Has your past ever held you back from sharing Christ with others? To kick off our new sermon series, Never Be the Same, John Elmore shows us the beauty of showing our wounds to share our Savior.
Jesus in Jericho | Luke 19:1-10
The Cure for Sin
Living a Meaningful Story | Mark 2:13-17
Finding Satisfaction for Your Soul | John 4:4-34
Show Your Wounds to Share Your Savior
Has your past ever held you back from sharing Christ with others? To kick off our new sermon series, Never Be the Same, John Elmore shows us the beauty of showing our wounds to share our Savior.
Good morning, everybody. My name is John Elmore. I serve in pastoral care and re:generation here at the Dallas Campus. Today we kick off a sermon series called Never Be the Same. These are life-changing encounters with Jesus. Never be the same is a really familiar line to me, because it's what we've been using with the re:generation team for the last five or six years, saying that if you meet Jesus or if you walk with Jesus, your life will never be the same. He won't make you better; he'll make you new, and you will never be the same.
So, this is going to be an incredible journey through the Gospels as we see Jesus move in the lives of many, and also in yours, and I can't wait to do it together. You have to know also that we just had Church Leaders Conference about a month ago, and oftentimes, John McGee… He's kind of the visionary and leader of the Church Leaders Conference. Well, all throughout the year, John and I have this ongoing text thread. Late at night, I'll be like, "Hey, what are you thinking about? What has God put on your heart?" Etcetera.
John texts me leading up to CLC, and he's like, "Hey, is there anything you've been thinking about? Anything you're stuck on?" I'm like, "Yeah, dude, totally." He's like, "Cool. What is it?" I'm like, "Thomas." I just see the three dots in the text message. He's like, "Thomas what?" I'm like, "Thomas and the wounds, you know, Jesus. 'I'll never believe unless I see the wounds.'" Dot, dot, dot. He's like, "And?"
He's like, "Hey, look, bro. I'm thinking through the CLC main stage sessions. Can you unpack that a little more for me? Is there anything else there?" And I share with him. He's like, "Oh, now I see." For the last few months, God has had it on my heart and my mind. I can't stop thinking about Thomas. Let me tell you. I'm 45 years old. I don't think, previous to this, I've spent more than 10 seconds ever thinking about Thomas.
He's kind of written off. What do we know Thomas for? "Doubting Thomas." A thousand people just said it in unison 2,000 years after the dude lived. If you lived a life 2,000 years ago and you're known as Doubting Thomas, you missed it. Like, swing and a miss. Colossal mistake. Something erred in a great and grand way if your moniker and nickname… A lot of people in the Bible had nicknames. If yours is "Doubting Thomas," it's like, "Dude, you're on the struggle bus. Doubting Thomas? Are you serious?"
You've probably never heard a sermon on Doubting Thomas, like, "Open your Bibles. Let's talk about the one who said, 'I will never believe…'" That's not super encouraging, yet I can't stop thinking about him. He has been on my mind and heart. This is life-changing to me, and I believe it's going to change your life too as we unpack this.
Here's the thing. Thomas is only mentioned 12 times in the entire Bible, and 9 of the 12 are only because he's on the roster. He's just one of the apostles, so they had to include him. "Well, you and Bartholomew… I guess you get a notable mention, because you're one of us, so we have to. Everybody knows there are 12, so we're going to drop your name in there."
Other than that, there are only three times we ever even record him speaking or doing anything…only three times in the entire Scriptures…one of which is him saying, "I'll never believe." Let me tell you the other two. One is in John 11. It's when Lazarus, Mary and Martha's brother, is sick to the point of death. It's a strange passage. They come to Jesus. They're like, "Hey, Lazarus is dying," and he's like, "Cool. Then I'm going to wait here for two days and let him die."
