He wanted to follow Jesus. He wanted to be close to Jesus. He wanted to live a life of radical obedience. But Jesus told him to stay, not to go. Do not follow me.
The man had been oppressed by demons, driven out of his mind and driven out of polite society. He had lived in the tombs, living with the dead, crying out, cutting himself, bleeding, naked, insane.
Then Jesus had come, and with a word released him. He was free.
“As [Jesus] 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…” (Mark 5:18-19a).
The man’s desire was pure. Please, Lord, let me go with you. Let me learn from you. Let me stay near you.
But Jesus had a better plan. Stay. “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you (19b).” You may not come. You must stay.
Why? Because there could be no better missionary to his own town and to his own people. They knew what he had been and who he had been, and they, of all people could see the transformation. That undeniable transformation declared the power of God.
This man had encountered Jesus in a life-changing way. So Jesus told him to stay. Stay where you are, find your friends and neighbors, and tell them what the Lord has done for you.
Christian, God has appointed you to be his missionary right where you are. There is no one better suited to the task. “Go home to your friends, your family, your neighbors, your colleagues, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”
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