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Matthew 8:28-34

The Boundless Reach of Redemption

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We study through books of the Bible at the Village Chapel. We have extra hardcover copies if you did not bring one and would like one to follow along. If you will just raise your hand, then somebody will bring you a Bible to follow along with today’s reading.

This is a great text this morning. We are going to look at the last part of Matthew chapter eight. We have been calling our study of Matthew’s gospel, “The King and His Kingdom”. Jesus is the king whom Matthew writes about, and the kingdom in reference is the Kingdom of the Heavens or the Kingdom of God. Typically, Matthew, who is Jewish, does not use the title God or the name, Yahweh, because these titles are too sacred for most Jews to utter. Therefore, Matthew refers to God’s kingdom as the Kingdom of Heaven more often than the other gospel accounts.

We have seen in chapters one through four, the person of Christ. In chapter one, Jesus’ unusual birth is a lineage of forty-two names, rich with stories of past generations. The Lord worked through so many kinds of people to bring about His plan and purpose to have the Messiah come into the world to bring us redemption. We then studied the principles of Christ in chapters five, six, and seven of Matthew’s gospel. This was the passage of the “Sermon on the Mount”, which is the most well-known sermon in the world. We are now amid studying the power of Christ as we look at chapters eight and nine. 

That story that our church Youth Director led us through last week was the account of Jesus and His disciples on the stormy sea. The ending of this display of Christ’s power sets us up well for this week’s reading. If you will look back to the end of Matthew chapter eight, as Jesus stood up in the boat, He rebuked the winds and the sea. The sea obeyed by becoming perfectly calm, and the men in the boat with Jesus marveled. They were in awe because just moments ago, their boat was going down in the horrific storm. In amazement, they wondered, “what kind of man is this that even the winds and the sea obey him?”. Of course, this is the entire essence of the story, it points us to Jesus, because it is all about Jesus. It is all about marveling at what kind of person He is. We are going to determine the answer of what kind of man He is in today’s text, but the source of the answer is from the most unusual voice.

As we look at the boundless reach of redemption in Matthew chapter eight, verses twenty-eight through thirty-four, I also will read the parallel account from Mark’s gospel to support the text. 

“When they had come to the other side into the country of the gathering, [So remember they just crossed the Sea of Galilee, which is also called the Sea of Tiberias. It is also called the Lake of Gennesaret by Luke. (Luke is a Gentile who has traveled the world, so to him this body of water is more of a lake in contrast to the sea by which the land-loving Jewish people called it.)] and when they had come to the land to the other side, to get to the eastern side, [this would be in Decapolis] two men who were demon-possessed met Him as they were coming out of the tombs. They were so exceedingly violent that no one could pass by that road. ‘Behold’, they cried out saying, ‘what do we have to do with you, Son of God? Who is this that even the wind and the waves obey him?’”.

Evidently these are Orthodox demons because they get it. They answer the question posed previously when Jesus calmed the raging sea. The answer to the question of ‘who is this?’ is that He is the Son of God.

The fact that the demons not only believe in God, but also believe that He is specifically the Son of God means that their theology and Christology are both correct. In addition, we know that their Eschatology is in proper perspective with them having asked Jesus, “have you come here to torment us before the time?”. This all makes me wonder if these demons went to seminary because they have the notion that there is some time coming when God intends to set all things right by punishing all evil. 

There are probably a lot of people who say they love justice, but they might not really want evil to be punished. I am one who loves justice and tends to say, “come on God, be righteous and set all things right”. It is a good thing, not a bad thing, to talk about God’s judgment because God is the only One who has the righteousness to authorize His good fulfillment of judgment. None of us would be able to do that, because not only can we not handle the truth, but we can also not handle judgment. Jesus, in Matthew seven, says, “do not judge, or you too will be judged”. The demons in this narrative know that a day is coming when the curtain is going to be drawn and all will be wrapped up.