I was like, "Jesus, what are you doing? Why would you not go and heal him? You're healing other people, but you're going to let him die?" He says, "I'm glad for your sake that he has died so that God may be glorified." It's like, "Wait. What? What are you doing?" Here's what Thomas says: "Well, let us go too that we might die with him." You know the apostles are like, "What? Thomas, get back on the roster. Why did you say that? That's so stupid. Go die with him? Lazarus died. What are you talking about?"
But then I went back and read the passage in the full context, and here's what happened. Earlier in John, Jesus is talking to the Pharisees. They're like, "Oh, so you've seen Abraham?" He says, "I tell you the truth. Before Abraham was, I Am." In hearing that, they pick up stones to kill him, because they know he is acquainting himself… This is what God said to Moses when he called Moses. Moses is like, "What should I tell the people?"
God is like, "You tell them that I Am sent you." He said, "Before Abraham was, I Am." They pick up stones to kill him. So, when they come to him and are like, "Hey, Lazarus is dying," the other disciples say, "Hey, Jesus, you know the Jews just tried to stone you to death." That's what the rest are saying. Then you have Thomas who says, "Well, let us go with him that we also might die." It was an incredible statement of courage and faith.
He's like, "Jesus, if you go back there, if you go back to Bethany and Jerusalem where you said you were God in flesh, they're going to kill you, but I'm with you. If they kill you, they kill me too. I'm in. I'm all in, all my chips. I'm with you. Here for it." That's incredible for Thomas. We don't talk about that. The other disciples are like, "You shouldn't do that." He's like, "I'm going to." Thomas is like, "I'm with you, and let's all go."
The other time he's mentioned is in John 14, and we all know this passage. This is a really famous passage where Jesus says, "In my Father's house there are many rooms. I go and prepare a place for you. I'm going to get you. I'm going to take you. If it weren't so, I wouldn't have told you, but it's going to be awesome." Thomas raises his hand kind of sheepishly, and he's like, "Um, we don't know where you're going or how to get there."
You know the other apostles are like, "Oh, Thomas! Get back on the roster. Why did you say that?" I don't think it's the case. I think the rest of the apostles were silent. They didn't say anything. It was Thomas who actually asked. Nobody knows John 14:5. That's when Thomas says, "We don't know where you're going or the way to get there." Then we get John 14:6 where Jesus says, "I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father except through the Son." Thank God for Thomas' question that he asks.
Then you have his third mention, the third time other than the roster that he actually says something. Here we go. We're going to start with the resurrection. We're in John, chapter 20. It's verse 11. This is where it is. Mary Magdalene goes to the tomb. This is Sunday morning. The angel has already rolled back the stone. The soldiers fall down as though dead when they see the angel. She walks into the tomb.
The tomb would have had an entryway. It says she stooped down to go inside. There's an open room where they put the embalming spices. This is the aloe, the myrrh, and everything, where they would have wrapped him with a linen shroud and all that. Then they would have laid Jesus on the bed. When she walks in, she finds two people there, two angels just sitting on the bench. She's crying because Jesus isn't there but two people are. She doesn't realize they're angels at this point.
They're like, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She's like, "Where have you laid him? Where did you put him?" In other accounts they're like, "He's not dead. He has risen." As they're saying, "Why are you weeping?" she hears somebody else say, "Why are you weeping?" This is a tomb, so what you have is sunshine behind and just a black silhouette. "Woman, why are you weeping?" She turns around. She thinks it's the gardener.
She says, "Where have you put his body?" She thinks it's the gardener, not because she can't recognize him but because she's just looking at a silhouette…until her Savior says, "Mary…" She hears her Savior say her name, and she just wraps him up. So much so that he's like, "You've got to let me go. I have yet to ascend to the Father. But go and tell my brothers. Go tell the boys what you've seen." Verse 18:
"Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, 'I have seen the Lord'—and that he had said these things to her. On the evening of that day, the first day of the week [Sunday night] , the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, 'Peace be with you.'"
