August 31, 2023 • Life for Leaders
Scripture – Mark 5:18-20 (NRSV)
As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed by demons begged him that he might be with him. But Jesus refused, and said to him, “Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and what mercy he has shown you.” And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed.
Regardless of region, gender, race, background, whether we’re on a mountain peak or the stormy sea, Jesus can find us and easily reverse the domain of darkness with his Kingdom. The results for disciples are the same also: they go their way, implicitly and explicitly conveying the Gospel of Jesus and all that he has done for us.
My summers as a child were spent at my godmother’s house. My morning liturgy was to attempt to speed out the door after the Showcase Showdown before a soap opera would come on. Occasionally I would fail to get out the door and hear an announcer say things like “the part of Carter Zaine will now be played by Skip Scurscoferson.” There was a new actor but they were doing the same thing (most likely someone was in a coma at some point.)
The end of Mark 4 and the beginning of Mark 5 give similar lessons of God’s kindness in the kingdom, though with different characters. The man in Mark 5 is not in an external storm, but we see that he has one inside of him. And Jesus dealt with the chaos inside of the man just like he did with the storm while on the boat. He told storms to go away and He told demons to go away also. What great kindness we see; whether Jesus faces storms or winds or demons he will find us and remove the infirmities. The character of God’s love is such that if you replace the person or the circumstance, the results can be the same.
The consequence of this miracle for the man looks different, at least for the moment. Jesus kept the apostles close after removing their chaos. But in this man’s reversal of life’s meaning, the demon-less man did not go the other side with Jesus. Instead, he was instructed to go back to the people and systems that he was accustomed to. He must go back and show them that God is kind to everyone, even the Gentiles. The man only spent twenty verses with Jesus, but he had everything he needed to tell everyone how kind and “how much Jesus had done for him” (Mark 5:20). You can almost hear him walking into his town and telling his friends and family that “even the demons obey him” (Luke 10:17).
Mark gives us a repetition of the same lesson, moving from one character to the next. Jesus silenced whatever form of chaos there might have been and then he sent people on their way bearing the consequences of the Kingdom. In just a few short years the apostles – carrying baskets full of God’s kindness – would try to cling to him. But Jesus would tell them the same thing: “You can’t go where I am going” (John 8:22). The disciples had to follow later. Because of the character of God’s kindness, they went into Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the whole earth. They proclaimed the Gospel of the Kingdom and reported all the things Jesus has done for them.
If we fast forward to today, we get the rich lesson yet again. If you recognize the kindness of God, then you can almost hear the narrator saying “The part played by the early disciples is now being played by you.”
Where have you seen a real glimpse of God’s kingdom reversing chaos? What did it evoke in you to feel and to do?
Where do you recognize that you are less likely to see God change things about others? How might that affect your interaction with them?
Look at your day-to-day activities and consider how you might be a vessel of hope even if things do not change today. How does your perseverance evoke hope? Determine for yourself how to do your best to not try to undo where things – looking back – but consider what is possible from here pressing forward.
God, I am grateful for your Scriptures that clearly demonstrate what is often forgotten in the action of life. You did not snatch the apostles back before they ran, or pull people from demons right before they got them, or push death from Lazarus before he died, or snatch Israel from the hands of many “ites” before they were demolished. You got them out of real chaos that already happened. And they are still your apostles, still Israel, and still Lazarus. You are the Lord of stopping chaos before, during, or after it does its best work. Whatever the cup may be, your will is done and your reputation of kindness reaches into any storm.
Thank you for remembering where we are and thank you especially for remembering who we are. Help comes therefore with all the weight of this good Gospel to remain diligent to anticipate your sun that comes in the morning, and then irrespective of what may come next, be willing to walk into community demonstrating and telling all that you have done. And graciously allow that perhaps the community will receive us and what we have seen and heard. Amen.
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Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the High Calling archive, hosted by the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Best of Daily Reflections: Leave Us Alone!
DeLano J. Sheffield is the Business Resource Specialist for Goodwill of MoKan where he connects to people on the fringes, training them to reach their full potential through learning and the power of work; he also is on the frontlines of the advances of the fourth industrial revolution and coaches leaders on diversity, inclusion, and accessibility. He began his career as an architectural engineer then went on to attend seminary. In every part of his life he finds ways to infuse theology into vocation, and strengthen practical connections of faith and daily activity. DeLano lives in Kansas City, Missouri.