20230226 Ask the Lord of the Harvest

Matthew 9:35-38 NET

35 Then Jesus went throughout all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were bewildered and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. 38 Therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest.”

We have been walking through the Gospels chronologically, looking at all the commands of Christ – who they were given to and what the situation was when he gave them. Today we are looking at the command in verse 38, where Jesus tells his disciples to ask for more workers for the harvest.

It’s not hard to understand the metaphor that Jesus is using here. We feel sorry for the farmer whose crop has been destroyed by a weather disaster. But in some ways, it is even more tragic when the farmer has an abundant crop, but cannot find enough workers to harvest that crop before it goes bad. The farmer looks out at his field, and the fruit right there waiting to be picked, but he knows he does not have enough time to do it.

Jesus told a parable about a vineyard owner who had the same problem. He went into town many times and hired more and more workers to get the grapes harvested. He was running out of time. That’s the urgency that we read into today’s text.

The metaphor has to do with the harvest of a crop, but the reality to which the harvest is pointing is evangelism. The Lord needs evangelists to harvest the crop of people who are ripe for his kingdom. For the next few weeks, all the commands of Christ we are going to be looking at have to do with evangelism. Today’s passage teaches us…

Every field on this planet needs harvesting (35).

Notice the setting of today’s story. Jesus and his disciples are going throughout the towns and villages of Galilee. This is the beginning of the final campaign in that region. Soon they will all relocate to another region to do their work.  Matthew defines that work as composed of three activities. It involved teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and sickness.

It was all evangelism, but it involved different kinds of evangelism depending on the field. We know that harvesting is different depending on the crop being harvested. Some harvesting requires specialized machinery. Some take more time than others. Some require more harvesters than others.

The evangelism that Jesus and his disciples were doing in Galilee required that they spend time teaching in the synagogues in order to reach the religious – to show that Jesus was the biblical Messiah predicted in the Old Testament. They also had to spend much time doing open-air preaching in order to persuade the masses to repent and accept the good news of forgiveness and repentance. Both of these activities are examples of what we call proclamation evangelism.

Another activity that Jesus and his disciples were involved in is the healing of every kind of disease and sickness. This is what we would call demonstration evangelism. St. Francis of Assisi is famous for his saying that we should always preach the gospel and if necessary, use words. Well, it is necessary that we use words! We can do good things for people all the time and they will not be drawn to Christ unless we explain that he is the reason that we are doing those good things. But it is also true that unless people know that we care about them, they are not going to care about what we know.

By a combination of acts of kindness and mercy and proclamation of the gospel, we can reach every field – the whole harvest.

Every heart on this planet needs help (36).

When Jesus saw the crowds in Galilee, he had compassion for them because they were bewildered and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Oh, if we could only look inside the people that we meet every day, we would see hurt and hunger and sorrow and anxiety and fear. Jesus saw that. He looked out upon the crowds of people, and he saw a flock of sheep, endangered by wild animals and helpless to save themselves.

The metaphor has changed now. It has changed from plants that need to be harvested to sheep that need to be rescued and protected by a shepherd. But Jesus is still talking about reaching people for Christ. Every field needs harvesting so we have to go to all the fields to do the work. Every heart needs help so we have to find ways to reach every hurting heart with the gospel. What is at stake is the very life of those scared, confused sheep. They know they are in danger, but they don’t know who can rescue them. They need a shepherd.

When it comes to evangelism, we have a double responsibility. We have a LAW responsibility and we have a GOSPEL responsibility. We cannot succeed unless we communicate both. The LAW responsibility is we have to share the bad news to everyone that they are lost in sin and cannot save themselves. The GOSPEL responsibility is we have to share the good news that Christ has paid the price for their sins and he offers to save them if they come to him by faith.

Every heart on this planet needs to hear the LAW from us. They need to know about the garden of Eden. They need to know about the sin they inherited from their ancestors. They need to know how sin has corrupted them. They need to know that they need a Savior.

Every heart on this planet needs to hear the GOSPEL from us. they need to know that the Son of Man did not come into the world to condemn us, but so that we might be saved. They need to know about the cross – the plan of God to redeem us from sin so that we can live eternally. Every heart needs to come to that cross and surrender to God’s will there. No one is exempted from that need. It is good news for us but it must be accepted by us.

Evangelism is necessary because …

The harvest needs more workers (37).

