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Author:Pastor Keith Davis
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Congregation:Bethel United Reformed Church
 Calgary, Alberta
 www.bethelurc.org
 
Title:The two-Fold Response to the Light
Text:Mark 5:1-20; text 11-20 (View)
Occasion:Reformation Day
Topic:Christ's gathering work
 
Preached:2021-10-31
Added:2021-11-06
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Trinity Psalter Hymnal # 404, 230, 267, 291 

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Pastor Keith Davis, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


The Two-Fold Response to the Light

Beloved congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ, this morning we talked about the light shining in the darkness – how Jesus came to the shore of this very dark, very terrifying place. Tonight we return to this account to finish the story.

 

We not only want to see and hear how Jesus casts out the demon and sets this man free, but we want to watch what happens after that. We are going to see that there are two very different responses – and perhaps, just like this morning, we will be shocked by what we see.  We consider the twofold response to the gospel Light of the Lord, as:  

1) The Demon is Cast Out

2) Jesus is Told to Get Out

3) The Convert Puts the Word Out         

 

1) The Demon is Cast Out

This morning we stopped at verse 10 where we witnessed that remarkable scene of the demon named Legion on his knees before Jesus. He was literally pleading with Jesus, begging Jesus not to send him out of the area. Luke 8 tells us that the demon asked Jesus not to send him into the abyss. Matthew 8:29 adds that the demons asked Jesus if he had come there to torture them before the appointed time.  

 

I think it is so important, it is so crucial for us as followers of Christ to pause here again and just stare at this scene before us. It is a scene that the devil himself and his demons certainly do not want us to see or to remember. The demons are on their knees, trembling in the presence of our Lord, recognizing his authority, knowing they have no choice but to do as he says and to go where he directs them to go.  

 

The devil and his demons do not want us to see this or to remember this because (as I mentioned this morning, with today being Halloween), so much attention has been given to the power of evil. So many movies have been made that celebrate and venerate evil. Screen writers and Hollywood producers have given these evil villains, to these demons, godlike qualities.

 

But here’s the truth about demons, boys and girls. Here’s all you need to know. They shake and they tremble, they fall down on their knees – weak and pathetic -- before our all-powerful Savior. Yes, Satan is God’s rival. Yes, Satan is God’s enemy and he is our enemy. And Satan is far stronger than we are.

 

But Satan has no power over God. And Satan is not God’s equal. Satan is not God’s opposite. Satan is not a god in any way shape or form. Satan is a mere creature, He is a fallen angel. He is not omnipotent, he is not omnipresent, and he is not omniscient.

 

And this passage is more proof, more evidence that Satan and all his demons know that their time on earth is short. They know their ultimate destiny. They know that in time, they will be doomed to the abyss for the sin of rebelling against God. They will be doomed to hell, to suffer eternal judgment condemnation and torture in the lake of fire.

 

Now, what we do not know, and what we cannot answer for sure is why these demons asked to be cast into the pigs instead of something else or instead of being allowed to go somewhere else. Again, that we do not know. We also do not know what happened to the demons after that.

 

We read that after Jesus granted them what they asked for – to be cast into the pigs, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank, over the edge and into the lake below and were drowned. Pastor Philip Ryken had a little fun with this. He entitled this section of his commentary: when pigs flew. I only wish I had thought of that.

 

Ryken also addressed some of these practical questions: why did Jesus send the demons into the pigs at all. Why not send them to the abyss. Was this inhumane? Was it because pigs (to the Jews) were unclean and they should not have been there in the first place? Or was the Gentile land, and there were Jews who were tending the pigs. Was this a form of divine judgment on the people and Jesus was purging the land of the unclean herd? We’re never given a reason.

Ryken came to the simple conclusion that it is better to say these pigs lived and died to the glory of God. They were the most famous pigs that ever lived because we are still reading about them today – their dramatic stampede over the cliff and into the sea was a demonstration of God’s divine power over the powers of darkness and evil.

 

So we see that Jesus cast out the demons with the same authority as he stilled the wind and calmed the waves. He is the sovereign God over the natural realm and the spiritual realm. And if nothing else, this massive loss of swine would serve as an unforgettable reminder of the power of Jesus Christ – and how he set a man free by casting out the demon that tormented him for so long!

 

2) Jesus is Told to Get Out

Now we move on to the first response of this miracle. Look at Mark 5: 14-17 Those tending the pigs (much like shepherds tending sheep would do) ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man—and told about the pigs as well. Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.

