Even When It Makes No Sense
Do whatever Jesus tells you. That is the theme of our messages in these weeks leading
up to Lent.
So far, we have considered passages in the Bible in which Jesus tells us to repent, to
believe in Him, and to follow Him. We have considered passages in the Bible in which
Jesus tells us to follow Him on good days and difficult days alike.
Today, we will consider passages in the Bible in which Jesus tells us to follow Him even
when what He wants us to do makes no sense to us. For that, I have two passages to
highlight that, to me, fit the description of words that might not have made sense to
those who heard them. I hope those words will be adequately applied to us. One
passage has Jesus telling that sometimes our Christian service is to be done at and near
home. The other has Jesus telling it is OK to rest.
For the first topic, we will look at the first part of Mark 5.
In verse 1 of Mark 5, it is reported Jesus and His disciples, who had been on the western
side of the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus had been teaching throughout the day before,
arrived on the eastern side of the Sea. The evening before, Jesus and His disciples had
started across the Sea, sailing from west to east.
During the voyage - about eight miles at that part of the Sea - a storm had come up
suddenly. The wind-caused waves had nearly capsized the boat until Jesus, in a miracle,
calmed the storm.
Now, still at night, they arrived on the eastern shore of the Sea, in the country of the
Remember it was at night they landed. Remember they had just survived a nearly-fatal
storm. So the disciples were tired and their nerves were already on high alert. I think
Jesus was calm. That is just the way He was. But the disciples were tired and on
edge when they reached land, which just happened to be near a graveyard, which
made the night even spookier.
It became spookier still when suddenly, they and Jesus were met by a man with an
unclean spirit. It is at least implied by a later verse the man was unclothed. It can be
assumed the man’s hair was wild, his face tortured. According to verse 5, his body was
covered by self-inflicted bruises. And he yelled and screamed. Much of what he said
was unintelligible, but he cried out as he approached Jesus and the disciples.
As soon as Jesus and the disciples got out of the boat that night, they were met by a
deranged man. Deranged because of an unclean spirit, which actually may not have
been just one spirit, but many. That is evident in the answer to a question Jesus asked
the man. In verse 9, Jesus asked - actually, He asked the spirit in the man - “What is
your name?” The answer was, “My name is Legion, for we are many.”
That name could mean either of two things.
In that area, the Roman army was divided into legions, each one consisting of thousands
of soldiers. The name might mean there were many, many spirits in the man. In fact,
that will be proved a bit later.
In addition, Roman soldiers were known for committing horrendous atrocities on
people. So the name could also mean the spirits were causing the man to do horrible
Or maybe the point of the name is that both those things described what was inside the
man. That is very likely the way it was as he was way out of control, having become so
strong no one could bind him anymore, even with chains or fetters.
With that, he caused disturbances for sane people nearby. He did that by constantly
crying out. Can you imagine how quick graveside services had to be, the hope being to
avoid being accosted by the man?
And yes, he did harm himself by bruising himself with stones. He did that night and
day, which means he seldom rested, which would have just added to his insanity.
That was the kind of man who met Jesus and the disciples when they got out of the boat.
But wait. Noticed why the man approached Jesus. It was not to torment the Lord and
His followers. Bothering people had been his purpose before, but now - verse 6 - when
the man saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped Him.
Jesus reacted by speaking to the evil - to the unclean spirit - in the man. He ordered
what was evil to leave the man. “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit,” Jesus said.
Interestingly, this is one of the few times when what Jesus said was not obeyed right
away. With the storm earlier, the wind-driven waves stopped as soon as they were
ordered to do so. Most other times of healing, the miracles happened right away. This
time, however, the healing did not happen immediately.
Instead, what was evil in the man answered back. The man cried out - I think it was the
evil within Him that at least prompted the words - but the man cried out, “What have
you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?” Wow. What was evil knew who
Jesus is. He then added, “I adjure you by God, do not torment me.”
In response to that, Jesus asked, “What is your name?” That is when the name Legion
was shared. Legion then begged Jesus to not send them out of the country.
I am not sure what that means, but perhaps the unclean spirits had had it easy in finding
a host in that area. Maybe they did not want to have to go to a more difficult region. But
Jesus agreed to what was begged. He did not send them out of the country.
However, nearby, a great herd of swine was feeding on a hillside. I think maybe Jesus
and Legion noticed the herd at the same time. Legion begged Jesus, “Send us to the
swine. Let us enter them.”
Swine were considered unclean animals. What better place for Legion to be? Jesus gave
them leave. He allowed them to go from the man to the swine.
Listen to what happened. I do not know if this is what Legion intended, but when the
unclean spirits came out of the man and entered the swine, the herd - which numbered
about 2,000 - was that how many spirits had been in the man? Wow. Imagine that.
