“Now it came to pass on a certain day, that He went into a ship with His disciples and He said unto them, Let us go over unto the other side of the lake; and they launched forth.”
Everything Jesus did was according to an exact plan of operation and the most precise time table ever. He wasted no time in ‘idol’ conversation; He expended no unnecessary energy on frivolous endeavours as each step He took led Him along His appointed path. He manifested the power of the fullness of the Godhead in everything He said and did as a testimony to the glory of God and the work which was before Him; “for He taught them as one having authority” (Matt. 7:29).
This certain day came upon Him resplendent with the activities to be displayed and lessons to be taught in its perfect order. Jesus had come down off the mountain with a great multitude following Him to meet the leper who worshiped Him. Jesus cleansed Him of this dreadful disease and instructed him saying; “See you tell no man, but go your way, shew yourself to the priest and offer the gift that Moses commanded for a testimony unto them” (Matt. 8:4).
He then entered into Capernaum (the village of comfort) for a distant meeting with a Roman centurion who had been “summoned to His side”. This man was not seeking out Jesus; the Master summoned the Roman centurion to His side because He had laid a sickness upon his son. This paralyzed child was sorely tormented as an irresistible element in the perfect will of Yehovah which called to his father. This Gentile man was endowed with the fruit of the Spirit of the Most High God (faith) which caused him to testify to the sovereign power of the Lord God Omnipotent. His faith did not summon Christ or the Spirit of God; he was summoned to the side of the Master as a testimony to all around him. This man was granted the gift of faith in the absolute authority of the Sovereign of the Universe who spoke and His will came to pass. He first dispatched the elders of the Jews unto Jesus because he knew that as a Gentile he had no right to come unto the prophet of Israel. These men had great accolades for this Roman soldier and urged Jesus to have mercy on him because of his benevolence. The centurion then sent his friends unto Jesus because he knew that he was unworthy to stand in the presence of the Elect Servant of God which was a testimony to his faith. The Spirit of God taught this man that God sits in the heavens and performs the intent of His heart and no man can resist or alter His perfect ways. Jesus healed His son and confirmed the mystery of the gospel that the nations should be partakers of the Spirit of God. He manifested before the people and His disciples that this man was a child of grace. He also declared that the faith demonstrated by this ‘goy’ was greater than any in all of Israel yet He did not mean that it was greater than any other child of grace for there is one faith.
He then traveled to Peter’s house to heal his mother-in-law who had been afflicted with a fever. In the presence of His disciples and many family, Jesus “rebuked the fever and it left her and immediately she arose and ministered unto them”. This was followed, after the sun had set, by a large number of people bringing “any sick with divers diseases” and “He laid His hands on every one of them and healed them” (Luke 4:39). He raised the young man at Nain, rebuked the disciples of John and preached the truth of the kingdom of God all in deference to the thoughts, customs and aspirations of the people around Him. He was not come to impress anyone but rather to openly declare the absolute power of God and the impotence of man. Everything Jesus did was ordained of old to come to pass on a certain day and at a specific time and He brought them to pass by the power of His will.
“And when He had entered into a ship His disciples followed Him” (Matt. 8:23)
Jesus brought His disciples to a predetermined location where there was a ship that had been afore prepared for this day that He and the twelve could enter into it and sail across the Sea of Galilee. It was not a little row boat wherein some may have to be left back to wait for the second or third crossing and it was not a luxury liner where all could relax in comfort. There were many little ships there at the docks but there was only one which was the correct size and shape for the trip to be undertaken. It was the right size and shape for the passengers to fit into, having one cabinet equipped with a pillow, suitable for sleeping, and it was waiting for Jesus. These accomplished professional fishermen did not hesitate to enter into the ship for this was their forte wherein they had great confidence in their abilities. It is not recorded who the owner was or if he was even contacted for permission to take the ship but the Master had need of it for His good pleasure. The owner was made agreeable, the subjects were made willing, the conditions appeared conducive for sailing and so they launched out into the sea.
