Note to the Reader
Generally as we begin a new month, we begin examining a new book. However, as we begin this month, we will continue our examination of the Gospel of Mark. As such, I encourage you to invest additional time reading the Gospel in conjunction with this article.
When a good thing has happened to you, do you stay silent about it? Of course not. You can’t help yourself. You have to tell anyone and everyone who will listen. Why? Because something good happened. Think about it. Whether it is a job promotion, educational or sports achievement, when something good happens, the first to know is family; the second to know is friends; the third to know is the community. After all, why keep good news bottled?
We read the opening passage of Mark chapter five and we have to stand amazed. I mean it’s the stuff that movies are made of. It is a script of whacky characters: a crazy man living in the cemetery, a religious man exorcising spirits, and villagers who don’t know how to respond. But of all the things that grab my attention it is the instructions that Jesus gives the previously possessed man, “Go home to your friends, and tell them how great things the Lord has done for you, and has had compassion on you.”1 The passage’s narrative ends with the previously possessed man telling Decopolis (The Ten Cities) about his experience,2 can you imagine the reaction of those who heard him?
On lookers arguing between themselves: one says, “It’s him.” Another replies, “No. It’s not.” And the first answers back, “I’m telling you it’s him. He was the one running crazy out at the tombs.”
As the spirit-freed man walks up, the two people look nervously at each other, then the healed-man says, “Hi. I couldn’t help but over hear your discussion. And yes; it’s me, the crazy man from the tombs. Want to hear my tale?”
Realizing they got caught, and experiencing a mild state of embarrassment, they look at each other, look back to the man, and speak in unison, “Sure.”
From that moment, the spirit-freed expounds his history of spirit possession, the whacky things he did to himself and to others. They may have even heard something like, “The worst part of it is that I could see what I was doing but I couldn’t stop myself.” And his tale ends having received freedom and sanity from a man named Jesus. The two arguers stand amazed and wonder to themselves if the Jesus that healed the spirit-possessed man, could help them.
It seems that many people have a tale that meets the “You’re crazy!” column. But when it comes to spreading the Good News, I would submit that I have not met a single Christian who would want their “saved by Jesus” conversion account to be included in the “You’re crazy!” column.
In our modern day, crazy demarcates the ones labeled as dismissive. In other words, they and their story is so far fetched that no, I mean no, rational person would believe it. It is interesting that many rationalists are convinced that it is non-sense (i.e. crazy) to believe in salvation by faith in Jesus and God.
The reality is that while none of us probably fit into the category of the “crazy man from the tombs” in Mark Five, we each have a story of deliverance. Today we just use the word vice as a descriptive term to identify the things that hold us back. Now, not everyone experiences the oppression of vice but some of us have. Some have experienced the vice of anger, depression, drugs, etc. that have held them captive, yet were freed from that vice through the power of Jesus as Savior. For some, this solution is nonsensical (crazy).
Jesus has the power to resurrect. Jesus has the power to deliver. Jesus has the power to save. Jesus can help. But in good conscience, considering my professional accountability, I must advise that while Jesus through God’s power offers the best alternative to deliverance from vice, if you are under a physician’s care, consult your doctor. Some how that professional statement seems to confirm why many are convinced it is crazy to believe. However as we close, keep in mind that this narrative from Mark Five and the instruction to tell others embodies: be ready to give an answer for the hope that is within you.3 May the LORD bless you.