“38 The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39 “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him.” (Luke 8)
We’ve been talking a lot about boats as a metaphor for following Jesus. Getting in them, getting out of them, what keeps us from following Jesus and the like. How we need to let go of everything in order to truly follow Him. How nothing is more important. How this is our true path.
But what if Jesus tells you not to get into the boat? What then justshane? Huh? What?
I’m gonna admit right up front, this would have been really hard for me to accept. If Jesus had done this kind of wonderful miracle for me, knowing how I am right now, I would want to follow him, be with him. I would be very envious of the twelve yutzes getting back in the boat to leave. Why Jesus? Why can’t I sit at your feet and feed off your every word?
And yet, this is pretty much where every believer is. Standing on the shore of mortality, looking across the ocean of death, knowing Jesus is on the other side. Our true home is on the other side. Our true selves are on the other side. Perfect peace and prosperity are on the other side. The lover of our souls is on the other side. Jesus came, saved us and left us here! Whut up, Jesus?
As simply as I can put it: because we are different. “13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many….17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.” (1Cor 12)
In some things we will all share. We all have the same calling. We are all to obey and submit. We all must love God with heart, mind and strength. We all love each other as Christ loved us. We all are told to go and make disciples of all men. These things are universal. Every new Christian can be told them. Every new Christian should expect them.
But there are also specific callings. God knows us. “6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. 7 Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.” (Luke 12) God knows you! Yes, you! He knows your struggles, your history, your sins, your potential, which he placed in you. He knows His design for you!
So to a dutiful fisherman with a family and responsibilities and natural leadership skills, he says, “leave your nets and follow me and I will make you a fisher of men.” To a tax collector, an outcast of his society, he says, “follow me,” and makes him part of and a leading scribe for the Kingdom of God. To a rich young ruler, he says, “go and sell all you own, give it to the poor and follow me.” To a woman caught in adultery he gives forgiveness and tells her, “Go and sin no more.” To a Pharisee, he explains the mysteries of the kingdom so this man can teach them to the people. To a widow with a dead son, he restores the young man to her. And to a demon possessed man, living among the tombs, he restores his mind and says, “Go home.”
From the ones who have, Jesus takes. To the ones without, Jesus gives. Those who feel themselves established, built up, on solid footing, secure, Jesus tears down so He may build them up again on the Rock. So He may make something new and true and eternal. To those who have lost everything, who have nothing, who are cast out, unclean, unloved, He restores what was lost and more.
This demon possessed man of the Gerasenes, has suffered greatly. To him, Jesus restores mind, body and soul. He does not ask him to follow him onto the boat, to share in the sufferings and depredations he and the disciples will still face. He sends him HOME. A place the man hasn’t been welcome in who knows how long. He gives the man back to the community, back to his family.
And he gives him this command, “declare how much God has done for you.” Full circle. We come back to the universal commandments, Love God, Love neighbor, make disciples. Obey, submit, love. Paul sums up his dissertation on spiritual gifts in this way…
“29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But earnestly desire the higher gifts.
And I will show you a still more excellent way. 13 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing… 13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1Cor 12,13)
Love is obedience, submission. Where ever God sends you; whatever field He gives you to tend; whoever He sends you to minister to; whatever mountain He has given you to climb; whatever He has taken from you or given to you; whether He tells you to get into or out of the boat; remember this: He has chosen you, He has trained you through the trials of your life, He has equipped you with His Spirit and His Word and He has prepared the way for you. He “who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,” has got this! Go forth, be fruitful and multiply!