In Chapter 5 of Mark we read the account of the wonderful deliverance of the demoniac of Gadara. But, what is even more astounding is the reaction of the people of that city. They came out to him, stopped him and implored him to depart from them; they did not want him in their midst, and made it very clear.
Mat 8:34 And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw him, they besought him that he would depart out of their coasts.
Mar 5:14 And they that fed the swine fled, and told it in the city, and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that was done.
Mar 5:15 And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid.
Mar 5:16 And they that saw it told them how it befell to him that was possessed with the devil, and also concerning the swine.
Mar 5:17 And they began to pray him to depart out of their coasts.
Luk 8:37 Then the whole multitude of the country of the Gadarenes round about besought him to depart from them; for they were taken with great fear: and he went up into the ship, and returned back again.
Partly from awe of one with such power; partly, perhaps, from fear of loss of more property. The Lord, bidden to depart, never returned. In this fact is a significant lesson. Mark tells us that the healed demoniac became a preacher of Christ in his own country.
So, what did Jesus do? He did not argue with them, he did not force himself on them, he did not ask his disciples to fight for his right to continue into the city. He did not give them any rebuke or prophecy doom upon them; he simply left.
Christ does not stay where he is not wanted. He never visited the country of the Gadarenes again.
Have you ever been in a situation where you knew someone didn't want to do something for you, and you could plainly see it? When this happens to me, I never go back there. I do not want anyone doing something for me they don't want to do. I don't need them, I'll find another way, or go without. I feel the same way about someone doing something for me, and then never letting me forget it; I won't allow someone to have that kind of leverage over me. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me; not what someone else can use against me.
Did the Lord get any better treatment from the religious folks? No.
Mar 6:1 And he went out from thence, and came into his own country; and his disciples follow him.
Mar 6:2 And when the sabbath day was come, he began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands?
Mar 6:3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.
Mar 6:4 But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.
Mar 6:5 And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them.
Mar 6:6 And he marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching.
After this, what did Jesus teach his disciples to do when they went from place to place witnessing?
Mat 10:13 And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you.
Mat 10:14 And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.
Mar 6:10 And he said unto them, In what place soever ye enter into an house, there abide till ye depart from that place.
Mar 6:11 And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.
We see in these passages that his conduct in the city of Gadara is consistent with his teaching the disciples. It is no different today, as it was in the days of Christ walking this earth. There are prices to pay for being His disciple, and his servant; whether we like it or not.
Paul and Barnabas also were treated in the same manner:
Act 13:49 And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region.
Act 13:50 But the Jews stirred up the devout and honourable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts.
Act 13:51 But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto Iconium.
I did not write these passages; but if I’m to claim to be a follower of Christ, I’m to believe them and accept them. Otherwise, I’m just another double-tongued phony.
In today’s culture any disciple of Christ, and any minister of His gospel can expect these kinds of persecutions, if we dare to speak up and be counted in our communities against sin of any nature.
If you continue to simply tell them what their itching ears want to hear every Sunday, that God loves them, and never say anything but positive, uplifting messages, you will be successful. Just continue to provide a sympathetic smile, listen to their woes (which many times are a result of their life of sin), provide a never-ending supply of social activities geared to entertain and amuse, and be on-call at any time of day or night for every emergency; and only give counsel that consoles, but never any correction.
- If you refuse to agree to marry two homosexuals, and dare to warn them that their life of sin will lead them to hell, unless they repent; you can expect an uproar in the community of hatred, and possible violence. It has gotten that bad.
- If two people in your congregation are living together outside of marriage, and when they try to justify themselves, you give them scripture to tell them they are wrong, and need to get their lives straightened out before the Lord. They leave, and you become the enemy.
- If you refuse to listen to slander and gossip, and instead implore those doing this to honestly pray for those they are verbally assassinating, it gets turned on you; and you become the target.
- If a pastor is found to be having an affair with a woman in his church, and it is discovered; exposing it can cause it to backfire completely on you, especially if he is idolized by those in the congregation. They will “circle the wagons”, and turn on you, and you could find yourself blackballed in the entire area.
- A husband is running around on his wife, but sitting in the pew every Sunday; if someone has the courage to confront this man, and make him be accountable for his sin, the potential for violence and physical harm to the wife is very real.
- You try to give biblical guidance when someone’s teenager is acting up, getting into trouble, and they can’t handle him/her anymore, but won’t be honest about what needs to be done. Often you will be accused of hating kid’s if you point to what the bible says needs to be done; and few pastor’s or leaders will use the instruction in the bible anymore, and the results can be seen every day on the news.
These are a few examples, and only the tip of the iceberg. As society continues to deteriorate, and morality and the authority of the word of God is undermined by those who only use it for personal gain, it will become more and more difficult to preach or teach the bible without compromise. Noah only had 8 other’s, his own family, get in the boat the day it started to rain; and we are living in those days again now.
The pastor’s are not alone in being in the cross-fire of these situations, any member of the church who desires to live a righteous life, and truly follow the Lord, will be in the middle of these battles as well. Sadly, becoming another statistic of the outcome.
Long ago, I made up my mind who I was going to live for, and die for; Jesus Christ. That has not changed.
When rejection comes, He gives us clear guidance in these passages; and it gives confidence and assurance to those of us who must endure it in our situations.
With Paul, I stand on his premise:
2Ti 4:1 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;
2Ti 4:2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
2Ti 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
2Ti 4:4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
2Ti 4:5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.
This may mean I continue to proclaim the truth of the gospel of Christ on a street corner, in a barn, under a shade tree, in a jail cell. My trust is in my God, I follow Him; whatever the outcome.
In the end; the righteous win. It’s not over, till it’s over.