Mark 5:19 - "And he did not permit him but said to him, 'Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you."
This is such a powerful and motivating statement from Jesus! This sentence is part of Mark's conclusion to the account of the delivery of the Gerasene Demoniac. The Demoniac was a man who had been possessed by many unclean spirits. Those spirits drove him to live an isolated and painful existence among the tombs and in the mountains. He was delivered from the unclean spirits when Jesus sent them into a herd of swine, which subsequently drowned in the sea. When the locals were told what had happened they rushed to the spot and found the previously uncontrollable wild-man calmly sitting and in his right mind. As Jesus began to get back into the boat to leave, the delivered man begged to remain with Jesus. However, Jesus responded that the man was to stay and tell people what all had been done for him.
There are many important lessons God intends us to learn from this text, of which these stand out:
- This is a powerful example of Christ overcoming spiritual forces hostile to God.
- This is also a great text to emphasize the inherent evangelistic responsibility/privilege of those who have been delivered by God.
- All of chapter 5 is a testament to the fact that Christ cares about all people (he delivers a Gentile Demoniac, he heals a perpetually unclean Israelite woman and he raises a 12-year-old little girl from the dead).
- More than that, the immediate text (vs. 1-20) highlights the lengths to which Christ will go to save even one person!
More needs to be said about point #4. Did you ever notice that the stormy crossing of the Sea of Galilee is how Jesus got to the Demoniac (Mark 4:35-41), and that upon helping him Jesus got right back into the boat and returned to Capernaum on the other side of the sea? Jesus didn't just get into a boat one day for the sole purpose of miraculously demonstrating his divine power over creation. He made a round trip boat ride for the sake of one demon-oppressed Gentile. What does it say about Jesus that he was willing to do that?
Making the connection between Christ's stormy crossing of the sea in order to reach one person reminds me of Matt. 23:15 but in reverse. In that verse Jesus rebuked the scribes and Pharisees for traveling "over sea and land" to make a single, hypocritical proselyte. But flip that verse around. If people with the selfish motives of the Pharisees were willing to go to such impressive lengths to impact someone, then to what lengths should someone with genuine, loving motives go to deliver someone? The healing of the Demoniac is a real life example of Jesus' parable of the lost sheep (Lk. 15:1-7) where he tells the story of a shepherd, who out of his great concern for the well-being of a single, lost sheep was willing to go to extraordinary lengths to safely bring it back to the fold.
As you make the connection between Jesus calming the storm on the Sea of Galilee in order to bring peace to the life of an oppressed Gentile in the country of the Gerasenes, remember to what lengths he was willing to go in order to deliver and redeem you! Praise God for such a loving and compassionate Savior! And out your great love and admiration, joyfully tell everyone how much the Lord has done for you!