And He did not let him, but He said to him, "Go home to your people and report to them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He had mercy on you."Mark 5:19(NASB)
Although Jesus came to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, as prophesied of old, there was a certain point when He knew that the Jews would reject Him, and it was important that His disciples began to understand Christ's wider mission. Not only was He Israel's Messiah, Who had come to fulfil Scripture, but He had also come as Saviour of the whole world.
Christ's disciples had to understand this greater ministry - that through Him ALL the families of the earth, not just Israel, would be blessed. Jesus was that promised Seed of Abraham, and while Israel are his physical seed, all who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, both Jew and Gentile, are his spiritual seed. While Jesus had to bring the gospel to the Jew first, to fulfil Scripture, we also capture glimpses of His compassion towards the Gentiles, throughout His ministry.
In Chapter 4, Jesus started teaching the secrets of the kingdom to His disciples in parables. He taught this way to open the eyes of those who believed in Him, while hiding the truth from those who would not believe. The truth of the gospel, is only given to those who believe. To those outside who do not believe, Christ's parabolic teachings were hidden in the story, and remained an enigma to them.
It was after Mark recorded a shift in Christ's teaching style that we read that He crossed over to the eastern shore of the Galilee, into the country of the Gerasenes. This was Gentile territory, but as soon as the boat landed, Jesus was met by a wild, demon-possessed man, with multiple, unclean spirits, who lived among the tombs and wandered around the mountains.
He was a fearsome individual. Despite the local townsfolk trying to shackle him with chains, he broke free, for no one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day he screamed around the tombs and roamed the mountains and gashed himself with a stone. This demon-possessed man knew that Jesus was Son of the Most-High God, and was fearful of Him. The demons inside him, knew that Christ had come to break the satanic power of evil, and begged that they would not be sent to the place of torment before their time.
Christ cast out an entire legion of demons from the man, and released him from this terrible ordeal. He commanded the evil spirits to come out of him and enter a large herd of pigs, that were grazing nearby. They violently stampeded down the hill, and were drowned in the sea. The local herdsmen witnessed the entire display, but instead of rejoicing that the man was freed from His demonic possession, they rushed to the townsfolk to relate the happenings of the day - and promptly asked Jesus to leave their region.
How sad that the supernatural healing of this poor man was not celebrated by the people. How sad that they did not welcome Jesus into their town, like the Gentiles in Sychar, Tyre, and Sidon. However, as Jesus got back into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged permission to go with the Lord and His followers. "But Jesus would not allow him to join His band of disciples. Instead, He told him, 'Go back home to your own people, and report to them how much the Lord has done for you and how He has had mercy on you.'"
Similar miracles like this in the land of Israel had to be kept quiet, because the Jewish leaders hated Jesus and wanted Him removed. The Jewish crowds liked the miracles He performed, but did not care for His Messianic message. They regarded Him as a prophet but not as Lord. They would not accept He was the Son of God, Who takes away the sin of the world. Nevertheless, wherever the Lord Jesus went, He brought health to the body and healing to the soul.
This Gentile from the Gerasene was not permitted to follow Jesus back into Judea. Jesus was the Horn of Israel, from the house of David, Who came to shine light into the heart of His own people first. He came to guide His own people into the way of peace. However, the grateful man was commissioned by Christ, to go to his own people in the Decapolis - the ten Gentile cities of the region. He was told to proclaim the good news to his own people. He was to tell of the great things the LORD had done for Him and how He had shown him mercy.
Just as the demons RECOGNISED that this was Jesus, the Son of the living God, so the man, when he was restored to his right mind, KNEW Him as Lord. No one KNOWS Jesus as Lord except those who believe on His name for salvation. This man was being called upon to prepare the way of the Lord, in the Gentile cities of the region, for a day was coming when Christ would lovingly stretch out His arms, as the sacrifice for the sin of the whole world, and welcome ALL who would believe in the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
John records the day when Jesus HAD to travel through Samaria because there was a widow at a well, who needed to be saved because people in her village were unaware that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God. Here again, on the other side of the Galilee, in the country of the Gerasenes, this demon-possessed man, had been chosen by God to tell forth the great thing the Lord had done for him, and to proclaim His wonderful mercy to all Gentiles in the 10 cities of the Decapolis.
There is no one who has strayed so far into Satan's domain that they cannot be rescued by the almighty power of Christ and brought into the kingdom of God's dear Son. There is no one whose life is so ruined and heart so broken, that the Lord Jesus cannot have mercy on them and bind-up their wounds and commission them as His vessel, to reach out to others in need of salvation.
May we be ready and willing to follow Christ wherever He leads, and to go to the place where He has sent us. May we be prepared to tell people where we live, what great things the Lord has done for us and how He has shown mercy to all who trust in His name.
Dear Lord and Heavenly Father, the length and breadth and height and depth of Your grace and mercy is beyond our understanding. Thank You, that You are ready and willing to save those that are lost, to bind up the broken-hearted and release those that have been made captive by Satan. Thank You, that Your arms of mercy are open to Jew and Gentile alike, and that there is no sin so great that it cannot be forgiven, by grace through faith in Christ's sacrificial death and glorious resurrection. May I be willing to go where You send me and to tell those whom I meet, of the great things You have done for me. Thank You, that Your mercy is everlasting for all who will believe. Thank You in Jesus' name, AMEN.
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