From Captivity to Circuit Riding Preacher
Meditations on the Maniac…
Some people’s condition seems to be a hopeless cause when we survey their lives from man’s vantage point. The Lord however views even the hardest spiritual case with eyes of compassion. He knows that there is hope to be found only in the Person of Jesus Christ and the good news of the gospel.
In Mark chapter 5 we read the account of the Maniac of Gadara. He lived on the other side of the Sea of Galilea. Jesus had His disciples sail through a storm to reach the other side of the sea with the purpose of meeting this crazed individual. The Lord Jesus cares so much for the individual that he came over to this country and got off the boat to meet this man.
There are some powerful truths that we can observe that will give some spiritual encouragement and conviction.
Confrontation with the Saviour: Consider as Jesus steps off the boat, immediately a man meets Him, coming out of the tombs. This man is motivated by the unclean spirit, many devils which possess him. He comes to confront Jesus, but in the end Jesus confronts the Legion and releases the man’s pour soul from the presence of these spirits.
Captive by the devil: Here we see this stricken man held captive under the domain of the devil.[i] He dwells in the region of death, living among the tombs. He is in spiritual darkness and is captive to the blindness that is over him. His captivity has caused him to be a man cast out by the society around him. When the devil controls the life it brings about all types of destruction. The man is under spiritual destruction, as these devils drive him farther from truth. Social destruction ruins this man as he has lost all relationship with his family and friends. He cannot go home, he dwells in the tombs. He is cast out as a nuisance to himself and to others. He is under emotional destruction as he is always, both night and day out in the wilderness and in the tombs crying out. He has no rest. Captives to the devil and sins have no rest both day and night.[ii]
This man is also in physical destruction as he relentlessly cuts himself with stones. Captives to the devil are not in their right mind.[iii] Their minds are blinded by the devil and this leads them to engage in many destructive behaviors. Demonic influence leads to many premature deaths with alcohol, drugs, immorality, and other addicting habits. Cutting and suicide are demonically influenced destructive behaviors.
This man’s captivity also brought moral destruction. This man was a prisoner to his lusts. Demonic captivity influenced the man to run around unclothed. Many have called this man, “The nude dude in the rude mood.” While this statement overall sums up the man’s outward condition, if falls short to pull the curtain back on the captivity of this man’s bankrupt soul.
The devil works full time at destroying lives and relationships. The word behind lost, which describes any person that does not have Jesus Christ as their Saviour, is the same word for Apollyon, the Greek name for the devil, the Destroyer. His full time job is to destroy souls.[iv]
What hope does this man have? None, by the world’s estimation. Man had tried to tame him only to find this impossible. He had been bound with chains only to have them broken in pieces and plucked asunder. He was left alone to himself as a hopeless cause. Many a man and woman is in the same spiritual condition. They may not live among the tombs, they may not be bound with chains, but all the same they live in their home and are captive to their lusts and sins and there seems to be no hope for their desperate condition. They find no rest for their relentless torment because of their spiritual condition. They find themselves in bondage to sins of the flesh and spirit. Controlling substances rules their lives.
Mankind cannot reform spiritual captives from the outside with physical restraints. Man seeks to change the outside behavior and the fruit problems failing to address the heart. Maybe man would tell this man he just needs a new environment, or to surround himself with good people. We can go to all kinds of self-help classes and step programs only to find our house swept and garnished and our latter condition worse than the first.[v] Only Jesus Christ and the change that He brings can give a man true freedom. There is hope for this Captive who is cast out by everyone else. Jesus comes to give this man hope.
Changed by Jesus: In a moment of time Jesus commands these many demons to leave this man. They enter a heard of swine and run violently down into the sea and are choked. Praise the Lord when Jesus changes a man He does a thorough job. In verse 15 we read that this man past tense was possessed and had the legion. He is no longer who he used to be.
This man now has Rest. Before he was often bound, always, night and day out wandering, crying, and cutting. Now he is able to be seated in the presence of Jesus. This indicates great rest.
This man now has righteousness. Before he had met Jesus he ran around naked. This is immoral, indecent, and unrighteous behavior. Public nakedness is shameful and sadly promoted in decadent cultures. This man now has covered his naked body with clothing. A inside change is certainly visible on the outside. The Gospel, Jesus Christ changes a person who used to dress immodestly in to a person who has a modesty and decency about them. Whereas before they had no qualms about uncovering their flesh, they now have a heart of shamefacedness and desire for purity and chastity. Jesus changes the heart to a righteous desire for morality.