Do you know why he said, "Peace be with you"? Because he just scared them to death. He just popped into a locked room. Like, resurrected body. You can just enter. You're going to be able to punk people in amazing ways, and after you do you should say, "Peace be with you." They'll be a little rattled. Verse 20: "When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side [where the nails and the spear pierced]. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord."
The reason I take the time to get this far back… Mary saw the resurrected Christ, and what does he do? The very first thing Jesus does with the apostles is he says, "Look at my hands. Look at where they drove the nails. Look at my side where they pierced," because their minds are blown. They saw him crucified. They're like, "What's going on?" So Jesus shows them. He delights to show them. "You know it's me. Here are my wounds. See it." We always throw Thomas under the bus that he had to see the wounds, but it's the very first thing he does to the apostles.
Verse 24: "Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, 'We have seen the Lord.' But he said to them, 'Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.'" From which we get the moniker Doubting Thomas. There it is, 2,000 years later. He says those words, and that's what everybody remembers.
But why would Thomas have said, "Unless I put my finger into the mark in his hands or my hand into his side I'll never believe"? The reason he said it was because they had said that to him. They were like, "Dude, it's him. We saw it. He showed us the scars. He showed us his wounds, the mortal wounds that he received. He showed us it all. It's him." So Thomas, rightfully so, is like, "Well, unless I see it, I'll never believe." It was the same thing for them.
We give Thomas a hard time for wanting to see these scars and wounds. Well, let's back up to Moses. Moses is in the desert…burning bush and all that. He's like, "God, what am I going to do? Walk back into Egypt and say, 'Hey, by the way, God sent me. Let's just walk out of here'? They're not going to believe me. Pharaoh is not going to let me." God is like, "Throw down your staff." It turns into a snake. "Pick it up." It turns into a staff again.
"Put your hand in your cloak. Pull it out." Leprosy. "Put it back in. Pull it out again." Clean. He's like, "I've got you. I'm not mad at you. I know it's crazy, Moses, what I'm asking you to do. I'm going to show you. I'm not mad. I know you want to know, because I'm doing crazy things, so I'm going to show you."
He does the same thing with Gideon. Gideon is like, "Wait, what? I'm of the least of the tribes, a Benjaminite, in here on the winepress. God, I'm not sure I heard you right." He puts out a fleece. "Keep that dry and make everything else wet." God is like, "Okay." Next day. "All right. Maybe that was a coincidence. This time, make it wet and everything else dry." God is like, "Okay. I know it's crazy what I'm asking you to do. I'm not mad at you. I understand. I'm doing crazy things."
Then with Mary… The angel comes. "You're going to be with child." She's like, "How can this be since I'm a virgin?" God is not mad. He's like, "I understand. The Holy Spirit is going to come upon you. You'll be with child. I'm going to give Joseph a dream, because he's going to be upset about this and want to put you away. I'm going to say, 'Hey, the child your wife is with is of the Lord.'" God is not mad…not mad at Thomas, not mad at us. He loves us.
"Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, 'Peace be with you.' Then he said to Thomas, 'Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.'"
I'm about to erase from your mind you ever calling him Doubting Thomas. Here's Thomas' response after he did that: "Thomas answered him, 'My Lord and my God!'" He says, "My kurios" (which means "My Master, my Lord") and "My theos" (my God). Having touched his mortal wounds and now seeing the resurrected Christ, he's like, "That's it. You're God."
This is more than any of the other apostles have said. Thomas gives us a right Christology. "You're God in flesh, fully man, fully God, standing before me. You are the incarnate deity, Immanuel, God dwells among us. You're him. My kurios and my theos, my Lord and my God." A lot of times we give all the credit to Peter, that he's the one who said… Like, "Who do the people say I am?"
"Elijah, John the Baptist, Jeremiah, one of the prophets."
"Well, who do you say I am?"
"You're the Christ, the Son of the living God."
"Great. Blessed be you, Peter. God has revealed this to you."
