WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
SEPTEMBER 27, 2021
TOPIC: WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE TO JESUS?
BY T. O. BANSO
“Then those who kept them fled; and they went away into the city and told everything, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men. And behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus. And when they saw Him, they begged Him to depart from their region” (Matthew 8:33-34 New King James Version).
The city of Gadara was one of the ten cities that made up the region called the Decapolis (Mark 5:20). Deca means ten. Gadara was a gentile city. Therefore, they could raise pigs, which the Israelites were forbidden to eat (Leviticus 11:7; Deuteronomy 14:8). Pigs were unclean for the Israelites.
When Jesus got to the city of Gadara, two demon-possessed men living in the cemetery came out to meet Him. They were so dangerous that no one could go through the cemetery. The demons suddenly cried asking what they had to do with Jesus, the Son of God, and if He had come to torment them before the time.
The demons begged Jesus to permit them to go away into the herd of swine nearby if He cast them out. “And He said to them, ‘Go.’ So when they had come out, they went into the herd of swine. And suddenly the whole herd of swine ran violently down the steep place into the sea, and perished in the water” (Matthew 8:32 New King James Version).
Seeing what happened to their pigs, the herdsmen fled into the city, and told everything, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men.
Mark 5:1-20 and Luke 8:26-39 also record this story but say that only one demon-possessed man was healed. It is possible that Mark and Luke only mentioned one of the two demon-possessed whom the demon in him begged Jesus to cast the demons in the two men into the swine nearby.
However, Matthew, Mark, and Luke agreed on the response of the people of Gadara to Jesus after the herders had fled into the city to report what happened. The whole city came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw Him, they begged Him to depart from their region (verse 34).
Mark 5:15-17 says, “Then they came to Jesus, and saw the one who had been demon-possessed and had the legion, sitting and clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. And those who saw it told them how it happened to him who had been demon-possessed, and about the swine. Then they began to plead with Him to depart from their region” (New King James Version).
Luke 8:36-37 says, “They also who had seen it told them by what means he who had been demon-possessed was healed. Then the whole multitude of the surrounding region of the Gadarenes asked Him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. And He got into the boat and returned” (New King James Version).
The people of Gadara begged Jesus to depart from them! And what did Jesus do? He got into the boat and departed. If you read the last verse (verse 34) of Matthew 8, it says they begged Him to depart from their region. Verse 1 of the next chapter, Matthew 9, says Jesus got into a boat, crossed over, and came to His own city.
The response of the people of Gadara to Jesus was to send Him away! Two things happened before Jesus was asked to leave their city. First, the demon-possessed man (men), who had been terrorizing the city, making the cemetery a no-go area for them, was miraculously healed. Secondly, the herdsmen lost their pigs; they ran into the sea and drowned.
It must have been the destruction of the pigs that made them ask Jesus to leave, though the Bible doesn’t specifically say so. Mark 5:15 and Luke 8:35 say the Gadarenes were afraid when they saw the demon-possessed man healed. But his healing was a positive development.
However, Luke 8:37 says that the whole multitude of the surrounding region of the Gadarenes asked Jesus to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. I suppose that the said fear could have been that of losing more swine.
Mark 5:13 says the pigs that drowned that day were about 2,000. Jesus must have been forced out of Gadara for an economic reason! They begged Him to leave, most probably for fear that He could cause them more financial loss.
The people of the city missed the big miracle that happened. They didn’t celebrate the deliverance of the demon-possessed. They possibly were more concerned about their business. They valued pigs more than human beings! This is the way some people behave today. They have not received Jesus into their lives because of economic reasons.
Some people think that if they give their lives to Jesus, they won’t be able to pursue their search for money. They believe that a new life in Christ Jesus would not allow them to engage in some sinful practices to make money. Money!
Our Ministry has been publishing hard copies of Cedar Newsletter for about thirteen years now. Sometimes, we go out to distribute this free publication to people. Some people will pretend they don’t know what we’re giving them and respond, “What is that? Is it money? Please, it is money I want.” They’ll turn away and reject it or collect it reluctantly.