Jesus said that the harvest was plentiful, but the workers were few. There is a big crop in each field and it is not going to harvest itself. There is always more crop to harvest than there are harvesters to do the work. That is the nature of evangelism.

We like to think that a small town like Delco is immersed in the gospel because we have so many churches. But our churches are small and our population is not flocking to those churches. Even here in Delco, there are some families that do not have a single believer. And even our families who are represented in our churches have many who never darken the door of a church. Even here, the harvest is plentiful, and even here we have the same problem – the workers are few.

There are people in our neighborhood who will come to our church, but they are just waiting for an invitation.

There are also some people who will never be reached by inviting them to a church service of church function. They have needs and hunger and hurts that will require something more than a preacher on Sunday morning. We need workers in the harvest who specialize in reaching those who cannot be reached by traditional evangelistic approaches.

There are also some people who are wonderful at reaching others in their neighborhood but there is a problem. They haven’t been reached themselves yet. Maybe on your street, there is such a person. That is why …

Jesus commands us to pray for more workers (38).

Jesus had chosen twelve to be his apostles but he told them that they were not going to be enough to reach all the hearts in Galilee. Every town, every village, and every life was on its way to destruction in hell. They all needed to be reached with the reality of their lostness and the good news of the salvation Christ offered. Not everyone would be saved, but everyone COULD be saved. All they needed was enough harvesters.

This is Christ’s command for us today. He does not command us to do it on our own. He knows that we cannot do it on our own. We need churches full of evangelists. He commands us not to try to do it all. He commands us to get more workers. He tells us how we can get more workers. He tells us to ASK for them.

Now, our church is a praying church. We pray for the people on our prayer list. We pray for people who are injured in accidents. We pray for people who are sick. We pray for people getting surgery. We pray for families who are grieving the loss of a loved one. But I say to our shame that there is a prayer that we often forget to pray when we gather. It is the prayer that we are commanded to pray in today’s text.

We want to fill our church because we are ashamed of how few cars are in the parking lot on Sunday morning. We want to fill our church because if we don’t, we won’t be able to pay the preacher or keep the doors open. But we should be praying that God would fill our church and every other Christian church in this town because our churches are supposed to be places where workers prepare for the harvest. We want our neighbors to come to Christ so that they can fill the pews in our churches. But that is getting it wrong. We should be praying for workers in our pews so that they can reach all our neighbors and their neighbors for Christ.

LORD OF THE HARVEST, we are asking you this day to make us a church that trains harvesters for your harvest. Give us a heart to reach other hearts for you. Give us ministries that demonstrate the gospel by loving others and meeting all their needs. Give us ministries that teach your truth in the church and proclaim your truth in the open air. You commanded us to ask, so we are asking. Send us workers, O Lord, and make us workers because the harvest is plentiful, and we are too few to harvest it all.


20230219 Child, Get up.

Luke 8:41-42a, 49-56 NET.

41 Then a man named Jairus, who was a ruler of the synagogue, came up. Falling at Jesus’ feet, he pleaded with him to come to his house, 42a because he had an only daughter, about twelve years old, and she was dying. 49 While he was still speaking, someone from the synagogue ruler’s house came and said, “Your daughter is dead; do not trouble the teacher any longer.” 50 But when Jesus heard this, he told him, “Do not be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.” 51 Now when he came to the house, Jesus did not let anyone go in with him except Peter, John, and James, and the child’s father and mother. 52 Now they were all wailing and mourning for her, but he said, “Stop your weeping; she is not dead but asleep.” 53        And they began making fun of him because they knew that she was dead. 54 But Jesus gently took her by the hand and said, “Child, get up.” 55 Her spirit returned, and she got up immediately. Then he told them to give her something to eat. 56 Her parents were astonished, but he ordered them to tell no one what had happened.

We have been following the Gospels chronologically, looking at those passages that highlight commands that Jesus gave. Sometimes those commands are obvious, and sometimes they are implied and indirect. Sometimes Jesus gave his commands to his disciples deliberately, and other times he gave them to someone who is encountered along the way. Last week’s passage was an example of the latter. Jesus was touched by the woman experiencing a long-time illness, and after he healed her, he told her to go in peace.

That story was sandwiched in between today’s text. Today we are going to look at the incident where Jesus raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead. The disciples are mostly just observers of this event, but I’m sure that it had an enduring impact on them. They had learned that Jesus had power over nature through incidents like the calming of the storm. They learned that he had power over the spirit world through incidents like the deliverance of Legion, the demoniac. They learned that Jesus has the authority to forgive sins by witnessing events like his forgiveness of the woman who washed his feet. In today’s text, they are learning that Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life. He has the power to raise the dead.

