The other morning I read Luke 8:26-39 and I saw something I’ve never seen before—seriously, it hit me right in the face and I was both challenged AND convicted at the same time…work with me here…
In Luke 8:26-28 we have a pretty unusual scene—here Jesus sails into a region and is basically met by a demon possessed nude dude who is running around and screaming at Him. (And you thought the people in your church were weird?)
So, after a brief conversation (Luke 8:29-30) Jesus takes care of the serious ministry issue that is before Him. (Don’t you just love the fact that in Luke 8:31-32 the Bible said that the demons had to actually get permission from Jesus to act—just in case you might be wondering—HE IS SOVEREIGN!)
So…the demons from the nude dude go into the pigs…and they all freak out and run down a hill into water and drown! (Luke 8:33)
The people watching the herd of pigs freaked out (I would have to) and ran and told the city what had taken place. (They were probably tested from drugs on the spot as well.) After they passed their drug test the people all figured that they might need to go out and check things out…and when they got there they saw the guy formerly known as “demon possessed nude dude” sitting at the feet of Jesus in his right mind. (Luke 8:34-36)
From here TWO pretty unbelievable things take place…
#1 - The people ask Jesus to leave!
Every time I read this story it blows me away that in Luke 8:37 the people ask Jesus to get back in the boat and leave. WHAT THE HECK IS THAT? This passage had always pretty much confused me until I recently discovered that pig herding was a MAJOR source of revenue in that area. In other words—these people knew that if Jesus stayed around long enough that it was going to effect their $$$ - so rather than be in awe of the fact that something incredible had just happened they allowed financial fears to forfeit any possibility of Jesus doing additional work in their midst.
#2 - Jesus refused to “disciple” someone!
This one blew my mind—Luke 8:38-39 distinctly say that Jesus refused to allow the former nude dude to get into the boat with Him. Instead Scripture says that He told him, “Actually, what I want you to do is go tell everyone how much God has done for you.” And then Jesus left him…
WAIT…what about Bible study? What about giving him a list of rules and regulations? What about DISCIPLESHIP? Seriously—who in the heck does Jesus think He is, cleansing someone and then not taking him through detox? What was Jesus thinking?
I think all too often we get our views on discipleship from people who have a desire to teach people to think just like them rather than from Christ. (By the way—if ANYONE is an authority on the subject of discipleship…I would pretty much say it’s Jesus!) AND…I am not saying that learning Scripture and Christian community are not important; in fact, I would argue that BOTH are essential.
However, it is clear in this text (and in many others) that a MAJOR part of the discipleship process is actually being INVOLVED in ministry, going and doing something—telling others what God has done for you. Jesus challenged the former nude dude to go beyond himself—to go back to the people he had once frightened and tell them how good God was.
All too often as Christians we believe discipleship is a time where we focus on ourselves—but Jesus’ words in Matthew 22:36-40 align with this text we just covered so well—discipleship is about loving God first…AND OTHERS next. Once this guy discovered who Jesus was he was sent out immediately to tell others about Him…
Discipleship isn’t just about information…but rather application. All this guy knew was who he used to be and how that changed once he met Jesus…and Jesus, for some reason, thought that his conversion experience was sufficient to fulfill what would eventually become known as the Great Commission. I would argue that Jesus discipled this guy by challenging him to GO…and that this dude learned as much by telling his story as he did by reflecting on it.
Just a few thoughts I had on a story I read. :-)