Obedience

calvin-letter-of-the-law


Then they sailed to the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee.

Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion,” for many demons had entered him. And they begged him not to command them to depart into the abyss. Now a large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and they begged him to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. Then the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and drowned.

Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned.  The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, “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 8:26, 30-33, 37-39


And all were weeping and mourning for her, but he said, “Do not weep, for she is not dead but sleeping.”  And they laughed at him, knowing that she was dead.  But taking her by the hand he called, saying, “Child, arise.”  And her spirit returned, and she got up at once. And he directed that something should be given her to eat.  And her parents were amazed, but he charged them to tell no one what had happened.  Luke 8:52-56


In these two stories in Luke 8, Jesus gave opposite instructions after healing two different people: a man possessed by demons is told to share what God has done, and the family of a raised-from-the-dead daughter is told to keep quiet. Why?

The child was the daughter of a ruler of the synagogue, a man with religious authority and responsibility. Perhaps publicity of this story might have caused other religious elite to prematurely escalate their conflict and condemnation of Jesus. The timing wasn’t right yet. These are just my thoughts; I don’t know for certain.

My personal experience has been more like the possessed man. After being set free from addiction and sin, I felt compelled to tell people what God had done. I was hesitant at first because of the shame of my old life. Yet each telling of the story has resulted in more and more freedom. Freedom from the addictions, of course. But also freedom from fear, anxiety, shame, self-hatred, self-loathing, isolation, and the compulsion to present a false (better) image of myself.

Re-entry into community must have been a little challenging for the formerly-possessed man who had run around naked and lived in a cemetery.  I want to assume that he needed long-term emotional and relational care within his community since he had been isolated and feared by his neighbors and family. Even Jesus healing the man had scared these people. I think they needed to feel safe, and the man needed to feel accepted. That was the case in my story.

One more thought on these 2 stories: the child had died, the man had been living among the dead. Now each was returned to communities of the living. Symbolic?

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!  Psalm 27:13

I know this: God has reasons for what He tells us to do. We may not understand them at the time but our response should be obedience. Through our obedience, God may be healing a thousand fearful, broken hearts.

Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice.  1 Samuel 15:22

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