 

The first thing that struck me about the response of the townspeople is that they were afraid. Afraid of what, we might ask? As I pondered that, I recalled how the disciples were also filled with fear (they were terrified) after Jesus calmed the storm. And I think we can rightly attribute their fear to the realization that they were in the very presence of God. They had just witnessed something so amazing, so extraordinary, something that they (and no one else) had ever witnessed before. A man speaks and creation obeys. Who is this man that the winds and waves obey Him? 

 

But notice, the disciples did not stop following Jesus once they witnessed this and knew this? If anything, their fear caused them to have greater reverence and respect and worship of Jesus than ever before. And that’s the difference between the fear of the disciples and the fear of these townspeople.  

 

The townspeople do not fear Jesus with that same kind of reverence or respect or worshipful awe and distance. Notice they do not ask: who is this man who commands demons and casts them out and sets people free? Could he be the promised Messiah, the one whom the prophets foretold?

 

No. Notice the way Mark tells us this. Verse 16: Those who had seen it (the eye witnesses, the ones tending the pigs), they told the people from town what happened to the demon possessed man, and what happened to the pigs. And so, do you see how that is presented.

 

It’s like those two things were weighed on the scale. On the one side you have one man’s life. This was man someone they all knew – either personally or by legend. Everyone knew about the demon possessed man who lived in the graveyard. (Today, there would be a tourist industry generated by this. They would sell T-shirts and souvenirs. Come to the town where Legion lives. Spend the night and hear him howl and shriek at the moon).

 

So make no mistake, the people in the town knew this man. They knew his tortured condition. But perhaps they thought, he was only one man. And he was not really a part of their town anymore. Perhaps they reasoned -- he was already dead to them.  So, he’s on one half of the scale/balance.

 

And what’s on the other side of the scale? A huge herd of 2000 pigs. That’s a whole lot of bacon. That’s probably a huge part of that town’s economy that ran right off the edge of that cliff. And so, when the people put those two things side by side on a balance, the healing of the demon possessed man and the herd of 2000 pigs, it was not even close.

 

One would like to think that initially the people were alarmed and upset about the loss of the pigs- until they heard what happened to the man; until they heard that Jesus had come and had cast out that terrible demon and had healed the man – and there he sits among us.

 

The loss of the pigs?? That’s a small price to pray for this man’s soul!! Look at him now! He’s dressed! He’s in his right mind! He’s smiling and talking to us again! And he’s well again! He’s restored! He’s been brought back from his hellish existence! Instead of being afraid, the whole town should have been rejoicing! Now, that entire region was delivered from the presence and the horror of that evil demon! They should be singing: All praise be to God! All praise be to Jesus!  

 

But instead, they are afraid. They are filled with fear because all they can think of is how much money Jesus just cost them. So in the end, when weighed on the scale, they chose the herd of pigs over the salvation of man. They chose the bacon and the money over the healing of this man’s soul. And in a way, it really came down to this: the townspeople chose the pigs over Jesus.

 

They sent away the very Savior who came to them, who was sent to them to save them from their sins. For we cannot lose sight of that either: they, too, needed salvation. They, no less than that demon possessed man, needed to be saved. They too needed to have their darkness turned to light and be put in their right minds and live for Jesus and follow Jesus. But they sent him away.

 

And what was the reason? In this case, it all comes down to simple economics. Jesus was bad for business. Jesus has to go. We can’t afford to have Jesus around here. He has cost us a fortune.

So they pleaded with Jesus to leave their region.

 

That’s the way it always is when people encounter Christ. They have to count the cost. That’s always the test of faith. How sincere are we about following Jesus? How genuine is our faith and trust? Are we willing to give up everything in this world to follow after Jesus?  

 

Matthew 10: 37-39 Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.

 

What does this come down to? How is this “counting the cost” realized in our lives? Very often, it’s a matter of priority. What do put as a priority in our lives? What do we love and value most – and where does Jesus fit into that?

 

Is bacon first? Is financial security and career and occupation most important to us. Yes, we need a job and we need to provide for our family. But where does Jesus fit in to all that. Are we businessmen and businesswomen first, who also happen to believe in Jesus, or are we followers of Christ and believers in God first and foremost – and we happen to be businessmen and women?

