Why is it that we are so reluctant to rescue outsiders? Everyone loves a good rescue mission! Do you know what makes a good rescue mission? There’s always resistance (something to rescue people from), people are always out of reach (or else they wouldn’t need rescuing), and there’s always a story to retell afterward.
God Loves Outsiders
Our True Treasure
Why We're Reluctant to Rescue Outsiders
Warming Cold Hearts
Forgiven Much, Loves Much
Jesus Came to Bring the Outsiders In
How are we doing, Watermark? I'm excited to be back in this series, The Outsiders, with you. I know it looks like an aisle at Target behind me. This is the scene people who were seeking some children, the Wild Boars soccer team… This is what they walked up on: thirteen bikes sitting outside a cave. I don't know if you've followed the story. If you haven't, welcome to reality. It has been worldwide news the last several weeks.
This Wild Boars soccer team in Thailand, kind of as a rite of passage, went into a cave with their 25-year-old soccer coach. It was 12 boys ages 11 to 16. They go in, and it's rainy season there, so torrential downpour occurs. Flash flooding happens. The cave floods and pushes them farther back and farther back and farther back until they're two and a half miles in this cave, huddled up on a rock. Here's a picture of the boys in the cave.
They were in there for nine days, huddled up on that rock with no food. Their flashlight goes out. It's completely pitch black. They're too scared to be scared. You can imagine, or can you even imagine? You're looking for them. Imagine if one of those is my son Weston's bike. Could you imagine if it was one of your children's bikes sitting outside the cave, symbolizing they're in there somewhere. What are we going to do to get them out? Answer: anything we can do.
People came together from all over the world, thinking, "Hey, we'll dive in." There's a strong current in this cave. Could you imagine the first person surfacing? It was a British diver. The boys are there. They've been in there now for nine days. They're hungry. Day one you're hopeful. Day two you're hungry. Day three you've given up all hope. Day four, day five, day six… Then on day nine there are some bubbles coming up out of the water, and this man surfaces. He says, "I've come for you. We're going to get you guys out somehow."
Then the rescue mission ensues, and everybody wants in on that. They're getting people from all over the world, saying, "Hey, we'll help. Hey, I'm a trained diver. Hey, here's something I can do." Even Elon Musk, Mr. Tesla, is like, "Hey, I'll build a submarine somehow to get these guys out." There's an opening in the cave that's only 15 inches they had to crawl through. That's a little bit bigger than a foot that these scuba divers have to go through with their tanks and everything.
Many of the boys couldn't swim. None of them knew how to scuba dive. Terrified. We watch on. You maybe heard Tuesday they all got out. Praise God. All alive. We watch on just because we love this idea of rescuing. We love stories of people being rescued. This is the plot played out in many movies: two forces fighting each other, one good, to rescue someone in distress. These are the things we watch. These are the things we love.
But it seems really different when we're talking about rescuing someone from hell. If you told me, "Hey, JP, there's somebody trapped or stranded in this creek next door right across the street from here; they need your help," I'm stepping down from here. I'm doing everything I can to save them, yet I see people who are headed for hell all the time, and I do nothing. Why? If there was someone caught stranded in the lake, someone in need of help, someone in danger…
They've fallen in a well, they're trapped under a car, anything, any kind of stuck situation. I have no doubt you will use everything at your disposal to go and help them, being a great follower of Christ. "Whatever is mine, whatever would help save that life, I'm all in." Yet we see people stuck outside the faith all the time, and we do very little about it. Maybe you're here and you're like, "Is that true? Do we really not do much about it? How are we doing as a body?"
Here's a graph. We asked this question in our annual survey of you. It says, "In the past year, how often have you shared your faith with someone who is far from God?" I want you to focus in on that 9 percent number, because 9 percent said "Once a week or more." Here's what that means: 91 percent of us talk about Jesus with someone less than once a week. That is not a normal, common practice for us.
