Jesus is the great Transformer, the one who can rescue the most hopeless and miserable of sinners and change them into useful instruments for God’s glory. The New Testament is full of stories of just these people, who were utterly lost and going nowhere until they encountered Jesus, and Jesus transformed their lives. Saul the hater of Christians is converted into the Apostle Paul and takes the gospel to the ends of the earth with an unmatched zeal and boldness. Levi leaves his tax collecting and follows Jesus until he is killed as a martyr. Peter must lay down his fishing nets and take up the fishing for men that Jesus commanded him to do.
But there is perhaps no greater picture of the transforming power of the Lord Jesus Christ than the one given by the Gerasene demoniac presented in all three synoptic gospels, but most powerfully in Mark 5:1-20 and in Luke 8:26-39. I have been fascinated by this story ever since I first read it as a new Christian, how this man, who is presented as a man beyond all decency and seemingly beyond all hope of salvation, is completely transformed in his one brief encounter with Jesus. There are many aspects of the story that could provide us with teaching insights, but let’s just consider this one aspect now, that while everyone around him saw the demoniac as a menace and a threat, Jesus saw him as an evangelist. As the man howled among the tombs and cut himself on the rocks and as he shattered chains and ran naked into the wilderness, Jesus already saw him as one of His witnesses, a man who would, by his radically transformed life, testify to the great power that He had to change lives. Jesus had already determined that this man would be saved and would be used as His witness, so He went to the other side with an appointment to keep. He was going to save the demoniac and send him on his mission, then Jesus would return to the safe side of the lake.
Consider the contrasts presented in this story:
The people saw someone who was hopelessly unclean, but Jesus saw someone whom He would cleanse of all sin.
The people saw someone who was useless, but Jesus saw someone whom He would make useful.
The people saw a demoniac, but Jesus saw a saint and an evangelist and an ambassador for Christ.
The people saw someone who was dangerous to others, but Jesus saw someone who would be dangerous to Satan and to Satan’s kingdom.
The people saw someone to be shunned and avoided, but Jesus saw someone for whom He was going to die.
Jesus Christ went through a ferocious storm to the foreign side of the lake to save one man and then to return. Jesus knew that this man was one of His elect and so He obeyed the Father’s leading and went across the lake. But now we must realize another thing, also. If you are saved, your story is similar to the demoniac’s story. In a real sense, Jesus has done whatever it took to rescue you and, just like the demoniac, He has given you a mission. The demoniac knew that he was to go out and tell others about what great things Jesus had done for him. What about you? Has Jesus found in you a witness? Are you willing to tell the people in your city what great things Jesus has done in your life? The Lord Jesus endured the cross to rescue you from eternal condemnation. Though you were dead in your sins, He came to the other side of the lake to where you were and cast out your demons and gave you a new life and put you in your right mind. Now He has gone to heaven, but He is looking to you to find out what you will do with your salvation. Will you proclaim, or will you remain silent? Many need to hear what great things Jesus has done and what great things He can do. (RMB 6/10/2015)