Devotional 26: They Begged Him to Depart

Matthew 8:

31 So the demons begged Him, saying, “If You cast us out, permit us to go away[a] into the herd of swine.”

32 And He said to them, “Go.” So when they had come out, they went into the herd of swine. And suddenly the whole herd of swine ran violently down the steep place into the sea, and perished in the water.

33 Then those who kept them fled; and they went away into the city and told everything, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men. 34 And behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus. And when they saw Him, they begged Him to depart from their region.

Demons are ever evil, but they are also subject to the will of God. Our fallen state, our inability to grasp the mind, heart and will of God, narrows our focus on earthly things and earthly matters.

There is a reason why Jesus admonishes us to abandon those things if we follow Him.

Here Jesus comes to Gergesenes, and not one, but two demon possessed men, described as ‘exceeding fierce,’ sense His presence, and come to him with a fearful question: “Do You come to torment us before the time?” They too, as the other man Jesus delivers from possession, live in the tombs, for demons can only be themselves among dead people (in they spiritual as well as the physical sense).

They ask His permission to go into the pigs so they can steal the herd, kill the livelihood of the city, and destroy the wealth of those who’ve prospered from them.

Jesus knows this too, but He grants it, because the souls of pigs are worthless to the kingdom of G-d, but the souls of men are not, and Jesus’ kingdom, as He told us, is ‘not of this world.’

In v. 34 we read: “And behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus.  And when they saw Him, they begged Him to depart from their region.”

What a contrast to the story of the other man, who went around telling others what Jesus had done for Him, about his deliverance, or those who came out with Samaritan woman, and asked Jesus to stay with them, the sworn enemies of Israel, and minister to them.

But this city, concerned with earthly matters of commerce and profit, took no pleasure in the divine deliverance of their countrymen, no rejoicing in the presence of the Messiah, who even the demons recognized as Lord. We read these sad words instead:

“…they begged Him to depart…”

*****************************

When Christ entered my life, I never thought I would ever ask Him to depart, but there were times when I did, and times when I still do, because my nature is fallen, my heart is evil, my motives impure, and I am fixed on earthly comfort, overly concerned with what the Prince of this world has to offer.

You’ll recall after the Resurrection, Peter told Jesus: “Depart from me Lord, for I am sinful man.” It was done in repentance, in the agony of the fact that Jesus loved him no matter what, would restore him no matter what, and that there was nothing he could do to earn it, deserve it, or drive it away.

How often do we use those words differently. “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful person.” It’s because I want to sin, and the power of the Spirit is beginning to bring the Word to mind so I don’t, but I want to, and I convince myself sometimes that I even need to, in order to keep my sanity when surrounded by stupid people who are making my life difficult, in order to make myself understood, because I have a right to be happy, and because I can, if all else fails, exploit and abuse the covenant of grace, sinning more that it may abound.

Have you asked Him to depart from the region of your soul, as it rages among the tombs?

As we sit on the fence, on one side, we see all the splendors of the world, the adoration, the wealth, the instant gratification, and the sibilant whisper of the serpent underneath: “All these things I will give you, if…”

On the other, we see the narrow road, leading to the narrow gate, full of stones and thorns and bloody brambles, with little to recommend it other than the promise that on the other side is where something better, greater, and far more lasting awaits us, if we’ll only follow…

Will we choose exceeding fierceness, or exceeding peace?

Therefore I pray:

Lord Jesus, there are times when I run from the Father’s presence, manifested in You, because the darkness of my heart, which comprises the dark where I sin, is as bright as the noonday sun to both of You.

Pluck me from Hell’s fence into Your embrace, for You said no one can snatch me from Your hand; yet there are times when I would pry your fingers open, and fall into the unquenchable fire.

I would not be a drowned, unholy pig, having demons savage my condemned soul, for as Yu say, the grave has power too. You’ve broken it, but I need to receive Your power to be free of it. I would not t have You depart from me.

Take me with You, and I will follow.

In Your Name I pray.

Amen.

 

 

 

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