In Mark, Chapter 5, we read of Jesus’ encounter with a man possessed by demons. This man had been living among the tombs. His condition isolated him from all of society. The authorities tried to chain him in order to control him, but he tore the chains apart. No one was strong enough to subdue him. The story goes on to tell us this man would cry out day and night and cut himself with stones. He was in utter agony and in a state of self-loathing. It’s hard to imagine his misery. Though we don’t know what brought him to this point in his life, to this place in time, we know that he needs a savior. When he sees Jesus, he knows (or at least the demons within him know) that something is about to change. Jesus commands the impure spirits to come out of the man, and gives them permission to enter a nearby drove of pigs. The pigs immediately go crazy and run off a cliff, drowning in the water below. The man is set free. He is made whole again, his life has been saved, he has hope and a future because of his encounter with Jesus.
Scriptures – Mk 5:2-9; Jn 10:10; Ps 116:3-4; Zp 3:17; 2 Co 10:4-5
Verses – The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.(Jn 10:10) The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came over me; I was overcome by distress and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the Lord: “Lord, save me!” (Ps 116:3-4) The Lord your God is with you; his power gives you victory. The Lord will take delight in you, and in his love he will give you new life. (Zp 3:17)
Thought – Jesus performed over thirty miracles recorded in the New Testament. Though he healed many who had physical diseases and maladies, his true purpose was to set people free. We can find ourselves bound and in anguish over a sin we are struggling to overcome, a loss we can’t reconcile, an addiction, or a relational, occupational or financial situation we can’t see a way through. We, like the demon-possessed man, can end up isolated and in mental anguish over our situation. No, we aren’t talking about demon possession, but we are talking about Satan’s attacks that can derail and sideline us if we don’t get the help we need. The man in the story was isolated. This is one of Satan’s most effective tactics. When we are hurting, we often withdraw, feel we are all alone and that no one knows what we are going through. Isolation can lead to depression and self-loathing. Our minds are clouded and we lose sight of the truth. We forget who we are and whose we are. When the man saw Jesus, he knew something was going to happen. Had Jesus not passed bye, this story would have a very different ending. You can choose to encounter Jesus; will you? Will you reach out to a Christian friend and ask for help, prayer, counsel? Will you trust your church, your church leaders to share your burden and lend guidance? 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 reads as follows: The weapons we use in our fight are not the world’s weapons but God’s powerful weapons, which we use to destroy strongholds. We destroy false arguments; we pull down every proud obstacle that is raised against the knowledge of God; we take every thought captive and make it obey Christ. It took the power of Jesus to free the man in our story from his life among the tombs. If you are living in misery, come out of the graveyard. Start using the weapons God gave you. There’s hope and help in Jesus Christ!
Questions – Why do people often stay away from their church, Christian friends and Godly support when they are struggling? What can we (as Christians/as a church) do to draw people toward God? Do you tend to avoid people who seem to constantly struggle?
Response – If you are struggling, ask for help, get the support you need. If you know of someone who is struggling continue to reach out in love and concern and pray for God’s guidance in your efforts.
Prayer – Gracious God, draw me close to you. I want to live in your presence. Thank you for Your righteousness that covers my failures and struggles. Thank you for putting Christian friends, family and my church in my life to love and support me. I am so thankful that I am your child and that You love me. In Jesus’ Name I pray, amen.