Today we're going to see Jesus rescuing an outsider. What I want to talk about from this text in Luke, chapter 8, is asking the question…Why are we reluctant to rescue the outsiders? Just as a quick recap, week one we were in Luke, chapter 5. We talked about how Jesus came to bring the outsiders in. In Luke, chapter 7, Adam talked last week about warming our hearts to outsiders. Today we're in Luke, chapter 8, talking about why we are reluctant to reach them as we look at Jesus' interactions with outsiders.
This is an unbelievable story, an incredible showdown of Jesus against evil forces, a man under the influence of 2,000 demons, and Jesus says, "Hey, we need to go across the lake to get this guy." Now this guy, to paint the picture, is naked. He's chained up. He has been breaking chains. He's cutting himself with rocks and shards of glass. He's screaming out. People are terrified. Mark tells us they will go out of their way to avoid him.
This story shows up in Luke. It shows up also in Matthew and Mark. We have a lot of context to paint the picture of what this showdown actually looks like as Jesus comes face-to-face with a human being under the influence of 2,000 demonic forces. Luke goes to great lengths to show you that Jesus is reversing the curse. He's reversing the work of the Enemy. First John 3:8 says, "The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work."
Luke wrote this gospel to a Greek audience, showing you that Jesus is destroying the Devil's work. Everywhere he goes he's reversing the curse. It's like this. If I was holding a glass vase and I dropped it and it hit the stage and shattered and shards of glass shot out everywhere, that's like what happened in the fall in Genesis, chapter 3. As Jesus shows up on the scene, everywhere he walks it would be like if in slow motion you could watch that glass vase coming back together and becoming whole again.
He's reversing disease. He's reversing death. He's reversing disaster, as in natural disaster. Here you see him coming face-to-face, dealing with demonic forces. Let's dive in. Luke, chapter 8, verse 26: "They sailed to the region of the Gerasenes, which is across the lake from Galilee." This starts off mid-story, but what happens before this? There's something that occurs in the text right before here where it says they were sailing across the lake.
They were already on the lake, and it's the story of a storm. If you've been in church long, you've heard this story. It's where Jesus calms the storm. I'll read it to you in verse 22. "One day Jesus said to his disciples, 'Let us go over to the other side of the lake.'" Why did he say that? Because he knew there was a man possessed by 2,000 demons, and he said, "I have to go see this one. I have work to do. Boys, let's go. Load up. Get in the boat. We have work to do."
I think Jesus woke up thinking about this guy. This guy was on his heart. He's like, "Man, there's a man in trouble, and he's going to be a means to me to advance the gospel." So Jesus goes to rescue him. It says, "So they got into a boat and set out. As they sailed, [Jesus] fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger. The disciples went and woke him, saying, 'Master, Master, we're going to drown!'"
What? These were professional fishermen. They grew up on that lake. They had sailed to and fro, been all over that lake. They knew it like the back of their hand, and now they're in the middle of the lake. Jesus is sleeping. They're afraid for their lives. This was no normal storm. Where did this storm come from? They're sailing across the lake, Jesus is sleeping, and all of a sudden there are waves so great these fishermen are afraid they're going to die.
" [Jesus] got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm." He says, "Where is your faith?" What did he rebuke? I don't know if you've ever thought about this. I hadn't thought much about this until I was reading commentaries this week. I believe this was Satan's effort to deter the Son of God from going to save this man's life. One theologian said there is broad consensus among New Testament scholars that the source of this storm is demonic.
It's like Satan is watching and is like, "Oh man, not the Gerasene demoniac. That's my boy. That's where 2,000 of my guys are playing with this man. Don't go after him. Oh, perfect. Jesus is sleeping. Send the storm. Let's see if we can take him out." Luke presents the struggle, but there's not really much of a struggle. More about that later. We're talking about why we're reluctant to rescue outsiders.