As we look at the stories of these most recent events, we discover that Jesus is encountering people with desperate needs. The demoniac had been a threat not only to his own life but also threatened the lives of everyone he met. The woman with the blood illness was so desperate that she transgressed the law to touch Jesus. Her illness made her ritually impure, and she could have been arrested for just being out in public.

In today’s text, we encounter another person desperately in need of Jesus. He is a synagogue ruler named Jairus – a very important man in his community.

Notice the desperation of Jairus, the father of the child (41-42a).

Jairus was a very important man in his community, but when his little 12-year-old daughter got sick, he found out that he was helpless to save her. A life-threatening illness in someone we love makes us desperate. Jairus was desperate to help his little girl recover. He found this young rabbi and he fell at his feet and begged him to come and heal his daughter.

I think the Lord blesses us sometimes with impossible problems because if we don’t experience them we are tempted to live our lives a comfortable distance away from him. Jairus had been living his life like that. The Bible says nothing about Jairus’ character, but we can assume from the fact that he ruled in a synagogue that he was respectable in his community. But he was not close to Jesus. Then, his daughter got sick, and he was forced to own up to his own helplessness to save her.

Notice the death of the child (49).

You might think it is not necessary to point out that Jairus’ daughter died, but there is a rumor floating around that this girl was not really dead. Some interpreters believe that she was merely experiencing a diabetic coma. Some explain away the incident of the demoniac by simply assuming that he was insane. But Jesus realized the source of his insanity and removed the real problem by removing the demons. But the real problem Jairus had was that his daughter had died.

The household member who gave Jairus the news had told him not to trouble the teacher anymore. The girl was dead now, and that changes things.

The professional mourners started their mourning, and when Jesus came to wake her, they made fun of him. To them, that was a ridiculous notion because they knew she was obviously dead.

Even Jesus admitted that she was dead when he said that she was asleep. All throughout the Bible death is called sleep. To raise someone from the dead is to wake them from their sleep. When Jesus said the girl was not really dead, he was pointing out that the death people experience in this age is not permanent death. It is real death, but it is not permanent death.

We all know this. That is why we bury our dead in cemeteries. The Greek κοιμητήριον means a sleeping place. We know that death is real, but we also know that Jesus promises to return someday and wake all who are in their tombs, and they will live again. We call death sleep because if a person is sleeping, we expect them to wake up again.

Look also at how Jesus takes pains to make sure that this incident is not published in the town. He ordered the parents to tell no one what had happened. If this had been mere healing, that order would not be necessary. Jesus needed to hide the fact that he was the promised messiah because he had a date with a cross. So, this miracle had to be hidden safely in the minds of his disciples alone.

All this evidence indicates that this girl’s death was real, and her resurrection was real, too.

Notice the directions from Jesus himself (50-52).

The actions and words of Jesus in this incident are very helpful for all of us who face the anguish of a loved one with a life-threatening illness. Jairus begged Jesus to go with him to his house and heal his little girl. Jesus did not stop Jairus and tell him to just go home and trust him to do what was right. No, Jesus agreed to go with him. He wants to be with us when we face problems like that.

Jesus tells Jairus to not be afraid, to believe and the girl will be healed. Now Jairus doesn’t know that she is going to die first, but Jesus does. He knows everything. But Jesus also knows Jairus, and he knows the biggest threat to Jairus at this point is his fear of losing his child. His words to all of us are “Do not be afraid” and “believe.”

Jesus dismisses the professional mourners by telling them to pack up and stop their show. This act is also instructive for all of us who are tempted to let the loss of a loved one wreck our lives. There is a time to mourn, but we are not to grieve like the pagans who have no hope. For us, our loved one is not permanently dead. She is asleep.

Notice the derision from the professional mourners (53).

They made fun of Jesus because to them death was a period. But for Jesus, it is only a comma. The world will never understand a faith that looks death in the face and keeps believing in life. They make fun of us. But the way we handle the loss of a loved one shows our faith in his promise. His promise is that he will come again.

Notice the details of the child’s resurrection (54-56).

