“As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.” Mark 5:18-20
This is the story of a man who was so heavily demon-possessed that he lived among the tombs of the dead. He had supernatural strength, nobody could tame him, and he would spend all day and night crying out and cutting himself. Jesus cast out the demons into a herd of about 2000 pigs and the pigs ran violently over a cliff and into the sea. This is a scary scene to read. The power of demon-possession is nothing to make light of…but that is another topic for another time.
What has impacted me lately is the short conversation between the man and Jesus after Jesus has made him well. This man’s life has just been radically healed, both physically and spiritually. He will no longer be living amongst the dead. He will no longer be tormented in his mind and soul. He had an encounter with Jesus and now he is FREE. Can you imagine what he must be feeling? The quietness of his inner thoughts, the calm in his spirit, the peace of knowing he is no longer a slave to those evil spirits. Maybe he has a family to return to or friends to reconnect with, maybe even a lost love. His whole future has just opened wide! So what do we read is the first thing that he says? He wants to go with Jesus. He doesn’t ask to return home or to go find his family. All he wants is to follow Jesus and just be with Him. We can tell from the man’s request that he doesn’t want Jesus only for what He can do for him. This man has become a follower of Jesus and his heart has been forever changed! But Jesus tells him that he must return home. My heart hurts for him a little because he simply wants to be with his Saviour. Then Jesus gives him a great calling: he must go and tell his story, of how Jesus loved him and saved him and healed him.
This really spoke to me, partly because I have probably glossed over it in the past, not really applying it to myself. But as I have walked hard journeys and waited on miracles from God, I find this command really resonating with me. When God gives us a blessing, a long-awaited answer to prayer, a powerful encounter in His presence, the temptation can be to remain in that comfortable, refreshing place. I love to sing and worship and many times I just want to sit in God’s presence, basking in His awesomeness. I want to stay in that safe place, just me and God. Don’t get me wrong…worship and waiting are vitally necessary, friends. We must spend time in God’s presence to grow and to learn to hear His voice. But there will come times in our lives when we must get up and go. We cannot stay in the comfort of our worship space all the time. We must go home and tell our story. Our encounters with God, His miracles, and our lives are our testimony of His goodness, redemption and love. If we sit in our comfortable routine and never step out, how will others know what He has done for us? How will they know what He can do for them?
Jesus knew that this man would greatly impact all those around him. They had witnessed his previous life of demon-possession and now they will get to see the change. The stark contrast of the old life to the new can be a powerful testimony. Nobody could tell this man’s story like he could himself and God would get all the glory for it. Jesus didn’t give the man a script to follow, of what to say and what not to. He simply said to go and tell your friends of all the Lord has done for you and how He had mercy on you.
The command hasn’t changed, friends. If we’ve met Jesus, we have a testimony. We have a story to tell that is as unique as our DNA and it will impact others around us. There are people that need to hear about God’s love. They need to hear our honest experiences so they can come to know God too. Be encouraged! God will guide your words, if you let Him. He will bring people to you (or you to them), as I’m sure He did for the man in our story. God wants to work with us to share His Good News and He will give us opportunity, if we offer ourselves to be used by Him. A dear friend once told me that if we learn to “pray first, speak second” God can do amazing things through us. It’s a discipline to put into practice but it will enable us to follow God’s direction and speak life into those around us that are hurting and need a touch from Jesus.
“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…” 1 Peter 3:15
“…do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.” Mark 13:11
Love and blessings,