1._ There's always resistance_. Why is there always resistance? Because you're battling the second strongest force in the world. What does the Enemy hate more than anything? Someone coming to the faith, someone trusting their life to Jesus Christ. Have you ever thought about this? Whenever you go to share your faith, evangelize, share the gospel with someone, you are coming against the work of the Enemy. He hates that.
So if you struggle in that, if it feels hard, if it doesn't seem like it's going well, that's exactly the way it's supposed to feel in this fallen world where Satan is the Prince of this air or the god of this world. It's hard. It's difficult. Satan is real, and he hates anyone telling the story of Jesus defeating him on the cross. He hates it. We think we're afraid someone is going to be uncomfortable when we share our faith. We think they might be offended. When you share your faith, the Devil is offended. Satan is offended.
Here's my encouragement to you: just because it's work doesn't mean it's wrong. Just because it's difficult doesn't mean it's not obedience. This is what the Scriptures call us to do. If it's hard, it's supposed to be. It's supposed to be hard. Imagine this. You're looking at this cave. You have these 12 boys and their 25-year-old soccer coach in it. You bring in some cave expert. He knows, "There's a 15-inch opening a couple of miles in there. I don't know where those guys are. It's flooded. This is going to be really hard."
"What? It's going to be really hard? Let's not do it then. Let them die. We can't get them out. How are we going to get them out? I don't know. Leave them in there. They shouldn't have gone in there in the first place." That's not anybody's attitude. "There are people inside? Let's go get them out." In fact, one former Thai Navy SEAL gave his life trying to save these boys. He died in the process.
The difficulty for us is it's going to be uncomfortable. "It's going to be awkward. They might think less of me. I don't know how they're going to respond." This is the challenge for us. Don't think the Enemy is not playing around in that narrative too. He doesn't want you to share your faith.
This week I've been teaching in Cedar Hill every night. There's a camp down there in Cedar Hill. Every night I've been driving down there. It's about 1,300 seventh through twelfth graders. This was a really bad week for this to land on. It kind of snuck up on me, because I was teaching this weekend. As I went down there, Monday night… That was the first night I was going to teach. Monday early morning or late Sunday night I got the stomach bug, so I was up all night with this stomach bug. It was a terrible thing.
Then Tuesday came around, and with Tuesday… This is weird, but I had the most vivid dream that night. I mean, way out of the ordinary. Just vivid, terrible, bad dream that I woke up and I just remembered in the greatest detail. It sat on me like a fog. Every meeting I was in that day, every time I went to prepare, I just kept thinking about that dream.
On Wednesday I hit really bad traffic going down there. I was running late, had this crazy day. Thursday it started raining, so that also created some traffic. It was a really difficult day. I had no time to work on the message I needed to give down there, and then on top of everything I lost my voice that night. This camp is a Baptist camp. They had asked me to do an altar call, which is not something I do very often, so I'm a little uncomfortable doing that.
I'm preaching this message that is weak in the fact that it's given by a weak communicator at the moment. At the end of this message, I just say… It's just me sharing the gospel every way I know how. I said, "Hey, does anybody want to give their life to Jesus Christ, to believe in this moment that he died for your sins and that God raised him from the dead and that you're saved by that? If you would like to trust in that now, I want you to raise your hand." About 400 hands went up.
I was like, "Man, they must be misunderstanding me." I'm like, "No, if when you came in here you were not following Jesus but now you say, 'Hey, I want to follow Jesus with my life. I believe he has paid for my sins. When I came into the room I wasn't going to heaven, but now I'm going to heaven,' I want you to stand up," and hundreds of these students stood up. Now I'm trying to talk them out.
I'm like, "No, no, no. Don't let me manipulate you. I'm speaking, I know I'm passionate, but hold on. If you really want to give your life to Jesus, then come forward," and there are these traffic jams in the aisles of all of these kids moving. I got emotional just watching it. I'd never seen a work of God like that in a moment. I'm like, "What is going on?" I'm like, "Oh! That's why it has been such a difficult week. I get it now."
