A MESSAGE & MINISTRY
When we truly begin to experience the life-changing love of God, we begin to be transformed by the supernatural power of God. A true follower of Jesus begins to be changed into a new creature who embraces a new way of life and a new way of seeing the world based on the life and teachings of Jesus. This means that the old us will no longer define us, and the new us will become fueled by a desire to be with Jesus and to live for Jesus.
The apostle Paul describes it this way:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:17-21)
And so the lesson here for all of us is that when our lives are transformed by Jesus, we become new men with a powerful new message and are assigned a special place in the ongoing ministry of Jesus.
There’s a story in Mark’s account of the life and teachings of Jesus that provides us with a perfect portrait of how Jesus transforms people into becoming new creatures who desire to be with him and to live for him. The encounter between Jesus and the demoniac in Mark 5:1-20 reminds us that anyone can be used by God to accomplish his mission.
So let’s look at this story and see how the words of Paul play out in the life of the demoniac. As we look at this story, we will consider the following three questions:
- What happened to the demoniac?
- How did it happen?
- How did he respond?
What Happened to The Demoniac?
In Mark's account of this story, the demoniac was walking around naked and living among some tombs in a region east of the Sea of Galilee. Under the influence of evil forces, he had a dangerous mix of supernatural strength and self-destructive behaviors. He was often put in chains and placed in captivity, but he would regularly escape and flee into the nearby desert. And so we get a picture of how this man was naked, enslaved, isolated and crying out for help.
Then one day he saw Jesus, and all of a sudden he found himself overcome by the power and presence of God. The man ran up to Jesus and just fell on the ground right in front of him. Then Jesus commands the evil forces to come out of the man, and he gives this man a new restored life and puts him back in his right mind. It was such a radical transformation that the people in the region could hardly believe it.
So what just happened to this demoniac?
In the words of the apostle Paul, he encountered Jesus and became a new creature. His old self had passed away, and his new life had begun. And all of this was a work of God, who through Jesus rescued this man from the forces of evil and restored this man to a life of peace and purpose. And just like this demoniac, when our lives today are transformed by Jesus, we become new men who are powerfully set free from our old way of life.
How Did it Happen?
A true encounter with Jesus should be just as unforgettable for us today as it was for the demoniac in this story. While he was naked, enslaved, and crying out for help in isolation, we too can sometimes find ourselves feeling exposed, enslaved and crying out for help with our own sinfulness. And just as Jesus liberated this man, brought him back into community, covered his shame and put his life back together, so too Jesus liberates us, brings us into the community of his church, covers our shame and puts our life back in order.
So how does he do this?
Jesus does this and in fact has the authority to do this because at the end of his life, he was stripped naked, he was put in bondage as a prisoner, he was isolated and crucified (cut and bleeding) outside of the city, and he was the one crying out in the darkness, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me.” Jesus was able to heal the demoniac and is able to heal us today because he has willingly taken our place to give us new life.
In the words of the apostle Paul, an incredible exchange has taken place. For our sake God made Jesus to be sin who himself had never sinned, so that in him we might become new people who live in a right relationship with God. This is the powerful new message of those who have experienced their lives being transformed by Jesus.
Jesus has been stripped in order that we may be clothed. He lived the kind of life that we were supposed to live, and he experienced the kind of death that we were supposed to experience. And because of his suffering; we have been healed. And because of his sacrifice; we have been set free.
How Did He Respond?
Jesus rescued the demoniac from who he was and transformed him into being what he ought to be. And Jesus was able to do this because at the end of his life, he was going to sacrifice who he was for the sake of all of us who have failed to be what we ought to be.
And so how did the former demoniac respond to what Jesus did for him?
After experiencing this life-changing encounter with Jesus, the former demoniac wanted nothing more than to just be with Jesus. He begged to go with him, but Jesus does something that many of us wouldn't expect. He doesn't let him come with him.
Instead, Jesus sent this man back to his hometown and told him to share with his friends and family how much God had done for him and how God had mercy on him. And so the former demoniac responds to Jesus by embracing and obeying the mission that Jesus gave him.
He went home, but he didn’t just share with his friends and family. He proclaimed throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him and how Jesus had changed his life.
And in the words of the apostle Paul, Jesus had made this man his ambassador and gave this man a special assignment in his ongoing ministry of reconciliation.
The encounter between Jesus and the demoniac reminds us that anyone can be used by God to accomplish his mission. We do not need a special status or a certain level of biblical knowledge in order to participate in the mission of making disciples of Jesus. All we need is our story of how Jesus has changed our life and the courage to share that story with the people around us.
Like the demoniac in this story, many of us might prefer to just hang with Jesus, but Jesus has sent us out into our own social circles as his ambassadors. He has given all of us a message and a ministry, and it is up to us as to whether or not we will actually be his ambassadors and fulfill our assignment.