We're like, "Oh, good job, Peter. Dude." Peter is late to the dance. When Nathanael gets called, Jesus says to him, "Here is a true son of Israel in whom there is no deceit." Nathanael is like, "Do you know me?" He's like, "Nathanael, I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you." Nathanael is like, "You are the Son of God, the King of Israel." Jesus is like, "You believe because of this? You'll see much greater things."
Then Peter's confession is good, but you have Thomas' where he says, "My Lord and my God," testifying that he is God in the flesh. But now I have something for you. This is amazing. Jesus says something to Thomas in response, but two millennia later, Jesus is saying it to you. Check this out. Verse 29: "Jesus said to him, 'Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.'"
This is what Peter writes. In 1 Peter, chapter 1, he says, "I know you're going through this furnace of affliction, trials of various kinds. Your faith, which is of much greater value than gold that perishes through the fire, will result in praise, glory, and honor when Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him." This is the same refrain. "You've not seen the resurrected Christ, yet you believe." Jesus says, "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."
Then you get the twelfth mention of Thomas. It's in the book of Acts, and again it's just the roster. That's all it is. They're gathering in the upper room, waiting for the Holy Spirit to come, and they're just kind of lining out who's there. They just give you the roster again. That's it. That's it for Thomas. Book closed. The end of Thomas…except for the fact that two church historians, Eusebius and Hippolytus, tell us what happened to Thomas afterward. Dude, do you want to know what happened to Thomas afterward? This will blow your mind. Doubting Thomas. What a joke.
Thomas went farther than any other apostle, and he shared with more people groups than any other apostle. He went to India. Thomas went to India and was martyred there. Some say Thomas went to India, then to China, to Pakistan, back to India, was martyred and buried to this day on Mount Chennai. Even if you talk to Indians to this day, they'll say, "Yeah, Thomas is a very common name," because he took the gospel to India.
When Jesus said, "The Spirit will come upon you and you'll share to the outermost parts of the earth," Thomas was like, "I've got it. I will, because I've seen the resurrected Christ. I've seen the mortal wounds. I put my hand in his side. I know that he is my Lord and my God. I'm going to go tell everyone. I'll never be the same, they will never be the same, because I've seen the resurrected Christ. I know the power of the resurrection over those mortal wounds, and I'm not going to stop telling anybody until everybody knows."
He went farther than everyone, all of the other apostles. That is the power of showing wounds so you can share your Savior, and it's why I can't stop thinking about Thomas, why he's changing my life and I think he's going to change yours. That's the power of the resurrected Christ. The reason it matters… "Okay, great. Thomas, Jesus…what?" Because every single person, all eight billion people walking this earth, also have a mortal wound, a mortal wound of sin, but not all have a Savior. They have a wound. They're dead in their sin, but not all have a Savior.
It says in Romans 6:23, "For the wages of sin is death…" What we get because of our sin is death. It says in Ephesians 2 that we are children of wrath, dead in our sins and trespasses. But Ephesians 2 doesn't leave us there, and Romans 6 doesn't leave us there. Romans 6 goes on to say: "…but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
He says that whoever will believe in him will not perish but have everlasting life. If you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, that he's not just a man, not just a good teacher, that he was God in flesh… That's the only one who can raise from the dead. Every other founder of every other religion is in the grave spare Jesus alone to show he's not just a man. Fully man, fully God, raised from the dead.
"…if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." This is why Jesus says to Nicodemus in John 3, "You must be born again." Though we are physically alive as we are born, we are spiritually dead. So Jesus is saying, "I know you're alive, but you're spiritually dead. You have to be born again. Your spirit has to be made new."
A little bit earlier in Romans 6, it says we have been crucified with Christ. Why? Because we were slaves to sin and Satan. That old man or woman has to die. Crucified with Christ, buried with him in baptism, and raised again to walk in newness of life. He doesn't make you better; he makes you new. This is why when you trust in Jesus you will never be the same. Not better but new. That's the power of the resurrection over your mortal wound of sin.
