After Christ rescued the demoniac, the people of the region became angry and afraid of Jesus and begged Him to leave them. But the man who was demon-possessed was now healthy and sane and wanted to follow and witness for Jesus. Today, people still respond to Jesus by either rejecting or accepting Him as their Lord.
The Text (Mark 5:14-20)
14 So those who fed the swine fled, and they told it in the city and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that had happened. 15 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. 16 And those who saw it told them how it happened to him who had been demon-possessed, and about the swine. 17 Then they began to plead with Him to depart from their region.
18 And when He got into the boat, he who had been demon-possessed begged Him that he might be with Him. 19 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.” 20 And he departed and began to proclaim in Decapolis all that Jesus had done for him; and all marveled.
Jesus has just done an incredible miracle, but many of the people in the area are not happy. He cast out a whole group of nasty demons from a man, saving him from a life of violent insanity. Why aren’t the people of this Gentile region rejoicing? One reason is the financial loss by the swineherds. Remember that Jesus sent the demons into a bunch of pigs, which then ran off the edge of a cliff. The loss of these two thousand pigs would probably equal the loss of about $250,000 today. That’s a big loss even for the wealthy. But that cannot be the full explanation. First, it is not just the swine’s owners who are upset. The whole city and region is disturbed. Second, Mark tells us that they become afraid, not over the death of the pigs, but over seeing the former crazy man “sitting and clothed and in his right mind.” They are scared because they recognize the power of God at work. Seeing the effects of this incredible exorcism has shown them the God-ness of Jesus, which includes His authority and holiness. Most certainly they become aware of their own sinfulness and weakness when compared to the Son of God. But instead of falling down before Jesus in humble worship, they beg Him to go away and not come back. They want this Jesus out of their lives.
Not so for the healed man. This man responds to Jesus’s miracle with full joy and devotion. He wants to surrender his life to the Son of God who loved and saved him. He begs Jesus to let him join His group of traveling disciples. But Jesus instead tells him to remain in his own region, giving his testimony as a life-long witness for his Lord. The people get their wish in that Jesus does leave them, but He leaves behind an ambassador to continually remind them of their rejection of the Son of God. The healed man travels throughout an even bigger region of 10 surrounding Gentile cities telling the good news that Jesus saves.
When people are confronted with Jesus today, we still see that people must either reject or accept Him. The Jesus of the gospels claims to be the Son of God. He demands that we deny ourselves, pick up our cross (a symbol of dying to our own desires for His sake), and follow after Him. He offers us total forgiveness and eternal life with Him and His Father forever. He promises that the third member of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, will come live in our hearts if we accept Him. But we must surrender our lives to Him as our Lord. It’s either total obedience or disobedience; He does not leave us a middle ground of half-hearted discipleship. If we want to save our life, we must lose it to Christ. The swineherds and their countrymen understood this high cost of salvation and sadly chose to reject it. They turned Jesus away. But the former demoniac could not help but give his life to Jesus. He realized that he was now healthy and well, in his mind, body, and soul, because of the “great things” that Jesus had done for him. May we also remember all the great things that the Lord has done for us. May we always rejoice and give thanks for our Lord Jesus Christ.