Why did He want to cross the lake? On the surface, the answer seems simple enough: to get to the other side. But the story is actually an incredible rescue mission! It begins in Luke chapter 8 when Jesus announces to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake” (verse 22).
After entering the boat, Jesus heads to the deck below for some much needed sleep. In no time, the first signs of trouble appear. As a fierce storm is brewing above, the disciples burst in on Jesus, shouting, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” (verse 24). Jesus slowly rises, follows the disciples above deck, and with just three words, calms the raging storm.
“Peace! Be still!” (Mark 4:39)
All appears well until they reach the shore. We can only guess what the disciples expected to encounter when they crossed the lake. I imagine that a crazed, naked demoniac was not on the list. Before Jesus even climbs out of the boat, here comes this wild, naked demon-possessed man leaping from a nearby graveyard. Rushing towards Jesus, he shrieks at the top of his voice.
Authority Over Demons
“And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit. He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones. And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him.” (Mark 5:2-6 ESV)
Crying Out for Deliverance
Can you imagine the torment? Here we encounter the most pitiful creature. A man so debased to the point that even beasts surpass him. Homeless, friendless, and alienated from society, the tormented man tore his shackles and chains to pieces, but he could not break the chains that held his mind prisoner. Running crazed into the night, his shrieks echoed from the mountaintops, but no one could hear the wails echoing in the prison of his soul. The evidence of deep cuts on the man’s broken, bloodied body were plain to everyone, but no one could see the broken, bleeding heart crying out for deliverance—no one but Jesus.
Speaking through the man, the demons beg Jesus not to destroy them. Instead, Jesus banishes them into a herd of nearby pigs. Within moments, the entire herd charges headlong into the river and drowns.
To say that Jesus caused no small uproar among the townspeople would be quite an understatement. The whole town heads to the shore where they find the demon-possessed man completely calm and fully clothed. But rather than rejoice for the healed man, the people were incensed. How dare Jesus interfere with their way of life? All at once the people begged Jesus to leave.
Why Did Jesus Cross the Lake?
And so we return to the original question. Surely Jesus knew how the people would respond. Why go to so much trouble? The answer is as simple as it is profound. He came to rescue the one person who would welcome Him. The one man who, being so thankful, begged Jesus to let him return with Him. But Jesus instead gives the man a mission of his own, “Return home and tell how much God has done for you.” (Luke 8:39)
On the surface, it seems like quite a lot of effort. After all, only one person had been transformed. And that’s precisely what makes the story so beautiful. Jesus, the Son of God, was willing to battle raging storms and armies of demons in order to rescue … one … lost … soul.
And just as Jesus was willing to cross the sea and rescue one man from the enemy’s chains, He crossed the heavens to rescue you and me from a fate even worse: eternal chains. But praise God that through His sacrifice for sin, Jesus conquered all the forces of evil and opened up the gates of paradise to all who embrace His mercy. So come with me. Let’s Rediscover the God Who Rescues Me!
This post is adapted from my new Bible study, LEGION: Rediscovering the God Who Rescues Me, an action-packed 6-week study that you don’t want to miss!
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Shadia is a passionate Bible teacher, author and speaker who has a heart for seeing lives transformed by the power of God’s Word. She holds a master’s in biblical and theological studies from Western Seminary and is author of several books and Bible studies.