“And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their region.”
—Mark 5:17 ESV
They begged him to leave.
These words are strange when we consider that Jesus “could no longer openly enter a town” (Mk. 1:45) because so many people would crowd together to see the rabbi from Nazareth who cast out demons and healed the sick.
But this case was different. When Jesus arrived in the region he was encountered by a man inhabited by so many demons that they simply identified themselves as “Legion.”
When he cast the demons out of the man, they entered a herd of about 2,000 pigs who were grazing in the nearby countryside and drove them to their death in the sea of Galilee.
The people from the neighboring towns were afraid at the news and probably infuriated.
You see, this miracle cost them dearly. Those pigs were their livelihood and their death was a great financial loss.
And this is the true test of our surrender to Jesus: when his liberating work in the world costs us something.
The saddest part of the story is that Jesus respected the Gerasenes’ request to leave.
They sent away that “disturber of the peace” and unwittingly rejected the only one who could offer them true freedom.
Here’s the crucial question: are you willing to follow Jesus even when it costs you your own plans; your own comfort?
The good news is that although Jesus calls us to deny ourselves to follow him, we end up gaining more than we lose.
As he said in Matthew 16:25 (NIV), “whoever loses their life for me will find it.”
Here is a short prayer to carry with you today:
Breathe in: Whatever the cost,
Breathe out: I will follow you.