Gracefully Truthful

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Read His Words Before Ours!

Mark 5:1-20
Matthew 16:24-28
Luke 14:25-35

 

“What’s holding you back from following Jesus?”

It’s a question I sometimes pose when I’m deep in a conversation about spiritual things with someone who isn’t sure if they really want to trust Jesus with everything. Sometimes we just need to talk it out and lay everything in the open with raw honesty in order to gain real perspective.

More often than not, the reply is either “I don’t know,” which requires more prodding, or some variation of “I’m afraid of what He will ask me to do.”

We can probably all raise our hands to that fear. I’ve carried it myself at several points in my faith journey. This “all in surrender to the Living God” thing is, well, all-inclusive. The cost of following is high and we are right to consider the cost before we commit the whole of ourselves to Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “…every one of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:33)

While we wrestle with our fears of “what it will cost,”
we must also consider the risk of not following Him.

Jesus pointedly asks, “For what will it benefit someone if he gains the whole world yet loses his life? Or what will anyone give in exchange for his life?” (Matthew 16:26)

In essence, Jesus asks, “Your life is so valuable! What could possibly be worth your life?” and in the very same dialogue, He answers by pointing us to Himself: “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will find it.” (Matthew 16:25)

The counterintuitive solution to our desire to save our lives is found in complete surrender to the One offering our rescue.

Surrender is indeed a high cost.
However, the cost of rejecting the Savior of our souls is infinitely higher.

A Jesus-follower named Mark recorded the story of one man, deranged, chained, essentially dead to his family and friends, a danger to himself and his community, a laughingstock and a shameful outcast.
This is the man Jesus chose to have compassion on, lovingly heal, and set free from himself.
This is the man who wanted to follow Jesus as far away from everything he knew as he could get.

He was all in for following Jesus on his terms.
Oh, that hits close to my heart; does it for you?

I do want to follow, Jesus, but not to Asia.

I do want to follow, Jesus, but please, I can’t live in a smaller house.

I do want to follow, Jesus, but give me someone else to tell about You besides my family.

I do want to follow, Jesus, but let me live my life first for a few years.

One deranged man, his arms now healed where he had cut himself.
His body now clothed, where he had once run naked through the tombs.
His mind now clear, where minutes before it had been owned by demons.

This man’s healing was visibly dramatic, touching his mind, body, emotions, and heart,  making him new in every way. With such a story of redemption to tell, Graveyard Man was ready to follow Jesus wherever He went . . . as long as it was away from his past.

“As He [Jesus] was getting into the boat,
the man who had been demon-possessed begged Him earnestly
that he might remain with Him.” (Mark 5:18, emphasis mine)

But Jesus’ response begs us to pause, listen in, and sit in the moment, for here is the climax of the story. As the man would go forward, it was surely this moment that was the turning point in his life, even overshadowing his incredible healing. For here, Jesus turned kind eyes of compassion to the man’s and gently refused his request.

Wait, what?! Jesus said the redeemed man couldn’t follow Him?!
Yes.

“Jesus did not let him but told him, ‘Go home to your own people, and report to them how much the Lord has done for you and how He has had mercy on you.’” (Mark 5:19, emphasis mine)

It would have been easy to flee his hometown and start over walking right beside Jesus, but Christ prompted him into deeper waters. This man would follow by staying.

Surely, it was intimidating to turn away from Jesus’ boat that afternoon and walk back towards the villagers who had fled at his healing, but the man’s newfound faith was flourishing as Jesus led him deeper.

Our historian, Mark, says, “So he went out and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and they were all amazed.” (Mark 5:20)

Following Jesus wasn’t what the man expected, but as he obeyed, he found the faith to follow, even if it meant staying. The Lord was faithful and as the man shared his story,
all who heard were amazed.

Count the cost.
Find redemption.
Follow in Faith, even if it looks different than you expect.

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