Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Love says NO

Mark 5 has one of my favourite stories in the Bible.  The man of Gadarenes (or Garasenes) must have been filled with demons, for there were enough to enter 2000 pigs.  

They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit. He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones. And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him. And crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” For he was saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. Now a great herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and they begged him, saying, “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 were drowned in the sea. 
The herdsmen fled and told it in the city and in the country. And people came to see what it was that had happened. And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. And those who had seen it described to them what had happened to the demon-possessed man and to the pigs. And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their region. As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. 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.” And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled. 
(Mark 5:1-20 ESV)

No wonder he could not be restrained!  He cut himself; he cried out night and day; he resisted any attempts to stop him from harming his own body.  He was a mess.

And yet, when Jesus stepped in, this man changed.  Completely.  Where before he was naked and unstoppable, now he was sitting there, peaceful, clothed, contented.  Where he'd been out of his mind in a frenzy of pain and anguish, he now was in his right mind.

It must have been frightening to see this transformation.  It was so scary that the townspeople begged Jesus to leave.

But what did the man do?

What would YOU have done?  

If I'd been crazy and angry and self-destructive and unable to change MY behaviour, then all of a sudden was transformed, clothed, and in my right mind, I'd have wanted to spend some time with the guy who'd made the change in me.

That's exactly what this changed man did.  He followed Jesus down to the shore.  He begged Jesus to let him come with Him.  He wanted to spend time with Him.  He wanted to be with this wonderful Saviour who had changed his life completely.  

Jesus looked at him, I am sure, with compassion.  He looked at him, I am sure, with love.   And then He did the unthinkable.  He said NO.

"What, Lord?  You mean You do not want to have me follow You?  You don't want me to serve You, to help You in Your ministry, to fetch You some water or a bit of bread?  I want to be WITH YOU!"

And Jesus said NO.

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.

Jesus knew what was best for this man.  He knew he'd obey, and go faithfully to his loved ones and townspeople, proclaiming to everyone how much Jesus had done for him.  

So, in love, He sent him away.

What about you?  Is there something you've longed for?  Some ministry you've wanted to participate in?  Some spiritual service you've been dying to do, yet the door seems closed to you?

Sometimes, in love, Jesus says No.  Sometimes, in love, He sends us away.

Compassionate and Merciful God, 
You take wretched, tormented sinners
    and give them a new heart
                              a white robe
                              a right mind...
You call them by Your grace
        and give them work to do;
Yet how often we, Your children
        long to do works You have not planned.
We want to walk with You 
                 to be the Pastors' wives
                           the missionaries
                           the speakers
                            the writers.
And You say NO.
         You tell us, "Stay home!"
          You tell us to tell our friends
                                         our family
                                         our teens
                                         our toddlers
                    how much the Lord has done
             and how He has had mercy.
Help us, Compassionate and Merciful Father,
to be content in the obscurity of our homes
                        in the wiping of noses
                 and in the settling of disputes
    with *only* our families to teach.
Help us to proclaim EVERYTHING
      Jesus has done for us,
So that All will marvel,
and that the name of Jesus will be praised,
                forever and ever, Amen.


  1. No doesn't always mean never. I really enjoyed this one.

  2. Oh, you got me with this post. I never like the answer 'no', even from my Lord. This is a lesson I never saw in the man of Gadarenes before - thank you for the insight!


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