Sermon for Luke 8:26-39 - It
Doesn't Have To Be This Way
- The Healing of the Demon-possessed Man (the Gerasene Demoniac)
The noted author, John Killinger, tells a powerful story about a man who is
all-alone in a hotel room in Canada. The man is in a state of deep depression.
He is so depressed that he can't even bring himself to go downstairs to the
restaurant to eat.
He is a powerful man usually the chairman of a large shipping company but at
this moment, he is absolutely overwhelmed by the pressures and demands of life…
and he lies there on a lonely hotel bed far from home wallowing in self-pity.
All of his life, he has been fastidious, worrying about everything, anxious and
fretful, always fussing and stewing over every detail. And now, at mid-life, his
anxiety has gotten the best of him, even to the extent that it is difficult for
him to sleep and to eat.
He worries and broods and agonizes about everything, his business, his
investments, his decisions, his family, his health, even, his dogs. Then, on
this day in this Canadian hotel, he craters. He hits bottom. Filled with
anxiety, completely immobilized, paralyzed by his emotional despair, unable to
leave his room, lying on his bed, he moans out loud: "Life isn't worth living
this way, I wish I were dead!"
And then, he wonders, what God would think if he heard him talking this way.
Speaking aloud again he says, "God, it's a joke, isn't it? Life is nothing but a
joke." Suddenly, it occurs to the man that this is the first time he's talked to
God since he was a little boy. He is silent for a moment and then he begins to
pray. He describes it like this: "I just talked out loud about what a mess my
life was in and how tired I was and how much I wanted things to be different in
my life. And you know what happened next? A voice!! I heard a voice say, ‘It
doesn't have to be that way!' That's all."
He went home and talked to his wife about what happened. He talked to his
brother who is a minister and asked him: "Do you think it was God speaking to
me?" The brother said: "Of course, because that is the message of God to you and
everyone of us. That's the message of the Bible. That's why Jesus Christ came
into the world to save us, to deliver us, to free us, to change us and to show
us that ‘It doesn't have to be that way.' A few days later, the man called his
brother and said, "You were right. It has really happened. I've done it. I've
had a rebirth. I'm a new man. Christ has turned it around for me."
Well, the man is still prone to anxiety. He still has to work hard. But, now he
has a source of strength. During the week, he often leaves his work-desk and
goes to the church near his office. He sits there and prays. He says: "It clears
my head. It reminds me of who I am and whose I am. Each time as I sit there in
the Sanctuary, I think back to that day in that hotel room in Canada and how
depressed and lonely and lost I felt and I hear that voice saying: It doesn't
have to be that way.'"
That is precisely what this story is all about. Christ walks into the tormented
life of the Gerasene demoniac, this madman, whose life is coming apart at the
seams and He turns it around for him. He gives him a new beginning, a new start,
a new birth. At the beginning of the narrative, it sounds like a horror-story.
This wild-eyed, adrenalin-filled, madman comes running and shrieking out of the
tomb. He is so unbalanced! He is convinced that he is being held captive by a
whole legion of demons, who are pulling and jerking him in every direction.
This is an eerie, grim, suspenseful, frightening situation. Jesus and His
disciples have just come through a storm on the Sea of Galilee. It is nighttime
and having survived that frightening storm they are thrilled to now set foot on
solid ground. But, as they get out of the boat, they encounter a different kind
of storm... yet another scary experience. They hear strange sounds coming from
the tombs… shrieks, growls, screams, moans, the rattling of chains. Then,
suddenly, a horrifying sight. A madman with tattered clothes, bruised, dirty,
bloody and battered with pieces of chains dangling from his arms and ankles,
comes running and screaming directly toward them!
Now, let me ask you something: "What would you have done in that situation?"
This was a perilous place, a bloodcurdling moment… a powerful, dangerous,
berserk man, charging them. I think I would have run for my life... or jumped
back in the boat.
But not Jesus! Jesus stood His ground and faced the madman. Undaunted,
unafraid... Jesus stood there and dealt with this wild man. Jesus healed him. He
brought peace to his troubled soul. He changed him. He cleansed him. He turned
his life around… and you know (don't you?) that He can do that for you.
Now, let me underscore this and spell it out a bit more by lifting three ideas
out of this great story...
You Don't Have to Be at War with Yourself
You Don't Have to Be at War with Other People
You Don't Have to Be at War with God
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