Begging Jesus to Leave!
Mark 5:17 Then they began to beg Jesus to leave their neighborhood.
Jesus had just healed the man who had been demon possessed and it was a very impressive miracle. The man was filled with numerous demons who declared their own name as “Legion” for they were many. They begged to be sent into the pigs and Jesus responded to their request. Overcome by the demons the pigs ran into the sea and were drown.
The people of the area were more angry than they were impressed. Jesus might have brought healing to one man but the result messed with their business practices. They were going to lose money because of what he had done. They were much more interested in their financial enterprises than they were in their own spiritual lives or those of their community.
They begged Jesus to leave their neighborhood. Better to make money than to be set free spiritually! And it wasn’t just a few who were begging him to leave. Luke tells us that the entire community prayed that he would go.
Jesus doesn’t hang around where he is not wanted. He leaves and there is no record to indicate that ever returned to this region ever again. Their prayer was answered and Jesus was gone.
I have heard many people lament the fact that many of our churches seem empty and without the presence of the Lord these days. Is it possible that we have actually asked him to leave the neighborhood? Maybe we didn’t realize that we were doing it and it didn’t seem intentional at the time, but possibly, through our reactions and priorities we have made the message loud and clear.
Jesus was disrupting the economy of the community. Being a follower of Jesus Christ does disrupt the economy! My personal economy is changed when I put Christ first. I must give my tithe into the Church and then I must continue to give offerings sacrificially to his work. When I begin to think that my finances and resources are “all mine” then I am, in very subtle ways, asking Jesus to leave the neighborhood.
When Paul arrived in Ephesus he preached about Jesus and the result was a marked decrease in the worship of Artemis the great goddess of the city. His preaching was having a direct impact on the tourism trade and it made the souvenir salesmen mad. They were so angry that they rioted.
When Christians begin to live in a way that is counter-cultural it will have a direct result on the world around them. What does happen when a group of Christians take back their neighborhood and no longer allow the drug king-pins to rule? The economy is changed and it angers those who have been in charge. They want Jesus to leave the neighborhood!
Let’s not allow Jesus to be kicked out of the neighborhood — either by us, or by the thugs around us. Jesus comes where he is invited. May we be willing to be counter-cultural and invite him into every nook and cranny of our lives, sometimes making us and our neighbors a big uncomfortable. But we need to be made uncomfortable for we should be eternally on a journey of transformation into the reflection of Christ living in the midst of a world that needs his healing touch.
Lord, you are welcome here. Amen.