Restored To Be A Witness
Rev. Ellsworth E. Christopher
The Gospel according to Luke, chapter 8: 36-39, records the story of Jesus healing a demon possessed man.
Jesus arrived in the region by sea and was met by the demon possessed man, who had been living in the tombs. As Jesus approached, the demons in the man recognized Jesus and fell at Jesus’ feet, to plead with Him. When asked by Jesus, the forces within the man (or the man on his own) identified who they were - “Legion” because they were many. Jesus commanded them to leave the man. They were sent into a herd of swine as they requested. That herd ran over a cliff and died.
That is the story in a nutshell.
What was the state of the man’s life?
He was not mentally ill as some may think. Being possessed by demons did not necessarily make him an evil person. However, at that point in his life, He was being controlled by spirits that were not of God.
Some people do not believe that demonic forces exist, but demons are real. As Christians however, we do not put our trust in them nor should we involve ourselves in matters of a demonic nature, because they are forces of destruction. In John 10:10 Jesus said, “the thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” These words are found in the discourse in which he refers to himself as The Good Shepherd.
This man’ life was virtually destroyed. He was rejected by his people who had become afraid of him. He was beyond control. Even the guards were not able to keep him in check. He had such extraordinary strength that he was able to break chains used to restrain him.
As he approached, Jesus did not have to say who he was. His identity was known. “What do you want with me Jesus, son of the Most High God?” the man asked.
Not only was his identity known, but His power and authority were also acknowledged. The spirits, knowing that Jesus had power over them, begged him not to send them to the abyss where they would be tormented.
There are times when it may seem to us that life is an impossible struggle, a burden, over which we have little or no control. Instead the sense is that something else or someone else is in control. There may a particularly troubling situation, or an ongoing series of issues with no end, no solution in sight. These are situations which influence how we live, how others see us, and react to us. Often in those situations, there seems to be no one to help, no one to bring relief. There can be a feeling of total despair to the point that some take drastic action, that can lead to self-destruction.
We have been hearing of, these most unfortunate, unnecessary and at times tragic events, taking place in our society and we should all be troubled by them. However, we have the assurance that all is not lost because there is always something positive deep our beings, that truth, which was instilled in us, spoken into us by the Spirit of God. It is faith, which assures as that Jesus Christ is always there, waiting for us to recognize who he is - The Son of God.
Not only is he near, he possesses power and authority over darkness. Light will always overcome darkness. Jesus, the Light of the world has the power and authority to dispel any darkness in our lives. He has the power and authority to deliver us from our lives any form of darkness or destruction, when we turn to him and entrust our lives to him.
The plea was made to Jesus not to send them into the abyss or a place of everlasting torture. Instead there was this somewhat strange request made. Send us into the herd of swine. Jesus granted their request. The swine obviously became wild and ran over a cliff where they all died. This is a clear indication that Jesus has power to banish from our lives that which is not of God. That power and authority he exercises to save us sometimes from ourselves, as we acknowledge what he means to us.
The Greek word for "Authority" is exousia, which is used in a variety of ways. It can be used to indicate jurisdiction, privilege, capacity, freedom, influence, force, and right. These all applicable to Jesus, in addition to authority and power.
So when In the great commission in Matthew 28:18 Jesus said “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” he was indicating that he was and still is perfectly equipped to handle our needs in the widest variety of situations, personal, national or universal.
It is with this authority that he sends us to be witnesses for him.
The man, who was violent, who was feared by his own people, this man who lived among the tombs had this wonderful transformation after he experienced the love and compassion of Jesus in delivering him from his troubles. His life was restored.
So happy was the man that Jesus delivered him, he wanted to go with Jesus. But Jesus said denied him this request.
There are times when we may petition God for something and the answer is what we perceive to be a negative one. In such instances we must consider what next? In considering what next, we ought to ask God, “what are you saying to me in this moment, what would you have me do?”
Jesus denied the request, but then he sent the man on a mission. “Return to your own house and tell what great things God has done for you.” He went his way and proclaimed throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him.
His mission was to begin at his own home. That could be the most difficult group of persons. They knew him; they knew his condition; they knew how violent he had become and were afraid of him. Yet, these are the people to whom Jesus sent him to begin his witness of what God had done for him. These are the people who would be most likely to be thankful that their dad, brother, uncle had been healed. No doubt they would listen to what he had to say and come to faith in God through Jesus Christ. The word would then be spread throughout the region. It is somewhat like throwing a stone into a pond and seeing the ripples going away from that place where that stone fell.
The man went his way and proclaimed throughout the whole city what great things God in Jesus Christ had done for him.
Jesus, the son of the Most High God, liberates from darkness and brings us into the light through faith.
If we believe that Jesus has touched our lives in some way, we have a witness to share. And our witness is that Jesus, Son of God, can do the same for others, with the same love and compassion that we have experienced. Our witness is that we are all God’s children and that irrespective of our circumstances, God in Jesus Christ comes to us. Let us then bow before him, worship him with our whole beings and allow him to take control of us as individuals, our homes and nations, casting our that which does not make for wholesome living and faithful witness, filling us with His Holy Spirit.