Let me be abundantly clear. I'm not a "Satan is behind every bush" guy, and you shouldn't be either. "Greater is he who is in you than the one who's in the world." I know that. First John 4:4. I get that. I can't tell you with any level of certainty what the Enemy was doing. I don't know. I can't see his work always, but I am certain that wasn't the outcome he was going for and that's the outcome he is adamantly working against.
I'm not going to go a whole lot farther on that, but I'll give you two resources you can write down. Real Truth. Real Quick. There's one called Can Satan Be Bound? and another one called How Much Power Does Satan Have? Those are two great resources for you to check out later. Verse 27:
"When Jesus stepped ashore, he was met by a demon-possessed man from the town. For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, 'What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don't torture me!'"
It's interesting, because when the storm hit earlier… Satan is bringing back all his powers against Jesus, trying to stop him. Jesus wakes up. "Hush." And it's still. The Force is strong with this one. This is crazy. "Hush." Still. The guys are freaked out. They're like, "Who is this guy?" The disciples don't know who he is. They're like, "Who is this man, that the wind and waves obey him?" Here, they just learned who he is. Do you know who told them? A demon. There's a good quiz answer for you. How did the disciples learn Jesus was the Son of God? A demon told them.
"For Jesus had commanded the impure spirit to come out of the man. Many times it had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and had been driven by the demon into solitary places." This guy is under guard. Could you imagine that job? Like, you're some rookie Roman soldier, and you're like, "All right. What's my assignment?"
"Well, there's this crazy guy down by the cemetery. We need you to chain him up and watch him day and night. That's your gig. You get to watch crazy Gary." This is before psych wards and insane asylums. So what did they do with this man? In their compassion toward him, they just chained him up at the cemetery. That's what they did with him.
"Jesus asked him, 'What is your name?' 'Legion,' he replied, because many demons had gone into him." A legion is 2,000 Roman soldiers. Satan is using a military term. "There are a lot of us." Luke is presenting the battle: Jesus versus the Devil. But friends, it isn't much of a battle. There's no battle here. We're going to read on. You're going to see this is not much of a battle.
"And they begged Jesus repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss." To a Greek audience, the Abyss was Hades, a place of torment that in their minds sat under the sea. The sea was a place of torment. Hades was below the Abyss. This is where these demons didn't want to go. It says, "A large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside. The demons begged Jesus to let them go into the pigs, and he gave them permission."
Is Jesus struggling here at all? Is he looking at this like, "Oh no! I don't know what to do. There are 2,000 of them." He's like, "Yeah, I guess you can go into the pigs." "When the demons came out of the man, they went into the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned." Here's a random sidenote from me. Anybody else ever picture these pigs jumping off a cliff? That's always what I pictured, doing a swine dive off a cliff.
But when I went to where this happened… Actually, there was a cliff on one side of Galilee. I'm like, "Is that where the pigs and the Gerasene demoniac…?" The guy is like, "No, that's over there." So we go over there where the Gerasene demoniac was. There are no cliffs. There's just a steep bank. I said, "But where are the cliffs the pigs jumped off of? That's what the Bible says. They jumped off the cliffs." It doesn't say that. It says they ran down a steep bank.
That's even crazier in my mind. These pigs just run, scurry as fast as they can into the water, and just keep running. It's a crazy picture. Let's agree this escalated quickly. I mean, this got really bad really fast. So, why are we reluctant to rescue outsiders? Let's agree this guy was in a really bad place before he met Jesus.
2._ We think they're out of reach._ We think they're too far gone. Here's the reality, friends. You've never seen someone this far gone. This takes away all of your excuses for your belligerent boss, your crazy brother, that neighbor who hates the church because they were hurt by the church, your mother-in-law or your sister or your crazy uncle. I mean, you might think your mother-in-law has 2,000 demons, but she probably doesn't.
