Journal Mk 5 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: (The demon possessed man) “As (Jesus) was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him.
And (Jesus) did not permit him be said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”
And (the demon possessed man) went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled.” (Mk 5:18-20)
Observation: Is this a clear description of what to do with the aftermath of tossing demons in a herd of pigs? There are consequences to bringing the Gospel to folks.
Analysis: I remember the story about the disciples returning to Jesus after being sent out for the first time: “Lord, that was sooo cool. I was preaching the Kingdom; sick people came up to us and we laid hands on them and they were healed!! Really healed. And, and, and…we cast out demons! Actual demons! It was so good (whispered “I about wet myself it was so good).”
“Good for you, boys. Well done. Now, after you did all that, what did you do then?”
Ah, that has always been the question for me: What do I do then?
It is not an easy answer. Oh, I can come up with the basic Billy Graham format: “Read your Bible, pray, find a good church, we have representatives from local churches all around praying for you…” But even if a convert does all the above and gets to the “local church” discovery step, what would I do? Shoot, a person can self-testify being a Believer for 10, 20, 50! Years and not know what to do to bring a newby, a rookie, into the Faith.
So, what did Jesus do with the Freed Demoniac? “No, you can’t come with me. Stay here. I want you to do no more than this: tell people how I set you free, how I had mercy on you.” No more instruction than that. Jesus didn’t elaborate, he didn’t expand, no background, no options or alternatives depending on the circumstances—Stay. Speak. Tell of my Mercy on you.
In the old days, this was called a Testimony. I need to think of my Testimony on how Jesus had and has mercy on me. It might not sound like “I had a demon and now I am set free by Jesus and His mercy” but being set free…at any place, in any capacity, is so very sweet and awesome.
Prayer: You have set me free, Lord Jesus. I remember that day under the awning at the Methodist church where I surrendered. Took me decades to take off chains, put them on, take them off, ad nauseum—and still have that pattern today. Thank you for setting me free; please keep me from chaining myself up again. AMEN.
“Saturday Morning Coffee at IHOPs”