John Carter – October 9, 2014 – Mark 5:1-20 – Gospel
Short Term Mission Trip
Short Term Mission Trip
The human condition is one of death and despair. We live among the walking dead crying out for mercy. We go to unspeakable lengths just to find solace. When depression sets in we are left bound by the shackles of the world and left to live among the dead only to be tormented with the demons inside. Without out hope. Without love. Without mercy.
An unpopular doctrine of the human condition is that we deserve the misery that we are drowning in. The pain of this life is not fair. Our pain should be much worse. When we take into consideration our sin and then compare our sin to the holiness of God we begin to see how easy we have it. But then to exasperate the problem, our sin is not against man but against God. The wrath that we deserve will not even begin to be ‘paid off’ even after an eternity. So we are wise to look at this life and beg God for mercy. For with the mercy of God we will find rest and solace. With the mercy of God we will find hope. With the mercy of God we will find ourselves feasting at the table of God as friends in his kingdom which is at hand.
Looking at this healing and command of Christ we will see not a foreign film of sorts but rather a reality that we live in every day. A man living among death rejected by the world and freed by the power of Christ only to be sent back to the people who first reject him and his God. So it is with this that we look to unfold our text.
Death is Better than Life
Jesus just finished calming the sea and teaching his Disciples about having faith in Him and his Father. The disciples are terrified yet drawn to this Son of man who teaches with authority and executes great things because of his authority. It is at this point that Jesus has arrived to the country of the Gerasenes for a short-term mission trip. Jesus gets in a boat crosses the sea, heals a demon possessed man only to get back into the boat to go back to where he just came from.
As Jesus is getting out of the boat he and his disciples have an encounter with a guy that makes your local horror movie safe for small eyes and ears. This man is possessed by demons and is unable to be chained. He is literally tear iron chains apart. This is a demonic New Testament Samson. Since he terrifies the locals they decide to have him live at the local cemetery. It is no wonder that this man seems to only find peace in screaming and cutting himself. Tears never last long enough and the cuts are never deep enough to push back the pain that doesn’t seem to leave.
Yet, it is interesting that without introduction the demons who possessed this man knew who Jesus was and ran to bow down and beg for mercy from God. We might rephrase the request of this demon possessed to say, “Please don’t hurt me!” The demon knew that hell was his final destination but he was still begging that hell would not come yet. Why? Because even demons don’t want to go to hell.
Jesus had no interest in this demon but was instead focused on a man who was desperate for mercy. To be perfectly controversial, we all deserve to be tormented by demons. We have all sinned against a holy God and our rebellion began back in the Garden of Eden. Jesus was under no obligation to show this man mercy. Just like Jesus was under no obligation to show the demon mercy. Yet on both accounts he did. Instead of casting the demons out of the country he instead permitted the demons to possess a herd of pigs. If Jesus is will to show mercy demons, how much more is he willing to show mercy on those created in the image of God? There are some details that allude my understanding of what happened here but what I can lean on is the reality that where mercy was not required mercy was given. Jesus healed a man who was living among the dead until he joined them. He had no family. He had no peace. He had nothing to offer the world until the day that Jesus came in to bind Satan and cast his demons out of his new friend.
This causes the pig herded to run into the local city and tell everyone what they just saw. The city comes out and sees a familiar face— changed. Here was a man possessed by demons ripping iron apart and living with dead people, only now he is sitting down interacting with society as never before. This terrifies the people of the city just like the disciples were terrified after the calming of the sea. Why? Because it is a terrifying thing to come into the presence of the living God. And just like the unbelieving Israelites in Exodus the people begin to beg Jesus to leave. The demons asked permission to leave the presence of God. The unbelieving city asks God to leave. This should not pass us by without shocking us. Jesus being gracious responds amicably to their request to leave. What fools! What a gracious and merciful God.
As Jesus is leaving the man now de-possessed ask to go with him and Jesus does something that is absolutely shocking. He tells the man to go and tell his friends about how much God has done for him and the mercy that God has had on him. Jesus goes out of his way to tell others to not tell anyone about their miraculous healings. But not here. Here Jesus commands the man to tell of the de-possession and to speak freely of the mercy of God. And the man DID IT! He told everyone and the people marveled. What a sad response to such a beautiful moment. People obviously see a man changed by God and all they do is marvel. God’s mercy is freely offered and all they can do is marvel. I beg you, please do not be so foolish to only marvel when we have an opportunity to bask in the mercy of the living God. Sinner will be judged. Why refuse the one thing that will secure your salvation?
Life is dark. We know this. Especially for those who have studied Ecclesiastes. But why sit in the dungeon when the king offers you a spot at the head table in his banquet. And once you have received his mercy do not hold back any detail but tell every one of your friends. Tell them with such conviction and passion that they have no excuse. Let them see all hat the Lord has done for you. Tell them because you love them. Tell them because it is true. Tell them, “It is God’s will to have mercy on you!” Forgiveness is yours. Purpose for living is yours. Hope is yours. Grace is yours. All that is asked of you is that you repent and be forgiven.