Date: June 19, 2022
Sermon Title: “Are You The One”
Minister Kimberly Braxton
The Power of One
This morning when we come to the text we meet Jesus just as he is stepping off a boat that sailed from Galilee to Ga-ra-seens. But this wasn’t like his triumphant arrival that occurs later in the Gospels. No, he wasn’t greeted by cheering crowds, fans, and on lookers that were hoping to get a glimpse of this Jesus person. No, he was greeted by naked demon possessed man.
Can you imagine? The disciples and Jesus getting ready to come ashore in Gentile territory and this display of impropriety meets them. A naked crazy man. This was not the way to “roll out the welcome wagon” for the new visitors to town. This greeting was not an extension of hospitality. Why is it that the demon possessed man that according to the text lived in the tombs in solidary places knew more about Jesus than the townspeople? But this in and of itself is a poorly targeted question. I mean we know why he knew, this man was demon possessed and the enemy of God knew his time was numbered. The enemy of God understood the power, the authority, and the position of Jesus but the people in town apparently had no idea that the Savior of all mankind had just dropped by. But this is understandable. Ge-ra-seen was gentile territory. The gentiles were not exposed to the scriptures at the time, they didn’t know the prophecies written about Jesus, maybe they hadn’t heard about Jesus’ mighty acts and the power that he had displayed up to this point. But the enemy knew whose feet were walking on the shore of this new territory and he was scared because he knew once Jesus spotted him he was going to do what Jesus did and still does today – He was going to deliver this man from oppression.
Now as educated, 21st century believers it is easy to write off the significance of the writings and Luke’s reference to this man’s demon possession. I mean we are sophisticated, educated, stately folks with access to the internet and WebMD and Better Health online therapy we have all become doctors of some sort - - and with just a quick assessment of a situation, a five point multiple question quiz, we feel empowered to diagnosis any manner of disease or disorder. We know all about mental health, schizophrenia, multiple personality disorder and disassociation disorder. But I want to caution you not to disregard the significance in the text. The enemy of God believes in God – He confesses it in the Verse 28 “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?”, and Jesus has authority over the enemy and all his works. Why are we, as followers of Jesus, so reluctant to believe that there is an enemy that has an assignment to steal, to kill and destroy (John 10:10). But there is a balance. I come from an Episcopalian background which means I am well versed in formal liturgy and the rigor of dogma that’s one end of the continuum - - but when I veered into Pentecostalism l this was the other end. For some people there was a demon for everything. But the extremes can’t cancel out the other but there needs to be a balance. Everything isn’t a demonic attack but don’t underestimate your enemy. Let me give you a tangible example for an experience Pastor Becca and I share - - When we were conducting the Lenten Prayer series we talked about what happens whenever you are charged to lead a prayer group some manner of chaos and confusion will make itself known in your life. Whether it be sickness, a sudden financial issue, a bedeviled coworker, or just random chaotic confusion nipping at your heels. It will pop up when you begin interceding on behalf of others in prayer. This is one of the reasons you should always pray for your leaders and those that have spiritual authority over you. They are on the front lines of a battle fighting on your behalf
but who is covering them?
Imma leave that right there…….
I know we have all heard some version of this narrative, the demon possessed man, the legion that would not give him peace; however, this morning instead of focusing exclusively on the exorcism that Jesus performs I want to draw our attention to two verses in the passage. The first are verses 36 through 37 “Those who had seen it told the people how the demon-possessed man had been cured.” 37 Then all the people of the region of the Ge-ra-seens asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear. So he got into the boat and left.
See the demon possessed man in the town was not secret. There are indicators in the text that point to the fact that the people in the region knew about this man and his condition. Verse 29 “he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard”. He wondered through the tombs and solitary places. People knew about his condition but they were unable to do anything about it. Since he was not able to receive deliverance and restoration by their hands it was easier to manage the problem when it was out of sight. Out of sight out of mind. But people in the region knew of this man and how bad off he was. How far his oppression had gone. He was naked, alone, walking through the tombs. This was not normal behavior; he was not normal.
Look at how this man was treated. He was not only victimized by a legion of demons that tormented him and drove him to the edge of madness but he was also victimized by an entire town as they sought to subdue him, restrain him, and shuffle him off into a place where they wouldn’t have to deal with the problem of the him any longer. Attempting to lock him away like a poorly kept secret. I mean can you blame them though? This man was over-run by a legion of demons. It is estimated that a legion consists of 5,600 entities.
