was spiritual. All laws and regulations can do is treat the outer man, it just affects the behaviors without touching the source. No laws could change this man. No code of moral standards could free him. Most of us know what Christian behavior is and is not. But I am saying that a list of laws won’t change your heart, and that’s the part that needs changed.
In verse 3 the text says, “no one could bind him ANYMORE.” Apparently at one time they could subdue him but as he all he did was grew worse, so much worse that he was a hopeless situation. I believe that back in chapter 4 when Jesus said, "Let us go over to the other side", He knew exactly where He was going and who was there. I believe He heard him crying.