Life Together: The Miracle of Recognition

During WWII, when Hitler conquered France, he immediately shut down the borders to keep the people from leaving the country.  But one small border town’s population was decreasing somehow, so the Germans searched for the answer.  It turned out, this town had a cemetery that bordered a neighboring country, which was free from Nazi control.  The people opened up an ancient gate in the wall of the cemetery, and they kept having “funerals,” except the people attending the funeral never came back.  They went out to the tombs, but they kept on walking, right out the back gate, to their freedom.

          This morning we are looking at the story of a man who also found freedom in a cemetery.  The healing of the demon possessed man—the Gerasene Demoniac—a man who was bound by the power of Satan, but he found freedom among the tombs when he recognized Jesus at a distance and ran to Jesus and fell on his knees in front of him and shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?”  He recognized Jesus as the one who could bring him freedom in his life. 

          This was a man who was in the grip of Satan and mental anguish.  No one knew how to help him or what to do.  He was a danger to others and to himself, so they chained him, but not even the chains bound him anymore. He was unclean, so the town people didn’t want to touch him.  When Jesus told the demon to come out, he asked him his name.  He said, “My name is Legion, for we are many.”  So, there were evidently many demons in this man. Day and night this man screamed among the tombs and gashed himself with stones.  He was totally in the grip of Satan’s power.

          There is a story of a man in South America who was visited by a missionary.  The man told the missionary he wanted to show him something in his house.  The man showed him a table with skulls and sticks on it and a long wooden pole wrapped in colorful sheets.  The man said this was his “god.” Then the man said, “This is what I know. This is what I believe. This is what I grew up with.” And with his fists lifted up and clinched he said, “ I hold to these beliefs tightly, and I do not want to let them go!”  As the missionary talked with this man about Jesus, he continued to say, “I cannot let them go or these spirits will kill me.”  This man lived in fear.  These spirits had a grip of fear on him.

          So many people in our country and in our world live under Satan’s power and in the grip of the enemy.  The truth is if you do not fall on your knees at the feet of Jesus and give your life to Jesus as your Savior, YOU are also in Satan’s grip. It may be a more subtle grip and influence, but it is real.  If you are not in the grip of God, you are in the grip of something else or someone else.  God is fighting for your life and wants to free you from the power of evil.

          Ephesians 2:1-2 says, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of the world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. “ Verse 4-5 says, “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions- it is by grace you have been saved.” Verse 8, says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”

          If you know Jesus as your Savior, you are in the hands of God, but if not, you need to change your ways and recognize the power of the living God, as this Gerasene Man did the day he recognized Jesus.  Jesus was always ready to help and to heal.

          “Seeing Jesus, he ran up and bowed down before Him” verse 6.  There is a greater power in this world, the power of Jesus.  As strong and evil as the power of Satan is in this world, Jesus’ power is greater still.  This man worshiped Jesus that day knowing Jesus saw him and valued his life beyond what anyone else had ever seen.  To the village he was worthless.

          The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.”  So Jesus gave them permission to leave.  The demons could do nothing without Jesus’ permission.  So the demons went into the pigs.  The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep band into the lake and were drowned.  Jesus had the ultimate authority to heal this man and to tell the demons where to go.  Satan’s power is strong and destructive in our world today, but if you are a Christian, you do not need to fear his power in your life, but you need to constantly be aware of his deception around you and his lies and destructive influence and how he uses all of that to weaken us.

          As Ephesians 6 says, “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” That is our protection we have against the evil in this world.  We are to put on the armor of God, belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, feet ready with the gospel of peace, shield of faith with which we can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.  Prayer is also a major part of our defense and protection.

          Recognizing Jesus at work in our lives through His Holy Spirit is greater than the powers of Satan.  Jesus knows each person is unique and special and wants all of us to come to Him and recognize Him as Lord and Savior and King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

          1 John 4:4 says, “Greater is He who is in you, than he who is in the world.”

          That day Jesus set that demoniac free.  He cast the demons out and restored him to his “right mind.”  Although the demons knew who Jesus was, they did not know Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior.  You must have a personal experience and a time of decision that you know Jesus and he becomes your Lord and Savior.

