What strikes me this morning is that Jesus Christ knows and shows mercy toward everyone in this incident.
Jesus knows the demons. The eternal Son of God was present in the creation of all things, seen and unseen. He was there when Satan and some of the angels rebelled against God, and He saw them cast out of heaven.
He knows them, and they certainly know him. But even as he exercises power over them by making them admit their name, He mercifully accepts their plea and delays their final destruction. He lets them inhabit and destroy pigs (see the previous post - pigs are "unclean.")
He knows the people of the region. He knows they need His Good News, but he is merciful because they are afraid. As we see throughout the Bible, people are terrified in the presence of God. So He leaves them, but gives them their familiar, healed neighbor to
"Return home and tell how much God has done for you."
He knows the healed man, of course. It seems as though the whole purpose of the journey across the lake was to reach this one man. But Jesus also has a purpose for the man, and in mercy says "No" to the man's request to follow Him. He leaves the man there to fulfill a great purpose.
We forget, sometimes, that Christ knows all. We get into danger when we substitute our own will for his wisdom.
- Christ sees that some people will remain "unclean" and leaves them to the demons - we rush toward destruction if we continue to chase after them.
- He sees that some people are just confused and sends us to bring His message - we put their eternal hope at risk if we turn away from them.
- He sees a holy purpose for each of us - we jeopardize this joyful work if we follow our own desire instead of His.
Anglicans right now must pray for Christ's wisdom. We need to know if we are chasing demons into a lake by staying in The Episcopal Church or bodies like it. We need to know if the Lord wants us to stay in such bodies for a time in order to warn others of what is going on.
Most of all, we need to remember that He knows us better than we know ourselves. He has a purpose for us, and he is patient and merciful to bring it to pass. He left heaven to "cross the stormy lake" of this world, just to save us. Even when we've tried to push him away, He's left his human witness, the Gospel-bearing church, to tell us what He's done and call us to Him.
Let us pray for ourselves, and for one another, to do His will, His way, in His time, always thanking Him for His mercy when we get it all wrong.