|Create Date||February 7, 2017|
|Last Updated||June 15, 2017|
(For word document click title above) Who was the first ambassador/missionary Jesus commissioned? Believe it or not it was a mad man! But he was a madman turned missionary.
Madman from the Graveyard
Redhill. 29 January 2017. Presented by Gordon Green
Who was the first ambassador/missionary Jesus commissioned? Believe it or not it was a mad man! But he was a madman turned missionary.
His story is found in the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke.
In Mark 4:35 Jesus said “Let us go over to the other side” and so he and his disciples had left the small fishing village of Capernaum by boat and sailed across the Sea of Galilee. On the way a storm blew up and Jesus calmed the waves. They continued and sailed to the country of the Gerasenes (about 15km from Capernaum). This was something very unusual to do because it it was mainly inhabited by Gentiles – pagan worshippers. Jews did not mix with them.
As soon as Jesus stepped out onto the shore a crazy man stormed out from the graveyards. Can you imagine this wild, naked man running towards Jesus? Does that sound like someone you would like to be friends with or bring to church? I don’t think anyone of us would even like to live next door to him? No he is the type of person we all would avoid – except Jesus. His disciples were horrified but Jesus wasn’t. No one had a place for him - except Jesus.
He was possessed by demons but in Jesus’ presence they began to cower. They were helpless and they begged, “send us to the pigs; let us enter them. So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the pigs; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the sea” (verses 12-13). Perhaps they felt safer than in the presence of God.As the stunned disciples looked on, Jesus went into action and God delivered the crazy man.
When the people came to see what had happened they “came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed] man...sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid (v15)” He was no longer a walking madhouse. Everyone was amazed at Jesus’ great power. Strangely the people began to beg Jesus to leave the area. Most likely it was a fear of change. Change is hard work. It is easier to follow the same old path than to move out into unchartered territory. Seems they just wanted their old ways.
“Then 18 as he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. 19 and he did not permit him.” That was a strange way to treat a new believer. Why wouldn’t Jesus take him along? But said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, tell them your story and how he has had mercy on you.” 20 and he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis (a group of cities in the area) how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marvelled.”
- If you are going to learn to love others you are going to have to get to know them
When Jesus said “let us go over to the other side” he was saying let’s go and visit them. Jews didn’t do this – they didn’t mix with others. People hate others of different races, beliefs, cultures but have never met them. They have never sat and had tea or a meal with them. They have never met at a coffee shop, pulled out their phones and shared pictures of their children with them.
- We all have our demons
That is an expression and doesn’t mean we are demon possessed like this man. But you’ve heard people talking about someone and they say “he’s got his demons...” meaning that he has got his issues, his baggage. He’s got problems with anger, bitterness, jealousy, anxiety, greed etc. He has things in his life that cause cause anguish, guilt, self-doubt. So it’s not about being possessed by demon but being influenced by Satan (by self, society etc). Ephesians 4:27 ”Do not give the devil a foothold.” This is not about being demon possessed but a warning against giving the devil opportunities to work in our lives. For example, if we nurse our anger or bitterness or resentments we give Satan an opportunity to divide families, friendship, churches.
Another example: We’ve all heard the whisper: “I am not.... “ - clever, beautiful, loved, good enough, accepted etc. We believe these lies and they penetrate our souls and produce shame, fear, insecurity, anxiety, guilt, hypersensitivity, pain. They influence the way we see ourselves, the way we relate. These beliefs take up residence and produce a fruit which begins to grow. Willie Nelson sung a song with these lyrics: “The bitter fruit of anger growing from the seeds of jealousy.” The song continues; ”Oh what a heart ache but I forgive the things you said to me. For I believe forgiving is the only way I'll find peace of mind.”
In Luke’s account he says “ then people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind,”
- Make time to sit at the feet of Jesus.
“Sitting at the feet of Jesus.” We find this same expression in the story of Mary and Martha. Jesus said that Mary had chosen that which was better. To sit at Jesus’ feet means to quieten oneself down and listen and learn. It means we tell ourselves, remind ourselves who we really are. It’s about reminding yourself that Jesus is in you and you are in him. You may be feeling fear, a lack of self worth, unloved etc. All anger, resentment, bitterness, self loathing is not who we really are - but it is something that is happening to you. We are not in our right minds when we have these toxic thoughts, beliefs. But when we sit with Jesus in contemplative prayer healing happens and we begin to come into our right mind. So we need to learn to calm ourselves and sit in the presence of Jesus- even if it is only for a few minutes! Go over Psalm 23 – The Lord is my shepherd....” for example. When your are in your right mind you know you are loved by God. The man in the story was being encountered with unconditional love – and so are we.
But the Christian life is not only about having “quiet time with Jesus”.
- Jesus sends. Where is he sending you?
“.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.”
Ask God to show you want he wants you to do. Pray “Whatever you are blessing today Lord I am available if you would like me to participate in it.” or “Make it clear what you want me to do. Mother Theresa said “What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.”
You see He had greater plans for him. The man who once had demons in him now had Jesus in him. He had no training. No teaching.
Would you have sent someone to people who didn’t want you around? But Jesus did. And he still does. He still sends the good news of who Jesus is and who we are because of Jesus - to the unworthy.
And he still uses the unworthy as messengers. That’s you and me.