Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Day 74: Mark 5:1-20 & Psalm 75 - How Should We Respond to the Work of Jesus in Our Lives?

Today's Reading: Mark 5:1-20 & Psalm 75

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How Should We Respond to the Work of Jesus in Our Lives?

As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. And he did not permit him but said to 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.” And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled.
- Mark 5:18-20

Imagine being possessed by a legion of demons! A Roman legion was made up of ten cohorts of about 480 soldiers each, so a legion was 4,800 - 5,000 troops. We don't know exactly how many demons possessed this man, but we do know they were cast out into a herd of around 2,000 pigs. Being possessed by just one demon is a terrifying thought, but being possessed by thousands of them is truly unthinkable. 

The fact that Jesus was able to cast out these thousands of demons and set this man free is amazing! And yet, the work of God in delivering you and I from our sin and condemnation and from the power of death is also amazing. Jesus was able to cast out these demons with His authoritative words. The miracle of our deliverance and salvation required the death and resurrection of Jesus to accomplish.

The world's reaction to this man's great deliverance is perhaps unexpected, though it shouldn't be. Instead of having crowds of sick and demon-possessed people live up for healing, as happened elsewhere in Israel, the people of the Gerasenes wanted Jesus to leave. We were given a clue as to their spiritual state by the very fact that this Jewish community had a herd of 2,000 pigs. 

The world does not praise the work of Jesus in bringing deliverance for two main reasons:

1. The world does not understand and cannot control the power of Jesus, and so He is a threat. The world understand coercion but not transformation. It's a power greater than their own, so they fear and hate Jesus for it.
2. Jesus threatens the world's standard of living. In this case, 2,000 pigs died. (This was an act of judgment, as this community was disobeying God's law at the time by having pigs.) In the book of Acts, we see a fortune-telling slave girl set free from demons and lose her fortune-telling ability. We also see Demetrius the silversmith leading the mob in Ephesus against Paul because the Gospel threatened his idol-making business. The bottom line: Because sin is a profitable business, the world hates when people are saved from it.

But how should we respond to God's miraculous work of deliverance in our lives? This demon-possessed man is an example for all of us. He wanted to follow Jesus and get away from the place where he had suffered and where people would be bothering him. But Jesus sent him into that difficult place and asked him to testify to the truth of what Jesus had done for him. He obeyed and went.

Jesus sends us into our homes, our places of work, our neighborhoods and our relationships with the good news of what He has done for us. He calls us not to be ashamed but to testify to the truth of our deliverance. Are we amazed at what Jesus has done for us? Will we obey and testify? 

Prayer Based on Psalm 75:

We give thanks to You, O God;
    we give thanks, for Your name is near.
Jesus dwells in our hearts by faith
    by the indwelling of Your Holy Spirit.
We recount your wondrous deeds,
   the great salvation You have worked for us
   and applied to our needy souls.

Lord, You speak and say to us:
“At the set time that I appoint
    I will judge with equity.
When the earth totters, and all its inhabitants,
    it is I who keep steady its pillars. 
I say to the boastful, ‘Do not boast,’
    and to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up your horn;
do not lift up your horn on high,
    or speak with haughty neck.’”

For not from the east or from the west
    and not from the wilderness comes lifting up,
but it is You, O God, who executes judgment,
    putting down one and lifting up another.
For in Your hand, O Lord, there is a cup
    with foaming wine, well mixed,
    the wine of judgment and wrath
and he pours out from it,
    and all the wicked of the earth
    shall drain it down to the dregs.

But I will declare it forever;
    I will sing praises to the God of Jacob.
Jesus has drunk the cup of wrath for Your people, O God.
All the horns of the wicked You will cut off,
    but the horns of the righteous shall be lifted up.
And we give thanks to You, O God,
   for it is only by Your grace and by the righteousness of Jesus
   that we are the righteous who are saved and not the wicked who are condemned.

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