Afraid? Of What?
In Luke 8:26-37, we read of the healing of the man possessed by demons who is healed by Jesus. The demons are allowed to enter pigs which rush off a cliff and are drowned in the lake. When the people of the region see this, they ask Jesus to “leave their region”. There have been many who have given reasons for this request from the people of the region. We know that the people were from the area of the Decapolis and so were not Jews. We are told that they were afraid and asked Jesus to leave – but what were they afraid of?
We can assume that they were afraid of the economic impact that Jesus may have if all the pigs in the area were to end up in the lake. They were afraid of the power demonstrated by Jesus when they saw the once violent, demon-possessed man now sitting calmly in his right mind. They recognized that Jesus represented the God of the Jews and they weren’t sure what or how to respond to His power. And perhaps they were afraid of the changes that a man like Jesus would make to their lifestyle.
Years ago in northern India, a missionary was preaching to group of local people all seated on the ground. He told of the Christ who loved the whole world and came to serve others. He told about the abuse that he suffered, how he was mocked and spat upon, and how he was condemned to die on Calvary. He described the sufferings of Jesus on the way to the cross, and how his friends deserted him. And finally he told of Jesus, on the cross in terrible suffering, crying out “Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing!”
When the missionary reached this point, an old Hindu priest could stand it no longer. He rushed over, threw himself at the missionary’s feet and said over and over again – “We want you to leave India, we want you to leave India.” When asked, “Why do you want me to leave?”, the old priest replied “Because we have no story like this. We have no Savior who lived a sinless life, died for His enemies, and prayed for the forgiveness of those who took His life. If you keep telling this story, our people will forsake the temples and follow your savior.”
Those who would accept Jesus must change their lives. Many are not willing to do so and so will not respond to the Savior. Their response is to ask Jesus to “leave our country”. Perhaps that is some of what is behind the move in our nation today to remove Jesus from the public square. If His message is taught, people will understand that He requires a change in lifestyle and will forsake the ‘temples of the culture’. Jesus had predicted that “when I am lifted up, I will draw all people to myself.” (John 12: 32) The idea of the Son of God shedding His blood for all mankind is unique in all the religions of the world. It is such an absurd notion to the world’s standards that those who accept it cannot continue in the same path they had been following. Let us keep the cross of Jesus firmly in the forefront of our hearts, minds, and teaching – and may we show it our words and lives. Let us invite Jesus to stay, not leave our nation, our communities, and our own lives.
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