 

They way we conduct our business, and order our lives, and treat our employees and spend our money will reflect that answer. And we can ask the same thing about our time – our free time. How do we spend our weekends? What is our priority? Where does Jesus and God fit into that?

 

And we can also ask: who do we put as a priority in our lives? Who do we love? And where does Jesus fit into that. Family is important. Having good friends and other people in our lives is important. But are those friendships Godly? Are those friends helping us in our walk with the Lord or hindering us? Are we bringing our friends and family to Christ, or are they drawing us away from Christ?     

 

These are questions we have to ask ourselves. We do not always realize it – but every day, and during our whole life –we are making these kinds of decisions. We are either choosing Christ and the things of Christ, or we are sending Christ away; we are choosing other things before Christ and saying we can’t afford Christ; we don’t have time for Christ; or we can’t love Christ like that.

 

3) The Convert Puts the Word Out        

So thus far we have considered The Demon is Cast Out; then Jesus was told to Get Out. Now finally we consider the new convert puts the Word Out. When we come to the end of this account, it is hard to imagine that this is the same man we met earlier in the story.

 

If you recall, the man who came out of the tombs to meet Jesus as a stark raving lunatic, madman. He lived along among the dead. He was not in his right mind; he was naked, bleeding, crying out, and terrified by the presence of Jesus. But look at him now!

 

One commentator observed that this is one of the most radical transformations witnessed anywhere in the Gospel accounts – and I would agree. Before he was naked, but now he is clothed; before he was restless and roaming about, now he is seated and still. Before he was in solitude, now he is associating with others.

 

Before he was out of his mind, but now he is in his right mind. Before he was terrified at the presence of Jesus, but now he is comfortable and even at home in his company. And before he was shrieking and crying out in pain but now he wants to herald the Good News of the Gospel! 

 

What a beautiful, marvelous holistic picture of the life changing power of the Gospel!  This is what happens when – as we talked about this morning – we leave behind the darkness of sin, the cruel bondage and chains of our slavery to sin and Satan, and we come into the light of the Gospel; we come under the reign and the rule of God’s grace, through His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ.

 

What a difference it makes! And of all the people who were ever converted to Christ, this incredible transformation was not lost to this man! He knew it. He felt it. And as we might expect -- he could hardly contain his excitement and enthusiasm and His devotion to Jesus!

 

Not surprisingly he goes from being a convert to wanting to be a missionary! He goes from being an object of evangelism to the tool or instrument and the mouthpiece of evangelism. Verse 18 as Jesus was getting back in the boat, this man says – please make room for me! He wants to follow Jesus. He wants to be an apostle also.

 

But Jesus, who needs apostles and disciples in Decapolis also, instructed the man to remain behind, telling him: Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you and how he has had mercy on you! Luke 8: 39 says: So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him. Mark then ends the account with: And all the people were amazed.

 

I doubt that anyone here is surprised at the reaction of this man – that he wanted to follow Jesus; that he wanted to tell his story; and that all who heard him were amazed! You say: now that’s a testimony to share! That’s someone with a story that others will listen to!

 

But brothers and sisters, what I want you to know tonight is that each of us has a story to tell. No, it’s not going to be as gripping and radical and unbelievable as this man’s story. And each of us has a slightly different story to tell, but I can promise you this, your story, my story, is no less wonderful, it is no less powerful, and it is no less important to tell than this man’s story.

 

For in the end, although the details may vary a bit, it’s really the same story isn’t it. My story, your story, this man’s story – although a lot more exciting – it’s still the story of Jesus Christ coming to save a wretch like me. It’s still about us poor sinners who need to have our sins forgiven.

 

It’s about you and me putting our whole trust and faith in Jesus Christ – who died upon the cross to save us from our sins; who took upon himself all our guilt, all our sin, and all the punishment we deserved – even hell itself – all so that we could go free! All so that we could live this life and the next with joy in our hearts, with peace in our souls; and with gratitude and love for God and for our neighbor.

 

In short -- if we have been saved by grace, then each one of of us has a story to tell, and each one of us is a qualified evangelist! You don’t need to be a missionary or a pastor to proclaim the Good News. No, all of us are called upon by God to tell others how much the Lord has done for us! We need to tell them that if the Lord can do this for me – if he can save a wretch like me, then he can save anyone! Amen.




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Pastor Keith Davis, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
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(c) Copyright 2021, Pastor Keith Davis

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