Mark 5:18-20 – “As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, ‘Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.’ So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolishow much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.”
I remember sitting in Dr. Haltom’s Synoptic Gospels class learning about this passage. One of the things that really gripped my attention about this passage was the difference in the story between the Synoptics. Matthew documents there being two demon-possessed men, whereas Mark and Luke only document one. “Why is there an inconsistency?” is what I thought.
Upon deeper investigation I realized why Mark and Luke only mentioned one man, instead of both. Mark wanted to focus on the man who came to Jesus after the demon was cast out. This man is significant because Jesus sent him back to be the first missionary to any Gentile people. In my mind, it would seem more logical for Jesus to take this man with him to disciple him. But Jesus sought it better to send him out – to his own people in his own land.
Summer is always difficult because all of us go back to our homes, our internships, or wherever. Sometimes it’s easy to get discouraged because we are ready to get back to school, or go out and do ministry – to make a difference. This passage really challenged me because Jesus saw it more fit for the man to go back and preach to his own people rather than follow him. It doesn’t make sense to me.
Jesus is putting us where we are now so we can be missionaries in our own right. When we think about just wanting to graduate or get back to school, we need to remember that Jesus has us where we are for a reason – to follow the Great Commission. If you’re home and bogged down, don’t lose heart. If you feel like you aren’t making a difference, than just do what you can. Let us be missionaries wherever we are, whoever we are with, and in everything we do.