Christ performed a great miracle in the life of this man who had been possessed by a LEGION of demons. Honestly, before studying this passage, I hadn’t even realized such a terrible thing was possible. To be possessed by one demon seems bad enough. But TWO THOUSAND?! Oh, the torture this man must have endured! But thanks be to Christ Jesus, who so graciously, so lovingly, freed him from his misery. The tangible freedom Christ brought to this man is not unlike the freedom He offers each of us.
What possesses us? Who possesses us? Yeah, maybe we don’t have any demons telling us what to do (or maybe we do), but is it possible that we’re living lives enslaved to something or someone? Or maybe many “somethings” or “someones?” Perhaps it’s a physical idol or maybe it’s an intangible lust for this world. Regardless of what it is, I have good news – GREAT news, actually!
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. | Galatians 5:1
Freedom is ours for the taking.
It – no, HE – stands before us, beckoning us to come close. Whatever has held us captive, whoever has kept us shackled, there is One who can break our chains. In fact, He already has. The question is this:
Do we really want to be free?
I think we want freedom, yes. From our sins and our struggles and our temptations and from the innate evil in our hearts. I totally believe that we desire freedom, that we desire to live lives pleasing to God. But I also think that we want this world. I think we want to live lives pleasing to God as long as it allows us to live for ourselves too – i.e., Christianity with our own “terms and conditions” (which ISN’T even Christianity, mind you). I think that as much as we want to be free of sin and guilt and shame, we want the world more.
Consider this man who was enslaved to a legion of demons. How much do you think he wanted his freedom? We actually don’t read anything about it. What we do read is this: “And the unclean spirits came out…” (v.13). Jesus freed him. No petitions for freedom were made; yet we see Christ working to do that which was not even asked, but was so clearly needed. Sound familiar?
Freedom is ours for the taking. Christ has set us free to be free – not to hold us captive Himself.
FOR freedom He has FREED us.
The cool thing about being set free to be free? If a REAL transformation takes place in our hearts, if we truly understand the weight of the Gospel, we will want nothing more than to be possessed again – only this time, by the Holy Spirit.
THIS is the mark of a Christian – of a true FOLLOWER of Christ: A life laid down willingly, freedom relinquished joyfully, all for Him who gave Himself up selflessly – for Him who set us free to be free.
This once-possessed man, tasted the sweetness of freedom after being enslaved to a legion of demons for…well, who knows how long. And in these first, precious moments of freedom, how does he respond to the work of Christ in his life?
As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. | Mark 5:18
He begged to remain with Jesus. He desired nothing more than to be with Christ, to abide with Christ. He choose to give up his freedom for the One who had set him free. He didn’t do this for any other purpose than to just BE with Christ. Is this true for us? Can we willingly, joyfully, relinquish our freedom to be a bondservant of Christ, for the glory of the One who set us free in the first place (1 Corinthians 7:22)?
Although we read that Jesus did not permit this man to physically remain with Him, we find that He did charge this man with a task:
“Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” | Mark 5:19b
Is this not the same task we were given in the Great Commission? To GO and TELL and MAKE! And did He not, as a sweet provision of this Great Commission, promise that He would be with us “always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20)?
And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled. | Mark 5:20
This man begged to be with Jesus and carried out His commission. I am confident that when Christ returns, those of us who know the Lord will see this man in heaven. We will be rejoicing with him, praising our God for all eternity, as siblings in the faith, thankful that as we begged to abide with Him, so He sweetly, perfectly, and eternally answered. May we be like this once-possessed man, begging to be with Christ, obeying the charge of Christ, glorying in the power of Christ to save!
My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. | Philippians 1:23b
Come, Lord Jesus, come!