The Boogeyman And His Friends Back Home
I went to high school at a Christian boarding school in Zellwood, Florida, close to the Orlando before Disney transformed the area. Buried in the middle of acres of oranges, we entered in the fall and didn’t leave the grounds until Christmas break. The big entertainment in October was to run the underclassman through a ghost walk complete with wild men with chain saws, and best of all—an underground tunnel we dug in the sand and then covered with brush for a roof.
In December of our senior year before Christmas break, Mike, my roommate, and I asked the administration if we could train all of our fellow students in how to personally share the Gospel with their friends when they went home. Our theme text for the training was taken from Luke 8:39 “Return home and tell how much God has done for you.”
In the flow of Luke’s story this is the conclusion of an episode featuring a real life boogeyman story. Jesus had just proved His power over wind and waves, when with His disciples they arrived on the Gentile side of the Sea of Galilee. In a graveyard near the shoreline they meet a naked wild man. When possessed, this guy tore off chains along with his clothes, and took off naked to live among the tombs.
When Jesus asked for his name, the unclean spirits dominating this man called themselves “Legion,” meaning thousands (Lk. 8:30). This time it’s not Jesus and the devil one on one as in the earlier temptation narratives. This time the devil has an army arrayed against the Son of the Most High (Lk. 8:28), but thousands of unclean spirits are no match for God Incarnate. They beg Jesus not to send them into the abyss but to allow them to enter a herd of pigs. Jesus gives permission, and we get a firsthand object lesson of the deadly insanity that Satan’s agents generate. The pigs, in a frenzy, stampede off a cliff and drown in the sea.
When the pig farmers report to their fellow townsmen what had happened everyone comes to check it out for themselves. When they arrive at the scene, there’s the former wild man clothed, in his right mind, sitting at Jesus’ feet. Tragically, instead of rejoicing in Jesus’ power over deadly demonic forces, they’re scared to death and beg Jesus to leave their territory. The man who had been demon possessed begs Jesus to allow him to go with Him, but Jesus tells him to go home and tell how much God had done for him. He did and the entire town heard this man’s testimony.
Our fellow classmates did go home and share how much Jesus had done for them. When they returned after Christmas break, we got them together and discovered that over fifty of their friends had trusted Christ because of their witness.
LORD, I find it easier to share with strangers, for example on a mission trip, than with my own town folk. Help me to remember that I was just as naked and under the curse of sin and the power of Satan as this man living among the dead. Help me to be like him and share all over town what Jesus has done for me.
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