The skies are dark. The boat begins to rock back and forth. The waves toss the boat higher and higher. The boat begins to fill with water. The questions begin to consume their every thought. Why are we facing this storm? I thought God had called us to move? I thought Jesus wanted us to go to the other side? The small waves turn into massive breakers that are about to tear the boat apart. Jesus' disciples look at each other, and the situation goes from bad to worse. They look back at Jesus being tossed all over the place, yet He’s fast asleep. They ask themselves, “Why isn’t Jesus dealing with this storm? Why is He still sleeping?” They say to each other, “I don’t think we’re going to make it out of this one alive!” Then they all begin to scream in unison, “WE’RE GOING TO DIE! JESUS, HELP US!!!”
I’m sure that day, when the storm was raging, they were sure it was the end. This was no ordinary storm. It was a demonic storm. One that was sent to destroy them. Why was this storm sent on this day? There were unreached people. In particular, there was one tormented soul destined to receive freedom and become a great proclaimer of the Gospel to people who were unreached and lost in spiritual darkness.
This month, our Joshua Nations blogs are focusing on spiritual warfare. The month of October is a heightened time when the world focuses on ghosts, goblins, horror movies, fear, and death. For some, this time of year is a fun time for kids as they dress up as their favorite cartoon character, superhero, or movie star. For others, this is a very dark time full of fear and despair. I’m not here to preach to you about my convictions about Halloween (psst... I hate the holiday! Did I just say that?!) But I want to share about the real spiritual battle we are fighting.
When I was a child, I had a very acute awareness of the spiritual realm. I grew up in a family where the spiritual realm was talked about, and the battle between Jesus and satan, as well as angels and demons, was well-known. For most of my childhood, I was tormented by the dark side of the spirit realm. I saw many demons and lived in terror of the dark; I hated the nighttime. I fought the spirits of depression, hopelessness, anger, lust, rejection, death, and suicide. It wasn’t until I turned to Jesus during my senior year in high school that I found freedom. And boy, did I get free!
Then, my spiritual eyes were opened to the Kingdom of light. It was beautiful! Visions and dreams from God. Encounters with angels. Powerful encounters with the Holy Spirit from holy laughter, losing my ability to stand and having gifts and freedom imparted to me, and speaking in tongues uncontrollably for hours, just to name a few. I stepped into the authority Jesus had given me to cast out demons and lead people to freedom from demonic oppression. Thank You, Jesus, for the Holy Spirit!
Back to our story (See: Mark 4:35-5:20). Jesus had called the disciples to go to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. He laid down in the back of the boat and went to sleep. As Jesus often does, He didn’t reveal to them the play-by-play plan of what was going to happen. He simply told them to get in the boat and go to the other side. Many of our assignments from God are like
this. They require faith, trust, and obedience. And you can pretty much count on it – there are going to be some barriers, spiritual roadblocks, and hindrances that try to stop us from accomplishing the mission. When attacks come, and they will come, we need to stay faithful to the call and not get off course.
Jesus rose from His deep sleep and rebuked this demonic storm. He also brought a word of correction to His disciples for not taking authority over the storm, because He had already trained them to overcome this type of demonic attack. By this time, He was expecting more out of His disciples. He had removed the metaphoric “training wheels” and was now calling them to do what He had taught them.
When they arrived on the other side of the Sea of Galilee, they were met by a demon-possessed man, a man living among the tombs. He was yelling with hate-filled rage. There were self-inflected cuts all over his body. Through demonic powers, he broke chains people had put on him to try and stop him from terrorizing the community. Jesus and His disciples arrived on the scene with a mission. Jesus knew who He was coming for, and He was coming to set him free!
We don’t have much of the back story on this man. We don’t know how or when the demons entered him. We just know their time was up! It was deliverance time! The man was set free when Jesus commanded the demon (called Legion because there were many demons) to be cast out of the man and into a herd of pigs. A great miracle happened. The man was freed and returned to his right mind. He was found at the feet of Jesus learning from Him. Jesus calls him to go to the Decapolis (a ten-city region) and share with the people his story of deliverance.
This is an awesome story! A story of God’s love for the hurting, broken, and tormented. The man is freed and then sent out. I believe this is a strong representation of what we’re called to do locally in our cities, as well as globally in foreign missions. We’re called to go and free those in spiritual chains then release them into their role in the Great Commission!
There are many lessons to be drawn from this story.
The primary point I want to make is for us to recognize the reality of the spiritual battle that’s going on all around us. The storms we face are meant to be spoken to, rebuked, and cast down. Those who are tormented by demons, maybe even out of their mind, are called to be free in the name of Jesus. Once more, some of those who are in the worst bondage will become mighty spiritual warriors for Jesus when they are freed.
When the man in this story received his freedom and a little training from Jesus, he was then sent out on a mission to bring freedom to ten cities. He wasn’t a seminary-trained, Christian professional. He hadn’t been ordained as a minister. He was simply a man who was freed in Jesus' name and sent on a mission.
Let’s overcome every demonic storm!
Let’s set the captives who are tormented and lost in darkness free!
And let’s send those people out on mission to free others!
Check out this video from the land of the Gadarenes now called Kursi in Israel: