Last weekend, we read the story of Jesus calming the storm, and it starts with Him saying to His disciples, “Let’s go to the other side of the lake.”  The other side was predominantly Gentile; it was filled with pagan temples and pagan practices; the Jews considered it unclean.  So it was “other” not only geographically, but racially and spiritually too.  Good Jews avoided it.  But Jesus acted like He owned it, like the other side was His side too.  If you’re going to follow Jesus, you’re going to the other side.  You are going to move toward those who are different.  You are going to take the good news to the other side.  So what happened when they got to the other side?  My oh my!  Here’s the story: 

Luke 8:26-39 (p. 889)

26 They sailed to the region of the Gerasenes, which is across the lake from Galilee. 27 When Jesus stepped ashore, he was met by a demon-possessed man from the town. For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs. 28 When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don’t torture me!” 29 For Jesus had commanded the impure spirit to come out of the man. Many times it had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and had been driven by the demon into solitary places. 

30 Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” 

“Legion,” he replied, because many demons had gone into him. 31 And they begged Jesus repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss. 

32 A large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside. The demons begged Jesus to let them go into the pigs, and he gave them permission. 33 When the demons came out of the man, they went into the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned. 

34 When those tending the pigs saw what had happened, they ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, 35 and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus’ feet, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. 36 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 Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear. So he got into the boat and left. 

38 The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, 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.

We are going to talk about four things.

1. Jesus’ love for the other side.

Look at verse 26:

26 They sailed to the region of the Gerasenes, which is across the lake from Galilee.

You’ll notice in v. 26 that by the word “Gerasenes” there is a tiny superscript “a”.  If you look at the bottom of the page, you’ll see a note that says, “Some manuscripts Gadarenes; other manuscripts Gergesenes; also in v. 37.”  The New Testament was written in Greek, and we have many ancient manuscripts.  Some of them differ in small respects, and here is an example.  Some manuscripts say they sailed to the region of the Gerasenes, others the Gadarenes, and others the Gergesenes.  Take a look at this map.  

All three towns were on the other side of lake.  Gergesa was right on the lake shore.  Gadara, further south, was six miles from the lake.  And Gerasa, which has the most manuscript support, was 30 miles from the lake.  Why the differences?  We don’t know.  But it really doesn’t matter because they are all on the other side, and the text says that they sailed to the “region of the Gerasenes” which could have extended all the way to the lake and included all three of this towns.  Much like the “Spokane region” in many people’s minds includes Coeur d’Alene and Cheney and other towns in the area—the Inland Empire.  

They went to the other side of the lake—the Gentile side, the pagan side, the unclean side—the other side.  Jesus led them to the other side, where good Jews didn’t usually go.  Jesus loved the other side.  He still does.  Jesus loves the other side as much as He loves our side!  

And what’s the first thing they see upon arriving at the other side?  This wild man who represented everything evil and unclean about the other side.  He was demonized—oppressed by evil.  He hadn’t worn clothes or lived in a house for a long time.  Instead, he lived among the tombs, in the cemetery.  Mark tells us that night and day he would scream and cut himself with stones.  The locals had tried to restrain him many times, but he would break the chains and escape to the tombs.  Imagine walking by the cemetery and this guy jumps out!  He was the neighborhood terror.  Parents must have told their kids to steer clear of the cemetery.  He was a menace to himself and everyone else.  This is the man who met Jesus and His disciples as they were getting out of the boat on the other side: he runs up to them, naked, broken chains dangling from his wrists and feet, filthy, scabbed and bleeding, screaming, “Jesus, what do you want with me?”  

I’m thinking that after surviving the storm, the disciples got out of the boat and kissed the ground, happy to be back on terra firma.  But then this guy runs up, and I’ll bet they were getting back in the boat and were ready to shove off and head for home.  “This is why we don’t come to the other side.”  They’d already had enough of the other side.  