To continue with the reading, the passage states that, 

“In the distance, a herd of many swine were feeding, [and Mark 5:13 tells us that this was approximately 2000 pigs. Remember the setting of this story is on the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee, which is likely in Gentile territory. Pigs would be a commodity over there, whereas on the western side of the Sea of Galilee, (Jewish territory), pigs would be considered unclean. Pigs would not be something the Jewish people would be herding or collecting.] and the demons began to entreat Jesus, saying ‘if you are going to cast us out, [I always stop when I see a comma to think of the irony of the word “if” in this context; where they say “if this is happening”, as if it is not overtly obvious that Jesus is going to cast them out.] send us into the herd of swine’”.

This is an odd abjuration for the demons to desire to go into the swine. They evidently did not want to go into a rock or a tree, but they saw the pigs and thought, “let’s go there because we can cause some destruction there. We can not only be destructive to the pigs, but also, we can be financially destructive to the region.” 

In verse thirty-two Jesus said to them, (by the way, this is the only thing Jesus says in this little account in Matthew) in just one breath, 

“‘Be gone’. [The power of His word is so amazing.] The demons came out and went into the swine. Behold, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea where they perished in the waters.”

Now, you know, I cannot resist… this is perhaps the first and only instance of “deviled ham” or mass “sooey -side” in the Bible. Please do not throw anything on account of my jokes. I am a little fragile today. I just have one more; one other pastor said, “if you do not pay the bill for your exorcist, you will get repossessed.” Okay no more devil jokes. 

Here is what happened. Jesus said to the demons “be gone” and they came out and went into the swine, 

“And behold, the entire herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and perished in the waters. The herdsman fled, and they went away to the city, [These are the guys who owned the pigs. They went into the city and reported everything, including the incident with the demoniacs] and then, the whole city came out to meet Jesus. [That sounds like a good thing but look at what happens next.] When they saw Him, they entreated Him to depart from their region.”

Wow. Now turn to the right in your Bibles. Let’s just quickly look at Mark’s account of the narrative because there are a couple of other details that are going to be helpful for our study. In Mark chapter five, (I think Luke also has the same account and I will try to make that case as we read through Mark’s account of the story). 

“They came to the other side of the sea into the country of Gerasene, [This is a different name than the Gadarenes, but it is the same as my being a Nashvillian and a Tennessean.] and when He had come out of the boat, Jesus and His disciples, immediately [The word “immediately” is one that Mark uses forty-one times because he is the short attention-span gospel writer. He knows people often need a change of scene.] a man came from the tombs with an unclean spirit and met Jesus.”

Mark’s account and Luke’s account state that there was one man, but Matthew says there were two. Some critics of the Bible will say that means the Bible contradicts itself, but it does not. Here is how: if you happen to run into my wife and I at the coffee shop tomorrow, after you leave, you might the next day tell the story of some conversation that you had with my wife there. You might say to somebody, you know, “I was talking with Kim Thomas the other day” and repeat her story. Somebody else who might have been in that same coffee shop might have said, “you know, I saw Jim and Kim at the coffee shop”. So, it is just different perspectives. There is so much about the accounts that line up, so does the detail of the perspective really matter? One of the men telling the story may have been more vocal than the other, and it would be natural for Mark, (who got his information from Peter) and for Luke, (who got his information from research because he was not an eyewitness himself) to only be able to tell the story with the information they have each been given. However, Matthew was an eyewitness, so his account is from a direct perspective.

