September 21, 2016 • Life for Leaders
Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.
The story of Jesus and the Gerasene demoniac is full of riddles. Yesterday I admitted my own puzzlement over what motivated Jesus to allow the demons to enter the herd of pigs. Today I want to focus on the response the crowd had to Jesus’ actions.
After Jesus delivered the afflicted man from a legion of demons, sending them into pigs who drowned in the lake, a crowd from the local town ran out to see what had happened. There, with Jesus, sat the formerly demonized man. He was no longer acting strange, cutting himself and howling (5:5). Rather, “sitting there, dressed and in his right mind” (5:15). Witnesses to the actions of Jesus told the crowd what they had seen. “Then the people,” Mark tells us, “began to plead with Jesus to leave their region” (5:17).
Isn’t that something?! The crowd observed the results of an astounding miracle. A man who had been horribly tortured by demons was now whole and free. Yet the townsfolk begged Jesus to go away. Perhaps they were afraid that he would do something to upset their livelihood, as he had done to the owner of the pigs. More probably, they simply didn’t want Jesus to mess up their lives. He was too powerful, too unpredictable, and too scary. So they cried, “Jesus, go away!”
I expect that most of us aren’t quite so honest with Jesus. We wouldn’t ever say to him, “Leave me alone!” Yet I wonder how often we do, in effect, tell Jesus to let us be, at least in part. If we were to put into words our secret thoughts, might they sound something like this: “You can have me when it comes to my family life, but leave me alone at work.” Or, “You are welcome to touch my public actions, but don’t mess with my inner life.” Or, “I’m willing to give you a tithe of my income, but leave the rest of my money alone.” Or, “I’m happy to have you in my life, Jesus, but don’t ask me to forgive my parents.” Or . . . . You can fill in the blank with whatever fits for you.
Jesus wants, not just part of us, but all of us. He seeks to be Lord of every part of our lives, even that which we’d rather keep to ourselves.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
So how do you respond to Jesus’ desire for all of you?
Where do you tend to keep him at arm’s distance?
Are there parts of your life you need to open to Jesus today?
Gracious Lord, I would never actually say to you, “Leave me alone!” I want you in my life. I want you to be my Lord. Indeed, sometimes I want you to have all of me.
But there are times, Lord, when I do keep you out of parts of my life. I want to hang onto my own sovereignty over certain areas of behavior. Or I want to keep on sinning in certain ways. Or I resist you when it comes to certain relationships. Or . . . . You can fill in the blank, Lord, because you know it all.
By your Spirit, help me, dear Lord, to offer all that I am to you. May I never say, in words or hidden thoughts, “Jesus, go away!” May all that I have and all that I am be used fully in your service and for your glory. Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online Bible commentary: Blessed are the Pure in Heart, for They Will See God (Matthew 5:8)
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.