How Christ Found Man and How Christ Left Man
by G.J. Stewart
There is a notable contrast in the condition or state of man as God made him, and that in which Christ found him. Between these two points four thousand years had rolled their course. Not that it required four thousand years to develop this contrast, but God gave that time that all might see what man’s condition was. God made man upright, and put him in the Garden of Eden, where he was surrounded with everything to make him happy; and, above all, where he had the presence of God Himself: God came down in the cool of the day to talk with Adam. He enjoyed the privilege of communing with his Creator. What a place of blessing!
Now, when the Lord Jesus came down into this scene, how did He find man? In the poor wretched creature mentioned in this chapter, we see a figure of man’s condition in God’s sight. You may say it was an extreme case, yet it was a sample of what man is.
When the Lord was come into the country of the Gadarenes, there met Him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains.
That’s how He found him. He dwelt among the tombs—that is the place of death, and separation from God—and more, he loved it. When Jesus came to him, he cried out, “What have I to do with Thee, Jesus, Son of the most high God? I adjure Thee by God, that Thou torment me not.”
You see the contrast. In the beginning, man was in the place of creature blessing, and had communion with God. When Christ came he was in the place of death, and departure from God; and more than that, he was possessed with the devil.
Here is the solemn fact, that the devil has got possession of the heart of man, and, alas! such is his departure, that he loves to have it so.
We find in this poor demoniac many traits which are characteristically true of man generally.
“And no man could bind him, no, not with chains: because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him” (vv. 3-4). You see there had been attempts to improve man, but what was the result? No man could bind him. What does that mean? It means that his condition was beyond the power of man, beyond the reach of his own arm to help. There is not a man who can relieve it. Philanthropy has ameliorated his condition socially, but what I speak of now is man’s state before God.
Man’s state today is still set forth in that man who had his dwelling among the tombs. After all has been done he is still there. No amount of education will improve him; no amount of binding will do him good; the chains had been plucked asunder, and the fetters broken in pieces. This binding is typical of the law. Was a man ever able to keep that? Not one! Instead, its very restraints only roused the opposition of the man to break the barriers.
That chain of ten links could not keep the man. Why not? Because there is a principle in him which is only maddened and urged on by these restraints. Tell a child not to do a certain thing; you will find it all the more eager to do it. Every mother knows that. You find it in a child, let alone a man.
The devil, we know, was in this man, he would not be bound with these chains. That is the secret of that intense longing in the heart for its own will, for that which is forbidden. It indicates a power that is beyond you. The devil has got hold of man. You don’t believe it, but it is true. It is, perhaps, in some very insidious way. He has been at it for 6,000 years now, and he knows how to work to urge on the man with that longing desire, which, though he knows the thing is wrong, makes him say, “I must have it! Let me have my fling now, and then I will turn.” No, you cannot turn; it is impossible. Mark that, I wish to press it upon you. I want to show that if help is to come to you it must come from God. It is to be found nowhere else, but it is found there.
Thank God, the Gospel is not a negative thing; it not only shows that you need help, but where you can obtain it. In this terrible condition of things, Jesus, the blessed Christ of God, comes into the scene to deliver poor man.
But notice another thing about this man: “And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones” (v. 5). He was in the place of death, and he was using the power God gave him against himself. What a mad man! you say.
In another Gospel we are told he wore no clothes. That is, he had no righteousness, of which clothes are a figure. He had no righteousness, and he was using his strength against himself.
Surely, you say, I am not like that! Yes, if you are following your own will, though as to circumstances there may be a difference. You have in this man a representation of yourself; you may not believe it, but that is true of you. Does not everyone know a drunkard is using his power against himself? But, though it may not be in so gross a form, if you are unconverted, you are just the same. Take the scientific man using his intelligence in order that he may do away with God’s blessed Book; picking it to pieces, saying, This is not of God, and that is not of God. What is that but using the power God gave him against himself? not his physical, but his mental powers, and like this man, crying out his own shame, for a miserable creature he is. The poor drunkard is but a drunken sinner, while the mere scientist is a scientific sinner; and the religionist a religious sinner!
Does not man want a deliverer? Was there no one who could do anything for him? No, none, at least no mere man. There was One who could come and bless him, who was there to do so, but it was in spite of himself.
And so it is with each one of us; we would never have come to Christ of ourselves. People talk of volunteers. I remember after I was converted some one putting his hand on my shoulder, and saying, “This is a pressed man!” I looked up to see what he meant, and I caught his eye. I understood then. I said, “Yes, it was all of God.” We cannot take the credit to ourselves! we owe all to God, who came in and put us in this position of blessing.
The man “cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with Thee, Jesus, Thou Son of the most high God? I adjure Thee by God, that Thou torment me not” (v. 7). The man said this, but who was it leading him to do so? It was the devil; he was afraid of the torment. It was not one devil, there was a whole legion in this man, and they were afraid of the torment.
What an awful thought that a legion of devils may possess a man!
Scripture says, “The devils believe, and tremble.” That is because they know there is no mercy for them. They believe the torment is coming upon them, and not only do they believe it is coming, but that Jesus is the One to inflict it upon them. The devil knows he has found his Master, he learned this lesson in the wilderness. In one Gospel it is said, “Art Thou come hither to torment us before the time?” He believes the time is fixed, but he does not know when it is; but they believe that, and they tremble.
The devil gives the Lord His title: “Jesus, Son of the most high God.” For a man to recognize this heartily and truly is to be converted. You remember when the Lord asked Peter, “Whom say ye that I am?” He answered, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered, “Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father which is in heaven.”