“Immediately a man came from the tombs with an unclean spirit. [So, this guy is living among the tombs. No one was able to bind him anymore, even with the chain, because he had been bound with shackles and chains which he had torn apart and broken in pieces with superhuman strength. No one was strong enough to subdue him. It is important to know that kind of detail and to watch this in verse five] Constantly night and day, among the tombs and in the mountains, he was crying out and gashing himself with stones. [So, he is tormented, self-destructive, marginalized, driven out of the city, driven out of the towns, into the tombs. This is a sad state for any human to be in.] Seeing Jesus from a distance, he ran up, bowed down before him and cried out with a loud voice. He said, ‘what do I have to do with you, Jesus?’ [In this account, he uses Jesus’ name. It is interesting to note that the demon knows Jesus’ name.] ‘Jesus, son of the most high God, I implore you by God, do not torment me’, and Jesus said, ‘come out of the man, you unclean spirit’. [Jesus then also rhetorically asked him, “What is your name?” because back in that day, it was important to know the name of someone who has power and authority, to understand how to speak to them, how to address them, and how to direct them if you are overcharge of them. This is not a lack of knowledge on Jesus’ part. It is simply Him saying, “I am going to use your name if you don’t get out of this guy right now.”]

He said to him, ‘my name is Legion, for we, [plural], are many.’ [A Roman legion was approximately 6,000 soldiers. If there are two men possessed by demons here, that is 3000 a piece, which is more than enough demons.].”

This poses the question of how dark can the darkness get? If you do not believe that, then you have not been paying attention to modern culture lately. The darkness can get really dark, and we need help.

“He began to entreat him earnestly not to send him out of the country. There was a big herd of swine feeding there on the mountains. He entreated Him saying, ‘send us into the swine so that we may enter them.’”

If you have ever tried to negotiate with God, you will be aware that it does not usually go very well. I remember as a kid I weighed ninety-five pounds when I entered high school, (I know when you look at me right now, you could not possibly imagine that). I would try to make deals with God by saying, “God, if I could only become muscular, maybe I would become more popular. I will go to Sunday School every Sunday if you just let me gain twenty pounds”.) Anyway, the demon in this man is trying to make some deals with Jesus, and Jesus gave him permission to do so, which is interesting. 

“Coming out, the unclean spirits entered the swine and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea, [about 2000 of them] and they were drowned in the sea. Those who tended them ran away and reported it in the city and out in the country. People came to see what it was that happened. [Now watch the beautiful way this story ends.] They came to Jesus and observed the man who had been demon possessed”.

Remember, he had been running around naked and not in his right mind, but now he is in his right mind. He is no longer insane with in terror and horror. This very man who had the Legion, people recognized as the demon-possessed guy, and now they connected the dots and became frightened. Those who had seen it, described what had happened. Witnessing the obvious display of Jesus’ power, they then began to entreat Him to depart from their region.

As Jesus regarded their request and was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed was pleading with Jesus that he might accompany Him saying, 

‘I want to go with you.’ [He is in his right mind now. He has his clothes on, and for this man, Jesus is the first face that his restored humanity has connected with in a long time. When Jesus turned the lights back on for him, it was Jesus he saw. Of course, now he wants to go be with his healer and to follow Jesus. Verse nineteen says], 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.’. [Our sins, they are many, His mercy is more. Our darkness is deep, but it does not take much of His light to dispel the darkness.] So, the man went off and he began to proclaim in Decapolis what great things Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled.”

Fade to black, that is the end of the story in Mark. 

Let’s jump back if you will, to Matthew’s gospel chapter eight, and I will just highlight a couple of things for us as we look at the boundless reach of redemption. The miracles of Jesus reveal His compassion, display His authority, and affirm His identity. They inspire faith, wonder, and worship. We were created with the capacity to be in relationship with God, to be filled with wonder of His presence, and to fall down and worship Him. You can see this created purpose for our souls on display from Genesis all the way to Revelation. Worship is the designed purpose of the human person. When we worship anything that is not God, (which we often do), we are distorting that design. However, graciously, the miracles of Jesus are not simply bits of supernatural entertainment or sensationalism, but they really reveal how much He loves His people. He goes all the way across the Sea of Galilee, through the storm, all the way to the other side. He knew exactly what He was going to do, even as a foreshadowing miracle to what He would later do at Lazarus’ tomb. He goes across the sea to find the worst of the most wretched, the most tormented and tortured of people the planet could ever hold. When He finds them, He displays His authority, and affirms His identity. From His works, we are supposed to see and learn more about His loving and merciful nature. 

