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“and He will answer and say to you, I do not know you, where you come from, then you will begin to say, “We ate and drank in Your presence and You taught in our streets.  But He will say “I tell you I do not know you…..depart from Me.”  Luke 13:25-27

It is one of the basic questions of life, both this terrestrial life and our eternal life, if salvation is from God’s Grace, what do I need to do?  It often sparks a debate over, do I work to earn salvation, or does salvation come to me as a gift?  The bible seems unequivocally clear, salvation is a gift of grace; lest I have a reason to boast.  If I indeed, can “do” enough to earn salvation, did Jesus need die for me?  I truly have no reason to boast, and yes, I can not approach the throne of God, except for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  Sooooo, I can just kick back, live how I want to live and count on that Grace being there whenever I need it.  Let the partying begin!  I can’t wait to eat and drink!  And look wow, there is a church on every corner!  What a saved place I live in!

Not so fast.  Jesus Christ is crystal clear.  He needs to know you and I.  Think about it; you can’t introduce someone you have never met.  Think about this the next time you go out to eat; do you know everyone, there in that restaurant who is eating in the same place?  And ask yourself this; you may go to a lecture or you may read an article by a learned person, but does that person know anything about you?  In the United States, there are some that say we have  an, or live in a Judeo/Christian tradition or culture.  So when it comes to my salvation, what does that culture mean?  Truly, extremely little.  In a practical sense, it may mean that I have easier access to Christian Churches and doctrines which can facilitate my personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and that is a good thing.  I do truly feel and pray for those who are in an environment where the mere mention of Jesus Christ can bring drastic penalty, even death.  And I do pray an acknowledgement of praise and thanksgiving, that I leave in a culture who, for the most part, embraces my right to follow Jesus Christ.  Yet Jesus Christ is very clear;  that I live in this culture, gives me no claim, in the least, to the salvation that comes from actually following Jesus Christ.

So what is required?  Again Jesus Christ answers, I need to know you; we need to have a relationship.  Yes, I believe that God, as creator, knows all of His creation.  Jesus Christ, knows that I exist.  That is not the knowledge that Christ is talking about.  While, I know that a person is standing on the corner as I drive by, I know nothing about them.  I would be hard pressed to actually introduce that person to anyone.  To know them I have to meet them, and they have to meet me.  As I approach them, if they turn and walk away, I still don’t know them.  So for Jesus to know us, we have to enter into a relationship with Him.  To claim salvation, we have to know that it, 1) exists, 2)by whom the salvation comes, and extremely important 3) that we need salvation.  Upon that revelation, a relationship develops.  As the relationship deepens, I feel the immeasurable love, mercy and blessings that come from that relationship.  The same way that, on earth, medicine can bring about healing and that often that healing leads to improved life and behavior, the relationship with Christ leads to an improved life and different behavior.  That relationship, allows Christ to know us and then, we are told, Christ longs to introduce us, in our redeemed state, to God Almighty.  And, through and because of our relationship with Jesus Christ, Our Heavenly Father will welcome us home.

Our Most Gracious and Heavenly Father, we long for a relationship.  We want to do more than just have some vague knowledge that You exist as we eat and drink.  We want to acknowledge more than the fact that You are preached somewhere around us.  We strive, Dear Father for a personal relationship with You.  We do faithfully acknowledge, that relationship comes through Our Savior Jesus Christ.  May it be, Almighty God, that we will enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ.  That through that relationship, we may humbly come to you.  And in that coming to you, we will live a life on this earth that praises your name and leads others to want that relationship, as well as having an eternal relationship with You.  In the name of Jesus Christ we pray.  Amen

Then the whole of the region of Garasenes asked Him to depart from them, for they were seized with a great fear.  And he got into the boat and returned.  Luke 8:37

Whom shall I fear?  Who would I just assume would leave me alone?  I fear the doctor for he may bring me bad news for which I have to change.  I fear my boss coming around for he may tell me to do something different.  I fear the teacher who has the power to say whether I have passed or failed.  There are many people in this life that I may fear and thus want to have as little contact with as possible.

