We have all heard stories of unlikely candidates for conversion. Unlikely in the eyes of man no doubt. There is the faithful praying George Muller who before his own conversion was a thief, liar and gambler who chose to play cards and get drunk while his mother was home dying. Or what about Augustine, who became a pillar of the early church and even still today but lived a hedonist lifestyle with his lover and illegitimate son before coming to faith in Christ. But today I would like for us to look at the example of the first gentile missionary; a man whose name is no longer known but had you lived near his town he would have been all too familiar to you. This man had many demons in his life.
A Man Changed by God
In Mark 5:1-20, Jesus departs from the crowds and heads southeast across the Sea of Galilee to a seaport outpost of one of the ten cities that made up the Roman Decapolis; Gerasenes. Here Jesus meets a man who was utterly hopeless, being possessed by many demons. This man’s agony can be seen in his description. He was living among the tombs having been banished by a town that undoubtedly had no idea what to do with him. He cried out both night and day in this distress, cutting himself with sharp stones until he bled. The despair and bleakness of this man’s life is almost palpable. The man’s condition would have been known by all who lived in the area. The ravings of the man in the tombs must have been the inspiration of many late night stories and daytime jokes. Under normal circumstances this man would have lived and died in his state; being dead among the dead…but for an encounter with the living God. Christ heals the man both physically and spiritually throwing out the demons and filling the man with Himself.
The effects of this man’s true conversation are that he was removed from the tombs and placed “in his right mind.” The man immediately wanted to follow Christ (Mark 5:18) but God had other plans. He was told to, “go home to your friends, and tell then what great things the Lord has done for you, and how he has had compassion on you.” (Mark 5:19)
Leaving the Tombs
So what can we learn from this? First we are shown a picture of the powerful gospel that can save the most hopeless and wicked of men. But equally as important we are exhorted to share in the response of this man to the command of Christ to “tell of the great things the Lord has done.” Will our response be the same? This man immediately upon hearing what Christ said did not continue to beg to come with Jesus. Instead he departed and began to proclaim to the ten cities all that Jesus had done. Let us also be like this unknown man and be obedient to proclaim to goodness of God.