Saturday, May 21, 2011

My 2011 Assignment...Pilgrimage Begins #1...

After hearing a reading of scripture on the radio in January, I felt moved to delve more deeply into the words Jesus spoke to the man from whom he had cast a legion of demons. (My post of May 19, 2011 gives background to this note.)  The specific words that had pierced my mind and heart were these:
“Return home and tell how much God has done for you.”
The context for that quote is in the following verses:

Luke 8: 38-39   
The man from whom the demons had gone out 
begged to go with him, 
but Jesus sent him away, saying, 
“Return home and tell how much God has done for you.”   
So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him.

As I thought about what Jesus was asking of this man, I felt compelled to read as much of the story as could be found in scripture.  Here is the story:
Luke 8: 26-39  They sailed to the region of the Gerasenes, which is across the lake from Galilee. 27 When Jesus stepped ashore, he was met by a demon-possessed man from the town. For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs. 28 When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don’t torture me!” 29 For Jesus had commanded the impure spirit to come out of the man. Many times it had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and had been driven by the demon into solitary places.  30 Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”
   “Legion,” he replied, because many demons had gone into him. 31 And they begged Jesus repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss.
 32 A large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside. The demons begged Jesus to let them go into the pigs, and he gave them permission. 33 When the demons came out of the man, they went into the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.
 34 When those tending the pigs saw what had happened, they ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, 35 and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus’ feet, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. 36 Those who had seen it told the people how the demon-possessed man had been cured. 37 Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear. So he got into the boat and left.
 38 The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39 “Return home and tell how much God has done for you.” So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him.
As I read this story, I thought of how this healed man would respond to Jesus' exhortation to "tell how much God has done for you".  Just think of how much God had done for him!  His life had been so messed up.  He had been so isolated and so out of control.  He had done such awful things both to himself and to those who had attempted to help him.  He lived in a cemetery where he was unclothed and homeless!  His pain must have been huge.  He must have longed for healing and hope and relief from the forces of evil who sought to destroy his sanity and life.  And into this man's neighborhood, came Jesus with his compassion and power.  He recognized the evil which dwelt within this tortured man and spoke words which would release this man from his despair and pain.  And following the expulsion and drowning of the evil spirits, the freed man received clothing and a healthy mind which immediately began to listen and learn at the feet of Jesus.  Think of how he must have treasured those moments with Jesus.  He must have been so thirsty for the Truth which had set him free.  How he must have longed for continuation of those loving words and actions from his redeemer.  No wonder he begged to go with Jesus when he left the area.  But Jesus had set him on a path which he knew would be followed and he gave him a huge, important assignment - tell your story at home.

The healed demoniac had so much to tell about what God had done for him.  And with Jesus' instruction to "return home and tell...", this man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him.  He was free, healthy, loved and grateful.  His story was powerful and he obeyed Jesus' instruction to "tell" his story.

But what was the response of those who witnessed this miracle?  Let's explore that next.

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