May 23, 2024 Devotional

Jesus did not let [the man from whom he had cast out a legion of demons] come with him, but said,
“Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”  Mark 5:19

Throughout the gospels, we hear Jesus say many times, “Follow me.”  Usually when that happens, the person either drops everything to follow this Rabbi who was gaining renown in the region, or they intentionally walk away because they can’t follow without reservation.  I suppose the first question I would ask you is, “What would you do?”

For me, raised in a Christian home with loving parents and a very supportive church family, the challenge to follow Jesus was less about the challenge and more about the fact that it was just what we did. I went to church every Sunday. I only remember a handful of times in my teenage, “I’m independent and can think for myself…” years that I didn’t want to attend worship on a Sunday morning. Honestly, it usually came down to the fact that my friends were there and we could sit in the balcony of that small church and sort of pay attention while playing line and word games on the back of the bulletin. Jesus’ call to follow him was always present, but I can’t say that I was very attentive to actually doing much with it.

In the gospel of Mark, in our verse for today, we see a very different scenario. A man who was possessed by multiple demons had been freed by Jesus. Without hesitation, this man wanted to give all his time, energy, and attention to Jesus – to follow him wherever he went. On the surface, that seems about right for any of us who have been forgiven and set free by the powerful blood of Jesus and the love and grace of God. Why wouldn’t he want to follow Jesus? However, that’s NOT what Jesus asked. Jesus did not say, “Leave everything and follow me.” Jesus commanded him to go home, to tell his family what had happened and of the incredible mercy of God. This man must’ve been shunned and outcast by his family, who probably had no idea what to do with his demon-possession. I can’t blame them. In our lives, we have family members who are making terrible choices or struggling with addiction or who are even demon-possessed, and we don’t know what to do. Yet, it was to those people – his family – that Jesus sent this man as a born-again evangelist for Christ! The message was simple: I was demon-possessed. Jesus cast out the demon. I’m whole and restored. Let me tell you about it.

Now, there are a few ways we could go with this lesson in our lives. The first is to always go to Jesus for healing and wholeness. The second is to always obey the commands of Jesus. Yet, in our world today, Jesus is asking people like you and me – lay people empowered by the presence of the Holy Spirit, having been healed and set free – to go to our families and tell about the mercy of God. And remember, clergy who have answered the call did not come out of the womb as pastors. So, all of us are laity called to different roles, but it always includes telling about what the Lord has done in our lives and of God’s mercy.

No matter where you go today and no matter to whom you go, take some time to tell about how much the Lord has done for you and how great is his mercy (not getting what you deserve).  Following Jesus means obeying, for sure, but it also means going home and sharing the love of God with those closest to you – in your family, community, and world.  Imagine what could happen when we share that simple truth with others.