Jesus comes to the region of Garasenes.  He does not come with an army and it seems from what is said in the bible, many don’t realize that He is even there.  However, there are some that are there.  And there is one who knows Jesus; or at least because of his circumstances, knows that the Son of God has come.  It is not sure if the other locals there heard him call Jesus the “Son of the Most High God.”, but even if they did hear him, they would have brushed it off.  For this man was a mad man; living naked, outside, among tombs.  Demon filled, we can imagine that most of what he said, up to this point, was full of hate, lies and treacherous sayings.  Jesus hears the demon possessed man and, the irony never escapes me that the demons are compelled to pronounce the truth of Jesus Christ, where man so often will not, commands the demons to be silent.   And here is where the story even turns more ironic, at least for me.  For my natural reaction, if I had the ultimate power that Jesus has, would be to cast the demons out to the worst place imaginable.  Yet Christ hears the demons frantic plea and He even grants it.  Christ’s concern is with the possessed man and if the demons want to go to a herd of swine, Christ allows it.  Seemingly being merciful.  The man is now cleansed, cured as it were and the swine rush down into the water to their death.

And the irony doesn’t stop there.  Scripture tells us, that the mad man was known in the area.  The people had tried to deal with them on their own, but had failed miserably each time.  Scripture also tells us there were a few locals who saw the whole interaction between Jesus and the mad man take place and they rushed off to spread the news.  So now, many come out to see for themselves what has happened.  And, upon seeing the results of Jesus being in their region, a man with whom they had so much trouble with for so long, is now sitting, clothed, no longer screaming obscenities and blasphemies, but talking in a normal way.  There is a dead herd of swine in the water.  Scripture does not tell us much about the swine.  Mark says that the men who witnessed the acts of Jesus were there to feed the swine, so we might assume that they were owned by someone.  It is interesting that the people who come out don’t seem to be angry about the swine, but they are in dreadful fear of Jesus because of what He did for the man.  And in their dread, the ask, no they beg Jesus to leave.

What is Jesus’ response to their request?  This is the Son of God, The Creator, with God from the Beginning, King of Kings!; He most certainly could have forced His way in.  Jesus honors their request and leaves.

What were they afraid of?  Could it be that their greatest fear concerned, if this man Jesus could change this horrible man who was so completely out or our control, what could He do to me?  A man with that kind of power can not be trusted?  I am nothing compared to this man and if I let him in what will become of me?

Think about what their fear caused them to miss out on.  Those who were sick, were not healed.  Those who were living in the darkness of Satan in this world, did not see the Light of Christ.  Those who were in anguish, did not have the Peace of Christ, preached to them (although Christ did command the healed man to go back and tell them his story).  No, their decision was; we are better off with what we know and are today, versus what me might learn and become if we let this man in.  And Jesus Christ never being the one to do to someone, that is against their will,  but always wanting to do with someone, that is along with their will and faith, acquiesces to their request and leaves.

Remember, the doctor may give us a good report.  The boss may want to tell us about the raise or promotion, the teacher the A.  Jesus Christ is all powerful.  He greatly desires to dwell with us.  And in dwelling with us, He will change us.  And it is true that, that kind of power is worthy of “fear.”

The question is what type of fear.  The type of fear that cries, depart from me, I don’t want to change; I’m good enough as I am?  Or the fear that says; Your power is so great, I am overwhelmed and in awe of it?  The latter fear allows me to still ask for a relationship.  A relationship built on the Love of and for Jesus Christ and Our Heavenly Father.  A relationship that is not only open to, but actively requests to be changed; improved.  Jesus Christ is willing to abide by both of those requests.

Our Most Gracious and Heavenly Father, we ask that You would be with us and give us the strength to come to You.  Keep in us a righteous fear, stemming from the realization of Your Greatness, which will keep us humbly open to Your plans and guidance for us.  Thwart the demon who would have us turn from You in fear, to travel our own path alone.  Through the Light of Jesus Christ, change us; allowing us to become the creation You desire us to be.  That in our changes we would live a life of and that Praises Your Most Holy Name.  We pray in the name of He, who desires to be with us and not just do to us, Jesus Christ.  Amen


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