This man now has a right mind. He was out of his mind before but now he understands spiritual things. He understands who Jesus Christ is. He understands what his sin was doing to him and what it was doing to others. He no longer was under the control of demonic influence. All spiritual captives need to have a changed mind, to be given the mind of Jesus Christ. The Bible describes the mind of the unbeliever before it is changed by the Gospel: Colossians 1:21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled. Ephesians 4:17-18 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.
When a sinner comes to Jesus Christ for salvation, deliverance, He gives them rest, righteousness, and a right mind. Their mind is renewed; they are regenerated, receiving the Spirit of God. No longer are they under control of the demon influence that is in this old world. Greater then is He that is in them than he that is in the world.
This great change that happened to this man some 2,000 years ago is the same change that Jesus wants to bring about in every individual that does not have Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour. If you have not called upon Jesus Christ in repentance and faith, you do not yet have this change but you can. Consider these Scriptures that speak to the change that Jesus desires to bring.
Luke 1:78-79 Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.
Luke 4:18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
Isaiah 61:1-3 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.
Psalm 102:19-20 For he hath looked down from the height of his sanctuary; from heaven did the LORD behold the earth; To hear the groaning of the prisoner; to loose those that are appointed to death;
Psalm 107:9-15 For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness. Such as sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, being bound in affliction and iron; Because they rebelled against the words of God, and contemned the counsel of the most High: Therefore he brought down their heart with labour; they fell down, and there was none to help. Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them out of their distresses. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and brake their bands in sunder. Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!
The man who had dwelt among the tombs, in the shadow of death, now had a desire to remain with Jesus. Those who have truly been delivered by the Lord Jesus Christ have a desire to be with Him. They Love Christ and desire to be faithful and loyal to Him in service. We can wonder when many seem to have a desire to go back and spend time among the tombstones, pick up some of their same destructive behaviors, and dress just like the world. Have their lives truly been converted by the Saviour?
Compassion by Jesus: In verse 19 we see some more wonderful truths about this confrontation. Jesus spoke that He had compassion on this man. This is the word for mercy. Truly any sinner who has been delivered by the Lord realizes the great mercy that the Lord has had upon his soul. He sees himself as the beneficiary of God’s unmerited, unlimited grace. He knows himself to be unworthy and he has a proper estimation of what God has done. Jesus rightly calls this man’s deliverance, great things the Lord hath done for thee. The worst cases cannot be fixed by man, the Lord must do the work. Jesus sends this man back to his family and friends as a preacher of the great things that the Lord had done for him. If we have been delivered, we have a powerful message to preach. We can tell all the great things the Lord hath done for us!
Are you still held captive by your sin? Have you tried all of man’s fetters and chains and yet nothing can tame your sin problem? Then friend, Come to Jesus and He in His compassion will do great things for you. Jesus came off the boat and changed this one man. This is God’s grace. The change of Jesus Christ turned this captive into a Circuit Riding Preacher taking the great things to the 10 cities of Decapolis.
If we are believers and our lives have been changed by Him: Let us not be content to just stay with Jesus as we look into His Word, but let us go home to our friends and family and tell them what great things the Lord has done for us. Let us be a faithful preacher of the gospel. Let us never underestimate the power of the gospel to change a soul. Let us never pass over or neglect the most spiritually difficult person. Let us not judge someone unworthy of the eternal life that Christ is able to give. This is probably the last man that people thought could change. No one would have believed that he could be a preacher. No man could tame him, restrain him, or curb his behavior. Jesus came and in one encounter, changed him for eternity.
All sinners can come to Jesus for this gospel change. Just as men did marvel in that day when they saw and heard this man traveling around Decapolis preaching about the great deliverance found only in Jesus Christ, so today we too can marvel at the wonderful change that Jesus Christ can and will bring into the lives of those that come to Him for salvation. The words from the poem written about the Touch of the Master’s Hand speak well to this thought:
And many a man with life out of tune, and battered and scarred with sin,
Is auctioned cheap to the thoughtless crowd, much like the 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.
Myra ‘Brooks’ Welch
[i] II Timothy 2:26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.
[ii] Jesus wants to bring rest to people that are captives. He offers for man to come to Him and find rest for their souls. How sad that this man had no soul rest. Those who are spiritually captive here on this earth, if they die without Christ as their Saviour, will sadly suffer the same unrest for all eternity. Revelation 14:11 And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. How much better to come to Jesus for His rest! Matthew 11:28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Hebrews 4:1-11)
[iii] 2 Corinthians 4:4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
[iv] Revelation 9:11 And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon. Luke 19:10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.
[v] Luke 11:24-26 When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out. And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first.