The quiet ending in these last three verses of the Gerasene demoniac’s story are as fascinating as the dramatic plot in the first seventeen. The man Jesus heals is begging to stay with this Great Physician. This healed man, now in his right mind, is understandably concerned about his future. What could he possibly say to the people who bound him with chains and condemned him to live in the cemetery? Maybe he was married. Would his spouse take him back? If he had children, would they call him Daddy again? Would the neighbors always hide when they saw him in the distance? Would they ever believe that he was completely healed? This man is ready to follow Jesus without looking back. There’s room in the boat. He said his goodbyes long ago.
Maybe Jesus ponders this situation too. If this Gentile man returned with him, would that complicate his immediate work and mission? How continually discouraging would it be for the man to find himself surrounded by crowds who did not accept him? Jesus has a better ending for his story: Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and what mercy he has shown you (v. 19). Jesus sends him home with a new purpose, and the man embraces it. He tells everyone how Jesus put his life back together. Mark’s Gospel adds that all who hear his message are amazed.
Three Gospels include this story because it offers more than an account of how one person got well. It makes clear that the love strong enough to redeem a person must be shared. New life is a communal gift. To know God’s love is to spend our lives loving others.
How do you share the grace you receive?
God, make me an instrument of your peace, and your love, and your hope, and your joy. Amen.