This guy… There's no struggle here. Jesus is just continuing to move forward and advancing the gospel. It might take you a while. You might run into all kinds of obstacles. I know right about now you're thinking of that person you don't want to share with because family is hard or those close to you are hard. It may take time, but I want to remind you from two weeks ago your role in it. You're faithfully sharing. Patient hope.
Be hopeful of what God desires (not anyone to perish but everyone to come to repentance) and patient in your sharing, not growing frustrated with them, not letting your emotions get in the way of your effectiveness. That first British diver who went into that cave… Can you imagine what he's thinking after he has gone five hours and one mile into the cave and hasn't found them and he's swimming against currents?
At the one-mile mark I would be tempted to say, "Hey, they're not in here, guys. I don't see them. I've seen some places they could have been. They're not here." You go a little bit farther, one and a half miles. You get to two miles. At what point do you give up? How far is he going to go? But then two and a half miles. That's where they were.
I don't know how often you need to share with them, and I don't know when they're going to respond to the gospel, but I know your role is to have patient hope in your sharing. No one is too far gone. It's a misnomer. No one is too far gone. They're either gone or they're not gone. There's no "too far gone." They either have the Holy Spirit or they don't.
What it takes for God to save them is the same all across the board. Is it harder for Jesus to encounter a person with one demon or 2,000 demons? Which one is more work for Jesus? It doesn't seem like it requires much effort from Jesus at all. It may be more work for you. Maybe with one you need to pray and fast and faithfully share. It may be more time for you, but with God it's the same amount of effort regardless. That's who is with you. Jesus is with you.
I think no matter how long we've been in the church, no matter how long we've had a faith, we still, at some subconscious level, subscribe to this idea of dualism, that there's this equal force of good and bad and they're at battle and there's a struggle. There's no struggle here. There's just Jesus marching on, advancing the gospel, plowing through anything the Enemy could throw at him. Satan is begging for permission.
Second Corinthians 4:4 says, "The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." This is who we're fighting when we're sharing our faith, and his tactics are the same today as they were then. This man in bondage is naked. Some commentators say that's an attack on sexuality, which I can see.
The Enemy seems to focus on sexuality. That's an area, a fence he likes to play in. Why would he do that? Why would he go against sex? Because sex is a gift from God. God invented it, and there's a benefit of sex. It's called procreation. In fact, the first great commission is "Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and subdue it." A means to creating converts is having babies and teaching them the gospel and the Bible and God's Word.
I can imagine that Satan would come against that with all the forces he can and try to pervert it and corrupt it. This man is bound and under guard. Satan seeks to make you a slave. People I meet all the time, myself included… There's something we want the freedom to pursue that we begin to pursue, and in our pursuit of it we can't stop pursuing it. We become a slave to it. It could be many things.
It could be alcohol. I want the freedom to drink alcohol. I drink alcohol, I drink alcohol, I drink alcohol, and all of a sudden now I'm so used to it I don't have the freedom not to. It can also be something like work. Man, I want that job so badly. I want that job. I want that job. I get that job. I'm giving my life to this job. I want to make partner. I love my job, I love my job, and now I don't have the freedom to move away from it. It has become a part of my identity.
It could be pornography. It could be money. I want money so badly, and now my heart is wrapped up in it. Materialism, things, stuff, status… It can be good things like children. That which you want the freedom to pursue, all of a sudden you don't have the freedom not to pursue. You've become a slave to it.
This man is bleeding and crying out, Mark 5:5 says. Satan loves when people hurt themselves, cut themselves, wound themselves, afflict themselves. He's isolated and living among the tombs. He seeks to push you out of fellowship. This is why, friends, the elders here care so much about your heart and you being in fellowship with this body. Everything they do is seeking to bring you back into fellowship to this body when you're running away.
The means of church discipline here is to give you a path to restore you to fellowship. Because the Enemy seeks to isolate someone and surround them by death, this is why we have to go rescue them. We have to go seek them out. We have to go faithfully share with them, treating them like an unbeliever or a tax collector, the Scripture says. Loving them and sharing the gospel with them, calling them to repentance.
