Now the man out of whom the devils were departed sought him that he might be with him: but Jesus sent him away, saying,…
The words of this refusal seem to suggest to us its cause; for instead of staying with Him, our Lord bade the lately possessed man go home to his friends, and tell them the great things which God had done for him. And in giving him this charge He did two things.
1. He thus in mercy provided that they who in their blindness had besought Him to leave them, and who would not, like the dwellers in Judea, have other opportunities of hearing Him, should still be reached by His blessed gospel: and so this instance stands alone. For whereas in other cases He ordered those He healed to tell no man, here, on the contrary, He sent away the healed man, charged by Himself to deliver this message of mercy.
2. He hereby calmed the fears of the restored demoniac. He bade him believe that in labouring thus for Him, in declaring His name, in blessing others, he should find that presence, and so that safeguard from evil, for which his soul craved. He answered the fears of his heart, and told him that whilst he laboured for his brethren, he should himself be safe from the assault of those mysterious powers he dreaded. The very charge was a promise. He was a monument of mercy — he should be kept as one: he longed to be in his Deliverer's presence — he should be so: after another manner, indeed, from that for which he asked, but yet most truly, most closely, yea, perpetually; wherever there was another to whom he could testify, wherever there was a tormented body, or a vexed spirit, there he might find anew his own Deliverer in bearing witness to His power. And these are our lessons. With every heart which the Saviour hath set free He has left this charge: " Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee." Into all social life this light penetrates. Every man is to be to those around him a living preacher of the power of the Redeemer; he is to walk amongst his fellows as a witness for Christ. From him, too, the powers of evil have been banished; for him life wears another countenance; he is no longer, if he lives, as he may, under the renewing influences of the Holy Ghost, the slave of dark, or sensual, or furious, or earthly spirits. Silently it may be — meekly and unobtrusively it must be, but yet most truly — he is to bear witness to that mighty Deliverer, who found him out in his extremity, and broke the fetters which had bound his spirit. True Christian men in their own station do raise the tone of life round them: in a thousand little instances which are occurring daily, they are bearing a witness for truth, for sincerity, for reality, for purity, for meekness, for self-denial, for a spiritual life — which is not lost. For so it is that, most secretly, society is leavened for good or for evil.
II. And if this is our first lesson, our second lies close beside it. It is, that our own safety must consist in thus working for Christ. Even as from the recovered demoniac, so from us also, the powers of evil are to be kept off in our active fulfilment of our own charge. If these, then, are our lessons from our Saviour's charge to this delivered man, let us gather them up into two strictly practical conclusions. And, first, let us see what a serious thing life is, even in its smallest parts. But it is a serious thing to live; serious both to ourselves and to others. To others, because all our life has its influence on them; because if we live unchristian lives, we throw away a ministry of mercy which might have saved some of them; because the very lowest of us cannot waste his own life and not injure other men; because we cannot be untrue to ourselves without being untrue to them. Let this, then, be our first conclusion, that it is a serious thing to live; and then we shall find encouragement as well as true instruction in this, as our second, that the sense of our redemption is to be the great foundation truth of all our life. We must have faith in this if we would know our charge, or in the least fulfil it. We must believe that we have been redeemed: we must have felt that He has indeed redeemed us from sin and its powers, from guilt and misery, or we cannot love Him as our Deliverer; cannot thankfully receive His easy yoke; and cannot witness of this truth to others. This is the great foundation of a true and earnest life: our hearts must yearn after Him; must pray that we may be with Him; must fear to be parted from Him; must long to live in His presence, finding it shelter, and safety, and peace; and then He will manifest Himself unto us.
(Bp. Samuel Wilberforce.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Now the man out of whom the devils were departed besought him that he might be with him: but Jesus sent him away, saying,