Everybody has that mortal wound, but not everybody has a Savior, so we have to tell people. Here's what it looks like in my life. Never once in my life have I gone to someone I think needs to know Jesus and been like, "Have a seat. So, I have a THM, a master of theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. I specialized in systematic theology, graduated with honors. I have worked for a church for over a decade. I'm a pastor. I'm here to help you today." Never! I would never do that. We don't share our résumé to talk about our Savior. We share our wounds to talk about our Savior.
We didn't need a Savior apart from our wounds. I didn't need Jesus apart from my sin. So, do you know where I go? I don't go résumé land and DTS and all that. I go, "Hey, can I tell you I'm a recovering alcoholic? That's what Jesus saved me from." When I was with my wife the other night on a date… You know, Laura and I sitting there.
I'm like, "Can I have a lemonade with salt on the rim?" The waitress was like, "Yeah, I'll get… Wait, what? Do you want tequila in it, triple sec, Grand Marnier?" You can tell I'm an alcoholic. You're like, "Wow! You just rattled all those off quick." I could keep going. I'll show you my wounds. I'm like, "No. Lemonade with salt on the rim. I'm a recovering alcoholic. That's what Jesus saved me from." Uber driver. "Hey, man, do you have a faith?"
"Uh, yeah. I'm Muslim."
"Cool. Hey, I'm Christian. Do you want to know why? I was a recovering alcoholic. I was a drunk…weed, pills. Never struggled with porn."
"Yeah. I never struggled with it because I loved it."
Everybody has their mortal wound, but not everybody has a Savior, so I go there. And it's intimate. Right? Instead of just being like, "Hey, chips and queso, lemonade with salt [blah, blah, blah]," for me to say, "I'm a recovering alcoholic," it's like, "Okay. We went there. All right. We're going to get real with each other." It's intimate. That changes me and Stephanie's relationship. (That was the name of our waitress.) We're friends now. We prayed for her before our meal.
That changes things. It becomes intimate when I say, "I want you to put your hand right here on my alcoholism. I'm going to let you. It's okay. I'm going to let you know me, because it's not me anymore. I've been raised. I have been saved, so it's okay. Put your finger right there." You know Thomas. It was super intimate when Jesus was like, "Put your hand in my side." He was like, "Oh, okay. Uh…" It's intimate, and it's powerful. It's so powerful to see the resurrection power of Christ as you share your wounds to share your Savior.
It's not just me. The woman who leads our marriage ministry, Susan Cox… She'll roll up her sleeve and say, "I want to show you something. I was an adulteress. That's what Jesus did to save me and Raeul's marriage. He changed me. He saved me. He rescued me, and now marriages are being restored and resurrected. What he did for me he'll do for you. So I'll show you my wound." I texted her. I'm like, "Hey, do you mind if I share that?" She's like, "Share with everybody" and just starts praying over me.
I asked David Kinney… He stole $30,000 worth of equipment off this stage and from behind stage to hawk at a pawnshop to buy hard-core street drugs that could have killed him. He left his wife and little girls to chase his drug habit while stealing $30,000 that y'all probably tithed and gave to the church. Do you know what David Kinney has right now? He has this. He has a key to every building and every room and every closet at this church.
He oversees the facilities of this entire campus, because Jesus saved him. That's crazy! Because it's not David anymore. He has been raised again. I'm like, "David, do you mind if I share your story?" He writes in all caps "GREEN LIGHT! TELL EVERYBODY." He's like, "I'll show my wound so that I can share my Savior. Absolutely."
Amy and Hugh Stephenson… Amy is a community director. I've asked Hugh to do the same. I think one day he will. Pray for him that he'll repent and join our team. When they were in college and met, they started sleeping together and got pregnant. They thought, "Well, we can fix this." They had an abortion. They'll roll up their sleeves and show that wound so they can share their Savior, because it doesn't define them. They made that choice, and it doesn't define them. God loves them.