You say, "Yeah, but, JP, that's Jesus." Yeah, it's Jesus. Do you remember what the Great Commission says? "And lo, I will be with you always, to the very end of the age." This one. That's who you take with you into battle. That's who's with you. I just want to make this abundantly clear. This is not two cage fighters struggling to get each other to tap out. This is knife versus butter.
This is Brock Lesnar versus a cupcake. That's what you're watching here. There's no struggle with Jesus. (Some of you are like, "Who's Brock Lesnar?" Look it up later. The Incredible Hulk, if you will. I don't know.) He's face-to-face with 2,000 demons, and he effortlessly casts them out into pigs, which drown themselves into the place they didn't want to go in the first place. Have you struggled in sharing your faith? It just seems like it's not going anywhere.
A couple of weeks ago I shared with a guy in the gym. We'll call him Pablo. It's not his name. I made it up. He just moved here. We were talking about things. I just said, "Hey, Pablo, do you have a faith?" He said, "Yeah. I believe there's a God." I said, "Let me ask you two questions." It's just what I do. You know, the Kennedy questions, diagnostic questions. "Between 1 and 10, 10 being certain and 1 being not so sure, if you died today, Pablo, how certain are you that you would go to heaven?"
He said, "I'm a 2." I said, "Man, why are you a 2, bro?" He hung his head in shame. He said, "I've done some things, man. I've just done some things." I've heard this before. I have a line for this. I always reference the apostle Paul, because he did some things. He killed people. So I'm like, "Let me ask you a question, Pablo. How many people have you killed?" to which he goes… I'm like, "Whoa, whoa, whoa! Okay. All right, all right. You've done some things. I'm tracking with you now. All right, man. Okay, wow."
I'm just bringing out my best stuff. I'm like, "Okay. Well, let's say I give you a Mavericks ticket. I give you a ticket to the Mavericks game, and you go over to the Mavericks game at the American Airlines Center. They look at you and say, 'Why should we let you in?' What are you going to say?" He said, "I'm going to say, 'Because I have a ticket.'" I said, "That's right. Because you have a ticket. What if they say, 'Well, did you pay for that ticket?' What are you going to say?"
"No, I'm going to tell them it was a gift." I'm like, "That's right. Salvation is a gift. It comes from God. Your ticket into heaven is not what you do; it's what Christ did for you. His death on the cross is a payment for your sins." I'm dropping all my best stuff. He's like, "Man, that is amazing. That's so good. I've never heard that." I'm like, "That's right. So let me ask you again. Between 1 and 10, 10 being certain and 1 being not so sure, if you died today, how certain are you that you'd go to heaven?" He said, "Man, I'm a 2." What?
I come back a week later, because I go about once a week. That's what I do. I'm like, "Hey, what's up, Pablo? How are you doing?" "Good." I said, "Man, between 1 and 10…" He said, "With all due respect, I'm a 2." Gosh, he didn't move. I said, "All right, man. Why are you a 2?" He said, "I told you. I've just done some things." I said, "Pablo, do you know the only thing you can do in hell? That's the alternative. If you don't go to heaven you go to hell. Do you know the only thing you can do in hell?" He said, "No. What?"
I said, "Pay for your sins. That's it. That's all you can do in hell. You pay for your sins there." I said, "Pablo, what I'm trying to tell you is your sins have already been paid for. If I bought you a drink right now and I went and paid them and I gave you this protein shake and you went to the front desk and said, 'Hey, I want to pay for this protein shake,' what are they going to tell you?" He said, "They're going to say it has already been paid for." I'm like, "Pablo, that's what I'm saying. It has already been paid for."
He goes, "Oh man. That's really clear. Okay, I see now." I said, "Let me ask you a question. Between 1 and 10, 10 being certain and 1 being not so sure, if you died…" He said, "Man, I think I'm a 2." I was like, "What? You can't even be a 3? I mean, something? What?" I'm happy to tell you Pablo said he was a 10 the other day. He said he's going to be in. I said, "Why?" He said, "Because Christ paid for my sins on the cross."
