It was Gospel music maestro, Panam Percy Paul who sang: “I must fulfil my destiny, I must fulfil my time, and I must affect my generation, I must touch one life.” There must come a point in the life of a person when he says “There’s more to life than this, I was created for more than this!”
Jesus brings about a radical change in a person’s life, when a person is saved, he experiences a change in the direction of his life. God never leaves a person where He met him or how He met him. The story of the Gadarene demoniac found in Mark 5:1-20 (also in Matthew 8:28-33; Luke 8:26-38) aptly illustrates this truth. An encounter with Jesus brought about a radical change in his life.
EVERY OTHER POWER BOWS TO JESUS
The description of this man’s behaviour would send fear into your spine. He was fierce; he was untameable; he lived in the tombs; he was self-destruct; he was so violent that no one could pass by that way. The worst terrorists today remind us of this demoniac (and should give us an insight into why they act the way they do). He was possessed by a legion of demons. Bible scholars put a legion as comprising 6000 soldiers. This man had that number of demons inhabiting him!
When he saw Jesus from afar, he went and bowed down before him. Remember that prior to this time no person dared to pass by this way. Whatever power that possessed him recognised in Jesus a superior power. Rev (Dr) Umar Ukpai used to say that “when a lesser power meets a greater power, the lesser power must bow.” When Jesus steps in, satan must necessarily step out; when Jesus comes satan’s power is broken.
This is quite instructive to every believer today. There is a hyped image of the devil that is being promoted by Hollywood, a bloated image of a seemingly ‘almighty’ satan! Nothing can be farther from the truth. The Bible does not have such a picture of him. An understanding of our identity in Christ, the appreciation that the Greater One lives inside of us, will give us boldness in the face of any challenge. (1John 4:4)
I like the picture of the demons bowing to Jesus. They knew who was Master. Can you picture the demons cringing, begging for Jesus to allow them to stay in Gadarene? They even needed permission to enter into pigs – how miserable! Whatever makes you afraid, whatever threatens you today, know that they will bow at the name of Jesus. “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. ” (Philippians 2:9-11).
Jesus delivered this man from the powers that bound him. In an instant he was a freed person. The people from the community were amazed: “Then they came to Jesus, and saw the one who had been demon-possessed and had the legion, sitting and clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid” (Mark 5:15). The man’s life had been so transformed that the people were shocked. His life had taken an entirely different turn.
That is still the power of the Gospel. Paul said: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” ( Romans 1:16). Any genuine encounter with the Gospel brings about a change in a person’s life over time. We have the warrant of Scripture to query any person who says he is saved whereas there is no change in his life.
When Jesus was asked to depart from their territory, this man asked to join Him back to the other side. “However, Jesus did not permit him, but said to him, “Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you.”“ (Mark 5:19). Where else should he start than where his notoriety was well known. Jesus knew that it was necessary for this man to live out his new life as a testimony in his community.
Jesus could have taken him out of this territory but He didn’t. It is the same reason why God didn’t take us out of this world soon after we got saved. He wanted us to live out our new life on this earth, make impact for Him. Many people would have liked to escape the troubles of this world and be with Jesus in heaven but God wants us to be here and affect people’s lives.
How did the story of this man’s life end? “And he departed and began to proclaim in Decapolis all that Jesus had done for him; and all marveled.” (Mark 5:20). This man became an evangelist to his community. People were wondering what had happened to him. We don’t know for sure how far this man’s ministry went but he certainly would have impacted his community in a very tangible way.
That’s what Jesus calls us to do. It is sad that those who have received mercy from God are unwilling to share it with others. We are to affect our environment with the Gospel. It is part of our gratitude to the God who has done so much for us. Every Christian should ask himself daily, “whose life am I impacting?”