“Jesus, please go away!”

Can you imagine having a face-to-face encounter with Jesus?!  That thought is the reason I do not fear my death, whether it happens suddenly and unexpectedly or I am given the opportunity to see my passing approaching as my  father and grandfather did.  My death is my gain.  My dying will be a glorious gateway to the presence of Jesus.  Of that, I have no doubt.  I can’t wait to see Jesus!

However, some individuals were blessed with the divine encounter in this life.  Luke 8 recounts the story of one of those incidents.  Jesus and His disciples crossed the Sea of Galilee.  When they had arrived at the region of the Gerasenes, a demon-possessed man came up to Him.

“And when He came out onto the land, He was met by a man from the city who was possessed with demons; and who had not put on any clothing for a long time, and was not living in a house, but in the tombs. Seeing Jesus, he cried out and fell before Him, and said in a loud voice, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, do not torment me” (Lk. 8:27,28).

I love to point out that the demon saw right through the flesh of Jesus.  He recognized the “Son of the Most High God” from their time together before time began.  Now fallen, this demon clearly understood the authority of Christ.  Peter also acknowledged Jesus’ deity after watching Him fish (Lk. 5:4-10).  Peter’s unexpected response to what he had witnessed shocked me when I first read it.

But when Simon Peter saw that, he fell down at Jesus’ feet, saying, “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!” (Lk. 5:8).

After further reflection, I came to the conclusion that Peter did, in fact, respond appropriately.  His reaction was similar to that of the prophet Isaiah many years earlier.  Both men–after realizing that they were in the actual presence of their holy God–wanted to hide.  They were ashamed of their sin.  Surely Peter’s statement was hyperbole–a bold statement to emphasize his emotion.  He didn’t really want Jesus to go.  And Jesus stayed.

A while later, though, a group of people from the land of the Gerasenes were not using a literary device in their conversation with Jesus.  After demonstrating the fact that He truly was the Son of the Most High God by casting the legion of demons out of the man (Lk. 8:32), the citizens of the area decided together to do one of the most ridiculous actions in the history of the world.

“And all the people of the country of the Gerasenes and the surrounding district asked Him to leave them, for they were gripped with great fear; and He got into a boat and returned” (Lk. 8:37). 

They asked Jesus to leave.

And they were serious.

Remarkable.

Why?

Fear.

Baptist theologian John Gill commented that they implored Jesus to  leave “lest they should suffer other and greater losses” (eSword). And perhaps Matthew Henry was correct as well when he remarked, “Those lose their Saviour, and their hopes in him, that love their swine better” (eSword).  Consider the contrasts–safety or Jesus; money or God.

In closing, might I ask these questions:  What would you have said had you been Peter?  My guess is that–put in the same situation–you may have responded similarly.  But how might you have reacted had your pigs rushed down the cliff into the sea?  Would you have rejoiced at the miraculous deliverance–the exorcism, or would you have joined the crowd and asked Jesus–the Son of the Most High God–to leave?

You know–I almost respect their unabashed honesty.  They looked Jesus Christ in the face and begged Him to leave their region.  I think that is more commendable than our treating Him as inconsequential.  So many of us simply choose to ignore Him.  If anything, Jesus is a religious accessory for which we just do not have time.

“Maybe later.”

Think about it.

And, if God is speaking to you today regarding anything written above, respond appropriately.  Talk to HIM.  Don’t treat HIM as unimportant.  And–I beg YOU, do not ask Him to leave.  Instead, worship.

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