“Then they came to Jesus, and saw the one who had been demon-possessed and had the legion, sitting and clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. And those who saw it told them how it happened to him who had been demon-possessed, and about the swine. Then they began to plead with Him to depart from their region.” Mark 5:16-17
The crazy, naked man that’d been the terror and embarrassment of the region is sitting there “clothed and in his right mind.” Everyone had tried everything they could think of just to try to contain and confine him and nothing had been able to hold or keep him in check. Now you don’t have to worry about him. And you’re not. Instead you’re afraid of the man who set him free.
Granted, the freedom of the demoniac wasn’t the only thing that had happened. Somehow along the way the legion of demons that’d driven the man so far out of control had been cast into your herd of pigs and now your financial investment is floating dead in the lake. That loss is, no doubt, figuring prominently in the production of the fear you’re feeling at the moment.
So what do you do if you have someone with the power to control the uncontrollable if that someone is also out of your control? You beg him to leave.
It’s easy to sit hear from our vantage point millennia later and shake our heads at the short sighted, childish reaction of the pig owners of Gadara. But we’re not any better. We too become nervous and afraid when the Holy Spirit demonstrates that he’s ready and able to take our lives from the sin controlled, familiar state of chaos that they’ve been in for as long as we can remember. We too draw lines in the sand surrounding our lives and beg Jesus to not come any closer. He’s going to ruin the garbage pile of a life we’ve been living. It’s too much to risk.
So what does Jesus do? He leaves. It’s a tactical withdrawal. He’s made his first foray into new territory. He’s made a mark on the hearts and minds of the people. He’ll come back after emotions have settled. Jesus is working to win the war for our hearts and that doesn’t necessarily mean he gets to win every battle.
It’s good to remember this when it appears that Jesus is pulling back from working on our, or a loved one’s, life. Jesus may retreat today but never fear. He will be back.