When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an evil spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him any more, not even with a chain. . . . When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice, "What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won't torture me!" For Jesus had said to him, "Come out of this man, you evil spirit!" . . .
When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. . . .
As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, "Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you." So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed (Mark 5:2-3, 6-8, 15, 18-20).
I have often considered the last part of this story to be no more than an epilogue—a small glimpse into the aftermath of a mighty miracle. But the last time I read this narrative, I was struck by the significance of this exchange between the healed demoniac and Jesus. The newly-delivered man, full of gratitude and love did not want to be separated so soon from Jesus. He wanted to join the group of disciples who traveled with him. Instead, Jesus sent him on an important mission to his home town. My heart sank with empathy at the thought of his disappointment. Then I realized: this is an example of the fact that heaven’s agenda often messes with earth’s. And my heart was awed by the honor of being chosen for heaven’s. The healed demoniac was not being held off at arm’s length by Jesus. He was being invited into the fellowship of doing the will of the Father.