Jesus doesn’t always do it our way. And He doesn’t always let us do it the way we want to do things. This is where we get into a conflict between His will and our own. And if He is our Lord, we should acknowledge His will and obey it. The last thing we want to do is push Him away. We see both cases in today’s miracle:
And the demons came out of the man and entered the swine; and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned. When the herdsmen saw what had happened, they ran away and reported it in the city and out in the country. The people went out to see what had happened; and they came to Jesus, and found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting down at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind; and they became frightened. Those who had seen it reported to them how the man who was demon-possessed had been made well. And all the people of the country of the Gerasenes and the surrounding district asked Him to leave them, for they were gripped with great fear; and He got into a boat and returned.
But the man from whom the demons had gone out was begging Him that he might accompany Him; but He sent him away, saying, “Return to your house and describe what great things God has done for you.” So he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him.
– Luke 8:33-39, NASB
This is the well known event where Jesus dealt with Legion because this man was possessed by many demons. If you aren’t familiar with the passages they are Matthew 8:28-34, Mark 5:1-2, or Luke:8:26-39. Jesus exorcised all of the demons and He did so into a bunch of pigs, who then subsequently went over a bank into a lake and drowned. This, of course, freed the man from his torment. However, when those who lived in the area and were familiar with the man learned the details of what had happened, they just wanted Jesus to go. They wanted to push Him away. And they did so. Now, there’s debate as to why they were afraid. Were they afraid because He demonstrated power like they hadn’t seen? Were they afraid because He might do similar displays of power that would cost them like it did the herdsmen? We’re not sure and ultimately, it doesn’t matter. God’s power is awesome. It should leave us in a state of reverent fear. But His power, whatever the consequences, should be a reason for us to push away the Lord. We can, certainly, but we do so unjustly. We do not want to react like those who asked Jesus to leave. Rather, should welcome His presence.
The man who was freed, for whom Jesus performed the exorcism, wanted to follow along with Jesus. That would have been his “comfort zone.” After all, Jesus was the one who liberated him. Jesus was the the one he trusted. But Jesus didn’t want him to stay. Rather, Jesus sent him off as a missionary. Jesus wanted him to return home and spread the news of his exorcism. Jesus wanted him to spread the news of hope, that God had delivered him. The miracle wasn’t just for the man. It was for the man and anyone who would listen. By the way, that includes us, because we have the whole story recorded in our Bibles as a point of historical fact. Obviously the man didn’t want to go, but it is what Jesus wanted. And to the man’s credit, he obeyed Jesus and did His will.
We need to respond like this man did. What Jesus did for us was so much greater than what He did for this man at that point in time. Jesus alleviated this man of a condition in his lifetime. For those of us who follow Christ because He has called us, Jesus has alleviated us of a condition for eternity. BIG difference. Why, then, do we struggle with responding faithfully? Part of it is our sin nature. Part of it is our own timidity and fear of the unknown, of change, of losing control. We all struggle with it. But we have the freedom through Christ to overcome that sin nature and to embrace the Holy Spirit and because of Him overcome that fear. But we have to want to. We have to want Jesus’ will more than our own. That’s what the Christian life is ultimately about.