I have been working on a new presentation called Close Encounters with Jesus about several people who were up close and personal with Jesus. It’s all about sharing your faith because a close encounter with Jesus is meant to be shared.
One of the people whose story I am exploring is someone we call the Demoniac. He was filled with so many demons that he Jesus asked his name the demons should “Legion, because we are many.” Jesus cast the demons out and set him free and then something strange happened…
The man is free. He’s sane and in his right mind for the first time in a very long time. The thing is there were other people around to see what happened. The people tending the pigs. They see the power of God in Jesus, they see the changed life of the man and they rejoice, right? No. They ask Jesus to leave. They don’t want Him around. Jesus isn’t welcome.
Why? Well maybe because their pigs just ran into the sea, but I think it’s more than that. I think they feared His power. I think they saw him as a threat to their way of life. They realized that if this guy stays around things are going to change. Do you see any parallels to today. Friends we live in a world and especially in a nation that is telling God over and over again that He is not welcome here. It’s as if to say, thanks for the first 240 years, but we don’t need you anymore. He gets in the way. He wants to change us. He wants to Make us righteous. He wants to be Lord and so many of us don’t want that. We say people can’t pray anymore. We remove the ten commandments from the courthouse. We want to remove Him from our money. His way is not our way and we want our way so He has to go. This is the path we’re on and the news every day shows us the results. We went from God bless America to Godless America and we are paying the price.
These people in Jesus day, saw God’s amazing power to do good and turned away from it and I think we’re doing the same thing. They didn’t want Jesus around. I mean they have proof. The maniac is sane. He’s dressed and acting like a civilized human being. He no longer needs to be chained. He’s not dangerous anymore. A few minutes with Jesus, a close encounter with Jesus and he is healed once and for all.
Can you imagine, what it must have felt like? The demons are gone. He can see and think clearly for the first time in a long time, maybe ever, and the first thing he sees is this man that just saved him being asked to leave. I can’t imagine it. This man has just found the source of hope and he will never be the same. If they’re asking Jesus to leave. He is going to go with Jesus.
Then Jesus does something no one could have expected. He looks at the man and says no. Jesus doesn’t want this man to come with Him. Think about it. As our world becomes more and more hostile toward the faith, isn’t the temptation to huddle up with other believers and go into hiding with Jesus. It’s easy to separate ourselves from the world and say enough’s enough. If this world doesn’t want Jesus, they don’t want us, so we’ll just huddle together and wait for the rapture. Here’s the thing, Jesus isn’t there. He’s not hiding in the church. He’s out in the world, doing what He came to do.
The reason Jesus doesn’t want this formerly possessed man to come with Him is not because Jesus doesn’t want him. It;s because Jesus has a mission for Him. He says, “No, don’t come with me, go to your home town and tell them what God has done for you.” I mean can you imagine what it would have been like to see the crazy guy that lived among the tombs standing in the streets and talking about Jesus? That would be something to see and his story empowered by the Spirit, probably convinced many. Friends, it’s the same way with us. You may not have story like his or like mine, but you do have a story, and just because the world doesn’t want to hear it doesn’t mean they need to hear it any less. Jesus doesn’t want us huddling away separated from the world. He wants us in the world and not of the world, sharing the way to be saved. Some won’t want to hear it, but some will receive it.
A close encounter with Jesus is meant to be shared. When you see Him for who He is, you need to share Him. Church the world looks the way it does, because the world is not following Jesus and getting the world to follow Jesus is why we are here. We are are the ones who’ve been entrusted with the message of reconciliation. We are here to prepare the way for the Lord’s return. That’s our mission and we need desperately to be on it.
Stay tuned for more on Close Encounters. I’m presenting it for the first time tonight. If you’re a believer, you have seen Jesus for who He is. You’ve had your close encounter with Jesus.
It was meant to be shared.