Today’s reading comes to us in the form of Mark 5.
At the end of Mark 4 yesterday, Jesus calmed the storm and caused the disciples to ask themselves, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” (Mark 4:41). Here in chapter 5 the answer emerged from an unlikely source--namely a man possessed by a large number of demons. This man “the demoniac of Gadara” knew exactly who this man was and he called him, “Jesus, Son of the Most High God” (v. 7). After Jesus liberated this man from his demons (vv. 8-13), the word about Christ spread and people in the town came out to see for themselves. They found the man “sitting there, dressed and in his right mind” (v. 15) He was most likely listening to Jesus teach.
This man had terrorized this region (vv. 3-5), yet after Jesus released him, the people in the town “were afraid” (v. 15c) and “began to plead with Jesus to leave their region” (v. 17). After Christ did what nobody else and even the strongest metal chains could not do, I would expect them to want Jesus to stay. Wouldn’t you want to more about this powerful man? Wouldn’t this demonstration of his divine power make you want to know more?
But that didn’t happen in this case. The people were not in awe of Jesus, begging to be transformed by his power. They were afraid of Jesus and wanted him to leave. Scripture does not specifically tell us why they did not respond positively to Jesus but given the truths about the human heart we read in other passages of scripture, it seems likely that they had sins they did not want to turn away from. While nowhere near as sinful and scary as the demon possessed man, they still had things they wanted to hide from God. Maybe the man Jesus delivered made them feel better about their own sins since they could easily point to someone who was “worse.” But if Jesus could transform a man who was that sold-out to Satan, what excuse could the average sinner have for not receiving Christ in faith and repentance?
Have you ever seen someone transformed by Christ and felt odd about being in that person’s presence? Does someone else’s testimony of spiritual growth or deliverance from sin make you feel exposed? When you see God dramatically transform someone else, does your heart cry out for that kind of transformation too or are you more likely to stay away from that person and hope they don’t rub off on you. The people who asked Jesus to leave there region were not Christians. That’s why they asked Jesus to leave--they didn’t want to become his children. But even we Christians sometimes are repelled by someone else’s spiritual transformation, so much so that we put some separation between them and us. Don’t do that! Rejoice whenever God saves someone or sparks a work of dramatic growth in their lives. Then, humble yourself and ask God to work in your life, too.