Don’t Follow Me

Mark chapter 5 is a scene that could come straight out of a horror film. Jesus steps off the boat with his disciples and is met by a man who lives in the tombs. Not only does this guy live in a graveyard, but he is possessed by demons and is so powerful and uncontrollable that no one had the strength to contain him. They’ve even tried shackling him down, but he would wrench the shackles apart. All night you could hear this demon-possessed man hurting himself wailing. It’s straight out of a spooky movie.

But this man, possessed by perhaps thousands of demons, meets Jesus and everything changes. Jesus demonstrates his power and authority in such a way that a legion of demons are begging for mercy. He frees this man from his enslavement and oppression. This transformation is so remarkable that when some herdsmen come, it says they saw this man “sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid.” They had seen the power of Jesus that could transform and heal this crazy, graveyard-dwelling, demon-possessed horror movie character, and they were afraid.

This man, healed, changed and restored by Jesus, wants to get in the boat and follow Jesus back to the other side. But Jesus won’t let him. Isn’t this surprising? How many times does Jesus say “follow me”, but here he says “don’t follow me”.

Instead, Jesus has a mission for this man. Jesus tell him “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” Don’t follow me, go home, he says. But he sends him home with a mission: tell everyone how the Lord has had mercy on you. Show everyone how merciful God is.

This is what I call missional living. A man, changed by Jesus, living with the purpose of proclaiming the goodness and mercy of God in his life. He’s a missionary in his own home, with his own friends, showing them how Jesus has changed him, and proclaiming God’s mercy to them. He’s living with a mission.

The text concludes with this statement, “and he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled.” Everyone in the region was blown away by the transforming power of Jesus at the sight and testimony of this man. So, transformation leads to mission, which leads to worship.

Has Jesus changed us? Have we experienced his mercy and grace? If so, I believe Jesus has placed the same calling on our lives: go and proclaim how much Jesus has done for you. If we have been transformed by Jesus, he sends us on a mission to proclaim his goodness, so that others can join us in worship.

(originally written for Delve on September 26, 2010)