Faith Column: Go home!
The Gospel according to Mark has rather strong emphasis on demon possession. Now, wait a minute! Don’t quit reading this article because you think I am about to go in a direction similar to the one that took place in the early 1970s, when our society had an interest in exorcism with the production of the film "The Exorcist."
This article is not about demon possession, nor is it about exorcism. Rather it’s about where God wants you, the reader, to be a witness to His Son, Jesus.
If you are so inclined, take out your Bible and look up the passage from Mark 5:1-20. It’s the account of Jesus’ healing of a man who was possessed by a “legion” of demons. A Roman legion consisted of anywhere from 4,000 to 6,000 soldiers. If you do the math, that’s about two or three demons per pig that were drowned in the sea.
(Forgive me if I’ve gotten ahead of some of you, particularly those not familiar with the factual story.) Rather than getting bogged down in the re-telling of the healing of this man who, before his encounter with Jesus, lived among the tombs, I want to fast-forward to the end of the story, to the part where the man is healed, in his right mind, and makes a request of Jesus.
Mark tells us that after Jesus healed the man, the citizens of that area begged Jesus to depart from their region. Note: The "normal" people want nothing to do with Jesus. Yet this just-healed-former-demoniac begs permission to join Jesus with the rest of His disciples as He travels and preaches the good news of the kingdom of God.
Jesus turns down the man’s request. However, our Lord graciously answers his "prayer" by saying, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how He has had mercy upon you.” (Mark 5:19)
“Go home!” If you are like me, you may have imagined that in order to serve Jesus you would have to go to some faraway nation and be a missionary. Or perhaps you would have to give up your profession or career and enroll yourself in the seminary, monastery or missionary training school of your choice. (Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against folks in the foreign mission field.)
But this is my point: Where does Jesus want you to serve Him? It’s with your spouse, your children, your siblings, your parents and your friends — the persons in your life that you are closest with — and what happens in these relationships? Invariably, we hurt one another because that’s what sinners do.
But here’s the good news: Thanks to Jesus who has had mercy on you, you are able to say, “I’m sorry for …” Or, “I forgive you for …” In other words, you can live in repentance and faith by confessing your sins to one another and forgiving or absolving one another just as you pray in the Lord’s Prayer: “and forgive us our trespasses (sins) as we forgive those who trespass (sin) against us.”
Wow! What a great way to serve the Lord! God grant it in your life, for Jesus’ sake. Amen!