Practical Proverbial, from Mark, 20 February 2015

When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High GoGod? In d’s name don’t torture me!” For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you impure spirit!” Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”   “My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area. Mark 5, verses 6-10.

The demons knew who Jesus was; we talked about that yesterday.   If demons knew who Jesus was, then so do Nazis, ISIS terrorists, KKK racists, the LRA in Sudan, atheists in college towns, and any other kind of petty or large evil person…even you and me.   Jesus is self-evident even to those who deny it and want to replace Him with themselves or some other shoddy image.

What’s more: those same demons acknowledged Jesus as God.   True, there’s a fine line between this statement and the one in the last paragraph, but isn’t it also true to say that there’s a difference between knowing who Jesus is and publicly acknowledging the fact? The demons in the man cried out through him that they not only knew Jesus but acknowledged Him as God.  Thoughts became words and actions.

Still, many kinds of demons meant that the man endured many kinds of torture. I have only known a few truly schizophrenic people but those I’ve known are the closest thing I can imagine to being demon-possessed.   The voices in the man were indeed real and they tortured his thoughts, his actions, his dreams, his every emotion and movement. Can you imagine living like that?   It’s not even a life, really.   It’s more like simply existing.

So what did Jesus do about it? Jesus commanded the demons to stop and they did. The demon (the representative of the ‘legion’ which might have been one or thousands) was told to come out of the man and it did. It couldn’t resist the simple command of the simple Man from Galilee.

Now comes the big question:   so what?   To some, this is a nice story about how Jesus did a kind thing for a stranger.   So what?

Well, for starters, you can either accept that line of reasoning or accept that the story is true. It either happened or it didn’t.   And if it didn’t happen, then, yes, it’s just a nice story.   But then that’s all you’ve got.

Or…

…Or, you can accept that it really happened. That the story is an account of something that really happened a very long time ago.   That there really was a man living in a cemetery.   That He really was tortured by imps of hell.   That there really was a man named Jesus who really did command the demons to come out of the man, and that they did.   And if all that is true, then whatever else is said about Jesus must also be true; you can’t simply cherry pick the Bible.   And if the rest of His life is true as well, then it’s also true that what He did for the stranger in the land of the Gerasenes He can do for you or me today.   Now that is a good thought for the day.

Lord, I believe all that is said in Scripture concerning You. Thank You for what You did for the man living among the tombs.

Read Mark 5, verses 1-20.

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Practical Proverbial, from Mark, 19 February 2015

This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones. Mark 5, verses 3-5.

Does sin bind us the way this man was bound?

The man from the tombs was troubled.   He had the ‘Legion’ of demons tormenting him from the inside-out. He couldn’t live in a town; he couldn’t live in a house.   The man didn’t have a job, couldn’t be trusted around other people, and was both terrified and terrifying all the time to everyone who met him.   His strength was enormous, like a miniature Hulk; strong enough that iron chains couldn’t hold him.   He physically mutilated himself because of his condition, and his cries and anguish were real and loud and unnerving. This all happened because of the evil inhabiting him.

And yet this man probably went on to do great things in the name of Jesus.   This past Sunday, my pastor reminded the congregation that, after this episode in Mark 5, Jesus and the disciples later returned to the region of the Gerasenes. Where before there had been a community of anxious, frightened pagans, there was now a group of Jesus-following believers.   Nobody knows how that happened, yet, it seems likely it happened because of the testimony this man from the tombs soon shared with his townsmen.

Can you believe that?   And it happened even though he had formerly been possessed by thousands of demon angels?   We can’t noodle that supernatural thing; it’s beyond our ‘modern’ understanding.   Yet the condition of the man isn’t beyond us because it’s the same one that plagues you and me today.   We are bound by our sins.   If we let it happen, we can be defined by them.   We pay the earthly penalties and consequences for our wrongs, and if we refuse to believe in Jesus we will pay an eternal one when He removes His love from our lives.

Don’t believe me?   Ever got a speeding ticket?   That’s a legal infraction; because we break even earthly just law, we sin.   Accordingly, there is the fine, the insurance points, maybe even court actions or the loss of driving privilege. All of that happens because we exceed a defined limit.   It’s no different with other sins.   Ever have an affair? Guilt, destruction, pain, division, anger, and hurt are all that ever result.   Ever murder someone (or harbor a grudge)? How does that make you feel inside? The list goes on and on whether we follow Jesus or not.   Even those who do not acknowledge these wrongs as “sin” can understand the negative consequences of them; even they can understand how our wrongs can bind us.   Shouldn’t we believers acknowledge it more?

How much more amazing it is, then, to discover how Jesus frees us from this.   We’ll learn about it tomorrow.

Jesus, I believe You and only You can free me from my sin, from the heart-pain that has resulted from it and my actions.   I pray now for Your comfort and reminder yet again.

Read Mark 5, verses 1-20.