As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. And he did not permit him but said to him, "Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you." And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled.
This account of the healing of the man in the tombs is really the first description of a new kind of disciple… one with whom we can readily identify. I have often entertained the fantasy of being a First Century follower. After all, what Christian would not trade sandals with one of Jesus’ original twelve disciples? It would be a dream come true to literally walk with Jesus.
The dramatic story of this suffering demoniac draws us in. He went from being a man whose demons begged Jesus to leave them alone to being a man whom Jesus set in his right mind. In this healed condition he now begged to become one of Jesus’ inner band, to travel with this Rabbi and learn from Him. He obviously believed in Jesus. But Jesus had other plans for this man. He wanted him to follow… from a distance.
This disciple was commissioned to do something very specific: “Go home and tell your friends.” And he was given a powerful message to proclaim: “….tell them how much the Lord has done for you.” He was also living testimony to a powerful fact about God: “…and how He has had mercy on you.” This disciple was given a relationship with Jesus much like the one we have today. He was to proclaim his testimony to the saving work of Christ to all those around him, even as Jesus was not physically present.
The results were blessed by God. Jesus knew what He was doing when He commissioned this man. All over the ten city region of the Decapolis (a Galilean region primarily Gentile in its ethnic composition) this man preached the gospel and impressed people by what Jesus had done for him. If this man could do this, we can do the same… I can do the same.