With apologies to Bobby Darin, here’s a bit of a twist on his lyrics:
Somewhere beyond the sea
Somewhere waiting for Thee
A crazy man stands among the tombs
And watches the ships that come sailin'
Here’s a dude that’s a perfect candidate for the sanitarium. He is fierce and intimidating to all who come near. And it’s no wonder why, he’s possessed with a thousand demons. He possesses their cumulative strength to inflict harm on himself and others. While all else go out of their way to stay out of his way, Jesus gets a boat and heads straight across the Sea of Galilee, setting a course right toward this lunatic.
Surely the disciples had to wonder, as they did every day, what kind of bizarre situation awaited them when they arrived and what would be the Master’s handling of the incident? If they were hoping for a thrill of some kind, they were not to be disappointed.
What's on the other side of the sea?
1. On the other side of the sea were Foreigners! (vs 1) Let’s face it, the Jews of the day were not too keen on engaging other cultures. The Romans were occupying their land, and the influence of the Greeks had pervaded their society. It was all so non-kosher. They were surrounded by gentiles and didn’t wish to further engage. Here’s what they found on the other side: Different Culture, language, tradition, heritage and religion. On the other side were gads of Gadarenes. They were a bunch of pig-farming, pork-producing, bacon-making sausage-slingers. Ugh! But across the sea we sail!
2. On the other side of the sea were Men in Need. This particular one is demonized!
a. He lived in the tombs and was obviously spiritually dead.
b. He was possessed with an unclean spirit (the kind that drive people today to drugs, lust, etc.)
c. Their name was Legion, meaning many spirits.
d. He was bound with fetters (chained to his sin)
e. He was wild and no man could tame him.
f. He was a cutter. For lack of a knife, he used sharp stones. Imagine his frustration. He was infested with multiple devils, there was no hope, no answer, no future.
Then Jesus came!
*He saw Jesus, as opposed to what he has been seeing – people fearing him, mocking him, despising him.
*He ran to Him - away from everything else, tombs and rejection.
*He worshipped Him – he fell prostrate before the Lord.
3. On the other side were Demons on a Mission.
The demonic mission has not changed, which is to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). While Jesus’ mission remains the same, to give life, and to give it more abundantly. We must be careful to separate the demons from the demonized. On demons, we must have no mercy, on the victim, we must have compassion. Jesus went out of His way for the man, not the devils.
Who was speaking, the man or the devils? Who was acting bizarre? Questions we must ask as we minister to demonized souls.
4. Swine Feeding! On the other side, we will find disgusting, cannibalistic, suicidal pigs. There is nothing kosher on the other side.
5. On the other side is Fear! (vs 15) Why were people afraid? The man was now sitting, clothed and in his right mind (perhaps he was now left handed?)
*they were afraid of change. Can you imagine? Their comfort zone included a demon possessed, naked, uncontrollable mad man who lived in the grave yard!!!
*they were afraid of the unknown. Never had this kind of power been displayed. Exorcism, deviled ham, changed life, a new normal. No possessed men terrorizing the graveyard, no swine feeding on a hillside.
6. On the other side was a New Missionary (18-19)
Goodness! Without a day of discipleship, this man went from demoniac to so soul-winner, from crazed to being in his right mind. Hopefully, on the other side of the sea, we will find lives so transformed that the mission target becomes a missionary.
If we never go to the other side, we may never witness such things. I'm sure the disciples would have been content to sit this one out, and yet, what an amazing experience.
I know beyond a doubt, ah
My heart will lead me there soon
We'll meet beyond the shore
We'll praise just as before
Happy we'll be beyond the sea
And never again I'll go sailing
No more sailing
So long sailing
Bye bye sailing