The herd - and by the way, you know how, in some movies when an animal is about to
be portrayed as being hurt, there is often the disclaimer that no animals were injured in
the filming? That disclaimer could not have been made here. The herd - all 2,000 of the
swine - as soon as the evil spirits were in them - rushed down the steep bank beside
where they were. They ran right into the sea. All were drowned.
Immediately, the herdsmen fled. I wonder why. Were they in awe of what had
happened? Or were they scared? Or were they angry?
More on that in just a moment, but they fled from the field to the city. They talked to
others on the way to the city. They told what they had witnessed. The result was that
people came to see what it was that had happened.
When they got to where Jesus was - how amazing would this have been to see - the
demoniac - the one who had been possessed by evil spirits - was with Him. The
demoniac - the former demoniac - the one who was no longer possessed - was sitting
beside Jesus! Clothed and in his right mind!
What a change. But listen to this. The reaction of the people - the herdsmen and all the
others who had gone to see was fear - was they were all afraid.
And listen to this. In their fear, they began to beg Jesus, not to do more miracles, and
not for His help in other areas of their lives, but to depart from their neighborhood.
Isn’t that amazing? No thanks. No appreciation. Just a request for Him to leave them
And again, was it fear? Part of it was. That is recorded. I wonder if there was some
anger as well. Especially from the herdsmen and the owners of the swine. After all, they
had just lost their animals - the investment of the owners, the jobs of the herdsmen.
Jesus again agreed to what was begged. He agreed to leave. He stepped back into the
boat, the purpose being to return to the western shore of the Sea of Galilee.
As He did that, the man who had been possessed with demons - the man who had been
healed - started doing some begging himself. He begged Jesus to let him also get into
the boat so he could go with Jesus.
That certainly would make sense. Why would the man not want to be with the one who
had healed him? How wonderful it would be for the man to remain with Jesus. To learn
more about Him and see some more miracles. To share the joy of all that with the other
What the man begged makes sense. But this time Jesus refused. Jesus said to the man,
No. Instead, go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for
you, and how He has had mercy on you.” In other words, the man was to be a witness
for Jesus. A living, walking, vivid, unanswerable demonstration of what Jesus can do.
The man was to do that among his own people. His friends and his family.
Actually, that makes sense. It should make sense. It was a way for the message of Jesus
to be spread beyond the Jewish homeland. The country of the Gerasenes was beyond
the homeland of the Jew.
But I wonder if it made sense to the man. He must have really hoped to be allowed to
stay with his rescuer. In fact, that might have been easier than to stay behind.
Sometimes it can be difficult to share our faith with our own family and our friends.
With those who do not agree with us.
But remember the theme of this message. We are to do whatever Jesus tells us,
including to follow Him even when what He wants us to do makes no sense to us.
Wo it was the man agreed to stay behind. And he obeyed the part about telling others
about Jesus. After watching Jesus and His disciples sail away, the man went and began
to proclaim in the Decapolis. An area of ten cities that had, in the past, been controlled
by the Greeks, then by radical Jews, and at that time by the Roman government. The
man went to that area and proclaimed how much Jesus had done for him. And all men
The challenge is of course for us to do the same. And hey, some are called to proclaim
Jesus in far away places. We used to support Tammie Tregellas in Africa. We do
support Gary and Gwen Bistritan on the island of Yap. We know Liz Underhill, who is
helping with that. We support Charlotte McPherson as she ministers in the Middle East.
Some are called to far away ministries. But some are called to share Jesus at home.
That, too, is a legitimate call. It, too, needs to be answered, whether you like it or not.
Including how difficult it can be to share faith with those you know who have not yet
accepted Jesus. If that is what we are called to, that is what we need to do. That is
taught in today’s first passage.
The second passage for today also touches on something that can tend to make no sense.
It is in Mark 6, part of the first part and finishing in the last part of the chapter. It has to
do with Jesus’ call to rest.
In Mark 6, Jesus and His disciples have returned to the western side of the Sea of
Galilee. The healed man is already preaching on the eastern side. Jesus and those with
Him are on the other side.
From the shore, Jesus and the disciples went to Jesus’ hometown area. In that area, one
sabbath day, Jesus began to teach.
What an interesting reaction He got there. In chapter 5, the reaction to Him was
fear. Here it was a reaction of questioning His authority. The people asked, “Where did
this man get all this? He sounds like He has wisdom, and we have heard reports about
mighty works He has done. But is not this the carpenter?”
I read the word “carpenter” was actually kind of a compliment. The word refers to a
craftsman. A very skilled worker with wood.
But at best, the use of that word is a depiction of a working man. As in Jesus being no
better than any of His listeners. I wonder if it could be worded, “Who does He think He
is trying to pass Himself off as someone important? Is this not the son of Mary [who
was common]? Is this not the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon [who
we know]? And are not His sisters here with us?”