Jesus looked at that little girl and told her to get up. The words were simple words. Her parents had probably used those same words every morning to gently wake her from her night’s slumbers to greet the new day. It was completely natural for her to respond to those words by getting up and carrying on with her life. But this sleep was not ordinary sleep – it was the sleep of death. No matter how much they say the words, or how often they say them, or how loud they scream them, her parents were not going to be able to wake her from that sleep.

But Jesus could. He could calm the sea by telling it to be quiet. He could bring peace to a troubled soul by saying “you are forgiven.” He could rescue a demoniac from a legion of demons by telling them to go. He had just brought joy and cheer to a woman with a prolonged illness by telling her that she was healed, and could go in peace. Now, Jesus looks square in the face a problem no one has ever been able to solve. He uses those familiar words because the power is not in the words themselves. The power is in the person who says the words.

Later, he would weep at the tomb of his friend Lazarus and then cry out “Lazarus, come out.” He called his friend by name. He is the good shepherd, and he knows his sheep by name. Some day soon, he is going to be at my tomb. I’m not worried about that. He knows what to do. He has only to call out my name and tell me to come out of that grave.

“Ain’t no grave gonna keep my body down,

Ain’t no grave gonna keep my body down,

When I hear that trumpet sound, I’m gonna get up outta the ground,

Ain’t no grave gonna keep my body down.”

The Bible teaches us that death is a reality. It is not a mirage. When the enemy takes us, we will go down to the grave in silence. But we need not be afraid of that sleep. We need not fear the time of darkness and silence. We don’t have to be afraid because that time is temporary. It may last for a thousand years, but it is still temporary, like an overnight sleep. Someday our gentle shepherd will come back, and he will call each one of us by name. We will wake to a new life, a new permanent eternal life.  


20230212 Go in Peace

Luke 8:43-48 NET

43 Now a woman was there who had been suffering from a hemorrhage for twelve years but could not be healed by anyone. 44 She came up behind Jesus and touched the edge of his cloak, and at once the bleeding stopped. 45 Then Jesus asked, “Who was it who touched me?” When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds are surrounding you and pressing against you!” 46 But Jesus said, “Someone touched me, for I know that power has gone out from me.” 47 When the woman saw that she could not escape notice, she came trembling and fell down before him. In the presence of all the people, she explained why she had touched him and how she had been immediately healed. 48 Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace.”

Today’s text relates the story of a woman who had a prolonged time of intense crisis in her life. She had a physical ailment that was causing her to suffer, and her suffering continued for twelve years. Many of us know what it is like to have a physical problem that will not go away no matter how many doctors we consult, and no matter how many medicines we take. We have a number of people on our prayer list at the back of our church bulletin and in our weekly newsletter, and they stay on the list because they need our prayers regularly. This was a woman like that. She was needy, and she stayed needy for a long time.

We are tempted to think that such people are hopeless, but today’s story shows us that they are not. As long as Jesus is with us, there is always hope for recovery and restoration. This woman needed peace, and she found peace when she found Jesus.

There is a peace that this woman needed that only Jesus could give (43)

Our text tells us that the woman could not be healed by anyone. She probably went from doctor to doctor, only for each physician to eventually shake his head and tell her that there was nothing that he could do. Maybe she consulted specialists in alternative medicine. Maybe she spent time among the quacks and the witch doctors. At any rate, what she got for all her searching was a big goose egg. They could not give her the peace she needed.

Even if we don’t suffer from her ailment, we can understand her problem, because we can all relate to her story. Each of us had a problem that we could not solve ourselves, and nobody we tried could solve it for us. Our problem was that we all had an illness called sin. The Bible says “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Sin is more than just a choice you make. It is a disease that you carry inside you, just like that disease the woman suffered with.

The prophet Isaiah described his nation as if they were a body completely covered in disease. He said, “Your head has a massive wound, your whole body is weak. From the soles of your feet to your head, there is no spot that is unharmed. There are only bruises, cuts, and open wounds. They have not been cleansed or bandaged, nor have they been treated with olive oil” (Isaiah 1:5-6 NET). The irony was that the nation of Israel had access to the LORD God who could heal them of their sin and restore them from all the damage that it had done. But they would not come to him.

We have a word for people who refuse to go to the doctor even when they know the doctor can help them. We call them stupid. But this woman in today’s story was not stupid. She had sought help from many, but she had never found that help. She looked for peace, but so far had never gained peace. But when she saw Jesus, she realized her search was over. Now, the only thing she needed to do was touch him.

She sought Jesus despite the obstacles in her path (44).

