Luke tells a fantastic story in chapter 8 about a demon-possessed man who lived among the dead. He had been written off a long time ago by his community who saw him as that crazy man no one wanted anything to do with. He lived like a beast with foul body odor that probably wreaked of human excrement. He was the only member of the Garasene Naturist Club. We know he was a danger to himself and others, because he had been chained many times (and broke free). The dead were his only companions.
We don't know his backstory or anything about him. What was his life like before? Who was his mother? Was he married, and did he have kids? What songs did he like to sing? We only know what he was like when Jesus met him.
Getting off the boat, the man ran to Jesus and fell at his feet saying, "What do you want with me?" What's remarkable to me is that the demons ran TOWARD Jesus and bowed down, as though compelled by the Laws of the Universe which says, "One day every knee shall bow -- in heaven and on earth -- and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord..." The demons recognized Jesus and said, "You are the Son of the Most High God!" Then Jesus asked the demons a question:
What is your name?
It's a good question. What is the name of that thing that possesses our lives? What is the name of that thing in full control of us? If it steals, kills, and destroys, I can guarantee you it ain't from God!
Here's the hope for us:
1] Jesus knows our demons -- what is in control of us. He knows our history and our experiences, and he meets us where we are at (chained up, stinking, and in our tombs).
2] Jesus can restore our lives and set us free. In Christ, nothing is unredeemable; no one is unredeemable! Nothing is beyond the reach of God's ability to restore!
3] We, too, will want to follow Jesus. When the man was set free, his response was to go with Jesus, but Jesus sent him to share the good news with his family and community.
This is a powerful story of grace and redemption! Every week, I meet people locked up in their own chains and tombs. Some of them freak me out. My instinct, like the villagers, is to keep my distance. Mercy gives me strength to meet people where they are at and introduce them to the one who redeems.