But Jesus loves the other side.  And He loved this man—this poor tortured soul—and delivered him and set him free.  More about that in a moment.  Here’s an interesting thing: what else did Jesus do while He was on the other side?  Nothing.  He set this man free, and they got in the boat and went home.  What if the purpose of going to the other side was to set this man free?  We’ll see in a minute that freeing this man ended up starting a revival on the other side that impacted thousands of people who came to meet Jesus.  But on this trip, it wasn’t about the thousands—just this guy.  I’ll bet when they were sailing home, the disciples said, “That was cool!  That was worth the trip.”  

ILL: When I was in Washington DC a few months ago for the Congressional Civil Rights Pilgrimage, we went to dinner at Founding Farmers restaurant.  We had no idea that this is the most booked restaurant in the country!  We arrived at 7:45 and put in our names, thinking it would be 10-15 minutes.  Hey—we’re from Spokane!  We finally got a table at 9 pm.  We would never wait an hour and 15 minutes to be seated in Spokane, but we were far from home and had no where to be, so we waited and had fun talking.  

When our server brought our menus, she noticed Rodney’s Seahawks sweatshirt and asked if we were all from Seattle.  We told her we were from Spokane, the other side of the state.  She said that she was from Cheney and had done Running Start at Eastern.  I told her my girls did that too, and she looked at me and said, “Pastor Joe?”  It turns out Claire went to Life Center during high school, and still has friends here that she’s in touch with.  She was in DC for college, just getting ready to graduate.  We had fun talking—she’s a delightful young lady—and at the end of our meal, she surprised us by comping our meal, a very generous gift.   We asked how we could pray for her.  This was her first day back at work after a very tough week.  We all prayed for her, hugged her and got a picture of all of us.  Claire said she felt like God reached out and gave her a hug by sending her pastor clear across the country to her table on a night she needed it.

We were walking back to our hotel when I received a message from Claire’s friends here at Life Center.  She had already texted them!  They told us that we were her “GOD moment.”   

We all felt like it was a God moment too, and one of our team said, “That was cool.  That was worth the trip.”  

I think that’s how the disciples felt when they got back in the boat.  They had survived a wild storm and then seen a wild man delivered and set free.  And now as they sailed back, I’ll bet they thought, “That was cool.  That was worth the trip to the other side.”  That one man from the other side was worth it.  

Jesus loves the other side.  He loves Jews and He loves Gentiles.  He loves people who are tormented and crazy, and He loves people dressed and in their right  minds.  He loves people who keep pigs and are far from God.  Jesus loves the other side—and this won’t be His only visit.  He’s coming back…more about that in a moment.

Do you love the other side?  Do you love people who are different?  Difficult?  Demonized?  The other?  Are you willing to move toward the other to share Jesus with them.  If you follow Jesus, you’re going to the other side, and you’re going to love them!

2. Jesus’ power over evil. 

The outstanding feature of this story is Jesus’ power over evil.  This poor man was demonized.  What about that?  Some people believe this was simply mental illness, and that ancient superstitions attributed mental illness to demons.  They believe that Jesus was accommodating the superstitions of His age, even though He knew better.  There are problems with this view.  Jesus talked about the devil and demons as though they were real, and taught that we are engaged in a spiritual battle.  So did all of His disciples.  

Jesus said that God is spirit (John 4:24), and we are spirits who have a body.  So it shouldn’t surprise us that there would be other spirits, or other spiritual beings.  For example, there are angels.  Hebrews 1:14 (p. 1033) Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?  Angels are spirits who serve God by helping us.  And demons are angels in rebellion, spirits who oppose God by trying to harm us.  Most Bible scholars believe the devil was an archangel whose pride led him to rebel against God, and when he fell, he took many angels with him.  So we are engaged in a spiritual battle.  Jesus understood that. 

Luke 11:14–22 (p. 893)

14 Jesus was driving out a demon that was mute. When the demon left, the man who had been mute spoke, and the crowd was amazed. 15 But some of them said, “By Beelzebul, the prince of demons, he is driving out demons.” 16 Others tested him by asking for a sign from heaven. 