The problem was, literally everybody wanted to get to Jesus that day. I wish the same was true today. We have a lot of churches in the Delco area, but most of them are not used very much. We still have a lot of people who have a lot of problems, but most of them are not coming to Jesus for their problems. They have time to go to Judge Judy or Doctor Phil, but they don’t have time to seek out Jesus.

But on this day, there were many things going on, and they all centered around Jesus. In fact, this story of the woman with the hemorrhage is told as part of the larger story of the raising of Jairus’ daughter from the dead. Jesus was on his way to resurrect this girl when the woman came up behind him and touched his tassel. People crowded around him, wanting to witness whatever miracle he was going to do next. Peter was amazed that Jesus even noticed this woman’s touch.

But the good news for all of us is that Jesus is available to meet our needs, despite the fact that the whole world needs him all the time. He is the Lord of the universe and he has time to treat your problem. You don’t have to set up an appointment.

This woman had to fight the crowds. She had to muscle into a position where she could get close enough to Jesus to access his healing power. The obstacles were not going to keep her from getting access to Jesus and the deliverance she had sought for years.

She fearfully confessed her dependence on him (45-47).

When she saw that she could not escape notice, she came trembling and fell before him. In the presence of all the people, she explained why she had touched him and how she had been immediately healed. She had been afraid because her illness was one that made her ritually unclean and she knew that it was unlawful for her to touch anyone else because that would make them ritually unclean. If she had touched any other rabbi, that rabbi would have been justified in having her punished – maybe even put to death.

Craddock points out that in this passage, “Jesus brings God’s blessing to two persons who, while certainly within Judaism, are outside because of ceremonial laws. Maybe the double use of the number twelve (the woman was ill for twelve years, and the girl is twelve years old), symbolic of Israel, is Luke’s reminder that it is within Judaism that these two are outsiders. Because the woman has a discharge of blood, she is unclean, everything she touches is unclean, and whoever touches her is unclean (Lev. 15:25-30). The law was clear; in her own home, in society, and at the synagogue, she was an outsider. The girl, once she dies, defiles those who contact her because of the law concerning a corpse (Num. 19:11-19).”[1]

Look at this event from this woman’s standpoint. She was risking her life to save her life. She was risking destruction to gain deliverance. The only reason this story ended the way it did is that she had gambled on the right Savior. Jesus is the one who made the difference that day. If her faith had been in anyone else, she would have become a victim, not a victor.

That is our story as well. We have come here today to worship God in a Christian church because we have declared our faith in Jesus Christ as the only Savior. We have made our choice, and we have found our peace. There are others who have claimed to have found salvation elsewhere. But we have declared our dependence on him.

On that day, … Jesus gave her healing and peace (48).

Michael Card wrote, “She is the third person in this chapter to be found at the feet of Jesus. First, there was the demoniac, and then there was Jairus. And now this nameless woman confesses before Jesus and the crowd what she has done and what has happened to her as a result. Even though he is on an urgent mission, Jesus pauses to help a poor woman whose illness has marginalized her. It is the only time in all the Gospels that Jesus calls a woman by this tender term. “Daughter,” he says, “your faith has made you well.” It is the same thing he told the sinful woman in Luke 7. In his humility, Jesus will always point away from himself and thereby win praise for God. Although few recognize it, two daughters will be healed in this story.”[2]

He told her to go in peace. She came to him a wreck, she left restored. She came to him broken, she left healed. She came in turmoil, but she left in peace. Her physical healing was only part of the blessing that Jesus gave her that day. We don’t know how long she lived. the Bible does not say. But she probably lived several years after her experience with Christ. She probably had other physical ailments after that. But the peace that Jesus gave her never left.

How do I know that? My own personal experience tells me that. I came to Jesus as a young boy. I have had all kinds of problems since I came to Christ at the age of ten, but the peace that he gave me then has never left me. He told me to go in peace and I did. I touched the tassel of his robe once, and that was all it took. I have faced crisis after crisis, some of them life-threatening, but his peace has never left me. Why? For the same reason that this woman could go in peace. Not because she had been healed of a temporary illness. Because she had met Jesus!

Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; I do not give it to you as the world does. Do not let your hearts be distressed or lacking in courage” (John 14:27 NET). We have a choice. We can take the peace that Jesus offers and go in it. Or, we can choose to go with the stress and care and anxiety and disorder and fear that the world will throw at us. Like the woman in today’s story, we have a choice. We can choose to carry our old burdens, or to go through life set free from them. She chose to walk away from her old war and live in peace. Jesus gave her that choice. He commanded her to go in peace, and she obeyed his command.

