During these 40 days, let me put away all my pride. Let me change my heart and give up all that is not good within me. Let me love God with all that I am and all that I have.
- Genesis Grain
SCRIPTURE & DEVOTION: Mark 5:1-21; focused on Mark 5:18-21 As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed. No easy task – or is it?
The man who approached Jesus in this scripture and begged to go with him is the one from whom Jesus has just cast out a legion of demons. In his gratitude, the man wants to follow Jesus, to accompany him wherever he journeys, to be near the one who has saved his life and his sanity, body and soul. One gets the impression that he would do anything for Jesus, no matter how difficult or arduous, whatever the personal cost. Yet, instead of letting the man come with him, Jesus gives him a task, one that seems so comparatively small since it only takes one sentence to express: “Go home to your family and tell them about the Lord’s mercy.” What could be simpler than that? And yet, it is the very task that many of us struggle with on a daily basis. For most of us who have become followers of Jesus, there are many non-believers among our families and friends. Some have rejected outright the idea of their need for a Savior; others question even the existence of God. Some may be seeking the truth; others are unwilling to take time away from their busy lives to explore and investigate the spiritual in order to come to any sort of conclusion. Jesus’ directive to tell those closest to us about what he has done for us should be so simple. Why, then, is it so difficult for some of us to do? Rather than trusting God to get his message across and letting him work through us, we imagine that the times we have failed to live up to Jesus’ example have already jeopardized our witness to those closest to us. We think about instances when we have been too busy or too preoccupied to notice their distress. We remember times when we have not known what to do, so we have avoided the situation. We think of having said the wrong thing, in the wrong way, at the wrong time. What we fear most is alienating people, either from God or from ourselves. Yet, at its heart, the task Jesus assigns strips away all our tendencies to heap complications upon it. He says to tell the people close to us about what he has done for us and about his mercy. It is interesting to note that anything resembling an attempt at conviction or conversion of others is conspicuously absent from what Jesus tells the man in this story to do. The people we are close to already know all about our imperfections, and it they are anything like us, they already feel their own most keenly. Jesus doesn’t ask for a “hellfire and brimstone” witness, just a gentle, honest conversation about our relationship with him, his incomparable mercy and grace.
Lord, make us aware of opportunities to have gentle and honest conversation about who YOU are in our our lives, and the mercy and grace you have shown us. You have blessed us with Your presence in all things, Your forgiveness, Your mercy to us. We are so grateful. Help us to live out of a place of thankfulness for You!