The Privileged Life: “No One is So Lost…”

    “When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped Him.” (Mark 5:6)

    Over the weekend, I learned that Dr. Harry Reeder, senior pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Ala., had been killed in a tragic car accident. It happened the day before the Lord called Dr. Timothy Keller, founder of Redeemer Church in New York City, home after his three-year battle with cancer. 

    Dr. Harry Reeder

    Both of these men were influential preachers/authors, and their words had a profound impact on my faith, Dr. Reeder in particular.

    Dr. Reeder had served as keynote speaker at missions conferences at our church. His first message, well over a decade ago, is seared into my memory. I have lost the notes that I took, but I hope to recount here the lessons he wished to convey. 

    The Scripture reference was one of Jesus Christ’s encounters with demon possession (see Mark 5 and Luke 8). Jesus and His disciples were spending much of their time on the northern side of the Sea of Galilee engaged in His preaching and healing ministry. After His Sermon on the Mount, however, they went by boat to the other side of the lake, disembarking at a cemetery. They were immediately met by a man living there, in this “unclean” place.

    The man’s name isn’t mentioned, but he was oppressed by the indwelling of Satan’s demons—not just a few, but thousands. They identified themselves as “Legion” (6,000 men in the Roman military system). That’s a lot of demonic force. They compelled the man to break his chains and to live unclothed among the dead, crying aloud and cutting himself. 

    Imagine this scarred, naked, crazed man seeing Jesus…running to greet Him from far off…and immediately falling down before Him in worship. The vast company of demons inside him were completely overpowered by Jesus and asked for His mercy. Jesus made short work of exorcising them, sending them into a nearby herd of pigs that ran violently down the slopes to drown in the lake.

    Upon seeing this, the swine-keepers fled in terror and told their neighbors. When everyone ran back, they found the man clothed, in his right mind, and sitting at the feet of Jesus. Fearing His power, they pleaded with Jesus to leave. Yet as Jesus stepped back into the boat, the healed man begged to go with Him.

    Jesus had other instructions for the man—to go home and tell his friends the great things that the Lord had done for him, out of compassion. The healed man obeyed, proclaiming the good news to the Gentile townspeople. And everyone marveled.

    View of the Sea of Galilee from Capernaum

    Dr. Reeder focused on the missionary ministry of Christ, offering these incredible promises: 

    • There is no one so lost whom Jesus cannot save. Let that sink in for a moment. No one. If Christ has claimed someone as His own, nothing can separate that person from His love. Not even thousands of demons. It’s right there in Romans 8:38-39, where the apostle Paul said this: “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
    • There is no one so far away whom Jesus cannot reach. The Gadarene demoniac was so far gone, consigned to a place of death, away from family and friends. His loved ones had probably given up on him years ago. But one short encounter with Jesus changed this man completely—healing him, liberating him, commissioning him. These are words to remember when we think in terms of those far away from us on the mission field…and when we ourselves feel far from God.
    • There is no one so ill-prepared whom Jesus cannot use to proclaim the Gospel. The healed man joyfully wanted to follow His Healer. Jesus made him a missionary instead…to his own community. He obeyed and proclaimed to his neighbors the great things Jesus had done for him. This man, untrained in theology or evangelism, nonetheless became a powerful spokesman with a personal testimony that amazed everyone.

    Friend, have you given up hope in your prayers for the lost? Have you felt as if God were distant from you, abandoning you? Have you felt unfit to share the good news about Jesus with others?

    The story and witness of the demoniac allays those despairs and concerns. The power of Jesus Christ, the love of His Father, and the faithful indwelling of the Holy Spirit are at your disposal. Our God will not abandon His children…He will complete the good work He has begun in their lives. There is no place on earth where He will not go or that He cannot reach. And, He will equip you completely for the mission He has purposed for you. 

    These are wonderful comforts and challenges for us—words we need to remember when our faith grows weak. We can trust in an almighty Savior who will never leave us. 

    Please pray for the families of Dr. Reeder and Dr. Keller as they cope with the losses of these valiant men. And may God inspire you this week to joyfully share His good news.

    Loving God, thank You for the lives of these pastors and the ways You have used them to deliver Your hope to all of us. Comfort their loved ones in these losses, in the knowledge that these faithful men are waiting for them in heaven. Help me remember that You will fulfill Your purposes, hold me steadily in Your hands, and prepare me to serve You. Give me great joy in sharing Your good news with the world. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

    My husband and me, during a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee–the mountains in the background are on the eastern shore, possibly where the demoniac lived

    #harryreeder #timothykeller #timkeller #gadarenedemoniac #demonpossessed #legion #missions #evangelism #gospelmessage #goodnews

    © Copyright 2023 Nancy C. Williams, Lightbourne Creative (text and photography)

    Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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