Now, my question for you – Christian believer – is “Have you obeyed this command?” When you came to Christ to touch his tassel and receive salvation from him, did you get it? There is a way to tell. Those who are restored by him go in peace.

[1] Craddock, Fred B. Luke., 2009. p. 119.

[2] Card, Michael. Luke: The Gospel of Amazement. Downers Grove, Ill: IVP Books, 2011. p. 116.


20230205 Testify About Him

Mark 5:1-20 NET

1 So they came to the other side of the lake, to the region of the Gerasenes. 2 Just as Jesus was getting out of the boat, a man with an unclean spirit came from the tombs and met him. 3  He lived among the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. 4 For his hands and feet had often been bound with chains and shackles, but he had torn the chains apart and broken the shackles in pieces. No one was strong enough to subdue him. 5 Each night and every day among the tombs and in the mountains, he would cry out and cut himself with stones. 6 When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and bowed down before him. 7 Then he cried out with a loud voice, “Leave me alone, Jesus, Son of the Most High God! I implore you by God — do not torment me!” 8 (For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of that man, you unclean spirit!”) 9 Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” 10 He begged Jesus repeatedly not to send them out of the region. 11 There on the hillside, a great herd of pigs was feeding. 12 And the demonic spirits begged him, “Send us into the pigs. Let us enter them.” 13   Jesus gave them permission. So the unclean spirits came out and went into the pigs. Then the herd rushed down the steep slope into the lake, and about two thousand were drowned in the lake. 14 Now the herdsmen ran off and spread the news in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. 15 They came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man sitting there, clothed and in his right mind — the one who had the “Legion” — and they were afraid. 16 Those who had seen what had happened to the demon-possessed man reported it, and they also told about the pigs. 17 Then they asked Jesus to leave their region. 18 As he was getting into the boat the man who had been demon-possessed asked if he could go with him. 19 But Jesus did not permit him to do so. Instead, he said to him, “Go to your home and to your people and tell them what the Lord has done for you, that he had mercy on you.” 20 So he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis what Jesus had done for him, and all were amazed.


In today’s text, Jesus encountered a man who had some serious psychological problems. That much we can all agree on. He was a lunatic who was a danger to himself and to the whole region where he lived. That was obvious. But according to the Bible, the source of this man’s problems was that he had been dominated by a host of demons. He was a demoniac. There are lots of people who will not accept that explanation for the man’s problem. Jesus was apparently not one of those folks. He spoke to those demons and he commanded them to leave the man. He set the man free not by counseling him but by confronting his captors.

I am also one of those people who takes this story literally. I know demons exist because I also have had experiences where people I know have been dominated by them. I could not afford the luxury of believing that they don’t exist. I also believe that what the Bible says about anything is true. So, I’m not going to spend time today trying to convince you that what Mark wrote about here is true. I may not be able to convince anyone that something is true if they have not experienced it themselves.

My purpose today is to focus on the command of Christ that appears in the text. After he delivered the man from the demons, he told the man to go to his home and his people and testify about what the Lord had done for him. In every story about Jesus, there is always some element with which every one of us can relate. We may not have had a legion of demons inside us. We may not have experienced the supernatural power of God releasing us from that bondage and possessing two thousand frightened pigs. But each of us who has had an experience with Christ has been given a mission from him. Jesus doesn’t send most people off to preach in distant lands. For most people, the mission he gives them is to go back to where they came from and testify about him.

But what do you say if you want to testify. You want to be a witness for Christ, but how do you go about doing that? I think today’s text can give us some valuable advice on how to testify about what Jesus has done for us.

Testify about how you lived before you met Christ (3-5).

“Hello, my name is Legion. You folks probably don’t recognize me, but you’ve seen me before. If you go down to the seashore, you will note that there is a section of caves in a certain spot. Some people use those caves to bury their dead. Lots of people don’t want to come near those caves because they hear screaming coming from them at night. I used to live in those caves. Yeah, I’m the guy.

I called myself Legion because I was possessed by so many demons. A legion has a few thousand soldiers in it. I also remember all the violence and suffering and murders committed by the Roman legions. I caused the same kind of disruption. I hurt others when they came too close, but I also hurt myself. People tried to keep me from doing this, but I always broke free. No one could control the hatred and evil inside of me.”