17 Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them: “Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall. 18 If Satan is divided against himself, how can his kingdom stand? I say this because you claim that I drive out demons by Beelzebul. 19 Now if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your followers drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. 20 But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 

21 “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe. 22 But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up his plunder.

Jesus came to bring the Kingdom of God, and that meant a collision with the kingdom of Satan.  Satan may be a “strong man who guards his own house,” but Jesus was “someone stronger” who attacks and overpowers him and sets free those he has taken captive.  Jesus presented His own mission in terms of two conflicting kingdoms, and makes it clear that He is the stronger one.  This is very important.  Some people talk like God and the devil are two opposite but equal forces: good and bad, ying and yang, light and dark.  But that’s not true.  God is the all powerful creator; the devil is a created being and is not all powerful.  It’s no contest, folks.  God wins!

That is so clear in this story.  When Jesus shows up, the demons grovel before Him; they fall at His feet, begging for mercy.  “Don’t torture me.”  It was no contest.  They were not Jesus’ equal and they knew it.  When Jesus said, “go” they had to go.  They had a strong hold on this poor man, but they were no match for “someone stronger”—Jesus!  When Jesus and the devil go head to head, it’s no contest—Jesus wins every time!  This is the message of the book of Revelation: Jesus wins!  The devil throws everything he has in his rebellion against Jesus, but Jesus simply says the word and the devil is done.  

It is so important that you understand this as you engage in the spiritual battle.  The apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 6:10-12 (p. 1009) 

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

We are in a spiritual battle.  Our struggle is not against flesh and blood—human beings—but against spiritual forces of evil.  

ILL: Years ago, Laina and I were on our way to church when we got into a roaring argument (I did most of the roaring).  Has this ever happened to you on the way to church?  We finally figured out how to fix it—we drove separate cars!  We were just about to church when it hit me.  I pulled the car over, took Laina’s hand and said, “I am not your enemy and you are not my enemy.  But we have an enemy who would love to divide us.  That’s who we should be fighting.”  So prayed and asked God for help, and then told the devil to go to hell.  You can do that because Jesus said that hell was made for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41).

Our struggle wasn’t with each other, but with spiritual forces of evil.  We learned to stop fighting each other, and get strong in the Lord and resist the devil.  Your spouse isn’t your enemy.  Your child isn’t your enemy.  Your boss isn’t your enemy.  But you have an enemy, and you need to be strong in the Lord and ready to resist him.  Peter wrote:

1 Peter 5:8-9 (p. 1050)

8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

Your enemy is the devil—and he is looking for someone to devour.  He wants to destroy you.  But Jesus is stronger, and if you resist the devil in Jesus’ name, he will flee.

James 4:7 (p. 1045)

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

First, submit to God—He is the strong one.  Then resist your enemy the devil, and he will flee from you.  He is no match for Jesus who lives in you. 

This story shows Jesus’ absolute power over evil.  They were no match for Him, and since He lives in you, they are no match for you either.

1 John 4:4 (p. 1056)

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome the, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

We’re in a battle, but Jesus wins, so live boldly!

3. The people’s response to Jesus: please leave.

Jesus sends the demons into the pigs, and the demons kill the pigs.  The pigs rush down the steep slope into the lake and drown.  They did a swine dive!  Did you know that pigs can swim?  So it wasn’t the dive that killed them, or even the lake—it was the demons that drowned them. In this action, the demons reveal their intent: death and destruction.  Jesus made it clear that is what the devil’s intent is toward us: to steal, kill and destroy. 

John 10:10 (p. 922)

The thief come only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.  

These demons had stolen this man’s life and were trying to kill and destroy him, but Jesus came to give him life to the full.  

