I was preparing to write today’s Bible blog when something caught my eye. Remember last week when we talked about Jesus’ short visit to the land of Gerasenes? Jesus and his crew arrived on the shore, where they encountered a demon-possessed man. Jesus cast the demons out, and upon seeing and hearing about this the people of the region had a pretty interesting response.
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.
I thought we were done looking at this particular story, but the Bible told me differently. These people got scared, got worried about letting Jesus hang around and upset the balance of their lives, and so they asked him to leave. But. When you leave one place you always arrive somewhere else, right? So where did Jesus end up as he got back on the boat and sailed away? We find out 3 verses later.
Luke 8:40 On the other side of the lake the crowds welcomed Jesus, because they had been waiting for him.
What a huge difference between the place Jesus had just left and the place he was arriving at. They welcomed him, because they had been waiting for him. If you just sit and think about that for a minute, I promise you, that verse will speak to your soul. This place was the exact opposite of the place that Jesus had just left. There they’d resisted him and asked him to leave, but here they were waiting for Jesus and welcomed him in.
So what’s the difference between a place that welcomes Jesus and one that rejects him? Well, we know that the place that sent Jesus away saw a single miracle, the casting out of demons. This new land?
Luke 8:43-44 A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding, and she could find no cure. 44 Coming up behind Jesus, she touched the fringe of his robe. Immediately, the bleeding stopped.
The healing of a disease that had persisted for twelve years.
Luke 8:54-55 Then Jesus took her by the hand and said in a loud voice, “My child, get up!” 55 And at that moment her life returned, and she immediately stood up! Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat.
And the resurrection of a young girl who had died.
Now I’m not downplaying the miracle of Jesus casting out the demons, but seeing what happened in the second place here in our brief glimpse of Jesus’ time there we already see two miracles take place. How many miracles would the people of Gerasenes have seen if they hadn’t pushed Jesus away? How many lives would’ve been transformed, illnesses healed, souls saved? How massive would the impact of Jesus have been if he was welcomed in instead of pushed away out of fear?
Here’s another thing that really struck me as I read all of this. During his three year ministry Jesus spent a lot of time on the move. So often as you read the accounts of his life you see moments of travel. “And then he departed from there and headed towards…”, “next he got back on the boat and went to…”. He was a man with a lot of ground to cover and not a lot of time to cover it. But, the people he encountered and the places he briefly visited were eternally changed by him. Healings, changed hearts, systems overturned, hypocrites exposed, disciples made, Jesus could do more with a few days in a region than most of us will do in our entire lifetimes.
But think about this. Jesus did that in just a few days in each place, sometimes less than even a day. Those of us who have accepted him and have allowed him to take his rightful place as the Lord of our lives have Jesus with us every second of every single day. If Jesus could transform a life by spending a few minutes with the person, if he could change a city just by passing through it, how much should he be able to do while living inside of us for the rest of our lives? You read about these people and these places who were so lucky to get these brushes with Jesus. The woman we read about up above who touched the fringe of his robe and was healed. She had what, sixty seconds with Jesus and had a twelve-year-long disease healed? I’ve had Jesus living inside of me and being the Lord of my life for over three years now. Constant, one on one contact. The amount of power and transformation that makes available to us is almost impossible to really fathom.
There’s a great verse in Ephesians about what life with Jesus inside of us does.
Ephesians 3:17-19 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
Transformation should be the norm with believers. We should be almost unrecognizable compared to the people we were before Jesus. Imagine the joy, the overwhelming joy people must have felt two thousand years ago when Jesus made his way through the village. Healing as he went, spreading joy and hope and wisdom, setting people free, raising the dead. You would scramble just for a glimpse of him, you’d hunger and thirst for a chance to lock eyes with him. You’d climb over fences and onto rooftops and up trees to get a better view and a chance to encounter him. Jesus making his way through your village would be the greatest day of your life, and for most people there it would be the most defining day of their lives. So much would be different once he was gone. Lives would be transformed, all because they got a minute or an hour or a day with Jesus.
We get Jesus for a lifetime. All to ourselves. He speaks to us daily, we have his recorded words and deeds to study, we can converse with him in prayer whenever we wish. If you are his disciple then he is not just passing through your life, he is there to stay. His continuing companionship and presence is a gift we need to spend far more time appreciating and utilizing. Sixty seconds of Jesus can change the trajectory of a life. How much more can Jesus do living inside of you for the next sixty years? How much more are you going to allow him to do?
I love it when God surprises me. I’ve got this study of Luke pretty scheduled out but today was a complete detour. I hope you enjoyed it, I know I definitely did. I love all of you and I hope your week is off to a great start!
If you need prayer or need to talk, my email is always available to you. firstname.lastname@example.org