18 As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. 19 Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” 20 So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed. Mark 5:18-20

A tense situation – the demon-possessed man had once been a danger to the people of the region. He was wild, violent and unpredictable. No-one could go near him as he roamed the area, emitting eerie screams and moans and mutilating himself in his torment and despair. Now he was sane, calm, clothed and ready to return home as a useful member of society.

However, his fellow Gadarenes were suspicious and ill-disposed towards him because of their lost pigs. Was this part of the reason why he begged to go with Jesus? Was he seeking safety in company with Him and His disciples? Was he afraid of the repercussions of his deliverance? Gently and reassuringly, Jesus urged him to return to the environment where he had lost his sanity. In spite of their hostility, what an impact his story would have on his people! His kind of cure was no everyday event.

Possibly reluctantly, he turned homeward while Jesus and His men set sail across the lake again. How long had it been since he had walked the streets of his home town, stopped to exchange a greeting with his fellow citizens? Slowly their anger turned to curiosity and finally their interest to sympathy and friendliness as he told his story over and over again to whoever would listen.

The people’s hostility to Jesus began to wane as they saw Him in another light. They felt the man’s torment, his rage, his terror as demonic voices accused, taunted, sneered at him day and night. They saw the scars on his body, his gaunt appearance from years of starvation; they watched him slowly regain his health, his place in the family and in the community. Jesus, a Jew from across the lake, had come to release him from all his pain and give him back his life. Who was this man? Why did He come? Was it really His fault that they lost the pigs? Hearts began to soften as the full impact of this man’s new-found freedom played out before them.

Luella Campbell

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