Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Jesus Changes People's Lives

Mark 5 tells the story of the man possessed by a multitude of demons, and the demons encounter Christ ...

6 When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. 7 He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won’t torture me!” 8 For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you evil spirit!” 9 Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” “My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” 10 And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area. 11 A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. 12 The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.” 13 He gave them permission, and the evil spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.

First, notice that Jesus is in complete control of the situation. There is no question that the demons are going to leave this man. The question is simply a matter of where they’re going to go, and even that is up to Jesus. You want to see how to powerful Jesus is?

Understand this scene. These demons that have terrorized this man for some time, who have given him the strength to break chains—what do they do when they see Jesus? They run and bow in homage before him. They don’t do so out of love, but they do do so out of respect for his authority and power.

So they run and bow before him.

--They plead with him not to torture him.

--They plead with him not to send them out of the area.

That’s power. These demonic terrors are cravenly afraid of Christ and tremble before him. Jesus a mere man? I don’t think so.

Second, notice that Jesus is the only one who could handle this situation. Verses 3-4 emphasize that no one was a match for these demons. But Jesus clearly was. In fact, the demons were no match for Jesus.

Third, Jesus and the disciples had just come through a horrific storm. It was a storm so bad that the disciples were scared for their lives. Several of these disciples were seasoned fishermen; they were very familiar with the Sea of Galilee. It would take an awful lot to scare them.

So this was a terrific storm. And Jesus had calmed it. With the briefest of commands, the storm instantly ceased. But there’s no respite. They come ashore, and they are immediately confronted by this man possessed by a legion of demons.

It’s like Rocky 2, 3, and 4. Rocky gets done fighting Apollo Creed, and then he’s got to deal with Clubber Lang. Lang taken care of, now he’s got an even tougher opponent in Drago from the Soviet Union.

But this poses no problem for Jesus. He faces two impossible opponents in a row, and dispatches each of them with ease. He doesn’t even break a sweat.

What is highlighted in these verses is the power confrontation. The man who is delivered is in the background. But the result is that this man is unchained. He is delivered. He is set free. And Jesus is the one who has done it. Jesus is the only one who could have. The man is only specified in v. 8, where Jesus says, “Come out of this man, you evil spirit!” And that is exactly what happens. The man was chained. He was tied up. And Jesus comes in, fights off his captors, unties him and rescues him.

What are we to learn from this scene? Just this. Jesus is able.

--He is able to deliver you.

--He is able to set you free.

--He is able to rescue you.

Jesus still changes lives.

--He still transforms hearts.

--He still sets people free from lives of despair and hopelessness and self-destruction.

--He still sets free from sin and the devil.

--That’s what the cross and the empty tomb are about.

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