Go back home

I’ve always liked the story of Jesus healing the man possessed by many demons (Legion). It appears in the three synoptic, or similar, Gospels: Mark (5:1-20), Matthew (8:28-34), and Luke (8:26-39). Let’s quickly hit the highlights from Mark’s account because I want to focus on the end (Jesus always delivers a big finish). Here we go.

Jesus and his disciples sail across the sea of Galilee. As soon as Jesus exits the boat, he is met by a dangerous man. He lives in the tombs, cries out night and day while cutting himself with stones, and can’t be bound because he is too strong. Scary dude, but remarkable. Tremendous strength.

Jesus looks beyond his behavior to see his problem. He commands the unclean spirit to leave him and asks the spirit its name. “Legion,” it replies, “because we are many.” The spirit acknowledges Jesus’ supreme authority and asks to be cast out of the man into a nearby herd of pigs. Jesus does so and the pigs go mad. The entire herd of 2000 rush off a steep bank into the sea and are drowned. Amazing. This legion of unclean spirits is so violent and psychotic that the pigs’ only response to their presence is to rush to their death. However, the possessed man was able to contain that terror alone and survive.

After their pigs are killed, the people come to Jesus and ask Him to leave. This is an unfortunate truth. Not everyone welcomes God’s power. Some would rather just live the way they already know, even if it is disappointing or unfulfilling. At least they know how it works, right?

The man is now healed. He is dressed and in his right mind. This strong, substantial man is now anxious to follow Jesus. In fact, he begs. Jesus’ response always surprised me. He denies his pleas and says:

Go back home to your own people, and report to them how much the Lord has done for you and how He has had mercy on you.

This man is begging to leave his home and follow Jesus. How could Jesus deny his request? Maybe it is because, when God performs a miracle in your life, you now have a responsibility to share it. You’ve been given a gift and now it is your honor to share that gift by telling others what God has done for you. In that way, they may also know about Jesus’ power and also be healed.

The man’s response is tremendous. From Luke’s account (v. 39): “And off he went, proclaiming throughout the town all that Jesus had done for him.” He doesn’t throw a fit because he did not get his way. Instead, he complies immediately with Jesus’ answer and does so with enthusiasm.

You have the same invitation, the same remarkable opportunity. Have you accepted Jesus into your heart? Have you been saved from your sin? This miracle is equally weighty and dramatic. You have also been saved from the tombs. Now you can choose to follow Jesus’ command and “report to them how much the Lord has done for you and how He has had mercy on you.”

Go back home!

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About Tony Schmitz

Tony Schmitz received his BS in Mechanical Engineering from Temple University in 1993, his MS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida in 1996, and his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida in 1999. He is a mechanical engineering professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
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