Nobody is too far out of reach. There's nobody too far out of reach. Patient hope. There's nobody too far out of reach. The guy who led worship today, that humble, meek character up here with a guitar singing beautiful songs to Jesus? That dude used to be in a gang. His first band was called the 'Shroom Queens. I'm serious. That's who is singing praise songs to Jesus this morning. The guy who does announcements here on Saturday used to pay homeless people to drink with him.
The lady who leads re:generation… Her house used to be under surveillance because of suspicious drug activity. The lady who leads in re|engage, our marriage ministry, used to have two phones, one for her family and one for her adulterous affairs. The guy who keeps this place in order, who walks around and makes sure this place is beautiful and running well, is guilty of grand theft auto, has robbed a bank, and sold 25 pounds of weed to an undercover officer.
That's just our staff. The dude who's speaking to you right now… Cocaine user, women abuser, and altogether loser. God takes Gerasene demoniacs. Who are you losing hope for? God has a plan for them, and he's bigger than whatever situation they're stuck in. Jesus recued me. Jesus rescued us. Verse 34:
"When those tending the pigs saw what had happened, they ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus' feet, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid."
These folks weren't happy they lost 2,000 pigs. "Man, that's great that he's well. Where are the pigs?" It's interesting that when they had to get those boys out of that cave they had to pump out 40 percent of the water, and it drowned the crops there. In an interview, the farmers said it was a privilege to play a role, a part in saving these boys' lives. It's a very different perspective. It's not a main point but it's important to say. You rescuing an outsider is going to cost you something: time, money, comfort, material things.
Verse 36: "Those who had seen it told the people how the demon-possessed man had been cured. Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear. So he got into the boat and left." They're not grateful. They're afraid of change. They were used to the maniac who lived in the tombs who they avoided, and they were used to having their pigs. They didn't like the power Jesus had.
"The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, 'Return home and tell how much God has done for you.' So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him." Guys, let's agree this is crazy what's going on. Could you imagine if you were there? The people who saw it leave. "Guys, you've got to come see this. This is insane. You're not going to believe what happened."
You walk up and look out in the Sea of Galilee. There are 2,000 pigs floating on the Sea of Galilee. You look and you're like, "Gary? Is that you?" He's clothed and in his right mind. He's sitting on a bench with a smile on his face, all dressed. "What's up, Philip? How are you doing, man? How are Linda and the kids? Are you guys doing well?"
"Bro, what happened to you? Where are your chains? You've got clothes on."
"Jesus. Jesus happened to me."
"What happened to the pigs?"
"Jesus. Actually Satan."
So what he wants to do is go with the man who saved him. It's safe there. All of these people are angry. "Let me go with you." Jesus said, "No, I want you to stay. I want you to tell them all that God has done for you." That's what he's saying to you right now. "I want you to go and tell them all the wonderful works God has done for you." So, why are we reluctant to rescue outsiders?
3._ We're reticent to retell the story. _Reticent means inclined to be silent. Retelling the story is the method of the rescuing. It's a historical narrative about Jesus paying the price for the sins and coming back to life. This is the only rescue story we're reticent to retell. Any rescue story, that one time you got that kid out of that tree or that cat out of that tree or whatever was stuck in that tree… You're telling all of your friends everywhere you go.
These boys in Thailand… It's the front-page news in newspapers all over the world. I wanted to show a video of newscasters speaking in a bunch of different languages one after the other after the other, talking about these boys rescued. We love retelling rescue stories…except this one for some reason, that you've been rescued from hell to the greatest place, the greatest being, the greatest God in the world.
For these boys in Thailand, they're throwing a parade, a party, a celebration. It's nothing compared to the celebration that is thrown when someone responds to the gospel of Jesus Christ. There's a party in heaven with the angels and the saints. Luke 15:10 says, "In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents." There's a rescue party.
