Guest post by Audrey Frank, author of Covered Glory
This originally appeared at AudreyFrank.com/blog.
Jesus was getting ready to leave in the boat. The man who was freed from the demons begged to go with him. But Jesus would not allow the man to go.
Jesus said, “Go home to your family and friends. Tell them how much the Lord has done for you and how he has had mercy on you.” So the man left and told the people in the Ten Towns about the great things Jesus had done for him. All the people were amazed (Mark 5:18-20).
When Jesus asked him his name, the man of the Gerasenes answered with the name shame had given him: “My name is Legion, because I have many spirits in me” (v.9). The evil forces that had stripped his identity overpowered and controlled his life to the point he did not even know who he really was.
Shame silences its victims, replacing the truth that we are beloved and honored by God with lies that drive us to isolation and madness. The lies can grow so numerous that all we can answer when asked who we are is, “Legion, for we are many.”
Jesus set the man free, commanding the demons that controlled him to flee. With their flight, the shame he had lived with for so long was banished. He could be around people again. He had self-control and composure. He was calm inside and out, for the first time in a very long time. The townspeople who dared draw near afterward were shocked to discover him sitting with Jesus, clothed and in his right mind (v.15).
There is more to this story than deliverance from shame.
Mark 5:18-20 reveals “Part Two, Life After Being Set Free.”
(To read more about “Part One: When Shame Steals Your Name,” click here.)
We see a man who has found his Savior and wants nothing more than to be where the Savior is. He does not want Jesus to leave his side. No doubt he was afraid that without the physical presence of his Rescuer, the demons would return, and with them, the fear, shame, and self-torment.
But Jesus can see courage in this survivor that the man himself cannot. Not yet, anyway.
This is how Jesus deals with us; He sees outside of the limits of time and space and views each of us in our completion, the whole of who we were created to be and truly are.
The man who once wandered among the tombs naked and injuring himself in torment was created to declare the goodness and mercy of the Lord. He was a proclaimer, a messenger, a living illustration of the power of Christ to set even a hopeless case completely free.
So Jesus commanded him to go home. He told him directly to go to his family and friends, those who knew his worst self the best.
If you, like me, have been rescued from deep shame, this command takes your breath away.
I can feel the agony of such a command. I can clearly imagine the fear and anxiety of letting my physical Savior out of my sight, being asked to step out in courage seemingly alone, to face people who know who I really am.
But the man had sat with Jesus (v. 15).
In the empty place where evil spirits once dwelt, lies once seethed, agony once writhed, the truth of Jesus took root and grew to fill his mind and body with courage.
We do not see him hesitate like the fearful. Rather, we see complete and immediate acceptance. Obedience. “So the man left and told the people in the Ten Towns about the great things Jesus had done for him” (v. 20).
He was not allowed to cling to Jesus in fleshly dependence. There is a difference between cowering fearfully in Christ and depending on Him as you step out in courageous obedience.
This man was commanded to walk forward and display Jesus to those who doubted, those naysayers who had drawn severe conclusions about the mentally ill and about God. The man of the Gerasenes was living, walking, talking proof that God rescues the shamed, sets the captives free, and heals the mind.
It takes great courage to get out of bed each day, stand before those who know your worst self the best and be the new creation Christ has commanded. Shame lurks in the background of those set free from it. Shame whispers accusingly, I know who you really are. Standing up for one's self against such condemnation can seem impossible, but it's not.
If the man once filled with a legion of demons can do it, so can you and I.
Jesus never really left him as he obeyed that daunting command.
As the man lifted Jesus higher, Jesus drew people to Himself (John 12:32). The healing that began in the tombs on a lonely mountainside spread to ten cities, and many more captives were set free.
Jesus gave the Gerasene man the high privilege of seeking and finding others concealed by shame, showing them the way out into the Light.
Is your courage faltering today? You know what Jesus has done for you, but will others believe you? Go home to your family and friends. Tell them how much the Lord has done for you and how He has had mercy on you.
As you lift Him up, he will draw other hearts hidden by shame out into His glorious Light. Your freedom will multiply into the lives of others, and your heart will brim over with His delight in you. When we share His love with others, we experience His love more clearly for ourselves.
Lord, help me be brave and stand in the freedom you have given me. Help me fix my eyes on you and courageously tell others what you have done for me. Amen.