Because of money, or their businesses, some people have failed to respond to Jesus positively. Some wealthy people have responded to Jesus negatively because they were afraid that accepting Jesus would make them lose their wealth! They knew they would not be able to continue their sinful life in Jesus. Therefore, they rejected Jesus.
1Timothy 6:9-10 says, “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (New King James Version).
In Luke 9:51-56, the people of a Samaritan village did not receive Jesus. “As the time drew near for his return to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. He sent messengers ahead to a Samaritan village to prepare for his arrival. But they were turned away. The people of the village refused to have anything to do with Jesus because he had resolved to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51-53).
They shouldn’t have treated Jesus this way because of the enmity between the Samaritans and the Jews. Two of His disciples, James and John, even sought His permission to call down fire from heaven to burn them up. But Jesus rebuked them.
As usual, Jesus went on to another village. This village missed a great opportunity for Jesus to bless them. This is what happens to anyone who rejects Jesus.
However, the people of another Samaritan village, Sychar, were wise. After the woman Jesus met at the well of Jacob had gone back to the town to announce her encounter with Jesus, the people came, discussed with Jesus, and asked Him to stay with them for two days. Many had believed because of what the woman said, but many more believed because of the word of Jesus (John 4:5-26, 39-42).
In contrast, the people of Nazareth, where Jesus grew up, refused to believe Jesus. They rejected Him. Because of their unbelief, He didn’t do many mighty works there (Matthew 13:53-58; Mark 6:1-6). Wrong response!
What is your response to Jesus? Jesus criticized the people of His generation for their wrong response. They called Him a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of the worst sort of sinners! (Matthew 11:16-19).
He also rebuked the towns where He did most of His miracles because of their wrong response to Him; they didn’t repent and turn to God (Matthew 11:20-23).
What is your response to Jesus? Is the pursuit of money, material things, worldly positions, and so on, making you reject Jesus? Mark 8:36-37 says, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (New King James Version).
There must have been other sick people in Gadara that Jesus would have healed if He had been allowed to stay. But they missed their opportunity. They begged Jesus to go and leave them alone.
Acts 10:38 says, “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him” (New King James Version).
However, when He got to Gadara, they sent Him away; they didn’t allow Him to do them good. They probably looked so much at the loss of 2000 swine that they couldn’t see the other benefits they would have enjoyed from Jesus’ presence in their city.
Is money more important to you than Jesus? Are you responding to Jesus wrongly because of your wealth, business, and worldly achievements?
The rich young ruler, who asked Jesus what good thing he must do to have eternal life, failed the test Jesus gave him (Matthew 19:16-22; Mark 10:17-22; Luke 18:18-23).
Actually, his question was wrong because there is really nothing good anyone can do to have eternal life. Titus 3:5 says not by works of righteousness, which we have done, but according to His mercy, He saved us. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9 New King James Version).
Nevertheless, after he claimed to have obeyed the Ten Commandments from his youth, he couldn’t do the good work Jesus asked him to do. He couldn’t sell his possessions and give to the poor so that he would have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Jesus (Matthew 19:21).
He loved his possessions more than the eternal life he claimed he wanted to do good works to have. He went away sorrowful because he had great possessions.
Simon and Andrew, James and John, Levi (Matthew), and other disciples Jesus called, all responded positively to their call by Jesus. They followed Him (Mark 1:16-18; Matthew 4:18-20; Mark 1:19-20; Matthew 4:21-22; Mark 2:13-14; Luke 5:27-28; Matthew 9:9).
What is your response to Jesus? Have you accepted Him as your Lord and Saviour? Do you believe in Him? Do you obey His Word? Luke 2:34 says the Child, Jesus, is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel. Each person’s response to Jesus determines whether he falls or rises, or where he will spend his eternity.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: Father, I shall respond to Jesus in faith, not in unbelief. I shall respond in obedience, not in disobedience. By the power in the name of Jesus, I shall rise; I shall not fall.
(For over 600 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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