His words provide safety in the storms of life. With all that He offers, we should embrace Him, not fear Him
By Donald Whitchard
Matthew 11:28-30,Mark 5:1-20,1 Peter 3:15
Summary: Jesus Christ has all authority over both the natural and supernatural world. He brought freedom to a tortured soul, stirred a local crowd into anger, and calmed a raging sea. His ministry brought grace, mercy, love, hope, and for some, fear. Why would anyone fear Him? You would be surprised.
Chapter 4 of Mark’s Gospel presented to us the authority that Jesus had over the forces of nature by rebuking a storm on the Sea of Galilee. He and His disciples were in a boat heading to the eastern shore of the Sea when a violent storm erupted, which was a common occurrence according to Scripture. Even today the sea of Galilee is rocked frequently by sudden changes in weather. Jesus’ voyage was for a purpose, and that was to show His followers that His ministry was going to include not just His own countrymen, but also their pagan neighbors in the cities across from Capernaum and the other towns that the disciples called home. They had come to the region known as Gadara, and specifically the ten cities within it called the Decapolis.
After calming a wild sea, we read in these verses about Jesus calming a spiritual storm within a man that was possessed by numerous demons (5:2). He was powerful enough to break the chains that had been placed on him by the terrified locals. He cried out constantly, attempting to find some kind of relief, including cutting himself with sharp rocks (vv.3-5). When he saw the LORD arriving on the shore, the demons who had tortured this poor soul ran toward Him and worshipped Him (vv.6-9). The demons then began to beg Jesus not to torment them or send them out of the country (vv.7, 10).
The unclean spirits then pleaded with Jesus to be cast into a nearby herd of pigs. He allows them to enter the animals, who then rush madly towards the cliffs and fall into the Sea where they all drown (vv.11-15). The pig farmers in turn, flee in terror and tell others about what had just occurred. Everyone now saw that the man who had been plagued by the evil spirits was now clothed and in his right mind. The people react by asking Jesus to leave their region (vv.14-17). As He returned to the boat, the man pleaded to go with Him, but Jesus instructs him instead to go around all the cities and tell everyone what He had done for him (vv.18-20). This grateful man ends up being the first non-Jewish missionary.
While this is a story of deliverance, joy, supernatural power, and liberation from the forces of darkness, there is also an underlying reaction to what has happened that is often overlooked, that of fear. Specifically, there is a fear of Jesus and His power by certain individuals and forces who have experienced this event. Who would fear the Lord Jesus? These verses give us the answer.
The Demons who made up the Legion were terrified of the LORD, and rightly so. they had begged Him not to torment them, and were characteristic of the evil forces that had been rebuked by Him earlier in His ministry (1:23-24). Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil and his fallen angels (1John 3:8). Everlasting fire has been prepared by God for the purpose of punishing these malevolent beings who brought about the world’s evils (Matthew 25:41). There is also eternal punishment for the most wicked and vile of the fallen angels, chained in darkness for their rebellion and ungodly deeds (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 1:9). The final destination for all of these evil spirits, the devil, death, and hades will be in the everlasting Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:10-15), along with all of those people throughout the course of history who have rejected the free offer of salvation provided by God through Jesus Christ (John 3:16, 14:6; Acts 4:12). The demons were afraid of Jesus then, and they still are today.
We should be afraid of Jesus if we are not ready when He returns (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Revelation 19:11-21). If we have not surrendered our lives to Him now, it will be too late then (2 Corinthians 6:2; Hebrews 9:27).
The citizens of the region showed their fear of Jesus. They witnessed what had happened to the man freed from the demons. Instead of rejoicing and wanting to know more about Jesus, they pleaded with Him to leave. They feared the unknown and were unwilling to overcome it. Their fear, in turn, robbed them of blessings and enlightenment. They were foolishly afraid of learning more about Him and deprived their own souls of the freedom their neighbor had found. What of us today? We should never be afraid of learning more about Him, for He provides rest for our troubled souls (Matthew 11:28-30). He is the source of all spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3) and He freed us from the bondage of sin by His sacrifice for us on the cross (John 8:31-32, 34-36). His words provide safety in the storms of life (Matthew 7:24-27). With all that He offers, we should embrace Him, not fear Him.
The man who had been freed from demonic possession was certainly not afraid of Jesus. He now had a direct commission by the LORD to tell everyone in the area about what had happened to him (vv.18-20). His testimony caused his fellow citizens to marvel at such a wonderful story of freedom and deliverance by none other than God in the flesh. He has given us who have been redeemed by Him the opportunity to share our own testimony with others (Matthew 28:20-30; Mark 16:15; Acts 1:8). Your redemption was brought about by the influence of the Holy Spirit and the influence of someone who cared for you or by someone, such as an evangelist like the late Dr. Billy Graham (1918-2018) who obeyed the commandment of the LORD and spread the Good News of salvation around the world. Jesus’ love for us has washed away our sins (Revelation 1:5) and has given us hope that the world nor our own ways can ever provide (1 Peter 3:15). The only reason you might have to fear Jesus is that you have not come to Him for salvation, mercy, and freedom from the bondage of sin. I ask you to surrender your life to Him today. Call on Him and He will save you (Romans 10:9-10). Do not fear Him. Follow Him.
Donald was born and reared in the authentic Cajun country of south Louisiana. He is a 1978 graduate of LaGrange High School in Lake Charles. He is also a graduate of Louisiana College (B.A. in History Education, 1984), New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div., 1994) and Andersonville Theological Seminary (Doctor of Ministry, 2000). He is an ACPE Certified Chaplain with training in Trauma/ER, NICU, and Psychiatric Pastoral Care from the McFarland Institute in New Orleans (2003). He has over thirty years of ministry service, which concluded when he was called to serve as pastor of Meadowbrook Baptist Church in Muskogee, Oklahoma from 2017-2018. Due to health concerns, he retired from public ministry in 2020 and now devotes his time to internet evangelism through the writing of Bible studies, sermons, and articles on current issues for varied Christian webpages and ministries. He is a regular contributor to sites such as Rapture Ready and Sermon Central as well as Inspirational Christian Blogs. He and his wife Cathy are both active members of Eastern Heights Baptist Church in Muskogee. Don will often serve as a panel member of the Gospel Rescue Mission Pastor’s Round Table Broadcast, shown monthly on the mission’s Facebook page as his health allows. He has a personal evangelistic blog as well and can be contacted at his Email address.