Thesis:Being "saved" often means not getting your prayers answered.
Introduction:When we first came to Lincolnton, we did a study called "Developing Perspective" because, as we have said many times, everything depends upon "definitions" and "perspective" drives those definitions. In the record before us this morning, there are two vastly different "perspectives" regarding Jesus. One makes "sense" and the other is completely "nuts", but, just as He acquiesced to the request of the demons, Jesus allowed the request made out of a completely irrational mindset, and disallowed the request made by the man whom He had saved. It is highly significant in this text that the "prayers" of the opponents are given the requested response and the "prayer" of the only one in his right mind is denied.
Why is this? Why does Jesus give permission to the wicked to accomplish their desires and restrain those whom He has saved from theirs? Almost without exception, people think that it ought to be the other was around.
The answer is to be found in the single word in this text that addresses what He had intended to do even before He told the disciples to go over to the land of the Gerasenes. That single word is found at the end of 8:36 and is translated in the NASB "had been made well".
I. The Word Does Not Mean "to Make Well".
A. There are two ways that words are given "definition".
1. One of those ways is to look at how the word is used and develop a "definition" out of those uses.
2. The other way is to look at the results that accrue from the word's impact in its context and give a "definition" that seems to "fit" those results.
B. When we look into the uses of the word in question, we find that it is used 110 times in the New Testament and the translators of the Authorized Version chose to render it in some form of "to save" 93 of those times.
1. Only three of those 110 uses were rendered by the Authorized Version translators "to heal" and none of those three situations are better described in terms of "healing" as opposed to "saving".
2. The fact is this: the word means "to save" from a present or impending disaster. Disaster is always in view and deliverance is always the outcome of "being saved".
C. The facts in our text do not indicate that the man was "sick" and needed to be "healed".
1. Demon possession is not a "sickness" in the typical sense of a breakdown of the body's immune system.
2. The man was being tormented day and night by some wicked spirits -- his experience was an unmitigated disaster -- and he needed someone to come along who was more powerful than those spirits who could banish them from his body.
3. When Jesus came along, He did not "heal" the man; He "saved" him from the clutches of the demons.
II. The Word Has an Extensive Set of "Implied Meanings" That Come With It When It is Used.
A. Most words have this "extensive set".
1. As soon as a word is used, there is a "perspective" established by the implied meanings it drags into the picture.
2. This is why Jesus was able to say that men "live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God": God's "words" are all interconnected and they all drag Reality into the picture when He speaks.
B. When Luke says that the witnesses told "how the demoniac was saved", he deliberately intended to draw a line in the sand between the demons, the Gerasenes, and the "saved".
III. The Reason Jesus "Gave Permission" to the Wicked and "Refused Permission" to the "Saved".
A. Jesus gives permission to the wicked because of the way "salvation" works.
1. In respect to "demons", there is no "salvation" so that there is no "need" to not give them their request.
a. Letting the wicked "have their request" is a form of judgment: "stupid" always brings its own consequences.
1) On the one hand, it allows them to persist in their delusion of autonomy.
a) Being given the request one makes gives the recipient the impression that he/she knew what was best and God just needed to be "asked" to do this "good" thing.
b) When requests have nothing more to them than the desire to be allowed to pursue one's own course, they are nothing more than "requests" for "autonomy" (the contradiction here is massive).
2) On the other hand, it allows them to choose to destroy themselves: creaturely "autonomy" is a delusion that always leads to Death.
b. Luke's "point" in recording what happened when the demons were allowed to enter the pigs is that the demons did not have a clue as to where their wishes would lead.
2. In respect to humans, "salvation" only comes when the situation becomes bad enough that one can "see" the approaching Death and turn to God in a faith-based call to Him.
a. Given this fact (need must be seen before a solution will be sought) "salvation" has the built-in requirement that men be allowed to pursue their course until it gets bad enough for them to see that it is not only a "bad course", but it is an enslavingly destructive one.
b. Thus, God very often (perhaps, even, the majority of the time) gives His permission to them in the pursuits of their delusions.
B. Jesus refuses permission to the "saved" because of the way "salvation" works.
1. "Salvation", by God's definition, is the insertion of His love, wisdom, and power into a situation of disaster so as to turn the disaster into blessing.
2. In this "definition" are three things which "believers" typically do not have in sufficient levels: love, wisdom, and power.
3. For this cause, Jesus will very often deny a "believer's" request: it is not coming out of love or wisdom so that His power cannot be applied to it without wrecking His "salvation".
a. Giving a person "permission" to do something that will create a disaster for them is "judgment", not "mercy".
b. The commitment of God to "mercy" means He cannot do what His less-than-loving, less-than-wise children often ask Him to do.
C. In our text, Jesus had the "salvation" of a host of Gerasenes in mind, but there were two problems.
1. On the one hand, the Gerasenes had refused to learn from the demoniac, so they were yet committed to trying the "Jesus-free" life.
2. On the other hand, if the former demoniac was allowed to leave to simply satisfy his desire to be "with Jesus", there would be no "witness" for the Gerasenes if/when their request (please leave) ultimately brought them to a sufficiently grave disaster to open their eyes.
a. At the present, the Gerasenes were too caught up in their own "losses" from the destruction of the pigs to understand anything.
1) Their foolishness was clear from the blame they put on Jesus for the death of their "economy".
2) They needed some time to "get over" the present and give some thought to the on-going witness of the "saved" man.
b. The "saved" man was to be "really saved" -- i.e., he was being delivered from his penchant for setting his own course so that he could pursue a course that would bring his "salvation" to real fulfillment.