All of us have our sin…every single one of us. Everybody does. Some of you are like, "I hear your wound, the alcoholism, the adultery, the abortion, the drug addiction, but I don't have that. I was raised in a family of faith. My parents led me to the Lord when I was 5. I've been walking with Jesus ever since. Yes, I've sinned, but I don't know what I would even tell somebody if I…" Let me just say to you: praise God.
I have kids, 7, 5, and 3. I hope they have that testimony. I don't want them to have those deep wounds that I did when I walked away from God. I long for them to have the testimony that some of you do who were raised in a family of faith and trusted Jesus from an early age and were baptized and following him. Praise God for that. But you still were dead in your sin. Right? You didn't need Jesus apart from that.
All of us who have placed our faith in Jesus… It was because of our sin that we knew we were standing separated from God and needed to be reconciled. You still have wounds. Just because you trusted in Jesus when you were 5 doesn't mean you don't still struggle with control, anxiety, people-pleasing, being a Pharisee, like, "Thank God I'm not like them. I lead a Bible study. I lead worship. I do inductive Bible study even. I pray. I even fast. Thank God I'm not like them."
There's this self-righteousness that creeps in. Somewhere along the way, we stop talking about these things. We're like, "I love Jesus. I lead a Bible study. I disciple my kids. I pray before meals. I'm a Christian." I think people are like, "Wait. I thought Jesus saves people from sin. What did he save you from? If you needed Jesus, what was your sin? You still need him. Right? What was your sin? Why did you stop talking about your sin?" Somewhere along the way we've stopped.
But the Bible shares something different. The Bible has a different outline. The Bible doesn't stop talking about it. Let's go back to Jacob. This is really funny. Jacob's name is deceiver or schemer. I mean, if you grow up and you're like, "Dad, why did you name me Jacob?" and he's like, "Oh, because you're a schemer," you're like, "Oh, thanks, Dad. Awesome. That's going to haunt me." And it did. It followed him all his life. "Schemer and deceiver" was his name.
Then he wrestles with God. At the end of his life, it says he's blessing his grandchildren. He has them on his legs and he's blessing them. He switches his arm. It's weird. The other thing that's weird is it says, "And he leaned on his staff." I'm looking at this book. I'm like, "All right. It's already a big book. I think we're going for economy of words here, God. Like, leaned on his staff? Is that really an important detail?"
But then when you go to Hebrews 11, which is the hall of faith, you have just a few people who are mentioned, great heroes of the faith. Frankly, if I'm picking, I don't put Jacob in it, but the Holy Spirit did. Hall of faith. In the hall of faith, you only get one sentence for you. Do you know what God labors to do in that one sentence? He repeats the refrain and says, "And he leaned on his staff." "God, why are you including that detail?"
Because God doesn't ever want us to forget. "He was a schemer, and he wrestled with God, so I wrenched his hip out of place, and he was going to walk with a limp the rest of his life to know that 'You don't walk apart from me. You walk with me the rest of your life.'" God goes to pains to tell us, "And he leaned on his staff," because that's what Jacob needed to be on daily dependence with God. He won't let us forget.
Then you have another favorite, Mary Magdalene. Mary Magdalene funded Jesus' ministry. I don't know what she did, but she was flush. She was taking care of Jesus and his ministry and all of the boys, getting them food and whatever else. So they could have said that in the Gospels. They could have said, "Mary, who funded Jesus' ministry." That would have been a nice thing to say. They could have said, "Mary, who was first to the tomb and saw the resurrected Christ." That would have been awesome.
Do you know what the gospel writers say? "Mary, out of whom seven demons came." Do you know why I think that is? Because Mary wants you to never forget. "I will show you my wounds so I can share my Savior. I was filled with darkness and demons, and Jesus saved me. I'll show you my wounds so I can share my Savior."
Paul is writing to the Galatians. Paul gives these little bread crumbs to kind of tell us what's going on. It's kind of weird when you're reading them out of context. In Galatians, he says, "You know it was out of a physical affliction that I first shared the gospel with you." We're like, "Okay. So he was sick, and maybe he kind of stopped over in Galatia to get better."
