The Gadarene

Matthew 8:28-34

AFTER mastering a wild sea the Lord Jesus masters a wild man. Three Gospels give us the story of the Gadarene demoniac (Matt. 8:28-34; Mark 5:1-20; Luke 8:26-39), and it is unusual that Mark’s account, usually the briefest, is here the longest.

There are those who would make this man to be only an insane case, but our Lord clearly recognized demon-possession by His saying, “Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit.” That He was merely accepting the common view of His time is an argument too foolish to reserve room for refutation.

Much has been said about the destruction of the swine who refused to endure what men put up with. Huxley made much of this “destruction of property” as an argument against the Lord. Our Lord never went at anything tamely. He made bold strokes and brushed everything else aside to get at a needy life. What are a few hogs compared to a human soul? The destruction of the swine was a bold evidence of the miracle and a daring declaration that lives are ever more important than property. If the owner of the hogs had accepted the Lord Jesus he would have had a treasure inestimable. Instead, he saw only temporal loss and gain, and because Jesus was hurting his business, he besought Him to leave. Men have followed that procedure through the ages. When Christ interferes with our personal gain we usually beseech Him to leave.

There is a beautiful truth in the healed man’s desire to go with the Lord and His disciples in the ship to other parts. Doubtless he wanted to get away from the scenes of his past, and it looked very inviting—this prospect of sojourning with the Lord in new fields, ever hearing His words and witnessing His miracles. But it was not so to be; he must stay in the old, unromantic spot and tell what the Lord had done for his soul (and what a witness he must have been!).

Many of us have known this experience. We have longed to follow the Lord across the sea or into some more interesting field, but He has commissioned us to stay at home—live down an evil past, perhaps—and be an obscure and unknown witness. It is not given to everyone to go far afield; there must be the disciple who stays at home. Time and time again we meet with those who went to foreign fields or undertook vast enterprises under mistaken leadings. It is so easy to confuse our wants with God’s leadings. The work of the gospel is too often made the springboard from which to dive off into water too deep for us. This man obeyed the Lord’s command, and as he proclaimed his story men marveled, according to Mark’s account. Together with a marvelous experience of deliverance he had an obedient spirit, and that makes a great combination.

Are you willing that Christ should do His wonders in your life at any cost to property and circumstances? Then you need to be willing to let Him station you where He will, to be His witness.

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