Sunday, 11 April 2010 00:00

The Power of Christ to Transform: Real Revivals Are Sometimes Messy

Mark 5:1-20 (NASB)

They came to the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gerasenes. When He got out of the boat, immediately a man from the tombs with an unclean spirit met Him, and he had his dwelling among the tombs. And no one was able to bind him anymore, even with a chain; because he had often been bound with shackles and chains, and the chains had been torn apart by him and the shackles broken in pieces, and no one was strong enough to subdue him. Constantly, night and day, he was screaming among the tombs and in the mountains, and gashing himself with stones. Seeing Jesus from a distance, he ran up and bowed down before Him; and shouting with a loud voice, he said, "What business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God, do not torment me!" For He had been saying to him, "Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!" And He was asking Him, "What is your name?" And he said to Him, "My name is Legion; for we are many." And he began to implore Him earnestly not to send them out of the country. Now there was a large herd of swine feeding nearby on the mountain. The demons implored Him, saying, "Send us into the swine so that we may enter them." Jesus gave them permission. And coming out, the unclean spirits entered the swine; and the heard rushed down the steep bank into the sea, about two thousand of them; and they were drowned in the sea. Their herdsmen ran away and reported it in the city and in the country. And the people came to see what it was that had happened. They came to Jesus and observed the man who had been demon-possessed sitting down, clothed and in his right mind, the very man who had the "legion"; and they became frightened. Those who had seen it described to them how it had happened to the demon-possessed man, and all about the swine. And they began to implore Him to leave their region. As He was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed was imploring Him that he might accompany Him. And He did not let him, but He said to him, "Go home to your people and report to them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He had mercy on you." And he went away and began to proclaim in Decapolis what great things Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed.

Someone has said that this demoniac was a nude dude in a rude mood. This man was possessed by demons, but when he met Jesus the demons left. This man wore no clothes, but when he met Jesus, we find him clothing himself. This man lived among the tombs, but when he met Jesus he made himself a home. This man was constantly shouting and falling down, but when he met Jesus he seated himself calmly at the feet of Jesus. Wouldn't everyone be thrilled at the change?

(v.15) "They observed the man (healed)... and they were frightened." (v.17) "And they began to beg Christ to leave their region." Why would people react to a miracle in this way?

  1. When the power of God begins to change people, the status quo is threatened.
    Verse four tells us that the demoniac "had often been bound with shackles and chains." The chains didn't just appear. They were place there by the veyr people who now are frightened. It's neat and clean when we bind and chain what we cannot control. It's eay to dismiss those who don't meet our expectations of what they should be. It's even easier to program church. But there are those times when God begins to shake the status quo of organized religion by reaching people who have not been a part of cultured, civilized society—and it can be scary. When God begins to do things outside our boxes, we either rejoice and create new boxes or get scared and tell God to leave and continue doing things inside boxes of our own making.
  2. When the power of God begins to change people, the economics don't always add up.
    Verse fourteen says that "the herdsmen" ran away and reported "it" in the city and country. What is the "it" that was reported? Was it the healing of the demoniac? Was it the incredible transformation of the former tomb walker? I tend to believe that "it" was the loss of the pigs. "Those who had seen it described how it had happened... and all about the swine" (v.16). In other words, what excited the Gentiles most was the economic loss as a result of healing. One of the things that we have to recognize as a church is that when God begins to move in the lives of people who need his healing, there will be unexpected, unplanned expenses.
  3. When the power of God begins to change people, those in need of change begin to hear.
    Verse 19 Jeuss tells the former demoniac, "Go home to your people and report to them." The people to whom Jesus was referring would be the Gadarenes (or Gerasens), which included Gentiles who lived in ten cities (Decapolis) on the eastern side of the Jordan. Then, more and more folks who are in need of Christ's transforming power begin to show.

There probably should be just a couple of closing thoughts on the subject of real revival. The change that comes by the power of God is a change that occurs from the power "outside" of ourselves. It is the power of Christ, and His power does not always look the same in people. Jesus Himself "had been saying to him, 'Come out!'" (v.8). In other words, even Jesus healed people in different manners. Sometimes with a touc, or sometimes with a word, or in this instance, repeated, continual statements. For those of us who are launching into ministry for helping those who are in need of the power of Christ, we would do well to remember that there is no program, no ministry, no organization that has all the answers. It is the power of Christ alone.

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