'The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him, but Jesus 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 8:38-39
This passage of scripture strikes us modern readers as odd. Stories of demon possession and pigs diving over cliffs aren’t what most of us face in our daily schedule. But there’s more room for us in this passage than we might first assume. This man who encounters Jesus is commonly called “The Gadarene,” “Gerasene,” or simply “The demon-possessed man,” depending on which translation of scripture you might use.
The Gadarene’s encounter with Jesus is different than other healing miracles recorded in the Book of Luke. The Gadarene wants to follow Jesus, but is instructed to stay home. Does this also strike you as odd? Perhaps it should. The Gadarene’s life is changed drastically, and certainly for the better! In such a situation, the only right response seems to follow Jesus. This man’s life was a wreck, and Jesus was the only One who is able to make a difference. The Gadarene was safe with Jesus, safe even from himself.
But how does Jesus respond? “Stay here and declare how much God has done for you.” Stay here, where you’ve alienated and terrified those around you for years. Stay here, where the despair of your life drove you to the isolation of a cemetery. As John Bloom said, “It was a hard call to return to the place where he had known demons, chains, tombs, self-mutilation, public humiliation, abuse, loneliness, and suicidal torment. But it was there that the grace of God in his life would shine the brightest.”
We see in the Gadarene’s life that no person is beyond the love and rescue of Jesus Christ. God gave His only Son as a ransom to free us from the hold of shame, guilt, and sin. But we also see that there is no where that Jesus Christ, in His love and wisdom, might not invite us to follow. There are no options off the table with Jesus. He is Lord and He has complete discretion over our lives. We are His.
This is hard, certainly. We all struggle when God’s plans differ from our own, especially when we assumed them to be good plans. Moreover, we hear no shortage of voices telling us that only we know what is right for our lives, that we must be true to our own hearts. But if Jesus Christ is who He claims to be, and He both created us, and rescued us, can He also be trusted when we find His agenda to be different than our own? Can we trust that He knows what is right for our lives?
As with the Gadarene, what shall we say if His plans differ from ours? Shall we respond that we know better than He? Shall we call Him cold, unkind, and unfair? He’s the One who was willing and able to rescue and heal us when none other could. Where has Jesus invited you to trust Him with the unexpected? Will you join the Gadarene, and trust that the unexpected call is where the grace of God in your life will shine the brightest?
Questions for Reflection
1. Do you think Jesus was upset with this man for wanting to come with Him?
2. How do you think this man felt hearing Jesus’s command to stay? Can you relate to this man in any way?
3. What reasons did this man have for trusting Jesus and joyfully obeying Him?
4. What reasons do you have for being able to trust Jesus? Read Romans 8:31-39 and see what other reasons you can find to trust God when His plan is different from yours.
5. What will if look like for you to trust Jesus Christ and follow Him in the unexpected calls He’s made in your life? In what ways will you let the grace of God shine brightest in your family?
Quoted Excerpt from John Bloom article: “The Gadarene: When Following Jesus Means Going Home” http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-gadarene-when-following-jesus-means-going- home. accessed 6/17/14.
Photo courtesy of (cc) 2014 sis/siskata.
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