This narrative is indeed a story set in a specific place in space, time, and history. From the Sea of Galilee, you can see on a map the Jordan River line that goes down to the Dead Sea. Those of us who have been to Israel would know this route and this layout of Israel well enough to know that it is a nation just about as big as the state of New Jersey. There are ten cities of the Decapolis region, (including Damascus, Scythopolis, Beshane and Gadara). There is much debate and questions about where exactly the event we just read about took place. I will not go into that detailed research today, but if you would like to study some of that historical geography yourself, you are certainly encouraged to do so.

What we primarily learn from this text is the broadness of the boundless reach of redemption. It is so powerful to experience repeatedly the divine initiative of sovereign grace. We read in the Bible that God takes action. For example, Jesus says, “Let us cross the Sea of Galilee. Let us go to the other side.”. Along the way, He is doing miraculous things, as we studied last week, but when He gets over there, He does even more amazing things to demonstrate His gracious power and authority. 

When Jesus comes back to this region later, this event will have had an impact. At least one of these two formerly demon-possessed men is going out into the countryside to tell his story of how he met Jesus and how Jesus rescued him, redeemed him, restored him, and recommissioned him. This guy who was once living in the tombs, without a stitch of clothing, consumed by maddening insanity, isolated, with no meaning or purpose to his life, tortured, tormented by thousands of demons, this man has a great story to tell. This recommissioned man’s story impacts all around him because of the divine initiative of sovereign grace. 

Jesus came to meet him where he was at. Often, in our day and time, we think about bringing our lost or non-believing friends to something. While that is all well and good, Jesus may already be working in their hearts. He may have already gone to them in some way to meet them wherever they are at. You just need to be comforted by knowing He is always at work. 

I think people are more ready than we realize to hear the gospel, but we are timid to share the gospel. It is interesting that throughout the gospel records, whenever Jesus is in Jewish territory, He will heal somebody, and then He will say, “now do not tell anybody”. However, here He is in Gentile territory and Jesus tells this guy to “go tell everybody”. We could speculate the reasoning for this, but you should at least notice it and be stirred up a little bit. 

The divine initiative of sovereign grace is on display here. John Stott says,

“Our Christian life began not with our decision to follow Christ, but with God’s call to us to do so. He took the initiative in His grace while we were still in rebellion and sin. [Or you could say darkness of the tombs] In that state, we neither wanted to turn from sin to Christ nor were we able to, but He came to us, and he called us to freedom.”

That is what is on offer today. We do not have the same set of circumstances that these men did, but we have our own darkness to wrestle and struggle with. Jesus has come into the world as the light of the world to dispel the darkness, and that is great news. He has not left us to figure it out alone, nor to find our way along the dark walls of the cave to attempt to discover something on our own. No, He breaks in and reveals something about Himself. That is the good news of His grace and mercy on offer to you for free.

We also learn from this text that no one is beyond redemption through the saving power and sovereign grace of Jesus. The demon-filled men remind us that no matter how far-gone someone may be, no matter how much we or others may have been marginalized, avoided, or written off, Jesus knows every name. Jesus has the power to save and deliver by the power of His word. I like Matthew’s gospel perspective; because Jesus just spoke the words, “Be gone”, “Get out”, “Get lost”. He has the power to do that. 

We do not have time today to dive into the full teaching of scripture about demons, devils, and darkness, but here is what is happening in this text. Notice how these men, probably two of the most lost individuals you could have found on the planet at that time, (and certainly as you think about it, even compared to the darkness of our own time, these men were more lost than the most lost individuals that you might know today). We can all think of people who have been in the news that are evil, maybe evil in different ways. But this is a great example of the fact that no one is beyond redemption by the saving power and sovereign grace of Jesus. If Saul can be turned into Paul by Jesus, if these two men, especially the one who wanted to go with Jesus, were set free from the horrible condition they were in, then no one is beyond the need for nor the redemption that Jesus offers to all. 