But then a couple of lines later he says, "For I know that if you could have, you would have gouged out your own eyes and given them to me." Then at the end of the letter he says, "You know this is me because of the large letters with which I am writing." Paul is showing them his wounds so he can share his Savior. He's saying, "You remember who I was. I was the Pharisee. I was a bounty hunter. I was killing Christians."
"Don't ever forget," as he writes to Timothy. "Even though I was a blasphemer, a persecutor, and violent man, the mercy and patience of God was put on display through me, because Jesus came to me, knocked me off my prideful high horse in blinding light as though the sun, and scales covered my eyes, and I never recovered. My eyesight never recovered from seeing the resurrected, glorified Christ." He's showing you his wounds so he can share his Savior. He did it to the Galatians, carrying over 2,000 years.
But do you want to know who my favorite is? My very favorite "wounds to share the Savior" is the Gerasene demoniac in Mark, chapter 5. We know this story. It's Jesus. It says evening comes, and he says, "Let us go on to the other side," which is a bad time to take a boat ride, but they do anyway. A storm comes upon them, this huge swell. The apostles, many of whom spent their whole lives on the Sea of Galilee… They're going down. The ship is being swamped. Jesus is taking a nap.
They rouse him, and they're like, "Rabbi, do you not care that we're perishing?" They're going to die. Jesus gets up. "Peace, be still!" And it's crazy still to the point that they're like, "Who is this that even the wind and waves obey?" Then they get to the other side. The boat lands there on the gravel. It's still nighttime, I would imagine, because it doesn't take that long.
It says out of the tombs at night, as if that's not eerie enough, there was a man who lived naked among the tombs, cutting himself with stones day and night as he cried out. It says they shackled him with chains, but he would break free. No one could subdue him because of his strength. They land on the shore, and here comes naked crazy guy, running down the beach to the apostles, and just…Boom! On his knees before Jesus, because he knows who Jesus is.
It says in Matthew, he says, "Son of God, have you come here to torment us before the appointed time?" Then there's this super weird exchange. It says Jesus is saying, "Come out of the man." We know from the verb tense he's saying it more than once. There's this argument between the demons and him. "Come out of the man!"
"Don't send us into the abyss."
"Come out of the man!"
"Don't send us out in the country."
"Come out of the man!"
"Don't torture us before the appointed time."
Jesus says, "What is your name?" In a demonic voice… Like, put yourself there. "We are Legion, for we are many." Then the demons start bargaining with Jesus. They're asking him for favors. It says the word beg. The demons are begging Jesus, "Send us into the pigs." You know the apostles are like, "He's not going to do that. He doesn't listen to demons. What is he going to do…do you a favor?" Jesus is like, "Go." The demons go into the pigs. Two thousand pigs rush down the bank and drown there in the Sea of Galilee.
You know at this point the apostles are like, "Get back in the boat. Everybody, back in the boat. Leave Jesus. We don't care. Back in the boat." I mean, it's crazy! Naked demoniac, dead pigs…everything is weird. Then the next thing you know, the demoniac is seated and clothed, in his right mind, at the feet of Jesus. Jesus brings order to that chaos.
But there's somebody else who's begging now. It's not the demons. He says yes to them. "Go to the pigs." Then there's somebody else begging, and it's the herdsmen. They all see this. They're like, "What in the world?" and they're begging him to leave. "Get out! Go back. Leave here. We don't want you." It's this argument. You have the herdsmen, the demoniac seated there, Jesus, the apostles, the boat, and 2,000 dead pigs. It's so eerie as they're yelling at him to go out.
I'm going to pick it up in verse 18. It says they begged Jesus to depart their region, and Jesus complied. It says, "As he was getting into the boat…" So, he says yes to the demons, yes to the herdsmen. Get a load of this. "As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him…" The demons begged. The herdsmen begged. Now the guy he rescued begged. Do you know what he's begging? It says right here. "…that he might be with him."
