What it is about the name of Jesus that offends so many?
Just who is this Man?
He is the centerpiece of world history and His existence in history is believed by any one intellectually honest. Today I’d like to ask you the question, just as Jesus asked Peter, “but who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15) When we look at the Jesus that the Bible portrays we have a very different idea than generally floats around in the imaginations of men’s minds. In fact He is quite confrontational and not even close to what most believe. He forced people to make decisions about who He was. He saw into the hearts of people and challenged them and engaged them in their sin.
If we face the reality of what Jesus said we are forced to decide if He is the Lord. He makes it clear and He declares loudly that He has power and that He has authority to do things that are incomprehensible. I want to look at one encounter that will simply challenge us as to who He really claims to be and two very different reactions. These reactions are no different than what we still see today.
And when He had come out of the boat, immediately there met Him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no one could bind him, not even with chains, because he had often been bound with shackles and chains…
When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped Him. And he cried out with a loud voice and said, “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God that You do not torment me.” – Mark 5:2-7
What a remarkable set of circumstances we see before us. A man so strong and powerful that he can break chains and shackles and we are about to see the Lord Jesus Christ break this man’s bondage to the one that possesses his soul. The man runs to Christ and worships Him. He falls to his face and recognizes He is the Son of God and commits himself unto Christ’s power not to torment him. Even the demons believe and tremble says James (James 2:19) and here we see it. We see a recognition of who Jesus is by the demons that have complete control over this man.
Then Jesus cast’s out the demons into a herd of swine and the swine cast themselves into the sea. The account tells us that over 2000 pigs went to their untimely death. Have you ever considered why the man never threw himself over the cliff but by the Providence of God to keep him alive that the Lord might save his life and more importantly his soul. Consider today how often God has preserved you. Consider if He can use you for His eternal purposes and how do you respond to your circumstances? We will see that there are two reactions to Jesus.
Then they came to Jesus, and saw the one who had been demon-possessed and had the legion, sitting and clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. And those who saw it told them how it happened to him who had been demon-possessed, and about the swine. Then they began to plead with Him to depart from their region.
And when He got into the boat he who had been demon-possessed begged Him that he might be with Him. However, Jesus did not permit him, but said to him, “Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you.” And he departed and began to proclaim in Decapolis all that Jesus had done for him; and all marveled. – Mark 5:17-20
How do you respond to the Lord Jesus Christ? Have you seen Him work in those that you know? Have you seen radical changes in the life of people that you are near or that you are aware of? Obviously the people of this region knew of this man and the chaos he had caused. They knew he was trouble, because they had attempted to bind him. Somehow he ended up in the caves and was mostly leaving them alone, but then Jesus comes on the scene. The story was told, and they were afraid. They saw the power of God and had to acknowledge it; but yet wouldn’t submit to Him, why?
Because it cost them something. It cost them their livelihood, and it caused a financial burden in their life. Isn’t this so often the case, isn’t it true that where your treasure is there your heart will be also? (Matthew 6:21) And these were pigs non-the-less, a filthy, dirty animal. A representation of everything that was wrong with the Gentiles. They were unclean by definition. But were they incapable, or out of the reach of the Lord? Of course not but they were unwilling. They loved their mire more than they valued the One that could save them from their sin. How often do you turn back to the vomit (Proverbs 26:11) when far greater things await you?
Then we see the demoniac’s response. He begged to be with Him. Is this your response? Do you beg to be with Him and beseech Him? What a difference in the responses. One group begs Him to leave the other begs Him to bring him along. What is important to you this day? Is it to be with Jesus or would you rather He go away? Many will say, “well, of course, we desire to be with Him” but do you? How do you show that?
We see our demon-possessed man show how much he now loves Jesus, because he begins to tell people about the great things done for him. Can I ask you a question? When is the last time you told someone of the great things that Jesus has done for you? Do you immediately depart and proclaim the good news? Because Jesus tells us that many will say they did great things in His name and He says that if you practice lawlessness He never really knew you at all. Jesus did not offer this man’s request, He issued him a command and this command has not been lifted and it applies to us today. So let me ask you another question, will you obey His commands? Will you tell others about the great things the Lord has done for you?
One of the reasons many don’t like the name of Jesus, is that He makes demands on our lives, and quite honestly we just don’t like it. Do you know Him, are you willing?