If you're sitting around and you're like, "Man, I just don't know how to share my faith," just share your story. Just go out there and tell them of all of the wonderful things God has done for you. Do exactly what Jesus asked this guy to say. In Mark 5:20 it says this man went to share in 10 cities all that Jesus had done for him, and the people were amazed, it says. Ten cities were impacted by the salvation of this one guy. Can you imagine who's going to be in his downline?
We're going to see this guy in heaven. We're going to meet him. We're going to go up there or here and meet the Gerasene demoniac. Who's in his downline? You might be in his downline. Could you imagine? In one of those 10 cities this guy shared the gospel in, that person shared with somebody who shared with somebody who shared with somebody who shared with somebody who shared with somebody…who shared with your Sunday school teacher or your dad or the person who shared their faith with you.
The greatest summary of this whole message, better than I could give you, is caught in a quote by C.T. Studd who was successful by all the world's definition. He was an athlete. Then he gave his life to missions, and he said, "Some wish to live within the sound of church or chapel bell; I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell." That's what I want to give my life to. Everybody loves a good rescue mission, but do you know what makes a good rescue mission?
There's always resistance, something to rescue them from; they're always out of reach or else they wouldn't need rescuing; and there's always a story to retell afterward. I woke up Tuesday morning and picked up my phone, and there were two notifications on it, one from CNN and one from Weather.com. They both said these boys had gotten out. I had kind of followed the storyline. I said, "Man, that's good news."
I was just thinking about that. That's good news. I wrote this. I'll just read this. I posted it on Instagram. I said, "Good news. Who doesn't love starting their day with good news? The gospel just means good news or good tidings of Jesus or the good story. Why is the story about Jesus good? Because it is a rescue story about a person trapped with no hope of survival. It is an impossible rescue mission that if fully understood would capture the attention of the world.
Even our most elite soldiers would not be able to accomplish this mission, although the one who would successfully carry it out would give his life. That was the method of the saving. It was an exchange: one perfect life in exchange for the many corrupt lives of sinners. Jesus gave himself for us in order to offer to us all that was available in him. I pray that we would grasp all that we've been saved from today and all that we've been saved to."
We love rescue stories. Many of the movies you'll go to watch, the books you'll read, the news stories that will captivate your heart… They're commercials. They're fragments of a greater rescue story you've been placed in the middle of: God coming to the earth to rescue you. Jesus, the Son of God, endured the wrath of God, God's anger at your sin. Jesus paid an eternal price for your sin, being an eternal God, in a moment on a cross.
Jesus endured all of the sufferings Satan has for you in hell. Consider what Satan, the Enemy, demons did to this man, and then consider what Jesus endured for you. He was naked, publically humiliated. He was bound and under guard. He was bleeding, stabbed in the sides, nails in his hands and feet, whipped, skin torn from his body, bleeding, and crying out…for you. He was isolated, separated from his followers, separated from people who loved him, placed in the tombs, but he didn't just stay among the tombs.
He walked out of the tomb. He defeated death for you so that you might have life, so you can follow him, and he said, "Friends, I want you to go and tell of all of the wonderful things I've done for you." Your bicycle was sitting outside the gates of hell. "Oh no. That's where he is." Jesus said, "I've got this one. I'm not coming back until I've got them. They're going to be with me. I'll endure whatever it takes. I'm going to rescue them." Let me pray for you.
Father, thank you for rescuing us, that you would leave the 99 and come after the one for us; Father, that you're bigger than anything the Enemy could throw at us. You just move swiftly through his fiercest attacks, effortlessly triumphing over him. Father, help us to know that the one who is in us is greater than the one who's in the world. Help us to walk out of here with the confidence and the courage to share the story we've been a part of, the one you've placed us in. We love you, Lord. We worship you now. In Christ's name, amen.
Have you ever felt like an outsider? Like everyone else around you knew someone else and you were all alone? Take heart, Christ came to earth for the outsiders!