“Go to thy house unto thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and how he had mercy on thee.”— Mark 5:19 RV1885
Not so long ago, while reading about this man delivered of two thousand demons, in a few moments several thoughts lodged themselves in my mind, mainly concerning things that must have taken place– between the lines– so to speak.
First up was the fact that as the mob of crooks, criminals and low-life were ordering Jesus and his apostles to get out of their region of the Gerasenes (they had lost their illegal herd of two thousand pigs, and thereby their income), this dear man was standing in the middle of this chaos, wholly ignorant of the threats from this mob, pleading with Jesus that he might travel with Him and His followers. His life had just been utterly transformed in one moment of time when Jesus ordered the two thousand demons to come out of him and enter the nearby herd of swine. He begged to follow Jesus. We read that Jesus ‘suffered him not’ to go into the boat with them. I reckon this means Jesus told him several times to “go to thy house unto thy friends and tell them how great things the Lord has done for thee, and how He had mercy on thee”. This man was having none of it. I’m sure he was intent on following Jesus for the rest of his life. As he, I have no doubt, tried to climb into the boat, one leg on the rail, the other bobbing up and down in waist high water sloshing around him, Jesus probably tried not to laugh as the other apostles were doubled up in joyous laughter, all the while pushing the boat out into deeper water so they might escape the danger from the mob. Jesus would have His hand on the dear man’s shoulder repeating His earlier advice, “go to thy house unto thy friends and tell them how great things the Lord has done for thee, and how He had mercy on thee”. Tears of pure joy would surely have been running down his cheeks.
Wide eyed in horror and incredulity that Jesus was not allowing him to follow them, he may have shouted out “Well, I’ll come and visit you next week!” Causing Jesus to perhaps wag His finger as He stood at the helm of the boat while repeating His exhortation “No, no, no, noooooo, go to thy house unto thy friends and tell them how great things the Lord has done for thee, and how He had mercy on thee”, causing further hilarity among the apostles. All the while keeping an eye on the mob.
The boat by now would have been possibly twenty of twenty-five feet off shore leaving this man, lips puckered, frowning, hands on waist in waist deep water, with a cloak three sizes too big that one of the apostles had given him. He probably gave in and realised he had better go home, then panicking at the depth of the water for the first time, turned tail, and, seeing the mob of thugs, throwing his arms in the air, shouted “Hey, lads, let me tell you all that the Lord has done for me!” These criminals would in turn be falling over each other, running for their dear life in every direction away from the man!
Remember that only a couple of hours previously this man was shouting and screaming among the tombs and the mountainside in torment and abject misery, night and day. He cut himself with sharp stones and hated his life. He snapped chains when the locals chained him to trees or huge boulders. He was naked for many years, filth and grime was embed on the skin of his face and hands. His body covered with long hair. As JB Philips calls him, ‘a violent lunatic’. His hair must have been so unkempt, beyond imagining, uncut, greasy, wild. He was stinking as awful as any man ever did.
Now we read that he sat with the apostles talking with Jesus, mesmerised, and as JB Phillips translates it, “properly clothed and perfectly sane”. He must have been a born optimist, naturally high-spirited and extrovert. Why else would Jesus have to plead with him not to follow them. I’m sure Jesus and the apostles would have realised that this poor man would need weeks of balm and ointments on his open sores and multiple scabs before they could even think about shaving his beard or cutting his hair. How could anyone in such a sorry state go around the county with Jesus. He required loving nursing and caring from his family and friends. Then he could go out and tell people about what had happened.
The last verse informs us that this man travelled virtually the entire country of Judaea and Samaria (Decapolis) right over to the far side of Israel deep into the desert regions of what we now call Jordan. When we realise that Decapolis is the ten major cities of northern and central Israel, did anyone else travel so extensively preaching the word?
Within an hour Jesus was raising Jairus’ daughter from the dead, and as a “dense crowd ...thronged Him on all sides”– in Weymouths translation, the woman with the issue of blood was healed when she touched the hem of His garment in total faith that she would be healed. He then send the apostles out two by two around the country. This busy day was no place for a man in dire need of convalescence.
He eventually set out for the towns and innumerable villages of this region of the Holy Land “And he went his way, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him; and all men did marvel”.
Those of us who have been delivered from demons and entities by the authority of Jesus, especially those of us from scores, even hundreds want to tell everyone we know, in particular those who knew our darkest days, that we are now in our right mind thanks to Jesus alone, the voices gone, the torment gone, the misery gone.
It was not an accident that Jesus met the dear woman at the well, He knew her tragic backstory, as he did that of this dear man. He knew they had hearts after God but circumstances were agin’ them from the start. Jesus ‘happened’ to be at the well at noon. He also ‘happened’ to tell the apostles to land the boat at this desolate spot on the shore of Galilee where the tombs were, when He knew there were many thousands waiting to hear Him preach and heal in nearby villages further along the shore.
We can be sure this man convalesced and healed and grew deep in God in the quietness of his home before he went out around Decapolis proclaiming the great things Jesus had done for him.