From the Editor: Bibles.net does not take credit for the ideas expressed or insight shared in this article. Rather, the content here was shared and discussed in the home of faithful believers leading a house church in New York. It was so transformative for our editorial team, that we wanted to share it with you, and provide you with a tool to share with your family and friends what Jesus has done for you.
And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. And those who had seen it described to them what had happened to the demon-possessed man and to the pigs. And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their region. As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. And he did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled.
(Mark 15:15-20 ESV)
Before we launch into what the Bible has to say about evangelism, we suggest you open your Bible to Mark 15. Here’s an overview of what happens. Following the story, I want to show you a practical way Jesus wants you to serve him.
What Jesus Did for the Demoniac
Picture the Galilean shoreline, the sound of seagulls, and gentle waves falling on the shoreline. Jesus and his disciples begin to exit their boat. The second Jesus’ foot hits the water, as he gets out of a boat, disturbance shatters the calm (Mark 5:2). A man approaches, and everyone present stiffens. This wasn’t any man.
He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones. (Mark 5:3-5 ESV)
Common vernacular called him “a man with an unclean spirit,” but by his own confession, many demons indwelled him. In fact, he compared their number to a Roman legion (Mark 5:9).
Yet when the demons and their victim encounter Jesus, they plead with him (v.7), they beg him earnestly (v.10), they obey him (v.12-13), in fact the Bible says, they ask his permission. In short, they leave the man—all thousand and however many.
Can you imagine being this man? All of a sudden, there’s no reason for people to fear you anymore. You’re no longer a threat to society. Your mind can rest, and you hear your own thoughts again. Instead of crying out in agony, tears of joy fall down your face. No longer would your inner abusers have power to harm your body, or leave you naked and ashamed.
By the mere word of Jesus, this un-subduable man was “sitting there,” now, “clothed and in his right mind” (Mark 5:15 ESV). I imagine few people have known freedom as this man did.
How Jesus Wanted the Demoniac to Respond
What would you do for a man who had done this much for you?
As he [Jesus] was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. (Mark 5:18 ESV)
Well, this man tells us you’d want to never leave Jesus’ side. We can assume from Jesus’ instruction, that the man wanted to serve Jesus, to be one of his followers. Did Jesus welcome the man?
And he [Jesus] did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” (Mark 5:19 ESV)
I don’t need you, Jesus seems to say, but you know people who need me. Jesus asks the man to do two things: first, witness. Witnessing is testifying to work God has done in your life. It’s telling others “how much the Lord has done for you.” Second, Jesus asks the man to do evangelism—to tell the good news of “how he has had mercy on you.” If God showed mercy to this man, surely, he wants to show mercy to others too.
Yes, this man was a victim of demonic oppression and possession, but he still was a man lost in sin. Jesus had the authority to condemn him, but “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:17 ESV).
This man found salvation at Jesus’ feet. He understood that he could not have set himself free. Jesus was his only hope. When we humbly fall at Jesus’ feet, we find mercy. Because Jesus was headed to the cross, where he would bear God’s wrath against our sin, so that “whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16 ESV).
How Jesus Wants You to Respond to His Salvation
Just like this man, we have the opportunity and the call (Matthew 28:18-20) to both witness to Jesus’ work in our lives, and tell others the good news about his mercy towards sinners. Through Jesus’ words to this demoniac, we find practical help for how to do this.
First, we might wonder who we should prioritize in this endeavor. Who do I tell about the Lord’s goodness? “Go home to your friends” Jesus says (v.19). In other words, go to where you live, to those closest to you. The word for “home” is oikos, can mean family as much as a physical dwelling place. Loosely translated, Jesus says: Go in your home, to those who belong to you. Simply put, your family.
Who in your family does not know about what Jesus has done for you, and about his mercy displayed on the cross? Then, what about your roommates, or your closest friends? Have you told them the good news about Jesus?
As our hearts yearn to serve Jesus for his deliverance, to follow him, he says, you know people who need me. They are in your home. They belong to your bloodline. It’s time to start witnessing and evangelizing.
Here’s a practical way to begin—and we’ve created a resource to help you (below).
First, list five people in your family who have not yet heard of God’s work in your life or the gospel. Take a week to pray for each person, once a day. After all, if Jesus is the only one who can deliver people from their sin, we must ask for his help.
Then, call them up, write them a letter, meet with them for coffee, take them out on a bike-ride, etc. Pursue them. Ask them, “Can I tell you what God has done for me?”
Then, move to the next person, until you know that those who belong to you know about Jesus. When it feels hard, or awkward, or you feel unwilling, ask Jesus to remind you of what he did for you. Let’s follow the lead of this man in our efforts, and may Jesus’ name be honored.
And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled. (Mark 5:20 ESV)