The demons drove the pigs into the lake, killing all 2000 of them (Mark).  2000 pigs!  That’s a lot of bacon!  This huge herd was probably not the property of one man, but of many—a community herd.  This represented an enormous financial loss—huge economic impact.  This man’s freedom had come at a price—a very high price for the community.  

So what did they do?  Look at verse 37: Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear. So he got into the boat and left.

They asked Jesus to leave.  Why?  They were overcome with fear.  Fear of what?  Fear of more people getting set free?  More people getting healed?  Fear of more menaces to the community getting taken care of?  No, I think it was fear of more financial loss.  Follow the money!  “All our pigs are dead!  This man Jesus is dangerous to have around.  No telling what He’ll do next, and what it will cost us!  Ask Him to leave.  Get Him out of here!”   So Jesus leaves.  

This isn’t the only time that money made someone part ways with Jesus.  Remember the story of the rich young man who wanted to follow Jesus (Luke 18:18, p. 901)?  He told Jesus that he had kept all the commandments, but Jesus said that he lacked one thing.  “Sell everything you have and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven.  Then come, follow me.”  When he heard this, he walked away sad because he couldn’t give up the money.  

There’s an economic impact to following Jesus.  We say that Jesus is Lord—that means He is Lord of everything in our lives, including our money and things.  It’s all His.  He is free to use it as He sees fit.  We do with it what He wants.  If He says give it, we give it.  If He says save it, we save it.  If He says spend it, we spend it.  But it’s His.  We are His.  “I am not my own, I’ve been bought with a price.” 

What’s it cost to follow Jesus?  Everything.

What do you gain following Jesus?  Everything!  Just ask the man who was set free.  The townspeople asked Jesus to leave.  What about the man?

4. The man’s response to Jesus: tell your story!

Look at v. 38-39:

38 The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, 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.

The man’s first response was to ask if he could go with Jesus.  The townspeople wanted Him gone; the man wanted Him close.  When Jesus saves you, frees you, heals you, you want to stay close.  

But Jesus told him to go home and tell what God had done for him.  He had a home; he had a family—in Mark’s version, Jesus said, “Go to your own people.” This man was someone’s son, brother, uncle, maybe even husband and father.  Imagine what it was like when he showed up at home, dressed and in his right mind!  Freed and changed!  Imagine him telling his family his story.  This family had experienced so much shame and pain—and now because of Jesus, so much joy!

And it wasn’t just his family; he “told all over town how much Jesus had done for him.”  He told his story to anyone who would listen.  And what was the impact of this story?  The next time Jesus came back to the other side (Mark 7-8), thousands of people came to meet Him, to be healed, freed and taught.   This man’s story ignited a spiritual movement toward Jesus—on the other side!  

Has Jesus changed you?  Tell your story!  Start at home with your family, but then tell it all over town. Tell anyone who will listen.  Who knows, maybe your story will ignite a revival in our town!  

All of you who have gone through Rooted have prepared a 2 minute version of your story.  Tell your story.  Some of you are wondering, “How do I get there?”  How about this: ask someone, “Can I tell you my story?”  Most people will say, “Sure!”  

Even better, I love to ask people, “Tell me your story.”  I genuinely enjoy hearing others’ stories, learning about them.  And I love to look for where God is intersecting their story—often at the point of pain.  I ask if I can pray for them.  It’s very powerful.  And usually, they will ask to hear my story, and of course, Jesus is smack dab in the middle of my story—and He’s the center of your story too.  He’s the hero in all of our stories.  Tell your story.

We want to help as many people as possible find and follow Jesus.  We do this by doing Find, Tell, Bring.

  • Find someone you love.
  • Tell them what you know.
  • Bring them with you. 

Bring them with you to church or your mission group, but include them.  Christianity is a team sport—we do it best together.  So bring them with you.  That’s why we gave you these invite cards today.  Put them in your wallet or purse and this week find someone you love, tell your story, and bring them with you.  Maybe God will use your story to start a revival on the other side!

Jesus on The Other Side

 
 
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