The people in this gentile region were not equipped to deal with this problem, they were not able to deal with this man’s condition. However, when Jesus came. One man. A singular Savior, He was able to handle it. Jesus may have been outnumbered but He was far from being outmatched!
Jesus was able to bring deliverance to this victim of oppression. Restoration came to this village, on that day and the former victim was now the recipient of healing, grace and restoration. And you would think that the people that had dealt with this demon oppressed mad man. You would think that they would have rejoiced. The problem they couldn’t fix was resolved. Their neighbor had been restored to his right mind. He could now be restored to the community. But no, The people in the town did not rejoice. They were overtaken with fear, fear of what Jesus could do. Maybe they were afraid of future financial losses. Jesus delivered one man and they lost an entire herd of pigs.
What would He do next? The sad point is that the people in this region were more comfortable with a demonic man in their midst then they were with the One that was able to drive out an entire demonic legion. Their emphasis was on their possessions and not the person. They would rather deal with the devil in their midst and keep going about their everyday lives than take the chance that Jesus would stick around and do something else miraculous that perhaps would cost them money. The problem is when you put the emphasis on possessions over people you’ve already lost. When you focus on financial losses and gains over the welfare of the people, over the marginalized, over those people that it’s not convenient or easy to help.
But this isn’t an isolated incident – there is nothing new under the sun. When we have people in leadership that are unwilling to take a loss of financial backing by cutting their ties to the NRA’s purse strings. Because to do so would mean that they might lose their political power.
They choose to be obtuse and recalcitrant instead of being men and women of high moral character demonstrating ethical behavior for the next generation. They chose an institution and financial backing over people. People that are created in God’s image.
How dare you! Holding on to political power and authority like it was your birthright and something you are entitled to. Instead of serving the people you choose to ignore the problem and deflect. But just like Mordeci told Esther, “If you are silent now, we will be saved. Deliverance will come for us. But Maybe you came into your position for such a time as this.”
The final verse I would like to highlight from this passage is Verse 39, “, 39 “Return home and tell how much God has done for you.” So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him.” Jesus sent this one man back into this community with a testimony of deliverance. And this one man went to his community and started sharing his story. The people could see it was true. And his testimony was able to illustrate all that the Lord had done, it displayed the power of God.
But how many of us are willing to share our entire testimony? Without the Instagram filter, without editing and wordsmithing. To become so transparent in front of someone that could be a complete stranger, let down the mask and give God all the glory for what He has done in your life?
You know we live in a society that basis our entire reality off of a single social media post. But no one wants to share that past, that dirty imperfect past that shaped who you are now but it’s just not camera ready. But whose deliverance are you holding up because you don’t want to reveal that back in 1982 you had a drinking problem, that you did a bid? Who’s salvation is tied up because you don’t want to embarrass yourself by telling someone the complete truth of what the Lord has done for you? Revelation 12:11, “They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony”
Speak! Let people know what the Lord brought you through to bring you to!
Let me give you an example that’s real to me. I struggle with an auto immune disorder and one of the side effects is that I deal with two types of alopecia – CCA and scaring. Both of which are difficult to treat. When I started doing research online for my conditions I would find people that would say that these conditions were cureable, and they would say I went to a Naturapath, that prescribed a herbal remedy and with a change of diet they were healed. And now they had hair like pochantos. So I would follow up with questions – “Who’s your ND.”
“What specifically was your diet?” blank stare.
It went on like this for 15 years. Finally I found a breadcrumb. A woman wrote a single star yelp review about a doctor I was currently seeing. She struggled with the two conditions I have. She recounted all the poor treatment she received and then said, “But I finally found a doctor that helped. His name is Andrew Alexis.” As soon as I saw the name I proceeded to track this physician down like a hunter on safari stalks big game.
When I finally found him at a new practice and was able to make an appointment he said, “What brings you here today.”
A testimony I read in a single star yelp review.
And he said, “I can treat this.”
Will you be that person to share your testimony?
Think about how embarrassing it must have been for the formerly demon possessed man. He was running around naked in the tombs. And now, in his right mind, fully clothed, he’s telling people. Yes, I was a mess. But then I met a man named Jesus. And he changed everything!