Margin notes: Lessons from a former demoniac

Mark 5:18–20 (ESV) — 18 As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. 19 And he did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” 20 And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled.

The astounding account of this man delivered from the legion of demons stans on its own as a demonstration of the mercy, goodness and power of Jesus Christ. His authority over the demons. His mercy on this horribly bound man. His sad rejection by the townsfolk. But there are two other things are worth noting in this brief account.

First: Not every good and right desire, is the best desire. There is nothing in this man’s request but what is good and pure and honorable. But God determines what is best. Best for the man, best for the kingdom and best for those he will reach. Do not be discouraged if God chooses some other path for you than the one you think most desirable or proper. How you think you can serve best. Nothing could be more right – in a sense – than wanting to travel with Jesus, sit at His feet, serve Him and listen to Him. But Jesus had other plans. He needed him to go bear witness back in Decapolis. Thus it was personally costly to serve Him this way. To not have what he would rather have, that the King might be served as He best thought fit. Father, give me such a willing heart – that I do not demand to serve you as I see fit, above what you do.

Second: Though it has been discounted in some circles, here is a great encouragement in evangelism. With only the barest exposure to Christ. With little or no theological training. With no more detailed instruction than this – a man may enter upon a fruitful and Christ sanctioned ministry of evangelism: “Go home to your friends and them how much the Lord has done for you, and how He has had mercy on you.” Isn’t that just so abundantly simple and sweet and ready at hand? The telling of how He has met us in our sin, and of His great mercy is enough. Each of us is a ready-made evangelist in this accounting. Don’t wait a minute more. Don’t fear you don’t know enough or haven’t been given techniques or strategies. Just tell them how much He’s done for you. That’s all He asks. It is enough.

But note that the key, the bottom line is this: He needed and received MERCY. Those who do not believe they need mercy, know nothing of true saving grace. If we have not, in mercy, been delivered from our bondage to sin, and the just wrath it deserves, we are not saved. And we cannot be His witnesses.


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