Now, all throughout Jesus' ministry… He says to the fishermen, "Leave your nets and follow me." He says to the tax collector, "Leave your tax collecting booth and follow me." He says to the rich man, "Let the dead bury the dead. Follow me." Everybody Jesus meets… "Follow me. Follow me. Follow me. Follow me. Follow me." The Gerasene demoniac says, "Let me follow you." He says, "No." What? Yes to the demons. Yes to the herdsmen. To the guy who actually wants to follow him, "No"? Why?
You know the apostles are like, "Yes! Oh my goodness! I don't know why he said no, but the naked guy is not coming. Yes!" They're so relieved at this point. But it seems really mean. Right? Mean and sad, like, "Why, Jesus? Didn't you go to rescue him, and now you're leaving him? What's happening?" They get back in the boat, and you have the demoniac standing on the shore with the angry herdsmen. He's like, "I wanted to go with you. You saved me."
Then you have the apostles probably pushing back…imagine this…through the water of dead pigs, like, Boom! Boom! Boom! It's eerie. That would have been it, because Jesus said to him… "And he did not permit him but said to him, 'Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.'" The end. Are you kidding me? They just leave him on the shore, and they go back.
When they go back, it's business as usual. Jairus' daughter. "Can you come heal her?" Woman who has the blood condition. Everybody is getting healed. Business as usual. That guy is gone. They left. They went back across the sea. Nobody knows what happened. The end. Except for the fact that sometime later, somebody caught up with him. Someone caught up with the demoniac, because it says, "And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled."
Somebody down the road caught up with him. It's collapsed here in Scripture, but they went back. Somebody saw him and was like, "Wait, wait, wait! Hold on. I know you. I've seen you before. You're the guy from the Gerasene, aren't you? You were the one who lived among the tombs. What happened? What did you do? Where did you go?" Do you know what he said? He said, "I went back. I went back to the Decapolis (the 10 cities, the outpost of Rome there in Judea), and I proclaimed to them what Jesus had done for me."
Do you know the word proclaimed there? This is crazy. It's the word preach. It's what John the Baptist did. He preached. It's what Jesus did. It's the same word. Jesus preached. It's what they say of Paul. He preached. It's the Greek word kerusso. The Gerasene demoniac kerusso'd to the Decapolis. He preached to them. "Look at me. Let me show you my wounds so I can share my Savior." He preached to them.
When it says, "All the people were amazed," the word amazed is the same word that's used when Jesus performs miracles. Not like, "Oh wow." They had seen a living, walking miracle, because he went back and he was courageous enough to roll up his sleeves and say, "Look here. Let me show you my wounds. This is where I cut myself when the demons had filled me, where I cut myself among the tombs. I was living among the dead. Here are the scars from the shackles, because no one could subdue me, but Jesus saved me!"
It's written for us. It's recorded for us, because if you are in Christ, it's what he did for you. So the question is…Will you go? Will you go and will you now show your wounds so you can share your Savior? Because everybody has sin and not everyone has a Savior. Will you go like the demoniac? Jesus saved you to send you. Church, show your wounds so you can share your Savior. Pray with me.
Father, thank you for sending Jesus. Thank you for sending God in flesh, my Lord and my God. Thank you, Lord, that we now know the power of the resurrection through Jesus. You conquered sin, death, and Satan so we might be saved, because we, too, have the mortal wound of sin. But for those who have trusted in Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins, believing in the resurrection, we're saved. We'll never be the same, raised again to walk in newness of life.
But you didn't just save us. You've sent us out, just like Thomas, that we would go out to the ends of the earth to tell everyone who will listen who Jesus is and what he has done. May we be faithful, like Thomas who did not doubt. He believed. May we be like the demoniac to go back to where we're from and tell everything Jesus has done for us. May they all be amazed. In Jesus' name, amen.