Summary: Whatever you’ve done with your life, whatever you’ve chosen to do. its a story and it needs to be told, free yourself. God will do the rest
The First Missionary: Breaking Boundaries
Luke 8:26-39 Mar 8, 2009 Lent #2
This morning marks the second week of the season of Lent, which is the time when the people of God prepare to remember and celebrate Jesus’ death and resurrection. Easter is coming closer each week, and as we walk towards the cross and the empty tomb we have been following the stories of Jesus from early in His ministry, and seeing week after week how Jesus continually broke down the boundaries that existed – boundaries of all shapes and sizes and types, boundaries between Jews and Romans, between rich and poor, between sick and healthy, between fear and faith, all so that Jesus could bring people across whatever boundaries that existed and into relationship with the one true, forgiving, loving God of the Universe.
Last week we saw the story of Jesus calming the storm, and I challenged us to not only see ourselves in the role of people who have had Jesus bring peace to us, but more importantly to see ourselves in the role of people who have been commissioned and sent with power in the name of Jesus to bring peace to others. That story, where they had been on the boat at night, ends with the disciples “amazed and terrified”, and then Luke continues the story:
Luke 8:26-39 (NLT)
26 So they arrived in the region of the Gerasenes, across the lake from Galilee. 27 As Jesus was climbing out of the boat, a man who was possessed by demons came out to meet him. For a long time he had been homeless and naked, living in a cemetery outside the town.
28 As soon as he saw Jesus, he shrieked and fell down in front of him. Then he screamed, “Why are you interfering with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Please, I beg you, don’t torture me!” 29 For Jesus had already commanded the evil spirit to come out of him. This spirit had often taken control of the man. Even when he was placed under guard and put in chains and shackles, he simply broke them and rushed out into the wilderness, completely under the demon’s power.
30 Jesus demanded, “What is your name?”
“Legion,” he replied, for he was filled with many demons. 31 The demons kept begging Jesus not to send them into the bottomless pit.
32 There happened to be a large herd of pigs feeding on the hillside nearby, and the demons begged him to let them enter into the pigs. So Jesus gave them permission. 33 Then the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the entire herd plunged down the steep hillside into the lake and drowned.
34 When the herdsmen saw it, they fled to the nearby town and the surrounding countryside, spreading the news as they ran. 35 People rushed out to see what had happened. A crowd soon gathered around Jesus, and they saw the man who had been freed from the demons. He was sitting at Jesus’ feet, fully clothed and perfectly sane, and they were all afraid. 36 Then those who had seen what happened told the others how the demon-possessed man had been healed. 37 And all the people in the region of the Gerasenes begged Jesus to go away and leave them alone, for a great wave of fear swept over them.
So Jesus returned to the boat and left, crossing back to the other side of the lake. 38 The man who had been freed from the demons begged to go with him. But Jesus sent him home, saying, 39 “No, go back to your family, and tell them everything God has done for you.” So he went all through the town proclaiming the great things Jesus had done for him.
Another great story, again emphasizing the power of Jesus. Last week it was power over nature, here it is power over the demonic forces that had ruined this man. The geography here is of particular importance: Jesus had left the Jewish nation and gone to the Gentiles. The region mentioned is Gentile territory, which is also clear in the detail of the story of the “large herd of pigs”, which Mark tells us had 2000 pigs in it (Mk 5:13). Pigs were “unclean” animals, with no role or purpose for Jews, so it seems clear we are in gentile territory dealing with gentile people. Here is how one commentator introduces this passage:
“At a fundamental level, then, this text concerns the crossing of boundaries in Jesus’ mission, and more particularly the offer of salvation in the Gentile world. Within the larger setting of this account, this emphasis is striking, for Luke thus portrays how the lessons of the story of the sower (8:4-21) are appropriate to the Gentile world too. Here is a man, first full of demons, then saved, who responds as a disciple and becomes the first person commissioned by Jesus for missionary activity” (Joel Green, Luke, NICNT, p. 336).