We teach here at The Village Chapel that no one is beyond the need for redemption; not you, nor your loved ones, nor your neighbors with the noisy dog, nor your coworkers with the bad breath, nor the worst person you can think of, nor the addict, nor the fool, nor the criminal, nor the conservative, liberal, nor moderate is beyond the saving power and sovereign grace of Jesus Christ. Everyone is a potential image bearer of God, even the two demon-possessed men. 

These men needed rescue. Just as the disciples needed rescue and were now literally falling out of their boat because they were fainting from the rough night they had out on the water and hoping they could just lay there on the beach for a moment to catch their breaths. However, suddenly, demon voiced guys came running towards the boat to Jesus for their rescue. They do not attack Jesus; they amazingly fell before Him. Even the darkest powers must fall before Jesus. These two fellows needed the kind of rescue and redemption that Jesus offers. They did not, and could not, just look inside themselves, nor get in touch with their inner child, nor join a self-help group, nor read a self-help book, nor take a course in self-discovery. These guys needed a savior, and Jesus came. 

Friends, that is what Jesus came to do. Jesus is the Light of the World. He is stronger than darkness and He is mighty to save. The redemption that Christ offers is greater than, deeper than, and more liberating than the vice-like grip of any demonic power or darkness that has ever paralyzed or tormented any human soul. How is that for an absolute statement? We do not just believe in God; we believe very specific things about God: that He came in the person and work of Jesus and that the redemption He offers is greater and deeper than any adversarial power of darkness. That is a big claim, but that is what the Bible teaches us. 

What do you do when you have been praying for rescue from darkness for either yourself or someone you know? How do you get to Jesus in times of feeling bound by dark forces or troubling circumstances of the world? First, remember that He came to us first. He took the initiative to break into our darkness. 

To support this, Keller says it so succinctly in this quote, 

“If you want God’s grace, all you need is need. All you need is nothing.”

Keller is not implying that if you want God’s grace, all you need is to become a member of this church, or to start tithing, or to stop doing something, or to somehow be good enough for God to maybe agree to let you balance out the moral scales for yourself. No, the symbol of the Christian faith is not scales, it is a cross, because all that is necessary for our salvation has been historically taken care of. We only need to believe and trust in Jesus. 

The bad news is that there is an enemy of your soul, but the good news is that he is on a tight leash. I have had people ask me before if the devil is after me because I am a Bible-teaching pastor. My response is that I do not even think the devil knows my name, because I am just not important enough. My name is millions of rows down on the list and some fallen angel has been assigned to me. However, even that little minion, that little imp of a devil, is personal, powerful, and strategic, just like his father down below to whom he answers.

In this story, the demons are self-named, Legion. They possessed and controlled these men and were in the process of destroying their hosts little by little. The demons spoke, so they were personal. They recognized who Jesus was, so they had knowledge. They begged for one result versus another, so they knew that they were subject to the authority of Jesus, however they still were hoping that they could get Jesus by coercing and urging Him to let them go into the pigs. They were orthodox, as I said, in their theology, Christology, and eschatology. 

The discussion of demon possession in our own day and time has had two effects. One is that it leads some of us to think that the ancients were simple-minded and quaint in their superstitious belief of demons. Therefore, some look down their noses at a passage like this and think, “Oh, those people were just quaint back then and they were not as educated as we are.”. The other perspective is that there is a whole other group of people who just flat out disbelieve in demons all together. If I were a demon, I would be happy with either case. If I were the devil, I would be completely satisfied with the way the modern world thinks of devils and demons. Both of those outcomes would be desirable because then I could go about my business, stealthily and unfettered.

C.S. Lewis writes about this in The Screwtape Letters,

“There are two equal and opposite errors into which we can fall about devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe and to feel an excessive, unhealthy interest in them. They are equally pleased by both errors. They hail a materialist, (somebody who does not believe in them), or a magician, (somebody who is looking for a demon under every rock) with the same delight” … [He later goes on to say] “If by the devil, you mean a power opposite to God, like God, self-existent from all eternity, the answer is no, I don’t believe in that. There is no uncreated being except God. God has no opposite. No being could attain a perfect badness opposite to the perfect goodness of God. For when you have taken away every kind of good thing; intelligence, will, memory, energy, existence itself, there would be none of Him left”.

