In Mark chapter 5 we read an account where Jesus sailed over the sea into the land of the Gadarenes. There He met a man who, at some point in life, became possessed with a number of demons. Dwelling both day and night in tombs, his tears were mingled with his own blood as he often wept, cutting himself with stones.
External solutions will fail
The people in the surrounding country attempted to address this “problem” by binding him with chains and fetters. Note that it is the conventional wisdom of man to provide an external solution for an internal problem. This soul needed not to be bound but to be set free. During the course of events, Jesus cast out the demons that inhabited the man giving them leave to enter the nearly 2,000 swine feeding on a nearby hillside.
They wanted Jesus to leave
The swine ran violently off a cliff and were drowned in the sea, to the surprise (and likely dismay as they just lost their livestock) of the people who witnessed the event. The man was later found clothed, sitting, and in his right mind—a lesson that the Lord Jesus spiritually clothes the naked, gives peace to be still, and sets one in a right state of mind. The coastal inhabitants desired that Jesus would leave.
Evidently their concern for this previously possessed man would only go so far. Chains and fetters are one thing, but 2,000 swine was far more valuable than the price of a life set aright, it would seem. This man, on the other hand, desired that he might be with Jesus, but was instead instructed to go home to his friends (an indication he was not always possessed) and tell them what great things the Lord had done for him.
The 7th man
In another account found in John chapter 4, Jesus traveled through the land of Samaria to find a single hurting soul who came with her water pot to a well to draw water. This woman had 5 husbands in her life, and the man she was with at present was not her husband, as Jesus would tell her.
Thankfully, Jesus was the seventh man (seven represents perfection) in her life, and revealed to her the truth of who He was, the Messiah, which is called Christ (v. 25-26). This woman left her water pot and gathered the men of the city with the words, “Come see a man which told me all things ever I did, is not this the Christ?” (v. 29). As the men gathered, they besought Jesus that He would stay with them stating that He was indeed “the Christ, the Savior of the world” (v. 42).
Which are you?
We each fit into one of only three people groups discussed in these passages:
- People of the city Gadarenes- These people were concerned about what personal costs would be involved in association with Jesus. This is your “health and wealth” gospel group. They will follow Jesus so long as it leads to blessing, but when hardship comes, they desire that He would “depart from their coasts.” These people desired that Jesus would go (Mark 5:17).
- People of the city Samaria- These people demonstrate a deeper level of commitment than the previous group. Being convinced of who the Lord Jesus was as Messiah, they desired that Jesus would stay (John 4:40). This level of commitment seems to almost desire to plug Jesus in as an addition to an existing lifestyle.
- The demon-possessed man- Having his entire life turned around by an encounter with the Lord Jesus, this man demonstrates the greatest level of commitment in that he was willing to leave all, and follow Jesus. He desired “that he might be with Him” (Mark 5:18).
May we each examine ourselves and our level of personal commitment to the Lord Jesus. Do we desire for Him to depart from our coasts for fear of what following Him may cost us? Do we seek to add Him as an accessory to our lifestyle? Or are we willing to forsake all and follow Him having been wonderfully saved and dramatically changed by Him?