Go Home and Tell

In the New Testament, there is an intriguing story about Jesus not allowing someone to follow Him. In fact, the story is so important that it is found in three of the four Gospels. In the book of Luke, the story is found in chapter 8, verses 26-39.  The setting is the graveyard in an area known as the Gerasenes, or Decapolis, literally, “Ten Cities.”

The story sounds like something you might see in a fictional movie. An unnamed man, possessed by a number of demons, lived near Gerasenes. The community tried to bind him with chains because he was so dangerous and uncontrollable. When that didn’t work, they drove him out of the community to live among the tombs and graves.

As Jesus and His disciples crossed the sea of Galilee and landed near this graveyard, the demons who possessed this man recognized the power of God in the person of Jesus. The possessed man came running out to meet Jesus, and the demons yelled out, “Why have you come to torment us?”  The demons knew Jesus had power and authority over them.  They were afraid, and begged Him to allow them to leave the man and enter into a nearby herd of pigs.  Jesus agreed and ordered the demons to come out of the man, and enter the pigs.  When they did, the entire herd of pigs ran over a cliff, into the sea, and drowned. The man was healed.

As you can imagine, word of this spread quickly. When the townspeople heard what happened, they came to see for themselves.  When they arrived, they found the man sitting at Jesus’ feet, completely free of the demons.  Fear gripped the townspeople and they demanded Jesus leave their area, and return to Galilee.

Jesus complied, and He and His disciples started toward their boats to leave.  The healed man asked Jesus if he could come with Him. Jesus’ response may surprise us, but in His response is a powerful lesson. Jesus was indeed very concerned about this man, but He was equally concerned about the condition of the hearts of the the people in Decapolis. Jesus could see the big picture.  He could see beyond the miracle of casting out a legion of demons and setting one man free.  His plan, however, included more than just the transformation of one life. He wanted to set them all free from the “demons” in their lives. He wanted to heal them all.

Knowing all this, Jesus said to the healed man, “No, I don’t want you to come with us. I want you to go back home, back to Decapolis, and tell everyone what God has done for you.”

Jesus knew the best way to break down the barriers of fear, the best way to show  the grace and mercy of God,  and the most effective way to communicate the Gospel to these people would be through one of their own– the man He had freed from his demon possession.  This man was the link, the bridge, the connection between Jesus and the people of the region.  He was, in a real sense, the key to reaching the entire community of Decapolis with the Gospel.

What a powerful story!  Amazingly, the story didn’t end there.  The man who had been demon-possessed did exactly what Jesus told him to do.  Because of this, the message of God’s love and grace spread throughout the Ten Cities.  But, it started with this one man.  The man to whom Jesus said,  “No, you can’t come with us.  Go home and tell what great things God has done for you.”

This is the great commission in living color.  Go home and tell.  Go to the people in your sphere of influence, to your family, friends, co-workers and neighbors, and tell them about the great things God has done for you.

When was the last time you and I did this?  What keeps us from doing it?  God’s plan is to enter their lives, their homes, and their communities. His plan is for you and I to be the bridge into their world.  Just as the people in the Ten Cities were afraid and did not understand who Jesus was, many people around us, those in our circles of influence, do not understand who Jesus is, and they too are afraid.  We can be the bridge to see and know the Jesus we follow.

Will we “go home and tell?”

Published by Larry Doyle

Dr. Larry Doyle served as the Director of Missions for the Piedmont Baptist Association from September 1, 2003, to May 31, 2016. Since retiring from the Piedmont Baptist Association in 2016, Dr. Doyle has served as interim pastor and pulpit supply for several churches in the Piedmont Triad area. He served the Pinecroft Baptist Church from August 2018 to October 2020. His ministry began in the pastorate in Kentucky, his native state. He served as pastor of three churches while completing his undergraduate, graduate and post graduate degrees. (1968–1979) He and his wife Becky, a native of Greensboro, served as missionaries with the International Mission Board in Ecuador from 1980 to 1992. They returned to North Carolina where Larry pastored the Union Cross Hispanic Baptist Church in Kernersville from 1992 to 2000. In January 2001 he and Becky moved Honduras where they served as the On-site Coordinator for Disaster Relief with the North Carolina Baptist Men, coordinating volunteer teams in rebuilding houses and churches after the destruction of Hurricane Mitch. Upon returning from Honduras in January 2002, Larry served as the International Ministries Director for Baptist Metrolina Ministries in Charlotte, NC, a position he held until answering the call to become the Director of Missions for the Piedmont Baptist Association in Greensboro, NC in September 2003. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Western Kentucky University, and received a Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. Today Larry enjoys “Strengths Coaching” and mentoring pastors and church leaders. He also enjoys finding, refinishing and repurposing old, discarded furniture. Larry and Becky have two sons, Steve and Tim, and are the proud grandparents of five.

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