It’s somewhat incredible to me that they asked Him to leave. Talk about good seed being sown and then swept away.
For those who had been eyewitness to the showdown between the many demons known as Legion and Jesus, you would have thought they’d become followers of Jesus on the spot. Even for those who came afterward, you’d think that seeing the demons-possessed man — the one who lived among the tombs . . . the one who could not be bound by chains and shackles . . . the one who spent night and day crying out and cutting himself — you’d think, that once they saw him in his right mind, they’d want whatever or whoever had the power over such demonic forces to stick around for awhile. Nope! Instead they pleaded with Jesus to leave. How come?
And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. And those who had seen it described to them what had happened to the demon-possessed man and to the pigs. And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their region. (Mark 5:15-17 ESV)
That they were afraid when they saw the former home to Legion cleaned up, dressed up, and having a rational conversation with Jesus & Co., makes some sense. Talk about a “before” and “after” picture. Raving, destructive, mighty lunatic before meeting Jesus . . . quiet, coherent, restful worshiper after meeting Jesus. That would be enough for those who knew him to be awestruck. I imagine them looking at the man with jaw-dropping wonder as they considered the magnitude of power owned by the One who had subdued and expelled Legion.
But it seems that when they heard about the pigs they decided, power or no power, this Jesus wasn’t good for the local economy.
Legion, knowing their days of residence in the man of the tombs were at an end, asked that they be allowed to go into a herd of pigs nearby. Jesus granted them permission. And as demons of destruction apparently are wont to do, they ran the pigs into the sea and drowned them. One man of the tombs miraculously delivered . . . a herd of 2,000 pigs destroyed. And it seems, the awe of demon deliverance gave way to dread of financial loss.
If Jesus hung around, what would be the cost of continued clean up?
And how many still ask Jesus to leave, even after seeing evidence of His power and willingness to save, because of fear of some perceived material or personal loss? How prone might we be, even as His people, to ask Jesus to leave because we value something more. Appreciative of the degree of deliverance we’ve known, but seeking to retain some material possession or imagined prestige, we declare ourselves “good enough” and tell Jesus we’ll take it from here?
Jesus, as someone has said, is a costly Guest.
But “what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself” (Luke 9:25)?
Might His people continue to invite His sanctifying presence in their lives regardless of the perceived temporal cost. Might we see His continued cleansing and refining in our lives as a work of grace. A work of such value, that any perceived cost on our behalf pales in comparison.
Might we continue to welcome this “costly Guest” for the glory of God.