Jump Start # 3491
Mark 5:4 “because he had often been bound with shackles and chains, and the chains had been torn apart by him, and the shackles broken in pieces, and no one was strong enough to subdue him.”
Mark five is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible. I have preached and written and taught this chapter so many times. And, once again, as I return to it, I see a new lesson that I had not thought about before. This is one of the intriguing aspects about God’s word. About the time a person thinks he has seen everything there is to see, there stands yet another lesson. Growth and observation allows this to take place.
Jesus enters the area of Gentiles. He had just calmed a storm. So severe was the storm that the disciples thought they were going to die. As they reach shore, immediately our demon possessed man races towards Jesus, screaming with a loud voice. Jesus casts the demons into the pigs and they rush into the sea and drown. The man, wanting to go with Jesus, is sent on a commission to go to his people and tell them what the Lord has done.
But tucked in these wonderful verses we learn that the man had been chained and shackled several times. His incredible demonic strength broke those chains. But right here there is yet another lesson. The possessed man, now not possessed, in his right mind, and telling others about Jesus, presents an interesting lesson about forgiveness and allowing people to change.
Imagine this man returning back to this village. The very place where people had chained him. Would he bring that up. Would he say, “You chained me.” Would the people trust him now? Would they be looking for chains when they saw him again?
There comes a time when we treat people differently than what we once did. There was no longer a need for chains when that man walked down the streets of that village. He was different. When he had the demon, chains were necessary. But not now.
Here are some lessons for us:
First, when a person has repented and changed, we must change with them. There have been many who have hurt us in the past. We may have put some distance between us and them. There may have been family members, that when they came to visit, you hid your valuables because they were not to be trusted. You didn’t do these things to be mean. You were protecting yourself and in many ways, removing temptation from them.
There may have been those that the church broke fellowship with because they no longer were walking with Jesus. Statements were read. Tears were shed. Prayers were offered. And, for some, after a long time in the wilderness, they return. Their hearts have changed. They are a different person. Like the father in Luke 15, joy, acceptance and love must be extended. They have changed and along with that we have changed with them. We view them and treat them differently.
Second, sadly, for others, it’s just the opposite and it’s for the worse. There are those who have chosen to dance with the wolves and entertain the devil. They are rapidly going a different direction than you. It may be time for emotional, mental and spiritual chains. Things have changed. They are known to lie, be dishonest and untrustworthy. Because of that, things have to change. It may mean adjusting your will. It may mean changing the locks on your doors. It may mean blocking some on social media. Things are not the same and you must recognize that.
Third, forgiveness is the banner that brings broken hearts and shattered relationships together. We are not told what happened to the demon possessed man. Did he return to that area with tears and apologies? Did the towns people meet him with tears and apologies? Were hugs extended? Did each side recognize that things were done that had to be done.
Our unwillingness to forget and forgive and allow others to change can be the stumbling block that keeps some from Heaven. It may even keep us from Heaven. The demon possessed man may never had understood why chains were necessary. He may have been very angry about how he was treated. But showing sorrow and a change will help build bridges. Some can never move past the hurt that was done. And, because of that, the bridge of forgiveness and fellowship will never be crossed again with some people.
At the moment, with the information that we have, we make decisions. Sometimes, those were not the best decisions. Sometimes we didn’t have all the facts as we thought we did. Those choices we made may have hurt others or been misunderstood by others. As we learn, as we grow, as we look back, the mature disciple will see that he needs to apologize. Today, he wouldn’t have done what he did back then.
When we get too big to apologize, we find ourselves too big for God.
Broken chains—a reminder of choices that were made. A time of fear and uncertainty. But now, all fear is removed. To keep bringing chains would be wrong. As people change, so must we. We change in how we see them, treat them and work with them.
What a great chapter—what a great God.