When those tending the pigs saw what had happened, they ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus’ feet, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people how the demon-possessed man had been cured. Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear. So he got into the boat and left. -Luke 8:34-37
Picture the craziest, scariest Boo Radley of your town. Now, make him strong enough to break chains and overthrow armed guards. Also, take away his abilities to speak and hear. Next, have him regularly tear his clothes to shreds. Finally, make him possessed by a legion of demons that no one can banish. Got that picture?
Now, let's say that one day your friends dare you to tiptoe up Boo Radley's sidewalk and knock on his door. You know you shouldn't do it, but it's a dare, so you have to. You creep up to the porch, you raise your hand to knock, but just as you're about to finish your task, you hear voices coming from the other side of the door. This is confusing to you, since Boo Radley clearly can't carry on a conversation. You peek in the window just in time to see Billy Graham cast all those demons out of him. Clearly, your first choice is to run screaming through the town, announcing what had just happened. By the time you get back, Boo Radley is fully clothed and making lemonade to share with the townsfolk now gathered on his porch. He's as sweet and docile as a newborn lamb.
What would you do?
Well, I know what I wouldn't do. I wouldn't ask Billy Graham to leave. There are a whole lot of other things I think I would ask him (What the heck just happened? Who are you? How did you do that? Would you mind taking a look at my rabbit?), but certainly not, "Hey... umm... Could you get out of here, please?"
|No one wanted you anyway!|
I mean, I get it. They were scared. I would be scared, too, but I don't think I would jump straight to kicking Him out. But that's what the people did to Jesus. They asked Him to leave. Maybe they were nervous about what He might do next. Perhaps they were worried He may ask them to be His next test subjects. I naturally try to find some reasonable explanation for them so I can say to myself, "Okay. That's not so bad. That's pretty understandable, actually." But here's the thing. The Bible never explains why they were scared, which means that it doesn't really matter. What mattered was that they asked Him to leave.
We justify things in this way all the time. We say, "Oh, well, her dad hit her when she was a kid, so I understand why she's slowly becoming an alcoholic." "His parents didn't connect with him emotionally as he was growing up, so it makes sense that he's brash and distant now." "But she was molested that one night; I think it's natural to go through a promiscuous period when you're trying to deal with that." But I want you to hear me and hear me well right now: The Bible doesn't say, "They were scared because they didn't understand what had just happened, so, in the moment, they asked Jesus to leave." The Bible says that they were scared and they asked him to leave.
Their reasoning for their actions didn't matter.
So what did Jesus do? Did He follow that idea that I somehow got in my head? Did he stick around and beg them to let Him stay? Did He draw out specific models of how having Him in their lives would do wonderful things for them? Did He give them lots of money to make them feel more secure about having Him there? Did He make their broccoli taste better and their chocolate non-fattening? Absolutely not. He left.
That's the unfortunate part of freewill, friends. When we tell Him to get lost, He does. Now, if you're anything like me, you're probably shaking your head right now, and there's a knot in your stomach, but please hear me out. I promise I'm going to make it all make sense, but, for the sake of your time and the length of this post, I'm going to continue it tomorrow. Honest. Tomorrow. It's already entirely written and on a timer to go up tomorrow at noon my time. So look for it.