Summary: To share my witness with the congregation.
Today we begin a new series titled Good News for Living in a Bad News World. It seems that the majority of the headlines in the media these days is related to bad news. We hear about the devastating effects of hurricanes in the Caribbean, countries at war, suicide bombers, shootings at McDonald’s, fights in the schools, road rage and more. Without a doubt the headlines remind us that we live in a bad news world. I thought it was time we heard a little good news. Hence this series.
We begin the series with a man who lived in a bad news world like many of us.
[S] “They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an evil spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him any more, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.
When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice, "What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won’t torture me!" For Jesus had said to him, "Come out of this man, you evil spirit!"
Then Jesus asked him, "What is your name?" "My name is Legion," he replied, "for we are many." And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area.
A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. The demons begged Jesus, "Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them." He gave them permission, and the evil spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.
Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man—and told about the pigs as well. Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.
As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, "Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you." So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.” (Mark 5.1-20, NIV) [S]
The Word of God for the people of God. Thanks be to God.
When you travel south along the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee and look up to your left about 100 feet off the roadway you will spot a series of small caves. You wouldn’t know it unless the guide told you, but those are ancient burial caves much like the ones the demoniac probably lived and played in.
The demoniac. He was different. He was strange. His behavior was unacceptable. He was violent and considered a threat to the townspeople. He had no friends. He couldn’t keep a job. He was unlovable and lonely. No one liked him. I guess you could say his life was a mess and it was a loss.
And then one day Jesus invaded his space. One day he had an unplanned encounter with Jesus that literally and physically and spiritually transformed his life in every conceivable way. This wasn’t the same guy any longer as evidenced in the story by the man now sitting in his right mind. He was a living example of what the Apostle Paul would later term a new creation in Jesus Christ.
Jesus had made such a difference in his life that the man was eager to leave the caverns of his life to follow Jesus as a disciple. But Jesus had other plans for him. Jesus wanted “Dee” to go back to his own people and tell them just what Jesus had done for him. This he did. “D” shared what Jesus did for him with others in the Decapolis, the region of the ten cities. And get this, years later the first bishops of the early church would come from there. Coincidence? I don’t think so.