God is greatly honored by the way you worship him, the way you uplift one another, and by how you have served your family.
Traveling on the Sea of Galilee
Today I want to take you on a quick journey… a journey Jesus took nearly 2000 years ago. (You know… we have about eight years till the 2000-year anniversary of the start of Jesus’ ministry, just sayin').
This specific journey is a bit of back and forth across the Sea of Galilee, so bear with me.
Cue scene: Jesus is growing rapidly in fame and renown. People are coming all the way from Jerusalem to Capernaum on the Sea of Galilee just to hear him teach and perhaps to be healed. So many crowds are gathering that Jesus has his disciples set up a boat in the water so he can teach without getting smothered.
After a long day of teaching and healing, Jesus tells his disciples he wants to cross the sea to what Mark calls “the land of the Gerasenes.” (Mark 5:1)
What is this place?? Well, it’s one of the few Gentile districts that Jesus visited during his ministry, and it is included in the area known as “the Decapolis” - basically, outside familiar territory.
(A pic of the Sea from Peter’s house in Capernaum. In the distance, you can see the hills of the Decapolis, which today is called “the Golan Heights”)
Brace yourself because Jesus only goes to this place twice, and both visits are preceded by miracles on the water.
The First Miracle on the Water
The first time they leave, great winds sweep down and create a sudden, deadly storm on the Sea. You’d think fishermen who can see the other side of the water could tell if a storm was coming on, right? Well, unthinkable winds often sweep down through the massive wind tunnels that surround the area, like the one made by Mt Arbel:
At the right time of year, storms can come out of nowhere and in an instant.
Yet Jesus quickly and nonchalantly calms the storm. Though an incredible feat, this is not the purpose of his journey.
When Jesus arrives on the other side, in Gentile land, Mark describes a terrifying encounter:
“As soon as he got out of the boat, a man with an unclean spirit came out of the tombs and met him. He lived in the tombs, and no one was able to restrain him anymore — not even with a chain — because he often had been bound with shackles and chains, but had torn the chains apart and smashed the shackles.
No one was strong enough to subdue him.
Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains, he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones.”Mark 5:2-9 CSB
The demons had given this Gentile man the strength to break metal chains, yet when he approached Jesus, the Son of Man didn’t even flinch. In fact, the “Legion” groveled before Jesus and begged him not to send them out of the area.
Jesus instead allows the demons to occupy 2,000 pigs on a nearby cliffside. This cliffside is pictured below:
The poor man, now freed from his tormentors, wants to follow Jesus. But this is one of the only times Jesus says “No.” Different from his usual response, Jesus says:
“Go home to your own people, and report to them how much the Lord has done for you and how he has had mercy on you.””Mark 5:19 CSB
Send Him Away!
The Gentiles then come to see the sane man and what Jesus has done and are afraid…they send Jesus away, and though he has barely touched land, Jesus leaves.
Time passes, and Jesus continues to do greater and greater things. He even feeds the five thousand in the fields of Mt Arbel:
After a while, Jesus decides to go back across the Sea, back to the land that rejected him, where he healed the man of the legion.
The Second Miracle on the Water
On his way, of course, he walks on water, but that’s not the point of this story.
When he arrives, a multitude has come and are so eager to hear Jesus teach that they sit with him on a hillside for three days without eating.
Stay with Us
Who are these people? These are actually primarily Gentiles. What changed their mind since the last time Jesus was there? Hadn’t they rejected him? Weren’t they afraid?
We can’t say for sure, but Jesus sent one man who had been healed of many demons, who knew the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ…. And it only takes one man with a heart to say, “Let me follow you, Jesus.”
Here is where Jesus performs the feeding of the four thousand.
Maybe you’ve read this miracle as just a repetition of the same feeding of the five thousand. The difference is that Jesus is doing for the Gentiles the same thing he did for the Jews.
As per his nature, Jesus enacted the new covenant of the cross even before he died. He does not wait. His mission is not confined by space or time, by who is “more religious” or who is “more worthy.”
Jesus took the man who had been possessed by 2,000 demons and made him the first missionary to the Gentiles.
Don’t discount yourself. Jesus’ love for you is as infinite as his power, and his grace is just as true. Let that seep in so that it might overflow. Let it seep in, truly, so that as you behold your Messiah, you will move others to behold as well.
Hi, I’m Andy! I am an Ouachita Baptist University grad who writes stories, teaches languages, and makes music in between. The puzzle and mystery of languages fascinate me and inspire me to dig deeper in my studies. I love to learn and experience God’s creation and share what I have found with others.