“Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you.” v.19
In one afternoon his life had been changed forever. Yesterday he was living his worst nightmare; overrun with hellish spirits, separated from everyone he loved, wishing he could just end it all, but even death seemed to elude him. The demonized man was living the nightmare instead of the dream. Then, in one afternoon, his universe was rocked by the Nazarene. One word from the Lord is more powerful than all the hosts of darkness. It’s no surprise that the man wanted to follow Jesus. You can’t truly experience his love and power and have any less reaction than to go with him. But the man was surprised at Jesus response.
“Lord, thank you for saving me. I will follow you anywhere. Let me go with you. I will do anything.” Jesus response must have floored him. “Go home.” “What? But I want to help you change the world! I want to give something back. Please let me go with you.” Jesus smiles kindly and says, “Go home to your family and tell them what the lord has done for you.” I wonder how the man took this. Why is he sending a wannabe follower home? This story gives me some reflections on what it means to really follow Jesus.
- Jesus wasn’t rejecting him, he was directing him. Jesus call was strategic. Sometimes our Lord calls us to stay home when we really want to go out. Some who read this know the feeling of wanting to go do something for the Lord, only to be told, “You’re needed at home now.” A woman I grew up with in my church, we’ll call her Jean, experienced this. She had always wanted to be a missionary overseas. But because she was needed at home to take care of her ailing mother, she was never able to fulfill that dream. But in her church and community God used her mightily as a bright and shining light to many. She supported me and many others who felt a call into ministry. She accepted the call to minister at home and did it beautifully. We have to understand that the Lord has a strategy for reaching the world, and wherever he calls you is a vital part of it. Sometimes when we want to go, but cannot, we can feel rejected. The demoniac could have felt that way. But the Lord was not rejecting him, he was directing him to go home where he was needed the most and tell what God had done. I love traveling around the world preaching the good news. But I am always mindful that my primary mission field is my home. What good is it to cross the Sahara with the gospel if I can’t take it across the street, or even down the hall to my loved ones?
- Jesus wasn’t telling him to stay home, but to return home.
Second, Jesus directive was missional. He wasn’t calling him to go home and sit on the couch. He was calling him to go tell what God had done. God was not calling him to stay home and feel sorry for himself, or become comfortable. He was calling him to return home and get to work for the gospel. Friends, Too many of us quite frankly, feel called to stay home and do nothing. Whenever I talk about overseas work someone says, ” I Feel called to stay home because we have plenty of needs here.” “Great” I say, “What are you doing to meet the needs?” Sometimes the response is disappointing, “Uhm, well, uh ya see, well, it’s kinda… I uh well…” With all those wells they must have a deep ministry. If you feel called to minister at home, then minister at home. Don’t sit on the couch of blessed assurance. Get out there in your neighborhood and help populate heaven.
- Jesus was about to do a second healing.
Jesus call was a call to healing. Jesus always calls us to wholeness. This man had been delivered from a legion of demons, but his heart needed a second healing. He had lost his family and friends. Now he had a chance to go back home and reconnect. What a joyful homecoming that would be! What healing could take place. Many of us aren’t allowed to go from home because God intends to do a similar healing in our lives. Sadly, I have seen people run to mission trips and ministry in order to escape the pain of home. “Are you running to the great commission, or just running away from a troubled life?” is a question that often needs to be asked. The Lord wants you and me to be healthy and whole. Sometimes we have to deal with the brokenness in our home before we can deal with a broken world. Don’t be the pastor who hides at the church to avoid being a spouse or parent. Sometimes you have to leave your home to follow Jesus, but you never have to neglect them. Go home and heal the broken who are there.
- The gospel is always about coming home.
Finally, the greatest reason to go home, is because that is what the gospel is about. The gospel is an invitation to return home. The prodigal who has wandered off onto the far country, gets to come home, Philemon’s servant leaves the prison and is reunited, the demoniac says goodbye to the cemetery and comes home to tell what great things the Lord has done. There is no greater homecoming than when a person simply says, “Lord, I’ve run away from you long enough. I need you in my life. Please save me and take me back home. Is the Lord calling you home today? Are you ready to go ?