Hello, my name is Jeff. My own story is not as dramatic as that of the demoniac, but when I was growing up, I can remember doing things that I knew were wrong, and not even knowing why. The fact that I had more control over my life did not mean I was totally free. I wanted to be free, but I needed help to get free. That help came from Jesus.

Testify about how you feared the judgement of Christ (6-7).

“Hello, my name is Legion. When I first met Jesus, I knew who he was. My first impulse was to beg him to leave me alone because I knew who I was too. I knew that what I deserved from him were condemnation and torment and eventual destruction. The demons told me about this coming Messiah who would bring untold suffering to them and the people they possess. I feared that judgment and I feared Jesus.”

Hello, my name is Jeff. My earliest memories of Jesus are not scary. From the church, I learned about the good shepherd who cares for his little lambs. There was nothing to fear from him. Except that I wasn’t always a harmless lamb. I didn’t let people know about it, but there were some people I hated. God knew, and I knew. Most people were surprised when I came down the aisle in church one day. They didn’t think I had done anything to repent of. God knew, and I knew.

Testify about the things that enslaved you before your deliverance by Christ (8-14).

“Hello, my name is Legion. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t hate everything and everybody – including myself. These beings inside me just took control of my life. I couldn’t even make a decision without them intruding and getting their way. If I ever wanted to love someone, they would turn that in lust. If I ever wanted to help others, they would turn it into selfishness and abuse. I couldn’t even love myself. They would make me hurt myself. I knew I was their slave, but I also knew that there could be no abolition from this slavery.”

Hello, my name is Jeff. My slavery was a little less extreme, but it was still slavery. I was harmless to others, but I was too absorbed in my own life to help them. I wanted my life my way. I was like a harmless little bird, singing in his cage. Jesus set me free so that I could love others, and help them get free too.

Testify about your new love for Christ (15-18).

“Hello, my name is Legion. I cannot describe for you the incredible feeling of freedom and purity I felt the day I watched two thousand pigs take my demons away. I knew it was Jesus who did it. He set me free. For the first time ever, I was in my right mind. I could remember every shameful thing I had done, but for the first time, I felt no shame. I could remember all the hate I had felt toward others, but for the first time, all I felt for others was love. I could remember all the abuse and violence that I had poured out on myself, but for the first time, I was at peace with myself. Jesus did that for me. I had never loved anyone before. That day, I loved Jesus and I wanted to be with him and follow him and serve him. I saw the other men that had been with him. They called themselves his disciples. That’s what I wanted to be. I said to Jesus, “please let me join your disciples.”

Hello, my name is Jeff. I remember the day my love for Jesus led me to declare that he is my Lord and Savior. I also remember the day I discovered that I could show that love by preaching and teaching about him. Over the years, I have endured some very uncomfortable things because of that decision. But if I had to do it over again, I would. Jesus is worth it.

Testify about your new mission from Christ (19-20).

“Hello, my name is Legion. I was so disappointed when Jesus told me that I was not going to go with him on his preaching tours. I wanted to hear him preach, to watch him heal people, and deliver others from bondage the way he had delivered me. But Jesus had other plans for me. My mission was to go home and testify about him. I had not lived at home for a long time. My home had been the tombs. But I did have a home and a family that the demons had taken me away from. Jesus wanted me to go there and show them what he had done for me. Jesus had dealt mercifully with me. Now he wanted me to treat others with that same mercy and compassion.

But I didn’t stop there. I testified in that one city of the miraculous deliverance I experienced from Jesus. Then I went to the next city. The region I live in is called the Decapolis – the ten cities. I went to all ten cities and proclaimed to them what Jesus did for me, and they were all amazed. I became just as famous as a preacher as I had been as a sinner.”

Hello, my name is Jeff. The first mission Jesus gave me was to assist the pastor in my own church. He came from a long distance, so I started filling in for him during the Wednesday services. Then Jesus called me to go to Bible college, and then start pastoring myself. Along the way, he led me into other ministries, including missions work in other countries. I don’t know what his mission will be for me tomorrow. I do know that any mission he calls me to, he will empower me for. When Jesus saves someone, he doesn’t just put another notch on his belt. Those he rescues, he uses to rescue others. If you are not sure where your mission is, just ask him. There is a place where you need to be. There are people who need to hear your testimony. Testify about Him!