As a parent, one of the hardest things is to stand back and watch your children make a mistake to help them learn a valuable lesson. And yet, Jesus had taught the disciples what the heart of someone who lives in the Kingdom is to look like. Then, He showed the disciples how that looked, lived out among them. Now, He was going to put them to the test. Would they have the faith of the Leper and the Centurion? Would they believe that Jesus could do the miraculous? Even when it pertained to them?
It’s so easy to have faith for everyone else, but God wants to develop YOUR heart.
In verse 18, a teacher of the Law came to Jesus and said, “Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.” This is HUGE in so many ways. A teacher of the law coming to Jesus was a very courageous thing to do. And for that teacher to call Jesus “Teacher” was an even BIGGER deal. This teacher would have been looked up to, looked to for having all the answers, and very accustomed to people wanting him to pick them to follow HIM. Now, he was humbling himself and saying that he was willing to be taught by The Teacher. This was HUGE! Oh, how we must keep ourselves in a place of humility. We don’t know it all and never will. And about the time you think you know anything, you will find out that you really know nothing.
“Know it alls” have no place in the Kingdom.
Jesus tells the teacher of the law that He doesn’t sleep in a mansion. The teacher needs to think about what he is saying. Another disciple wants to go bury his father before following Jesus. Both men, eager to follow Jesus, but maybe not so willing when the costs are considered.
There is a cost, a TOTAL surrender, to truly following Jesus.
What are you willing to give up in order to follow Jesus?
Verses 23-27 tell the story of Jesus and the disciples in the boat and a terrible storm comes. Where is Jesus? Asleep. The disciples panic and call out to Jesus for help. He responds, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Jesus told them to trust Him, showed them others that had trusted Him, and what miraculous things happen when people trusted Him. Now He wanted to see if they could PERSONALLY trust Him when times got hard. This is the true test for followers of Jesus.
Will you personally trust Jesus even when things get tough?
The last verses of this chapter tell about Jesus driving out demons from two demon-possessed men, driving the demons into pigs and the pigs running into the lake and drowning. Jesus is freeing two men who were under control of the devil. Notice that the demons, not the men, begged Jesus to throw them into the pigs. That word “begged” means “to strive to appease someone by entreaty“. The demons knew Jesus’ power. They were very afraid of Him. So, in an effort to appease Jesus, they asked Him to send them into the pigs.
I am sure that the two demon-possessed men were very grateful for Jesus setting them free. But the men who tended the pigs were not. They were more than likely extremely angry because their livelihood just died in the lake. They ran into town and told everyone what happened. And Scripture says that the whole town went out to meet Jesus and then pleaded with Him to leave. After such an amazing miracle, why would these people want Jesus to leave? According to a more detailed account of this in Mark 5:15, it was fear. Fear He would ruin their means to live? Fear they would be punished by the Romans for Him being there? Fear of what they did not understand? Fear is “enemy ammunition” and causes people to respond in all kinds of ways. Instead of praise and honor, for doing a wonderful thing, Jesus was rejected.
Sometimes, following Jesus means that you will be misunderstood and rejected. Did Jesus know this would happen? YES. SO why did He do it? To prove He was the Messiah? YES. To show His disciples the price that they would have to pay in order to follow Him? YES. To heal two men because that’s what Jesus came to do? YES. But in the Mark account, here’s the bigger WHY:
“As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with Him. Jesus did not let 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.” So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis (the Ten Cities) how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.” (Mark 5:18-20)
Jesus may have experienced rejection for casting out these demons, but the reward of the freed man sharing such a powerful testimony to the world, far outweighed His need for their acceptance. And how interesting it is to me that the place where this happened was “Gadara” which means “reward at the end”.
Will you still follow Jesus even if it means being misunderstood and rejected?
As a disciple/follower of Jesus, we may be misunderstood and rejected for our faith. But make no mistake about it, God will use it and there will be reward in the end. We will reach our own “Gadara”.
Jesus is teaching His followers some very important lessons. In their testing , they may have failed miserably, but they learned some things so profoundly. He will take us on those lesson-learning journeys as well, so that our faith will be strong and solid in everything we face. Let Jesus develop in you an unshakable FAITH.