Their point was that they knew Jesus’ family. Because of the familiarity, they did not
consider Him to be special. So when He talked as someone who had authority, they took
offense at Him, their point being that no one they knew should claim to be important.
That reaction caused Jesus to realize He could do no mighty work there. He left the
However, He did not leave the ministry. He went to some other villages and taught in
He also, as the master teacher, sent out His disciples on kind of a training mission. He
sent them out to teach others about Him. Their authority to do so was to come from
miracles they were to perform. Jesus gave them His authority over unclean spirits.
The disciples did go out. They did preach that men should repent, which was the same
message Jesus had been giving. They did cast out many demons. They also anointed
many who were sick, just as Jesus had been doing. Those who were anointed were
Then, after a time - a time of success - the disciples returned to Jesus.
They told Him all they had done and taught. I imagine the disciples were pumped. I
imagine they might have been eager, after their report, for another assignment. Another
But listen to what Jesus said. He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a lonely
place, and rest a while.”
Remember the theme? It is to do whatever Jesus tells you, whether it makes sense to
you or not. This - what Jesus said to them when they returned - could not have made
sense to the disciples.
As recorded, they had been working very hard. So hard they had not had time even to
eat. So yes, they needed to rest at least long enough to get some nourishment. But there
was more work to do. More ministering to accomplish. Which they were eager to do.
And hey, they had been successful. Why stop now? “Let’s go,” they might have said to
But no. Jesus called them to rest. And guess what. The disciples obeyed. They got in a
boat and went toward a lonely place to be by themselves.
I wonder. Is Jesus teaching in this passage a kind of spiritual rhythm? A time of work,
then a time of rest. As will see in a moment, the disciples had another time to work
before another time of rest.
And think of this. I do not think it was just rest, as in just sleeping, that was the purpose
of getting away for a while. I think that as they were away, they prayed and probably
learned some more from Jesus. Which also speaks to a spiritual rhythm. Pray and
learn. Take the benefits of both out into the world. Then pray and learn some more.
Then go back out into the world.
In fact, such a rhythm follows.
As a crowd saw Jesus and His disciples going in the boat, they ran along the shore. The
people actually met them when their boat landed. Which means the only quiet time the
disciples had was on the boat.
On land, it was found the people had not prepared for what they had done. They had
arrived without food.
Knowing their need, Jesus took care of them by multiplying a little bit of food into
enough to feed everyone in the crowd. To feed them until they were satisfied. The
crowd numbered in the thousands. Five thousand men, plus women and children, were
And it was not Jesus who worked. So, too, did the disciples as they organized the crowd
and then distributed the food and then cleaned up after the meal, each of them finding
enough food for themselves.
Guess what. Right after that, Jesus rested. He instructed the disciples to return to the
boat and go back again to the other side of the Sea. He then dismissed the crowd before
going up on a nearby mountain, His purpose being to pray. To rest in that way.
Which He did until the boat got into trouble. Whereupon He went to rescue the
And there was more work to do as soon as they landed. When they got out of the boat,
immediately the people recognized Jesus. They ran about the whole neighborhood and
began to take sick people on their pallets to where He was.
The point is this. There was so much for Jesus to do. There were so many opportunities
for His disciples to help Him. There is so much we need to do.
And His work and His disciples’ work and the work we are given to do is so very
important. All of it is valued by God. All of which can make it so difficult to allow
ourselves permission to rest every now and then.
But do you sense the teaching? Do I get the teaching? Rest, whether it makes sense or
not, is part of the rhythm Jesus Himself used.
Do whatever Jesus tells you, whether it makes sense or not.
For instance, if He is calling you to proclaim Him right in your own home or
neighborhood, you might rather go somewhere else. That might make more sense to
you. But if He tells you what He told the healed man in today’s first passage, be like that
man and obey Him.
And if He is calling you to rest, do not argue. And yes, there is much each of us is given
to do. That we need to do. That is as true for us as it was for Jesus’ disciples. And when
we have opportunities to serve the Lord, we need to take advantage of them. But when
He tells you to rest, obey. Get into His spiritual rhythm.
Do whatever Jesus tells you.
Today’s closing song is the first three verses of Breathe On Me, Breath of God. The song
gives us an opportunity to ask God to help us follow the Lord in all ways.
Breathe on me, Breath of God,
Fill me with life anew
That I may love what Thou dost love
And do what Thou wouldst do.
Breathe on me,Breath of God,
Until my heart is pure,
Until with Thee I will one will
To do and to endure.
Breathe on me, Breath of God.
Till I am wholly Thine
Until this earthly part of me
glows with Thy fire divine.
Lord, help us to answer Your call to proclaim You wherever that happens to be - far
away or right here at home.
Help us to be excited about telling others about You, but help us also to know when it is
time to rest. Help us to fit into Your spiritual rhythm of serving and getting refreshed,
over and over again.
Thank You. Amen.