There have been many speculations and conjectures raised about the circumstances surrounding this event and the majority of these hypotheses conclude that the twelve were either tired or unprepared for this voyage and that is why they struggled as they did. The testimony of the scriptures seems to be that the tempestuous waves of the sea were stirred by a storm of wind upon the lake. This was afore prepared of Yehovah God to demonstrate to these ‘worthy seamen’ the unprofitable nature of the flesh. These men entered into the ship with no anxiety or trepidations and set sail after the normal manner. The sea was calm enough or else they would have never waited until Jesus was asleep before they began to panic. Four of these were in partnership as fisherman with other family members. They knew the sea, could read the waves and the skies and were very accustomed to a storm coming up as many nights they fished all night; this was not a common storm. The waves were so great that they were in ‘jeopardy’. No change of course could lessen the effects of the wind and no amount of bailing the incoming water could save the ship, therefore they came to Jesus and waking Him said, “Master, master, we are in danger (perish)”.
These disciples of the Anointing were being shown through experience that they had no control over anything as they were helpless and without hope. Piece by piece Yehovah revealed Himself, line upon line and precept upon precept to cause these who had ‘forsaken all and followed Jesus’ to fear and tremble. They were embarrassed as He rebuked them and questioned their understanding of faith when just a short while earlier a Gentile professed the authority of Almighty God. A foreigner knew what the children of Abraham did not understand; how did that sit in the Zionistic minds of the chosen people of the Lord?
Jesus arose and rebuked the winds and the waves and when they ceased there was a great calm. This caused the disciples to ask; “What manner of man is this? He commands even the wind and the water and they obey Him” (Luke 8:25). All that had come before was needful to prepare them for this experience which was the continuing affirmation of the inability of man to believe anything of the Spirit, even when it is clearly shown him. This is the lesson for every child of grace as they are made partakers of flesh and blood. The best of intention, the most advanced training, education and experience and the brightest of intellect are worthless in the spiritual arena; “It is not of him that wills nor of him that runs, but of God that shews mercy” (Rms. 9:16).
With a demonstration like this is it conceivable that the commandments of the Lord God Omnipotent can be rejected, dismissed and altered by the feeble mind and limp arm of Adam? Why then does the doctrine of the flesh extol their hearers to strive to learn and do the will of God when Jesus taught His disciples to pray; “Your will is done on earth as it is in heaven”? Who can stay His hand or prevent the designs of God from coming to pass? Did the storm of wind blow the ship of these inept sailors off course or was it indeed necessary to bring them to their designation?
“And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes” (Mark 5:1).
Gergesenes and Gadarea were regions as well as towns on the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee. The fact that both are mentioned in the three accounts of this event should not be a reason for dispute or skepticism but rather a guide to the general area wherein these things took place. The scriptures were not intended as a road map and the specific places are oft times not given due to the Adamic nature which venerates places and objects. The ship left the area of Capernium by the sea and landed at a specific location where the next testimony of Jesus Christ was about to be demonstrated. They landed at the predestined place and began a walk into the country to a certain location where a peculiar person awaited them.
A child of grace had not only been made subject to the vanity of this world but he had also been imprisoned with two demons who tormented him a long time. Many well meaning religionists, philosophers and mental health experts had attempted many times to bind this man in the fetters and chains of self discipline in order to control him but the labours of the flesh were useless. He had been cast out of his house and his neighborhood and he had discarded his clothing as an open testimony of what had possessed him. He dwelt among the dead and forbade all who would pass by; “neither could any tame him”. This man came to Jesus, not in the will or power of the flesh but in the subjective nature of the demons. The evil spirits came to Jesus and worshiped Him and made their petition unto Him for mercy. Does this sound anything like the neo-evangelical mantra of ‘come unto Jesus’, ‘give Him your heart’, ‘accept Him into your heart and ask Him to save you’ ‘surrender your life unto Him’ and make Him Lord and Master of your life’? The tormented man was not seeking salvation and he did not ask to be healed even though “in the tombs, crying and cutting himself with stones”. The demons saw, recognized and came unto Jesus and they caused the body to fall at His feet and they worshiped Him.
The disciples are speechless in this matter. They have seen all manner of things at the hand of Jesus and now, after a harrowing night on the sea, a mad man is running down the mountainside begging Jesus not to torment him! Did they know this man? Was he the subject of fame and lour or were they as frightened and amazed as ever having no idea what to do and no power to do anything? And why has Jesus put them through this ordeal only to come to an heathen land where they herd swine and defile himself (according to the law) by being made unclean by one who was in contact with the dead (Num. 19:11)?
