Good morning, my name was Legion. So far in Mark I’ve been a fisherman and tax collector, a brother of Jesus Christ, a leper, and a paralytic. Today I am a demon-possessed man.
Without Christ, we are like a demon-possessed man, even though very few are actually ever possessed. We lead shattered lives that cause us to torment ourselves and others. We are unable to be controlled by anyone but our own desires. We dwell among the tombs, even when we don’t know it.
And then Jesus comes to us and commands the evil spirits of self-possession to come out of us. We have many selfish spirits from which Jesus delivers us: they are known as the fruits of darkness and are listed in many places in the New Testament. You know them by name. They include the 7 Deadly Sins (which I remember by an acronym I made up: PIGLEGS – Pride, Ire, Gluttony, Lust, Envy, Greed, and Sloth), as well as many others.
What are the consequences of having our “demons” exorcised by Jesus? There are three important ones in this lesson. First, after Jesus cleanses us, we are “clothed and in our right minds.” Before our deliverance, we were naked before God and in our wildness and barbarism. But Jesus clothes us with Himself, who is the armor of light and the New Man. Before, our minds were darkened and futile, we were ignorant and blind in our hearts, and we had been given over the works of uncleanness (Ephesians 4:17-29.) But then Jesus puts us in our right mind and gives us His own mind that we might think thoughts of God and His Kingdom.
The Christian life is a human exorcism in slow motion. Most of us have no experience with demons, but we do know what it is like to be under the influence of ungodly forces within us. It is primarily the fallen human nature which Jesus casts out of us, as He gives us more and more of Himself. In exorcism we see a picture of mortification and sanctification. It is probably for this reason that in the early church the baptismal service included an exorcism, and even today in the Prayer Book baptismal service the Christian vows to renounce the world, the flesh, and the devil. The exorcism we have witnessed today is a picture of the work Jesus does in our life of cleansing us, first by mortification or the casting out of the Old Man and his works, and second by sanctification or the putting on of the New Man and His works.
The second consequence we see in this passage man being delivered from his demons is that we are to follow Jesus. In verse 19, the formerly demon-possessed man begs that he might be with Jesus. Here is one crucial difference between the demon-possessed man and us. Unlike the demon-possessed man, Jesus doesn’t discourage us from begging to be with Him: He desires this as much as we do.
If you recognized the work that Jesus has done in your life, as this demon-possessed man did, you too would beg Jesus to stay with Him. If you truly understood that you were delivered from a life and destination just as chilling and tormented as this man’s, then you would beg Jesus to stay with Him.
But because our exorcism is a human one in slow motion (most of the time), we often don’t recognize the glory of our deliverance. It’s very easy to take our life in Christ for granted and to think that it is somehow “ordinary.”
It is anything but ordinary!
And our response should be to wrap our arms around Jesus’ feet and beg permission to be with Him wherever He goes. We should be on our knees every day, throughout the day, begging Him for the privilege of being His disciple, His follower. Instead, we spend too much of our lives trying to hide from Him, lest He do some more exorcising and we have to give up more of ourselves to Him. We are like a student in class, slinking down in his chair and hoping the Teacher won’t ask Him to participate.
The whole point of Give Us This Day is to help you and me to be able to beg Jesus to be with Him and to learn how to be with Him every day, throughout the day. If I don’t want to spend much time in Jesus’ presence through prayer and His Word while here on earth, I’m not sure what makes me think I’d actually enjoy His presence in greater concentration and power in heaven!
Finally, the third consequence of Jesus delivering us is that, being cleansed by Him and filled with His presence, by clinging to Him, we are to go and proclaim to the whole world what He has done for us. What is always the faithful response of those who have been delivered and healed in Scripture? They go and tell other people what Jesus has done for them and is continuing to do for them.
And what is our response to an even greater miracle – not the healing of the body or deliverance from demons but the salvation of our souls? It is often that of the 9 lepers who go on their merry way, without gratitude. It is often to be lulled to sleep and to think that God’s salvation in our lives is an ordinary thing. Therefore, we’re not terribly excited about it, and we don’t believe that anyone else would really want to hear about what Jesus has done in our lives.
But what does Jesus command us, as He commanded this man? “Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He had compassion on you.”
That is the story of the man possessed by Legion, and it is your story and mine. Because Jesus has delivered and is delivering you from yourself (and from Satan), your desire should be to beg to be with Him. And your overwhelming, bursting-at-the-seems-can’t-believe-what-He’s-done-for-me desire should be to go and tell your friends and neighbors and relatives about the compassion He’s had on you. And, yes, those of us who are already Christians want to hear too!
Prayer: Father, I thank You for delivering me out of the hands of my enemies, through Jesus Christ Your Son. Thank You for delivering me out of the kingdom of darkness and adopting me into Your holy family. Through the work of Your Spirit, give me a desire to be with You every day and the courage and passion to tell others what You have done and are doing for me. Amen.
Points for Meditation:
1. Reflect on what God has delivered you from. You may need to work to recognize the magnitude of what God has delivered you from. Respond to this compassion of Christ in your life appropriately.
2. How much have you desired to be with Jesus? Beg Jesus not only to be with Him today and all the days of your life but also to give you a greater desire to be with Him as His disciple. What obstacles stand in the way of your desiring this more?
3. How eager and willing have you been to share what God has done for you with others? As you reflect on this, remember that this has always been the primary way that new disciples are made and an important way in which older ones are encouraged.
Resolution: I resolve today to contemplate the compassion of Jesus in delivering me from sin and self. I resolve today to meditate on how I might faithfully respond to this great salvation.
© 2012 Fr. Charles Erlandson
Category: Give Us This Day