I’ve been reading from the book of Luke. A few days ago, as I was reading a story I have read a million times, I saw something new.
Well, not new. It’s always been there, and I have read it before. I’ve even thought about the words, but something twisted a new way inside my brain on this reading. For the last few days, I have toyed with the words, and I have to share.
In Luke, Jesus comes upon a “madman.” In Chapter 8, we read, “he was a victim of demons. He hadn’t worn clothes for a long time, nor lived at home; he lived in the cemetery.” This paints an interesting picture. Naked guy, living among the dead. Creepy cheesy horror movie stuff, right? Corey probably has it in his Netflix queue.
You think I’m joking, but I’m not.
Luke narrates a brief interaction between the madman and Jesus, and I love the image of Jesus this paints, a man who has mercy even on demons. If we ask for grace, He gives it. Can I get an amen?
But that isn’t what struck me on this read through.
In verse 29, we read, “He had been placed under constant guard and tied with chains and shackles, but crazed and driven wild by the demon, he would shatter the bonds.”
Well, sure. This makes sense, right? A guy is crazed and naked and scary, so you lock him up. Pretty typical, especially if he hurt someone. That’s how it works in American, at least. The mentally unstable have to commit a major crime and most likely kill someone before they get help. But I digress.
Read those last five words with me.
He. Would. Shatter. The. Bonds.
Cue the air rushing out of me.
This man was shackled and the demons inside won him freedom.
Not real freedom, not the kind Jesus would give him as the story progressed. When Jesus sent the demons running, the man got his mind back. He was washed and dressed and talking sense when the townspeople came upon him. THAT is freedom.
I mean, seriously, don’t you feel amazing after a good hot shower? Especially if you’ve been working all day in the hot sun and you are sweaty and dirty and exhausted? Now, imagine you have also been crazed with grief and fear and suddenly all of the grief and fear is GONE! Just gone! A hot shower and emotional relief. God is good.
But before Jesus freed him, the demons freed him.
That’s what struck me anew this week.
The demons offered him freedom from his chains.
That sounds like rebellion to me. How many times did I, as a teenager, want freedom from my parents’ rules? And, sometimes, I got that freedom by manipulation and rebellion. I would lie about where I was going to gain some freedom. I would go to a friend’s house when I knew her parents would let us do whatever we wanted.
That demon was whispering in my ear, “They put you in chains, but we can break those chains together.”
Do I still listen to that voice?
Do I settle for broken chains sure to be recast and clapped back onto me? Or do I hold out for true freedom? Do I wait in the graveyard, knowing the Master will come and He will send the evil on it’s way? Do I trust that He has a hot shower waiting for me? Clean clothes and a clean mind?
Do I want the freedom that causes others pain (what do you think the madman did to his guards once he broke those chains) or will I hold out for the freedom that brings healing and wholeness and hope for the future?
Friends, don’t listen to the demons when they offer to break your chains.
Drugs and alcohol will make you feel free, but they are wiggling their roots around you and sucking you down. Money sure seems like the answer to a lot of our problems, but the rappers have it right on this one, “mo’ money, mo’ problems.” Sex with who you want, when you want, how you want? Pleasurable for a time.
Consequences come clanging chains.
Don’t be deceived.
Hold out for the man who sends the demons flee-ing.
Hold out for your hot shower and clean clothes.
You are worthy of grace. Ask, and He will give you mercy. He will give you true freedom.
Jesus said, “I tell you most solemnly that anyone who chooses a life of sin is trapped in a dead-end life and is, in fact, a slave. A slave is a transient, who can’t come and go at will. The Son, though, has an established position, the run of the house. So if the Son sets you free, you are free through and through.