This is the testimony of Jesus Christ. The testimony of power and might and authority wherein He commissioned Himself to come as the Son of God, in the form of a servant, in the likeness of sinful flesh, born of a woman, made under the Law to finish the work of the salvation of Yehovah. And fulfill the Law in all righteousness. Jesus came to “Seek and to save that which was lost” and He brought His disciples, including the son of perdition, to witness His glory and majesty. He came to declare the salvation of Yehovah and to reveal that which was hid from the beginning; the mystery of the gospel. He came to give open manifestation that they are not all Israel that are of Israel and when He spoke the commandment the evil spirits, named Legion “for we are many’, obeyed Him.
“Now there were nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding” (Luke 8:32)
Was this a wandering band of foraging wild bore? Or had the perfect will of God ordained from before the foundation of the world that this people should be granted a life-style which prospered from raising, selling and consuming pigs? Is there anything evil about a pig or unclean about the pork meat? NO! God has given the meat for the belly and even though He restricted the people of Israel from eating the swine, calling it unclean (Lev. 11:7) He indeed told Peter, “What God has cleansed, that do not call common” (Acts 10:15). “Do you not perceive that whatsoever things from without enters into a man cannot defile...that which comes out of the man defiles him” (Mark. 7:19f).
No, this great herd of many swine was precisely prepared to be in position as the delivery canister for the destruction of these evil spirits. They did not prepare themselves and not a one of them was asked their permission to be host to the impending catastrophe but rather the El Shaddai caused them to be grazing on the mountain side awaiting to perform their part in this production. The many evil spirits entered into the many swine (the Lord loves a just balance and exact numbers) and choked them all in the sea. The grazing herd became a destructive stampede which turned into a major water pollution problem as they all perished in the sea. The local indigenous herdsmen were astonished and became furious at what had just happened. They were no doubt afar off with the herd and could not hear what Jesus said or what he had done, but they certainly saw the effects of His power. They witnessed the violent uproar of the animals, the unstoppable dash down the mountainside and their horrific demise in the water. They became witnesses unto all that dwelt in the surrounding towns and country side of the majesty of Jesus Christ.
Did they come unto Him and beg forgiveness? Did they kneel at the anxious benches and pray the sinner’s prayer? Was there wholesale revival as their hearts were softened? No, none of the above. They were enraged and demanded that he leave them. There was no altar call made, no invitation extended and not one convert because they had not the Spirit of Yehovah dwelling in them. There was only one child of promise in this land of strangers who drew nigh as they dwelt in clay pots (Gergesenes; Girgashites - Gen. 10:16) and his ‘reward was at the end’ (Gadarenes). These sons of Canaan are the people of the low lands whom the children of Israel could not drive out when Joshua gave them their inheritance (Jud. 2:23). The Canaanites had attempted many times to control this man and bring him into their society when he was possessed, but now they “found the man, out of whom the devils departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind, they were afraid” (Luke 8:33). They did not thank Jesus for correcting a major social embarrassment, they did not invite Him to speak at the next session of the mental health clinic and they did not put this man of the media highway selling books and giving interviews. They were taken with great fear and besought Him to depart from them.
“Now the man out of whom the devils were departed besought Him that he might be with Him” (38)
The man in his right mind did not desire to stay in his own land. He did not desire the company of his kinsman not the delicacies of the fruit of the land; his sole desire was to be with Jesus. The disciples did not take him aside and admonish him that his affections should be set on heavenly things; they already were by the nature within. Peter did not give him any lessons in prayer or leave him any literature on the doctrinal positions of the assembly. He was not baptized with water, especially the polluted water where the dead swine were floating, and he was not asked to declare membership. He was baptized with fire in the Anointed Salvation of Yehovah. The Father had revealed Himself dwelling in one of His children and His little child desired to be with his Father. Old things had passed away and behold all things were indeed new but more so that which was old was considered dung and no longer desired. He wanted to be absent from his old estate and present with the Lord. The evil spirits of his torments were gone, his eyes were opened to his own wretchedness, his conversation was changed and, though his body was tired and wounded, yet he desired to be with Jesus (Mark 5:18).