          After the man was in his right mind he was sitting there dressed, and those from the village were still afraid.  Jesus must have given him new clothes to start his new life.   He was now a new creation in Jesus.  The man was so excited about his new life that he begged to go with Jesus and his disciples.  But Jesus said “Go home to your people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you and how he has had mercy on you.”  Jesus knew that this man was going to share his story of God’s amazing love for him and how Jesus had loved him into a new creation.  “So, the man went away and began to tell others what Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.” 

          Can you imagine how amazing his story was? And people who knew him saw this dramatic change in his life; they were probably speechless.  Jesus touched his life with his love; gave him worth and value and he couldn’t help but share what Jesus did for him.

          That is what we should be like.  Excited about what God has done or is doing in your life because you follow him.  This man thought that God was going to call him to go to some far-off location, but Jesus told him to stay where he was.  It may be like that for you.  God may call you to a ministry right where you are or maybe far away.  Keep alert to God and listen to him carefully because God may call you to serve Him in a way that you do not plan or expect. 

          Jesus gave this man a new beginning to his life.  He was  unloveable and the untouchable, but Jesus gave his life new meaning and made his life beautiful.

          Psalm 23 says, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me.”  Verse 6 goes on by saying, “Surely goodness and mercy, or love, will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

          God follows us on our journey of life and he never leaves us.  He is patiently persistent and faithfully present and gives us goodness and mercy all the days of our life.  He promises us a place to go and live when this life ends.  We need to trust God in our new beginnings as this man did.  And we need to be ready to serve in his Name.  The touch of Jesus changes the beast in us into something beautiful to serve him.

          There is a poem called “The Touch of the Master’s Hand” written in 1921 by Myra Brooks Welch. It is a beautiful poem about the touch of God’s Hand upon our broken, battered, and scared lives.

“T’was battered and scarred and the auctioneer thought it scarcely worth his while to waste much time on the old violin, but held it up with a smile; ‘What am I bidden, good folks,’ he cried, ‘Who’ll start the bidding for me? A dollar, a dollar; then two! Only two? Two dollars, and who’ll make it three? Three dollars; once; three dollars twice; going for three.’

But no, from the room, far back, a gray-haired man came forward and picked up the bow; then, wiping the dust from the old violin and tightening the loose strings, he played a melody pure and sweet as caroling angel sings. The music ceased, and the auctioneer, with a voice that was quiet and low, said, ‘What am I bid for the old violin?’ And he held it up with the bow. ‘A thousand dollars, and who’ll make it two? Two thousand! And who’ll make it three? Three thousand, once, three thousand, twice, and going and gone,’ said he.

The people cheered, but some of them cried, ‘We do not quite understand what changed its worth.’ Swift came the reply: ‘The touch of a master’s hand.’ And many a man with life out of tune and battered and scarred with sin. Is auctioned cheap to the thoughtless crowd, much like this old violin. A “mess of pottage,” a glass of wine; a game – and he travels on.  “He is going once,” and “going twice, He’s going and almost gone.” But the Master comes, and the foolish crowd never can quite understand the worth of a soul and the change that’s wrought by the touch of the Master’s hand.”

          God sees our value and changes our life so that we are priceless in his eyes.  The man who was chained and alone in the tombs was touched by the master’s hand and became a missionary for Jesus.  No one is beyond change. No one is beyond forgiveness.  No one is beyond hope.  In the eyes of humans you may seem worthless, but with the touch of God you are valued beyond measure.

          Today, begin again by recognizing Jesus and kneel before Him confessing your sins; desiring his healing touch that will make all things new.  Love and serve the Lord rejoicing in the power of his Holy Spirit.  The Touch of the Master’s Hand makes all things valuable.

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