Summary: Jesus gives purpose to life.
“THE WONDER OF HIS PURPOSE”
George Moore tells the true story of Irish peasants in the depression era that were hired by a wealthy benefactor to build some roads. When they started the job the men worked well, they sang their Irish songs and put their total energies into the job. They were so glad to be back to work again. But little by little they discovered that the roads they were building were not leading anywhere. They simply ran out into the country-side and stopped. This philanthroper, meaning well, had given them a meaningless job in order to feed them and supply a living wage. As the truth began to dawn on them they stopped their singing, lost their enthusiasm and became listless. Commenting on the incident the author said, “For a man to work well and sing, there must be an end in sight. The roads to nowhere are difficult to build.”
There are many people in our culture who are working, trying to build their lives, but who have also lost their enthusiasm. They just plod on day after day, going nowhere, having no joy, no song, because the roads of their lives aren’t leading anywhere. Such a man is described in today’s text. This man’s life lacked meaning, his road stretched out to nowhere. He, like many people in our day, had no purpose in life. But Jesus Christ enters the scene and changes everything. And the transformation Jesus brings to this man, He still offers today.. The wonder of a life of purpose, a life of meaning and joy. So before you tune this incident out as not being applicable because this man is demon possessed, let’s give careful attention to it, because many of us have more in common with this man than we realize.
This incident is recorded for us in 3 of the books on Jesus’ life.. Matthew, Mark & Luke. We’ve printed the text from Luke for you but we will be referring to all three accounts in order to obtain a complete picture of the details. Mark describes this event as taking place in the evening hours. Jesus and his disciples have been on the lake and so when they land their boat at the shore of the section of country known as the Gerascenes, it was probably twilight if not dark. Use your imagination for a moment. The disciple’s bring their boat to the shore. They’ve spent a tiring day and now all they hear is the sound of the water gently lapping against the boat as they pull it on shore, the sea gulls are calling... then suddenly.. The quiet is shattered by a piercing scream. It sounds human and yet, unearthly. Seemingly, out of nowhere, a wounded, naked man- hair matted, eyes wild, broken chains rattling from his wrists and ankles, runs at Jesus and the disciples.. and what happens next between Jesus and this man is miraculous and brings us hope and purpose. What exactly did they see?
I. A POSSESSED LIFE: Vss: 26-29
First, they saw a possessed life. Vs:27 is very clear, “..a demon possessed man” is who met them. Mark describes him as “a man with an evil spirit.” Now, let’s take a brief side-road for a moment and discuss demon possession. It has always been interesting to me that the Bible speaks of demon possession so matter-of-factly. Not a whole lot of explanation, certainly without apology or excuse. Some today find it impossible that evil spirits or demons exist or that they could use a body as a “host” much like in the movie “End of Days.” But the Bible simply says it existed when Jesus walked the earth. The question on many people’s minds is: “Does it exist today?” The answer to that question, bottom line, is “yes.” Demon possession can happen today. But let me offer you a couple of qualifiers. (1) I don’t believe it is as prevalent today as it was in Jesus’ time. In His time satan was launching an all out attack on the Son of God and so took people captive much more frequently than he does today. (2) I think it is extremely rare that demon possession is so obvious as it was in this man... “The Exorcist”, the demon like creatures in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and other modern media not withstanding. I mean think about it.. If satan was so obvious that everyone spit up pea green soup or became maniacal in their looks, he might not be too hard to resist. Satan is much more subtle today, and unfortunately, very successful. (3) And this is very important.. I don’t believe that satan has the power to take a person against their will. Demon possession can happen today but... demon possession happens to those who are open to it. This is especially critical to understand. The Bible is very clear that satan cannot possess you unless you court him. 1 Tim. 4:2 does say that some will do that.. “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.” The key there is they will abandon the faith.. If you follow Christ you must remember, as John wrote in 1 Jn. 4:4 - “Greater is He (Jesus) that is in you, than he (satan) that is in the world.” You don’t have to walk afraid that a demon is going to pounce on you in surprise, he cannot take you against your will. Now, don’t make the mistake of thinking that satan cannot possess you if you court him.. it begins with small advances. An interest in the occult, Ouija boards, voodoo.. Don’t underestimate the adversary.. Do nothing to open yourself to his dark, power.