3rd Sunday after Pentecost
"Then they arrived at the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. And as he stepped out on land, there met him a man from the city who had demons; for a long time he had worn no clothes, and he lived not in a house but among the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him, and said with a loud voice, "What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beseech you, do not torment me." For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many a time it had seized him; he was kept under guard, and bound with chains and fetters, but he broke the bonds and was driven by the demon into the desert.) Jesus then asked him, "What is your name?" And he said, "Legion"; for many demons had entered him. And they begged him not to command them to depart into the abyss. Now a large herd of swine was feeding there on the hillside; and they begged him to let them enter these. So he gave them leave. Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned. When the herdsmen saw what had happened, they fled, and told it in the city and in the country. Then people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus, and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. And those who had seen it told them how he who had been possessed with demons was healed. Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked him to depart from them; for they were seized with great fear; so he got into the boat and returned. The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but he sent him away, saying, "Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you." And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him." Luke 8:26-39, RSV.
Grace and Peace to you from our Lord and Saviour, Jesus who is the Christ. Amen
Once there was a very wealthy young man who lived in a great,elaborate house with dozens of rooms. Each room was more comfortable and more beautiful than the one before it.
One day he decided to invite the Lord to come and stay with him.
When the Lord arrived, this young man offered Him the very best room in the house. The room was upstairs and at the end of the hall. "This room is yours, Jesus, stay as long as you like and you can do whatever you want to in this room. Remember Jesus, it’s all yours."
"Thank you," the Lord replied, and with that the man shut the door and went about his business.
That evening, after he had retired for the night, there came a loud knocking at the front door. The young man pulled on his robe and made his way downstairs. When he opened the door he found that the Devil had sent three of his demons to attack the man! He quickly tried to close the door but one of the demons kept sticking his foot in the door.
Sometime later, after a great struggle, he managed to slam the door shut and returned to his room totally exhausted. "Can you believe that?" the young man thought. "Jesus is upstairs in my very best room sleeping while I am down here battling demons. Oh well, maybe he just didn’t hear."
The young man slept fitfully that night. The next day, things went along as normal and, being as tired as he was, the young man retired early that evening. Along about midnight, there came such a terrible ruckus at the front door that the young man was sure that whatever it was would tear the door down. He stumbled down the stairs once again and opened the door to find that there were dozens of demons now trying to get into his beautiful home.
For more than 3 hours he fought and struggled against the demons from
hell and finally overtook them enough to shut the door against their attack. All energy seemed to fail him. "I really don’t understand this at all. Why won’t the Lord come to my rescue? Why does he allow me to fight all by myself? I feel so alone."
Troubled, he found his way to the sofa and fell into a restless sleep.
The next morning he decided to inquire of the Lord about the happenings of the last two evenings. Quietly, he made his way to the elegant bedroom where he had left Jesus. "Jesus," he called as he tapped at the door. "Lord, I don’t understand what is happening. For the last two nights I have had to fight the demons away from my door while you were sleeping. Don’t you care about me? Did I not give you the very best room in my house?"
He could see the tears building in Jesus’ eyes but continued on. "I just don’t understand. I really thought that once I invited you in to live with me, that you would take care of me, and I gave you the best room in my house and everything. What more can I do?"
"My precious child," Jesus spoke softly, "I do love and care for you. I protect all that you have released into my care. But when you invited me to come here and stay, you brought me to this lovely room and you shut the door to the rest of the house. I am Lord of this room but I am not Master of this house. I have protected this room and no demon may enter here."
"Oh Lord, please forgive me. Take all of my house, it is yours! I am so sorry that I never offered you all to begin with. I want you to have control of everything! With this he flung open the bedroom door and knelt at Jesus’ feet. "Please forgive me. Lord. for being so selfish."
Jesus smiled and told him that He had already forgiven him and that He would take care of things from nowon.
Along about midnight the banging on the door was frightening. The young man slipped out of his room in time to see Jesus going down the stairs.
