In Luke 8:26-33 we read of an event in Jesus’ ministry where he cast many demons out of a man, sending them into a herd of nearby pigs. The pigs went bananas and all rushed into the water and drowned. Jesus and his disciples had just landed in the area, they were still right on the shore when they encountered the guy. News of Jesus’ miracle begins to spread, and soon the people start coming to see for themselves. They rush out there, and sure enough, this man who’d long been demon-possessed was now just hanging out, calm as could be, chilling at Jesus’ feet. And the people have a pretty peculiar reaction to seeing this.
Luke 8:37 And all the people in the region of the Gerasenes begged Jesus to go away and leave them alone, for a great wave of fear swept over them. So Jesus returned to the boat and left, crossing back to the other side of the lake.
Sometimes it’s hard to understand why these people had the reaction that they did. For me, I tend to believe it’s pretty simple. Jesus was doing what he always did, upsetting the status quo. Some pig rancher had just lost a lot of money, the familiar demon possessed dude is now completely normal, things are already getting weird and uncomfortable and Jesus just now landed! He’s still on the shore! What’s he gonna do when he gets into town?
Fear is a strange thing. We can fear good things just as quickly as we can fear bad things. Someone offers you fifty bucks and your first question is probably going to be “what’s the catch?”. A new relationship is going great and you’re clicking and enjoying the person’s presence in your life and then fear takes over. What are they hiding? What if they turn out to be like my ex?
We can fear Jesus even after seeing his awe-inspiring power and love. What if he expects me to give up my friends? Am I going to have to get rid of my nose piercing to follow Jesus? What if my old friends see me hanging out with these church people? What if Jesus wants to tell me what movies to watch, what if he wants to do more than just help out on the fringes of my life where I want to keep him?
Jesus isn’t just someone who upsets the balance. He destroys the balance and then creates a new one. That’s scary, sure, but what you come to know if you let him do it is that the new balance is infinitely better than the old one. But before he can create a new order, he has to knock down the old one, and yes, that means that some things get upset in your world.
Just like the people of Gerasenes, we have a choice to make when we start to meet Jesus. Do we allow him further into our land and lives, where he’s guaranteed to make more waves and change even more things? Or do we decide that it’s not worth it, that our way may be full of misery and sadness and anxiety and fear, but at least we’re used to it? Because to me, the very solemn thing we need to take away from this verse in Luke is the following truth.
If you ask Jesus to leave, he just might get in his boat and go.
That statement should scare every single one of us. The love of God is everlasting and it is faithful, but if you ask Jesus to leave, he just might get in his boat and go.
Revelation 3:20 “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.
Notice that Jesus doesn’t open the door himself. That free will we’re all so crazy about? That was his gift to us, and so he doesn’t take it away, even if that meant saving your eternal soul. Things change when Jesus arrives, and change can be hard, and it can be uncomfortable. The people of Gerasenes witnessed a miracle, a man long possessed completely healed, and they shook their head and they said “no thanks”. And Jesus, ever the gentleman, hopped on the boat and left.
Today is a good day to ask yourself the following question. Are you allowing Jesus access to your life? Or are you letting the fear of change take hold, prompting you to send Jesus back on his way again and again? Jesus has changed much in my life, MUCH, but every change was ultimately for the better. Even the ones that didn’t seem like it at first. God’s never taken anything away from me without replacing it with something better. So today, I urge you to welcome Jesus into your land and your life, to open that door that you sense him knocking on. The truth is, life is short, and my greatest fear is someone ignoring the knock of Jesus, expecting to maybe answer it later in life, and something happening that steals that opportunity away from them. If you don’t sense him on your shoreline right now, if you’ve sent him away in the past, I promise you this; He’ll honor a beacon and an invitation to come back if you’ll send one out to him in prayer. If you’re breathing, then it’s not too late.
I love you guys. Thanks for spending another week with me here on the blog. I’ll be back on Monday with, you guessed it, more Luke! I hope to see you all then.
If you have any prayer requests or need to talk to someone, my email is always open to you at email@example.com.