The proper question, Lewis says, is whether I believe in devils, and I do. I believe in angels, and that some of these angels, by the abuse of their free will, have become enemies to God. They do not differ in nature from good angels, but their nature is depraved. Devil is the opposite of angel; only as bad man is the opposite of good man. Satan, the leader, or dictator of the devils is the opposite, not of God, but of Michael, the Arc Angel. 

One of my favorite books, Watchfulness, is about a spiritual discipline that I think we have lost sight of. The author, Brian Hedges, says, 

“You are absolutely helpless. The enemy will attack. Temptation will come. Left to yourself, you are like a tumbleweed in a tornado, a handkerchief in a hurricane. The lion will roar. The viper will strike. The flaming arrows of temptation will fly, and you will fall apart from grace. That is why you need God. Beware of self-confidence.”

The scripture teaches us that the goal of the devil is to deceive us, distract us, and to eventually defeat our faith or trust in Jesus. He certainly does not want us to pray, so I am very glad that we give attention to prayer. The apostle, Peter, an eyewitness to some of what we just read, reminds us in 1 Peter 5:8, 

“Be sober-minded and watchful. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour”.

In other words, the devil is like a roaring lion, and he wants to eat the lunch of Christians. It is important to be awake and alert to this. Do not be the magician who is looking for a devil under every rock, but also do not be a materialist who does not believe in these kinds of things. There is an enemy of your soul, but the good news is that he is on a tight leash. As we see in today’s reading, these demons come to Jesus, and they must ask Jesus’ permission to do anything. That is because Jesus is greater than all of them. 

The last thing I want to point out today is the boundless reach of redemption. Some people want Jesus to leave, and some people want Jesus to lead. At the end of the story, especially in Mark’s gospel, the redeemed man desires to go with Jesus. He is so grateful to have been set free. He wants to be with Jesus, but Jesus says, “You can be useful to me in my kingdom. I am going to recommission you and put you back out in play.” The people of the town did not think that they could afford to have Jesus around because they lost 2000 pigs that day and He was unpredictably powerful in nature. However, we must challenge our thinking when we leave God out; we must realize there will be consequences to that choice. 

Some of you have read Dostoevsky. This is not a direct quote, but he provides the idea that if there is no God, then everything is permissible. If there is no God, then anything goes because there is no moral authority. We therefore have no moral obligation. If you want to argue for moral obligation, that is it is wrong to commit murder, wrong to go into a school and do what was done, wrong to be racist, if you want to claim those kinds of things, then you need some basis of goodness for your moral authority and obligation. If there is no God, then you do not really have a very good argument in that category. 

It used to be that there was no consensus about whether truth exists. I would stand up here and argue for the existence of truth, saying, “How many of you have ever heard the statement ‘there is no such thing as absolute truth?”. Everybody would raise their hand to which I would further ask, “Are you absolutely sure?”. Some would keep their hands raised, not getting the irony of that. They have a circular argument, but now, it is worse than that. It is not just truth that is on the chopping block, it is reality itself being questioned in the culture in which we live. Culture now questions if there is even a reality that exists apart from the selfish preferences, desires, and wishes of individuals, however the Bible says there is. 

It is unfortunately not too hard to believe these days that some would care more about lost pigs than about lost people. In a pagan environment, without a God, it makes us wonder where we are as a culture, and where you are as a Christian individual attempting to swim against the current of modern cultural influence. If you want Jesus to leave, or just leave a certain part of your life alone, or if you “allow” for Jesus to only have a hand in a particular part of your life where you enjoy the warm fuzzy feelings of hanging out with spiritual people, singing songs, the occasional Bible study, and feeling like you are doing something religious once in a while, but request that He does not meddle with other categories of your life, then you should question what is the darkness that has you in its vice grip? Is it anxiety, arrogance, anger, confusion, fear, food, finances, social status, social media prowess, social media approval, politics, pornography, sexuality, and all issues around that? 