“But Jesus sent him away...”
How is this possible? Jesus did not take him under His wing and grant him a happy life with calm seas and prosperous voyage? What a trophy He had in this one whom He could present to the masses of people condemning the heathen swine herders and the sons of Canaan; how could He do this to this poor man? It was good that this man did not go away with Jesus for all things work in harmony for good to the Beloved (Rms. 8:28).
There is no record of anything else that happened to this man but the testimony of the scriptures declares that he was a witness to the Lord in his own house. He did not have any church people around him, he had no brethren to share fellowship and the people in the land where he lived would never believe that he was the same man. This man was possessed by evil spirits until the Spirit of God came and revealed that He dwelt in this earthen vessel. How can the natural mind, which cannot receive the things of the Spirit, neither can he know them, rationalize the difference between the evil spirit and the Spirit of God? He cannot! This man could never escape what he was those many years or dispute what he had done. This testimony of his wretchedness and corruption stayed with him the remainder of his natural estate that he think not more highly of himself than he ought. He had the testimony of Jesus Christ which was evidenced in his life, this is the only testimony acceptable and the ears of Adam will never hear it for it is foolishness.
“Return to your own house and shew how great things God has done unto you and he went his way and published throughout the whole city how great things Jesus had done unto him”
Where could the disciples of Jesus go when He asked them; “Will you also go away?” Peter answered and said; “To whom shall we go; You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68) so where could this man go? He went out in the power of the Spirit of the Most High God living by the faith of the One who loved him and gave Himself for him. He went forth and walked the path that was set before him, looking unto the Anointed Salvation of Yehovah who for the joy that was set before Him endured the shame and is now seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven. He walked by faith even though he desired to be delivered from the daily reminder of the abomination of his ways. He daily groaned in himself waiting in anticipation of the end of the time of this habitation when this tabernacle shall be put off and the sons of God shall be manifested.
This servant of God was taught by the Spirit of God who caused Him to walk obedient to all the commandments of God and to keep His statutes. He needs no cemetery (seminary) to teach him doctrine; he had come out from living amongst the dead. He needed no assistance or training from man in the proper presentation of the love of God or great things He had done.
What could this man say? I finally gave in and accepted Jesus? The words of the preacher finally made sense to me so I decided to stop running and give my heart to Jesus? No, No, No! The only thing he could say is that Jesus came and found him. Jesus opened my eyes, Jesus calmed my heart and His love made me whole. There is no praise for the flesh or the means of man; there is “Blessing and honour and glory and power unto Him that sits upon the throne and unto the Lamb for ever and ever” (Rev. 5:13).
Jesus commissioned this child with the testimony of a finished work and the power of God. Jesus is immutable and there is no shadow of turning in Him, so, how does He with His children today in this “the acceptable time of Yehovah”? The disciples were silent observers throughout this entire ordeal. They were once again incapable of doing anything as they witnessed the glory of the power of Almighty God.
Brethren of the Hope of glory, do not look upon your station in life, your social, financial or political situation and be not afraid of what man may do. Yehovah God protects His Beloved. He will never leave Her nor forsake Her. He brought His people to a certain place and, as it pleases Him, He reveals Himself in His people; therefore do they groan and travail as they grow in the grace and knowledge of His will. Preach the gospel of how great things God has done unto His people and say among the nations; Yehovah reigns (Ps. 96:10). Comfort your fellow companions in tribulation and.....
“Say to the cities of Judah, Behold your God!”
The children of the Kingdom of God walk through this world in trials and tribulations which are for the perfecting of the saints. They experience every temptation, which is common to every son of Adam, and the contradiction of sin against themselves. The lesson which the Spirit teaches is the complete inability of man to please God because he has no faith and the absolute Sovereignty of God over all things. He gives the understanding of the vanity of this world in the light of the truth. Each one is endued with power from on high because the earthen vessel is devoid of power and authority. This power is from the Holy Ghost who dwells within His people;
“and you shall be witnesses unto Me in both Jerusalem and in all of Judea, and in Samaria and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
Your servant in Christ,
(Elder) Chet Dirkes
December 20, 2015