He watched in awe as Jesus swung open the door. Satan stood at the door demanding to be let in. "What do you want, Satan?" the Lord asked. The devil bowed low in the presence of the Lord. "So sorry, I seem to have gotten the wrong address." With that, he and the demons all ran away.
Our opening story reminds us that Jesus wants control of our whole lives. And this is seen very dramatically in our gospel lesson.
A man had demons and Jesus came to him and demanded that those demons leave. This man surrendered to Jesus and the demons left.
Notice he did not have to ask Jesus to have the demons leave, Jesus acted on His own accord. The only request that was made was made by the demon itself, Legion asked that they not be put into the abyss, but to enter the swine and Jesus agreed. But the swine being filled with the demons rushed down the bank into the river and were drown.
The man, now free from the demons, sat at the feet of Jesus and we can just imagine that Jesus was explaining to him who he was, the Son of God.
Then the people from the city came and were afraid of Jesus because of the miracle he had performed and asked him to leave.
Isn’t that typical? If you don’t understand something, you become afraid and then blame not yourself, but theperson responsible.
When I was in the senior year of college, I began applying for teaching jobs. It was later that In entered seminary, but I graduated from college with a BA in elementary education. I had an interview on campus with a superintendent of a school system. It was a good interview and at the end he offered me a job teaching 4th graders. But he said that the school board would have to approve, but thought that would be no problem.
I left feeling confident that I had a job. My wife and I were engaged at the time and we planning a wedding as soon as I graduated. I had told the superintendent that I was going to my wife’s family for the weekend and he could contact me there with the final approval.
The phone rang, I answered and the superintendent told me that I did not get the job. He said the school board did not want some one like me teaching their kids.
His exact words were: "We don’t want someone like that teaching our kids"
Some one like what?
For he explained to them that I wore a long leg brace and used a cane for walking and they were afraid of my disability and would not hire me.
I later found a teaching job and my disability did not matter one bit in the classroom.
But isn’t that typical, if we don’t understand something we blame the person not our selves for our ignorance or bigotry.
The people of Jesus day did not understand what He had done, did not understand that He was the Son of God, did not understand that Jesus had just made this man whole. What they saw they could not believe, so they became frighten and demanded that Jesus leave.
But the man, who was now whole, understood and wanted to go with Jesus. He had in his demon state surrendered to Jesus and now in his healed state he once again surrendered himself, his whole self to Jesus.
Jesus understood, but wanted the man to stay behind and convince the people to not be afraid of Jesus’ power but to surrender to it as he had.
Jesus wanted this man to help the people to begin to heal, to be delivered from their "demon" of fear and misunderstanding. He wanted the man to help the people to surrender their "whole house" to Jesus not just one room, but everything.
Healing comes to us in various ways. Some experience "a miracle", some are given the power of courage and strength to endure their situation. Others are released from their personality traits that keep them from truly experiencing the healing power of Jesus.
When this post polio syndrome hit me and I had to leave the ministry because of being in a wheelchair, not being able to talk well enough to preach, and because I did not have the stamina to do more than every day activities, I was really angry. Angry at God, I guess for allowing this to happen, angry that I had to endure another "disability" in my life, angry that I had to give up something that I truly enjoyed and thought I was called to do.
Finally, after much screaming at God, soul searching, and finally being able to just surrender this whole situation to God, some peace and comfort came into my life.
I had to allow Jesus into everyone room even the room of anger and what I saw as the unfairness of live.
When He entered that room finally, I felt at peace with myself and this terrible situation. That peace allowed me to develop this Internet ministry to share my sermons with you even though I do not have a congregation of my own. I enjoy preaching and this is one way for me to continue that even though I am still experiencing all the manifestations of this post polio syndrome.
Healing comes when we open all the rooms in our "house" to Jesus and He can work his power in our lives.
Written by Pastor Tim Zingale June 14, 2004