There are three requests in today’s passage. First, the demons requested permission to run into the pigs. Then, the townspeople wanted to run Jesus out of town, so they asked Him to leave. Thirdly, the formerly demon-possessed man requested an opportunity to depart with Jesus. Ironically, the first two requests were granted, but the third one was not. Jesus said “yes” to allow the demons to go into the pigs and He respected the townspeople’s wish for Him to leave. However, Jesus said “no” to the man who wanted to go with Him. He told him to stay, even though it would be hard work and some people would not believe his transformation story. Yet, when the healed man walked into the village, where everyone used to know him as “crazy Eddie”, and some instinctually backed away slowly upon sight of him, he is now a clothed, sane, changed, living, breathing, walking, and talking testimony to the power of God’s redeeming grace. No one will be able to refute the miracle of the man’s testimony. It is up to you to decide if you want Jesus to leave or if you want Him to lead

Lewis says it this way, 

“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘thy will be done’, and those to whom God says, ‘thy will be done'”.

The cool thing about this story is that it does not end tragically. I was talking to some folks who described it as a horror movie with a good ending. That is a perfect way to describe it because this has a good ending. This guy goes and tells his testimony and people begin to marvel and believe, so much so that when Jesus comes back through the region later, (we will see this when we study ahead) what happens is influential. 

Charles Thomas, (C.T.), Studd lived during the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth century. He was a British missionary in China and famous cricketer who played for England’s Cambridge University. He says, 

“Christ came to save the lost, not the stiff necked. He came not to call scoffers, but sinners to repentance.”

He came not to call scoffers, but sinners to repentance; not to build and furnish comfortable chapels, churches, and cathedrals at home in which to rock Christian professors to sleep by means of clever essay, stereotyped prayers, and artistic musical performances. Jesus came to capture men from the devil’s clutches and the very jaws of Hell. This can be accomplished only by a red, hot, unconventional, unfettered devotion to the power of the Holy Spirit of the Lord, Jesus Christ.

Remember, it is not about you pulling up your bootstraps, getting tough, and shouting down the devil with all of your might, like we see some preachers do on TV and at different kinds of campaigns and such. Jesus shut the devil down without yelling or spitting. He boldly and calmly said, “Be gone” in His sovereign power and authority. It is not about your being able to quote scripture at the devil, it is about you trusting the Lord. 

James says it this way in James 4:7, 

“Submit yourselves to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you.”

The secret is that you submit to God, who is the one who will save and rescue you. If your life is bound up by any kind of darkness that has separated you from God, from others, or from your true self, (that is who God wants you to be, not just who you want to be,) then listen and hear the Lord calling your name. Respond by letting Him lead rather than leave that area and all aspects of your life. 

It is true that grace accepts you right where you are. As a matter of fact, Jesus went all the way over to the tombs where the demon-possessed men were, so that they could see and run to Him. He took the initiative. He moved in their direction first. Now the question is, will you, like these men, run to Jesus and fall down before Him and trust in Him? Jesus will accept you right where you are at, but He never leaves you there. He will change you because grace is great in that way. He is always lovingly changing us, and Jesus is the one who you can turn to because He is the only One with the power and authority over the forces of darkness. Jesus is mighty to save. You need to look no further. He really is the One, 

Let’s pray,

Lord, we turn to you. Whether it is the darkness of the global world we live in, or the darkness that we see in the mirror when we are looking into our own eyes, the gateway to our souls, and we see what has a grip on us. We would like you to set us free. Come, Lord Jesus, come to your people, remind us of who you are, how generous your amazing grace is, how powerful your sovereign grace is to save. We pray this in your name. Amen and amen.

(Edited for Reading)

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