The Lord’s Message: “It Does Not Have to Be That Way!”

The Lord’s Message: “It Does Not Have to Be That Way!”
Date:  February 4, 2024
Where:  Tilghman Methodist Church
Scripture Reference:  Mark 5: 1-20

            Whereas Chapter 4 in the Book of Mark teaches us about Evangelism, Chapter 5 teaches us about healing.  The chapter starts off with healing a man whose life is controlled by a legion of demons.  It ends with the healing of Jarius’ daughter.  Sandwiched between these miracles of healing is the healing of a woman that has been bleeding for twelve years.  Her doctors have not been able to cure her. She reached out and touched Jesus’ cloak and immediately she was healed.  I encourage you to read this chapter this week.

            Let us pray. 

            Jesus and His disciples have crossed over the Sea of Galilee in a boat.  In verse 1, they have arrived in the region of Gerasenes.  We are not sure of the exact location, but it is made up of ten towns including Damacus, the capital of modern-day Syria.  We are told in verse 2 about the strange encounter of The Incredible Hulk.  I am not sure if Stan Lee read the Bible for his cartoon character, but he might have.  In verses 3-5, the man is living in the cemetery.  He has incredible strength which enables him to break chains and shackles.  His clothes are torn to shreds.  He madly cries out day and night.  He cut himself on the stones.   He is bruised and bleeding from his wounds. His condition is caused by the 5,000 demons living inside of him.

            In verse 6, the demons cause the man to run and fall at the feet of Jesus and cry out, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?  Swear to God that you won’t torture me!”  You might be surprised that the demons recognize Jesus, but in James 2:19.  These demons are scared of Jesus.  They can not stand up to the power that Jesus has. 

            Look how they deal with Jesus.  In verse 10, they beg Jesus not to banish them out of the area.  Jesus has the power to banish them to some far-off place or even destroy them.  Our God is able. 

            After all their begging in verse 12, Jesus finally sends them to a herd of 2000 pigs.  They are in Gentile territory.  Jews would not have pigs, because they are not allowed to eat pigs according to the Levitical dietary laws.  The results are recorded in verse 13.  The demons enter into the pigs and the pigs run off the cliff and drown in the Sea of Galilee.  The herdsmen taking care of the pigs report what has happened.  People come out to see for themselves. 

            In verse 15, they find Jesus and the man.  The Incredible Hulk is sitting there fully clothed and in his right mind.  The people are afraid of what they see.  Drowned pigs.  A once demonic man now acting normal.  Jesus, a Jew, is responsible for doing all of this.  You might have thought that the people would be rejoicing, except for the owners of the pigs.  The mad man is now sane.   Look at verses 16 & 17.  They plead with Jesus to leave.  Jesus does just that.  If we do not want God in our life, then God will grant us our wish and leave us alone.

            The man wants to go with Jesus.  Jesus tells him in verse 19 to go home to his family and tell them what God has done for him.  The man does as Jesus asks in verse 20. 

            The gist of this story is that this man was in a battle with everybody.  Jesus came into his life and, in essence, said to him, “It does not have to be that way!”  Is this the message that you need to hear today?  Is there something in your life that needs to be changed?  Do you feel like Legion?  Do you feel like you are being pushed and pulled and jerked and yanked in so many different ways?  Is your life out of control?  Do you feel like your life is out of balance?  Jesus has a word for you, “It does not have to be that way!”

            Now, I do not know if any of us have demons living in us, but I can say that many of us are war with ourselves, with God which leads to be at war with others.

            First of all, you do not have to be at war with yourself.  Notice that the demonic man was at war with himself.  He was hurting, bruising, and injuring himself.  How often do we do that?  As Pogo put it, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” 

When we are at war with ourselves, when we do not feel good about ourselves, it distorts every relationship that we have.  We are angry with ourselves.  This results in us being angry with others.  Which destroys the relationships that we have. 

When we feel good about ourselves, this affects how we treat others.   We are more loving, more patient, more thoughtful and more gracious towards others.  When we remember that God made us and God does not make junk, then we have peace within.  When the devil comes and says that God cannot love you. You have made mistakes.  You are a sinner.  We need to remember this. “You are special to God.  He loves you. You are His child.  You are extremely valuable to Him!”  Do not believe the lies of the devil. Jesus says, “It does not have to be that way!”

Second, you do not have to be at war with other people.  The demonic was cast out of society.  He was forced to live in the tombs.  He was shackled and chained.  He was constantly doing battle with other people.  He even runs towards Jesus looking for a fight.  It is amazing how hostile we can be towards others. 

How many people have problems getting along with their next-door neighbors?  People suing each other over petty things, a barking dog, a noisy power tool, and a bouncing basketball.  The list goes on and on.  It is so sad.  Maybe, we should listen to what Jesus says to “love our neighbors as ourselves.”  “It does not have to be that way!”

Finally, you do not have to be at war with God.  The demonic shouts at Jesus, “What have you to do with me?”  Jesus is so important to us.  When we look at Jesus, we are looking at God.  When we see what Jesus does, we see what God wants us to do and what God wants us to be like!  Jesus shows us love, compassion, concern, and empathy.  God shows us the same love, compassion, concern, and empathy.   Jesus reveals that God is not angry, vengeful, or condemning.  God loves us and says, “It does not have to be that way!”

So, we do not have to be at war with ourselves, at war with God, and certainly not at war with others.  Jesus comes into our lives just as He came into the demonic’s life and says, “It does not have to be that way!”  By following Jesus that is how my friends that we grow together in faith.  Amen.

February 8, 2024 3:11 pm