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On Your Mark


This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him any more, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. (Mark 5:3-6, NIV)

Cemeteries are not natural habitats for living people. This man lived among the tombs. He was deranged, possessed of evil spirits. He had no control over his own life.

Unfortunately, he’s not the only one. Our society is full of people out of control with eating disorders, dependencies and addictions to alcohol, drugs, sexual deviancy, pornography or a host of other things — including demon possession. Try as hard as they might, they cannot seem to break the hold of what has hold of them. But Jesus goes to people living in “tombs” of their own making.

I’m sure on this night the disciples would have rather avoided this meeting. I know I would. Take me to people I’m comfortable with, please!

The demoniac’s bondage had been of substantial duration, since he had “often” been bound. Given his wild behavior, it had taken several persons to clasp the chains on his feet. These attempts at restraint proved unsuccessful — thus we meet him wandering among the tombs, isolated from the living.

You hear his torment in the gut cries from the depths of his being. And he’s a “cutter” — a not-too-infrequent practice today among young people with emotional pain so great they, too, cut themselves.

This man was past human hope. He represents all who live in deathful places of body and spirit. Everyone had given up on helping him. The best they could do was tie him down or chain him up. Deliverance was out of the question because he was undeliverable.

He was strong enough to break the chains but not strong enough to free himself. Perhaps you know someone like that.

Or, could that also be you? Despite your best efforts to break out of bondage, you’re still not free. You try and fail. You ask for forgiveness but then repeat the conduct that devastates you on the inside. You wish someone could help you, but no one can.

Then notice what this possessed man did. He saw Jesus from a distance.

The Pharisees saw Him close up, but didn’t really see. But here’s a man written off by society, controlled by powers he could not tame. However, there’s one thing he could control — the direction he would move when Jesus came into view.

You have freedom to either run to Jesus or run away from Him. At a far distance, there may not be much of Jesus you can see. This man had no firsthand knowledge of what Jesus had already done for others.

But he saw in Jesus the prospect of hope, the prospect of a better day.

Inherently, the man recognizes the magnitude of Jesus and falls on his knees — a proper posture for one meeting the Lord of All.

If you’re tormented, start heading toward Jesus. You’ll find Him because He’s already headed toward you.

A prayer of response
Lord Jesus, I bring to You any out-of-control aspect in my own life. Despite my best efforts, I’ve not been able to free myself. I cannot find anyone to help me. I desperately need Your help. I throw myself, Lord, at Your feet. I know You will deliver me.

GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.

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