THE JESUS I DIDN’T KNOW: LOVE I’VE NEVER KNOWN

How well do you know Jesus? We all like to think we know Jesus pretty well. I’ve had close to fifty years of wonderful, sweet communion with Jesus. I’ve devoted over forty years of my life to studying and teaching His Word. I’m talking about going back to the original languages and learning as much as I can about Jewish culture, institutions, and beliefs. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a Know-It-All. And you can ask my kids: I’m not inerrant or infallible. But still, knowing what I know, I’d like to think I know Jesus pretty good. To my pleasant surprise, however, I don’t know Jesus as good as I think I do. To this day, He still shows me more about Himself. Here, let me give you some snippets of the Jesus I never knew. 

LOVE I’VE NEVER KNOWN

For those of you who have real, true love—the love of family and friends—you are so blest. You are richer than the richest guy around! Here, let me tell my story.

My name is Legion. And for as long as I can remember, no body loved me or wanted me—not even my family. Of course, I was a nut case and there really wasn’t much to love about me. That’s because I was a demoniac. I had all kinds of demons living inside me. You may scoff at the idea and think I’m off my rocker. But believe me, and you can ask my parents and all the townsfolk, I was possessed. That’s why my name is Legion—because there were gobs of demons living inside me. (Just so you know, a legion of the Roman army in Jesus’ time was about 600 soldiers.)

Anyways, I very clearly wasn’t normal. I was full of demons. I’d act like an animal and howl like a hyena. I’d constantly be hurting myself, cutting myself. No, I wasn’t suicidal. But long before Leopold von Sacher-Masoch came along, I was the ancient poster child for masochism. Every part of my body was tattooed with the scars of self-inflicted abuse. I looked like a monster right out of a horror movie. I was a danger to everyone. That’s why nobody wanted me around. They were all scared of me. They tried all sorts of ways to restrain me. One time, people even tied me up in chains. But I tore the chains apart as easily as if they were made of paper. That’s the kind of power I had because of these devils. That’s when my parents and the townsfolk decided that I couldn’t live among them anymore. I was so strong and violent that I was a real danger to everyone. So, in one of my saner moments, they took me to the cemetery at the outskirts of town and that’s where I lived.

As you would imagine, I didn’t get very many visitors. People didn’t want to die because they didn’t want folks coming to the cemetery. I guess I can’t blame them. It was a pretty lonely life. It was just me and the demons, constantly hurting me and driving me nuts, that I really wanted to die. It’s a miserable way to live. What’s even more miserable is not being able to die. The devils got a big kick out of hurting me that there was no way they were going to let me kill myself.

One day, several guys came by the cemetery. I was genuinely surprised! It wasn’t a funeral. There was no bier. No women wailing. They were headed my way! It was like they were coming to see me! One Guy in particular, at the forefront, seemed unafraid and intent to see me. I didn’t know Him from Adam. But strangely, at the sight of Him, I ran towards Him. When I reached Him, I promptly fell prostrate at his feet and said, What have I to do with you, Jesus, you Son of the most high God? I beg you by God, please don’t torment me (Mark 5:7).

Apparently, the demons in me knew who the Guy was and they were genuinely scared of Him. Imagine that! Demons scared of a Fellow! It was always the other way around: it was always people who were afraid of demons. But, for the first time in my life, these devils inside me were genuinely afraid of the Guy! He must have been someone special. Someone powerful.

The Guy started talking to me. What’s your name?, He asked. My name is Legion, because we’re many, I said. Really, it was the devils in me that were speaking. Anyways, Jesus looked me straight in the eyes and commanded all the demons to come out of me. I couldn’t believe it! No one had ever done that to me before! I didn’t even know it could be done! I always thought the devils were gods that couldn’t be pushed around. But here was this Guy, telling these demons what to do. And He was calmly standing there, waiting, and expecting, these demons to comply with His order. He definitely acted like He was the Guy in charge. No wonder the demons in me were afraid of Him!

To make a long story short, all the demons came violently out of me and headed towards a herd of swine nearby. The pigs all ran off a cliff and drowned in the Sea. But I felt a strange calm and relief. For the first time in my life, I felt peace and rest. I was a human being again! I laid there in the dust, savoring a peace that I’d never known.

Jesus picked me up and, for the next few minutes, we talked. The love and care that He had for me brought tears to my eyes. I couldn’t stop crying. I didn’t think anyone could ever love me. I didn’t think anyone cared. For some unknown reason, I mattered to Him.

The townsfolk came up a short while later. They were shocked to see me in my right mind! But they were afraid of Jesus and they asked Him to leave. I guess they didn’t want any more pigs getting killed: that would surely ruin the town’s economy.

So, like a Gentleman, He complied with their request and He, His disciples, and I started walking back to the coast where Jesus’ boat was moored. I wanted to get in the boat with Jesus and serve Him. But Jesus told me I could serve Him more by going around the district and telling everyone what He did for me. So, with tears in my eyes and joy in my heart, I waved them off and thanked God Almighty for setting me free.

No one ever loved me the way Jesus did. I didn’t think this kind of love was possible, or that it even existed.

I forgot to tell you that Jesus lived in Capernaum across the Sea. He sailed across the Sea last night and a furious storm arose that nearly sank their boat. Come to find out, it was the devil trying to kill them and stop them from coming to me. Anyways, Jesus knew what was happening. So He rebuked the storm and there was an immediate calm on the Sea Mark 4:34-41).

Anyhow, He came to see me. He set me free. Then He got back in His boat and sailed right back to Capernaum. In other words, as busy a Teacher and Healer that He was, He dropped what He was doing and made a special trip across the Sea—and nearly got Himself and all His disciples killed—just to set me free!

That, dear friends, is love. And who was I? I was a nobody. A worthless reject. A vile sinner and abject demoniac. I walked around in the buff: I was stark naked. I hadn’t had a haircut or shave since time immemorial. I didn’t shower or clean up after myself, so I stunk to high Heaven. I was truly a sight to behold. My scraggly looks and body odor would have driven everyone away!

But Jesus came and loved me! He saw worth in me! And He went through death’s doors to save me, give me back my humanity, and make my life worth living. I’ll never forget Him. I’ll never stop serving and praising Him. I never knew this kind of love existed.

I know He loves you too! Jesus is Love Incarnate. He can help you, save you, and change you. Like me, He’ll give you a life who’ll never forget or regret. I didn’t think life could be so fun. So meaningful and worthwhile. That’s because I didn’t know Jesus. But thanks to Him, now I know.

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