This Makes All the Difference

Mark 5:1-20 tells the story of when Jesus heals a man oppressed by demons. In fact, this man has so many demons in him, that when Jesus asks for his name he replies, "Legion, for we are many." The story provides such interesting insight into the relationship between God and the servants of the Evil One.

What I notice right away is that the demons recognize the authority of Jesus. They treat Him as the Lord. He is the King. He is the ultimate ruler. Even though they are diametrically opposed to the person and mission of Jesus, they know their place. They beg Jesus not to "torment them" and then ask him for permission to enter into the herd of pigs and not be banished out of the country.

It could be said, that in some ways, they recognize and conform to the lordship of Jesus more readily than Christians often do.

What then distinguishes Christ followers from others who acknowledge the power of God? In Romans 10:9-10, Paul tells us that two things occur when we come to Jesus and are saved. First, we must confess that Jesus is Lord. Second, we must believe that God raised Jesus from the dead and then place our trust in the finished work of Christ for the forgiveness of our sins. It's this second part that distinguishes us from the demons.

Is it enough to simply obey the commands of Jesus? Isn't this what the demons do in this story? Why then are the demons cursed to an eternity apart from God even though they recognize that He's the king of the universe?

It's because they do not love Him. The greatest command God ever gave was to love Him with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength.

Why do you obey God? Why do you do the "right thing?" What makes you read your Bible or witness to that neighbor who you know doesn’t know Jesus? What makes you sing on Sunday morning?

We can obey out of duty or obligation, but that kind of response is not much different than what the demons do. Instead, we are called to adore Him. To worship Him. To enter His gates with thanksgiving in our hearts. To over and over again look at the cross and see the marvelous mercy and grace that has been poured out on us.

We respond to God with love. And that makes all the difference.

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