Everyone has a very definite heart reaction to Jesus. You see this all through the Bible and all around us today. Some hearts rejoice at the sound of His name…others despise Him or don’t believe He even exists. As I was reading the Bible last week I came across two distinct accounts of people’s heart reactions to Jesus. In each account we see that there is a cost to following Jesus. But the people in question had two very different responses. First let’s take a quick read through Mark 5: 1-20. This is one of my very favorite accounts in the Bible because we see Jesus set a man free from torment!
Story One: The People and Their Pigs
You can read the entire story here, but to paraphrase the first part…Jesus and His disciples come upon a man who is possessed by many demons. For a long time the man has been living in a cemetery naked. He regularly screams, wails, and cuts himself with stones. He is not physically or mentally well, to say the least. The local people have tried to restrain him but he overpowers them. He is a lost cause….until Jesus comes along. Before He casts them out of the man, the demons ask Jesus to send them into the herd of pigs nearby. Jesus agrees and as the demons invade the pigs, they become crazed and run over a hill and die in the sea.
Picking up the story in Mark 5:14-17:
“Those tending the pigs, scared to death, bolted and told their story in town and country. Everyone wanted to see what had happened. They came up to Jesus and saw the madman sitting there wearing decent clothes and making sense, no longer a walking madhouse of a man. Those who had seen it told the others what had happened to the demon-possessed man and the pigs. At first they were in awe—and then they were upset, upset over the drowned pigs. They demanded that Jesus leave and not come back.” (The Message)
The Heart Reaction
-The people were in awe at how Jesus completely healed the demon-possessed man and at the authority He demonstrated over the demons….until they realized that their income was affected because of the drowned pigs….and then their heart response was to get mad at Jesus. Never mind that a man was now sane, healthy and set free form years of torment! The fact that this man’s healing COST THEM SOMETHING made them angry enough to tell Jesus to get lost.
-What if someone’s else’s healing, salvation, freedom in Christ costs you something? Is it worth the cost to you?
Story Two: True Repentance & God’s Power
Look at the different response of the people in Acts 19. An event had just happened that left no doubt in the minds of the people of the power and authority of Jesus.
“When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor. Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed what they had done. A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to 50,000 drachmas In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.” (Acts 19:17-19)
The Heart Reaction
-50,000 drachmas was a considerable amount of money. Once source says that 1 drachma = a day’s wages….these people burned possessions that cost them a lot. But they didn’t care. They merely heard about the power that is in the Name and person of Jesus, and in their hearts they revered Him, respected Him, stood in awe and believed; so much so that many of them began renouncing the activities they were involved in that didn’t bring glory and honor to God. Their heart response was, “I want to be close to You, Jesus, and I am willing to get rid of these unhealthy practices in my life that would keep me from You in any way.” Vastly different than the earlier story about the pigs.
+What has Jesus’ presence in your life cost you? Your job? Relationships? Following your own will in every situation? Your reputation? Giving up a sinful “pleasure” that you enjoyed?
+Now, what have you gained from following Jesus that is more important than what you lost? A few things I would list are salvation, freedom from habitual sin patterns, always-present peace, true joy even in difficult circumstances, knowing that God is for me; that He is working for my good; that I will never be alone. Those are just some of the ‘benefits’ I have found following Jesus. What about you?
+Is the cost worth the benefit?
God, You are worth more than anything I could ever give up to follow You. And even as I do surrender my whole heart and life to You, You give me more good things than I could ever dream of. Thank You for filling my heart with joy, peace, love and grace as I seek You. I pray that my heart reaction to You is always one of love and surrender as I trust You, the only One with perfect wisdom, with my life. Amen.