We’ve certainly had our share of power problems lately. Having no power is a fearful thing! But having too much power may be even more fearful!
We like a small fire to keep us warm. But out of control fire is to be feared.
A summer breeze feels great on a hot Texas day. But we are afraid of tornado-force winds.
Floating down the Colorado River is great fun. But when that same river overflows its banks and takes down houses, we flee in terror from the roaring waters.
Last week, the storm on Galilee had the Twelve fearing for their lives. It was a powerful storm! So, they woke Jesus up. And with two words, He ended the storm in an instant. Their reaction? Greater fear! They are terrified! “Who IS this? His power is greater than the greatest power we’ve ever known!”
In a short while, their boat reaches the region of the Gadarenes—Gentile country. They tie the boat and head toward town when a wild madman runs straight for them from the cemetery. How scary is that? It’s obvious this man is possessed! The broken chains hanging from his arms tell us that he is incredibly strong—like Samson!
But Jesus isn’t alarmed. He strikes up a conversation. “What’s your name?”
The plurality of voices that come up through the man’s throat makes us shudder. “We are Legion.”
Legion? As in a Roman legion? Six thousand? Are there six thousand somethings inside this guy? Maybe. But Jesus is not at all impressed by the power of 6,000 demons. He knows that He has more power. The demons know it, too. They immediately try to negotiate their surrender. Unlike the Twelve back there in the boat, these demons know exactly who Jesus is. He is the Son of God. They confess that immediately. Then twice they beg Jesus for mercy. These demons are filled with terror because they know what’s coming.
“Please, Jesus, don’t torment us. Don’t send us out into the open country. Allow us, PLEASE, to enter that herd of 2,000 pigs over there.”
Jesus says, “I allow it.” The demons come out of the man and into the pigs. The entire herd jump off a cliff into the sea where they drown.
Word filters into town and the people come out to see this man who has done what they couldn’t do. They tried to control the man with chains but found that they couldn’t. They didn’t have the power. Finally, they banished him to live in the catacombs.
When the townspeople see for themselves that the rumors are true, what is their reaction? Same as the Twelve. Same as the demons. They are utterly terrified of Jesus. He has greater power than the greatest power they have ever known. They know they cannot control Jesus. So, instead of surrendering to the power of Jesus, they ask Him to leave town. “Go away, Jesus. You’re too powerful for us. And we refuse to surrender control. We like our power. So, please leave.”
And Jesus does. He doesn’t want to be in a place where He is not wanted.
Part of me wonders if the same thing is not happening today in a region where prayer in schools is outlawed and any kind of religious talk in the workplace has been banned … a country where a sizeable portion of the people want the words “In God We Trust” scrubbed off the currency and “under God” omitted from the Pledge of Allegiance.
We live in a place where a lot of folks want Jesus to get in His boat and leave. And eventually, Jesus will. He doesn’t want to be in a place where He’s not wanted.
Meanwhile, the man who no longer has the demons is not afraid of Jesus at all! He knows firsthand that the power of Jesus is good and Jesus Himself is Good News. “Let me in the boat, Jesus! I’m going to follow you everywhere!”
But Jesus has other plans. “No. My will for you is to stay here and share your story. Tell everyone what I did for you.”
The man doesn’t plead with Jesus at all. He knows Who has the power. “If that’s the plan, Jesus, I submit myself to that plan.”
He obediently goes into town and tells everyone the story of what Jesus did for him.
Surrendering power is hard to do. We like to think we have everything under control. Then the electricity fails, the water freezes, the pipes break, the sickness comes, and in the end, we all die.
We don’t really have power. We are not in control of anything, not really.
So, we have a choice to make—either surrender to the all-powerful Jesus… or send Him away so we can keep living under the illusion that we’re in control.
Each of us has already made that choice. And the test to see which option we chose is this: obedience.
Are we living in obedience to Jesus?
Or are we, like Israel under the judges, just doing what seems right in our own eyes?