The text is our Gospel lesson from Luke chapter 8 and I’d like to ponder on these words, “Declare what God has done for you.” So far our text.
A couple of weeks ago when I was in St. Louis, another pastor told a group of us a story that has been stuck in my mind and I’d like to share it with you this morning. The school year a number of years ago was winding down, much like it is right now. Most of us know that this is a grind and students and teachers alike need their rest desperately. So there is a boy who desperately wants to go to camp, let’s call him Alex. All of Alex’s friends are going to various camps and they are excited. They are telling him how great camp is going to be with baseball, swimming, archery, games. Some of Alex’s friend’s are going to specific camps. Soccer camp. Music camp. Boy Scout camp. There is a whole world of ways to relieve the stress of a year of school at camp. A perfect world. At first Alex’s parents consider sending him to camp with the local YMCA. They were members as a family and it seemed easy and logical. Then Alex’s parents heard that the previous year at YMCA camp some kids got really scared after the evening ghost stories felt a little too real. So the parents decide on a church camp to avoid this. Hold on to Alex for a minute...
In our text, Jesus has just calmed the storm. Some background that is important, when Jesus calms the storm he was trying to relax after some very difficult draining days. Jesus tries to rest but when the disciples are in need, he calms the storm. Now he is surely exhausted, let’s call it the end of the school year exhaustion, and in need of some rest. So they presumably change course and head for Genereset. Genereset was a place where there was heavy Roman and Greek influence making it almost an island of culture and news cut off from the Jewish world. So the strategy may have been something like, “maybe these people have not yet heard about Jesus?” “Maybe here we can finally get the rest we need.” So they approach Genereset believing that there might not be in this place the same crowds of people demanding healings and teachings. They will surely resume ministry soon but, for now they need their rest.
As they approach the shore, there is a man waiting for them. A man known to be possessed by demons who had superhuman strength, and lived among the graves. This man was waiting for them and knew that Jesus was coming. So Jesus and the disciples were desperately trying to find rest, and instead they immediately run into a demon possessed man on the shore and there is work to do. The man speaks with Jesus and we learn that there are many demons within the man and that the demon is well aware of who Jesus is. In fact the demons are afraid of Jesus. They know that with Jesus they are out matched. They know Jesus can destroy them. To them, Jesus is dangerous. Jesus then casts out the demons into a herd of pigs who run over a hillside into water and drown. The man is healed. The town is saved from the demons. Jesus and the disciples do not get the rest that they so needed from this trip.
So Alex came back from camp. It turned out that the church camp where he attended was studying angels and demons for the time that he was there, and the parent’s fear of ghost stories were quickly eclipsed with demon stories. Alex comes home and night after night he is afraid of the dark thinking of all he learned about demons at camp. After about a week of this and finding no rest at all from the school year at camp, he’s in bed and dad is tucking him in. Alex asks that his dad will pray that he will stay safe through the night from the ghosts and demons that he is so afraid of. Instead the dad prays that the son would be dangerous. So dangerous that demons or ghosts would see him and run in fear of his baptism and know that Jesus himself was on Alex’s side.
All too often we think that a battle wages in the world between us and evil, and it does. However, the message of our text today is that the battle has already been won by Jesus who is right by your side defending you every single day forever. The demon possessed man did not try to fight Jesus. He was scared of Jesus. Jesus was too powerful. Jesus is too dangerous for the demons. This is an eternity changing truth yet, how often do we fail to trust in God above all things? How often do we get caught in a lie and lie some more? How often do we see a neighbor in need of encouragement and instead we gossip? How often do we try a thousand times to resolve every single situation in our lives before entrusting into the hands of the Lord. We fight the devil, the world, and our own sinful nature every day.
Once the man in our text is healed he wants to be close to Jesus. He knows that with Jesus by his side, evil would run in fear. So Jesus didn’t get the rest he was searching for, but the whole area of Genereset came to faith in what Jesus had done, and they were protected from this legion of demons that Jesus sent into the pigs and over the cliff.
So this morning if you are living in fear of the devil, the world, or your sinful nature, Jesus is reminding you today that you the baptized Christians of the kingdom, you are dangerous. From the moment you were first in faith, first baptized, first heard the Word and knew you were alive like never before, Jesus was right by your side forever and you became dangerous to evil.
Jesus has won victory over evil- for you! In Christ, you have won victory over evil! As we struggle daily with the devil, the world, and our sinful nature, Jesus has defeated them for you. Jesus victory means that the devil is held at bay. Jesus victory means that the evil of the world can never pull you away from God, and never defeat you. Jesus victory means that your sinful nature is completely broken from its chains and you are forgiven and loved. Jesus death and resurrection is your victory. People of God redeemed in Christ, you are the victors!
So people of Grace, God’s message for you the forgiven, you the saved, you the dangerous, you the victors, is now go and “Declare how much God has done for you.” Amen.