- Last week, in previous passage, there was a literal storm; in this passage, the man is dealing with a “storm” caused by a huge problem in his life: demon-possession.
- Sometimes we find that the storm stays for longer than we thought it would. There are a lot of reasons this can happen - this passage focuses on one of the most common reasons.
- In this message, we’re going to focusing on the words and ideas that show up in this passage more than once and what we can learn from the different responses.
Why The Storm Doesn’t Go Away:
1. You can be “free” and bound at the same time.
- vv. 3, 9.
- What we see here is a man who is unbound physically - v. 3 notes that despite the people’s best efforts to chain him, he had the supernatural strength to break those chains. In that physical sense, he was free and unbound.
- At the same time, v. 9 clearly points out how “bound” the man was spiritually. He was possessed by a host of demons. (Possibly as many as 6,000, if the “legion” reference is meant literally.)
- So, we have a man who is “free” physically while being bound spiritually.
- In our society, we have so many people who are quick to claim their “freedom”: freedom to do what they want sexually, freedom to buy everything that they want, freedom to smoke whatever they want, freedom to live with whoever they want, freedom to do whatever they want.
- Ironically, though, these folks are also often simultaneously bound. They celebrate their freedom to do what they want sexually, yet they ultimately find the sexual experimentation unable to fill their soul. Free sexually, but bound by emptiness. Another may pursue what they want sexually, yet live in fear of the potential STD consequences. Free sexually, but bound by fear. Someone may celebrate their freedom to buy out the mall, yet find the pressing weight of credit card debt about to swamp their life. Free materially, yet bound by debt. Others celebrate their freedom to do whatever they want, yet in the end find themselves unable to rise about their existential nightmare. Free philosophically, yet bound by the lack of ultimate meaning.
- Jesus declared that the only one who was truly free was the one whom the Son had set free, but so many don’t understand that or refuse to accept it, settling instead for a “freedom” that is incomplete.
2. Many are more afraid of God than their “storm.”
- vv. 7, 15.
- When the demon Legion comes and bows down before Jesus in v. 7, his words make it obvious that he fears Jesus. Later, when Legion has been cast out (into the pigs) and the formerly-demon-possessed man is “clothed and in his right mind,” the people from the town were “afraid (v. 15).
- Many argue that the people’s fear arose primarily from the economic loss that had been suffered in the form of the dead sheep, but that doesn’t dovetail with the passage that well. The NASB has v. 15 as “They came to Jesus and observed the man hwo had been demon-poossessed sitting down, clothed and hin his right mind, the very man who had had the ‘legion’; and they became frightened.” The cause of their fear is what has happened to the man.
- For many of us, this makes little sense at first. Shouldn’t they have been excited and relieved to see the man changed? One would think, but their initial reaction instead was fear at the power that was at work here and their desire was for the source of that power to leave.
- In short, interestingly, they would have preferred to continue to have the same difficult situation than to have to deal with a power great enough to be able to change all that.
- Many people today do the same thing. They know the mess that they’ve got. They know the storm that they’ve been dealing with for so long. It’s a pain, but it’s a known pain. In many cases, they know that if they went to God for help that God has the power to make a difference, but there is the fear of the unknown - there is the fear of the power of God and all its potential implications. (“What will I have to change in my life? What would that cost me?”) And so, they choose to stick with the hardship of the storm rather than risk the uncertainty of what the God who could bring healing might ask of them.
- When you think about how many people struggle with hardships and problems month after month and year after year, knowing that there is a God in the universe, it makes you realize that the fear that the people expressed in v. 15 is still around today.
3. Consider what you’re begging God for.
- vv. 10, 17, 18.
- The Greek word “parakaleo” (meaning here to plead or to beg) shows up three times in this passage. First, in v. 10, the demon Legion “begged” Jesus not to cast them out of the country. Then, in v. 17, the people from the town began to “plead” with Jesus to leave their area. Finally, in v. 18, the healed man “begged” Jesus to let him come with Him.
- In the first instance, the begging is that they not get what they deserve.
- In the second instance, the begging is that Jesus leave them alone.
- In the third instance, the begging is that he might be able to be with Jesus.
- In our storms, what are we begging and pleading with God for? Not getting what we deserve? (“God, please don’t let her leave me.” “God, please don’t let me go to jail.” “God, please don’t let me lose my job.”) God leaving us alone? (“Prayer is for weaklings.” “I can handle this myself.”) Or, wanting to be with Jesus? (“Jesus, I need You.” “Father, please save me.” “Jesus, come into my life.”)
4. Check out what happens at Jesus’ feet.
- vv. 6, 15.
- The demon Legion runs at Jesus and “bows down” at Jesus’ feet (v. 6). (Some translations have “worshiped”, but I don’t think this is an act of worship, but an act of submission.) Being at Jesus’ feet for Legion is an act of fear.
- Later, the formerly-demon-possessed man is found in his right mind sitting at Jesus’ feet (it’s implied in v. 15 in Mark and explicitly stated in Luke 8:35). Being at Jesus’ feet for the man is an act that shows healing.
- As we struggle through our lives, one of the things we need to keep in mind is that we will all be bowing down at Jesus’ feet someday. For some, who have seen the love He showed on the cross and have received Him into their lives, it will be an act that shows the healing, forgiveness, and redemption they’ve found. For others, who have chosen to push God away and remain the god of their own lives, they will bow down in fear when Jesus is revealed in all His splendor, might, and majesty.
- We each must ask ourselves the question: “Do we want being at Jesus’ feet to be an act of fear or of healing?”
5. Jesus can give you a different reason to shout.
- vv. 5, 20.
- The demon-possessed man roamed through the cemeteries and through the hills “crying out” in his agony (v. 5). What a miserable life. But after Jesus made a change and then gave him a calling, we find the man going throughout the ten cities of the Decapolis “proclaiming” what Jesus had done for him. What a marvelous life.
- Many of us cry out in our storms - “Why me, God?” “Will this ever end?” “How am I going to make it?” Our shouts are shouts of agony and misery. But when Jesus comes into our lives and gives us a calling, our shouts no longer have to be shouts of misery, but they can be shouts of joy - “Have you heard about what God will do?” “Can I tell you what happened to me?” “Do you need to hear some Good News?”
- I am not arguing that we will no longer have any problems if we become Christians; I am arguing that the presence of Jesus can transform even the darkest of circumstances (see Philippians 4:6-7).
- Are you tired of shouting out of your pain? Are you ready to be able to shout for joy? Then put aside your fear and invite Christ into your storm.