He was in a desperate place. He had no friends, no family to engage with him, and no love to comfort him. It was a life of his making.
Somewhere along the way he entertained things that God forbids and fell to the influence of evil. Evil to such an extent that, on more than one occasion, he was seized, shackled and kept under guard ~ only to break the chains and flee. His refuge became the tombs of the Gerasenes; artificial caves carved into the rock of the hillside and used as a burial place for the dead. Though breath filled his lungs, the condition of his life reflected his surroundings; a setting his boyhood dreams would never have envisioned. His was a life of isolation. Apart from the occasional songs of birds or nighttime chirp of crickets, he was alone and tormented in his soul. Then something happened.
A boat was making its way to that region. Having just battled a storm on the Sea of Galilee ~ a storm Jesus had quieted with a single command ~ the weary men guided the sails toward the shore. Unknown to them, a storm was still raging there. The journey to this place had been intentionally guided by the One they called Master for He had a divine appointment.
Stepping onto the shore, Jesus walked toward the crazed, naked man who had been dwelling among the tombs. The man must have watched His approaching steps with fear, for he cried out and fell at Jesus’ feet. “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don’t torture me!”
Torture was the very thing Jesus had come to deliver him from, yet the spirit of evil that reigned over him for so long prevented such understanding. He could only recognize that he was in the presence of the Christ from whom nothing could be hidden. Jesus knew the heart of the man standing before Him, the force of the demons within him and the cunning of the tempter that snared him. This day, they would be separated out ~ the demons into pigs, the Tempter into his subordinate position and the man into the mercy of his Maker.
The herdsmen ran to spread the story and as alarmed people arrived, they found as astounding scene. The once-crazed demoniac was sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind! He had been freed from the power of evil. Eyewitnesses were stunned, but rather than standing in awe of God, they stood in trepidation and asked Jesus … to leave. It was too much. This Jesus catapulted them from the familiar to the unimaginable and their world had been shaken. The pig herders lost income in exchange for a man they wouldn’t give two cents for and those who knew of the demoniac were agitated that someone showed mercy to him. Asking Jesus to leave would return life to the way they understood it ~ except for one thing.
The 8th Chapter of Luke records it. “The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with Him, but Jesus sent him away, saying ‘Return home and tell how much God has done for you.’ So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him.” (NIV verses 38-39)
Ponder that for a moment. This desperately sinful man who had encountered the love of God wanted to follow Jesus. The publicly respectable people who came in curiosity dismissed not only the miracle, but the Savior they were in equal need of. Yet Jesus still entrusted His message of grace to be carried by the undeserving to the unreceptive.
It was no small mission. He was a man with a past. It would have been so much easier to have left with Jesus and started fresh somewhere else, somewhere he wasn’t known. But that wasn’t the Lord’s plan for him. Jesus had healed him, saved him and sent him to be a living testimony of God’s redeeming love. And he was. The sin and shame that once kept him in hiding no longer had power over him. God delivered this one who had lived among the dead and transformed him to preach life to the dying. Amazing!
And it’s just as amazing for you and me because, in truth, we stand in one of these two camps. The unreceptive, striving for the life of our own making, or the undeserving, humbled by the Savior who sees us as we are and loves us too much to leave us there.
Is there something keeping you in an isolated place? Cry out to Jesus. Come to Him as you are, fall at His feet with your sin nature fully exposed and let him cloth you with His righteousness. The power of God’s love will liberate you from hiding in a lifeless existence, restore you by faith and empower you with the joy of new life. Be prepared for people to notice.