But what use did the man make of this knowledge? He tells the Lord to go away: “I beseech Thee, that Thou torment me not.” Have you ever besought the Lord to go away? Most of us have many a time. Christ has come in with power to deliver from the devil, but man does not want it. But Jesus said, “Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit.” The blessed Lord Jesus had come into the scene, the devil had learned he had found his Master, he must go.
Turn back to chapter 4:36, where you will find in what way the Lord had come into this place. He had come to the country of the Gadarenes across the Sea of Galilee. And as He came, what had He done? He had calmed the winds and the waves. There was a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, but He had said, “Peace, be still,” and the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
We get here a blessed figure of what the Lord has done for us. Ere He could save us, He must cross the sea of death. The whole thing is typical. Here was a man in the power of the devil; Jesus says, “I will go and save him,” but before He could do that, He must go through the sea of death to calm its waters. Long before it had been said in Scripture, “Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered?”
Now the answer came. Yes, even the prey shall be taken from the mighty, and the lawful captive shall be delivered. How was that to be? Jesus would take the prey from the mighty; but to do so He must crush the power of the mighty one, and that was done at the cross, which gives a righteous basis for the exercise of His power, in delivering the captive.
But He anticipates the cross, and comes in blessed grace, into the circumstances which made miracles necessary, He wept at the grave of Lazarus, and groaned as He opened the eyes of the blind man, but He came to deliver man from the circumstances. In all their afflictions He was afflicted, till we are told of Him, that His visage was so marred, more than any man’s; and His form more than the sons of men. That was more than mere sympathy. He entered into the awful condition of things into which man had brought himself; but He must deliver by other means than in the type.
How did He calm the waters of Galilee? It was with a word of power: “He arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, ‘Peace, be still.’ And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.” Was it in the same way He calmed the river of death? No! it needed that He should go beneath its waters. If He would save others He must go beneath these waves and billows of death.
I often think in connection with this of what a Covenanter wrote on the wall of his cell, the morning of his execution.
“My last sun has risen,
It is far on its way;
My soul quits her prison
Ere the close of the day
Farewell hours of sorrow,
I shall know you no more,
Ere day-dawn tomorrow
Our union is o’er.
“A bright ray is glowing
O’er the river of death;
I fear not its flowing,
With that light for my path;
Blest beam of His tracing,
O’er the gloom of that river,
Who its horrors embracing,
Has calmed it for ever.”
That is how Jesus calmed the river of death. He bore the stroke of Divine vengeance; He opened His bosom to receive it. He was made sin, and upon His devoted head was poured out the judgment due to man as a sinner.
Thus has death been deprived of its horrors, so that death becomes the servant of the Christian. The sting was planted in Him, and now there is none for us.
He has been here and borne this, whether you believe it or not. The work has been done, and nothing in heaven or earth can alter the value of it. The only thing unbelief will do, will be to keep you from the blessing of it. If you accept it you will be delivered.
Having thus sought to show you “how Christ found man,” now we see “how Christ left him.”
We have already looked at the difference between the state in which God made man and that in which Christ found him. Now I wish you to notice another contrast, the difference between the condition in which Christ found man and that in which He left him. We shall see presently what became of the devils, but now let us look at this contrast.
The people of the town heard of the miracle, and came to see what had been done. How did they find the man? Sitting! This was a change; the man was at rest. Had he been at rest before? No! Always, night and day, he was in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones. The poor creature could find no rest. And, my reader, can you find it here? This is a scene of death and of unrest. The Devil leads man on in an ideal state of things. “Man walketh in a vain show.” He is looking for rest, but there is none here, nothing to satisfy him. Each must find it so, even the youngest. Look at the poor orphans we meet, and the worse than orphans—left by father and mother, with everything against them; where will such find rest?
The only real thing is the unrest of sin, and the sorrow of it; but when Christ comes in there is a change. Now there is rest. Where does the man find it? Sitting at the feet of Jesus. Rest is to be found there, and there alone. It is offered to every weary soul. Look at the change in this man, once so restless, now sitting at the feet of Jesus. That is all, but it is enough.
Let me ask, Have you been found there, dear reader? Have you said, like a poor woman I have heard of, “I’ll throw myself at the feet of Jesus, and, if I perish, I’ll perish there”? That was a happy woman, for no one ever perished there; it is there we find rest, there we sit down.
The next thing is righteousness. He is clothed. That is a figure of righteousness. He had no righteousness before; he was a shame to himself and his neighbours, but now he is clothed. What a difference! The man who had no righteousness now has that which sets forth God’s righteousness. The man who was in the Devil’s power, when Christ came, can come and sit in the presence of the God whom his own lips had recognized, and be at home there. Mark it, in the presence of God, for righteousness gives boldness; “love,” as has been said, “gives confidence, righteousness gives boldness.”
Next, he was in his right mind.
Would you be offended if I were to ask, Are you in your right mind? If a man is not saved Scripture does not own him as in his right mind. To reject Christ as your Saviour, is that to be in a right mind? To turn from Him because of some poor, paltry thing in this scene! To be counting something here of more value than the rich treasure of His love! They little know what they are losing, the men or women who reject that mighty Treasure, the richest that can be given to man. God gave the Son of His bosom, laid all the wealth of His love at our feet. What folly to be leaving this for the treasures of this world, for that which is always ebbing, but never flowing.
These three things this man obtained—rest, righteousness, and a right mind, and these are what the Lord Jesus presents to you.
Now look for a moment at what became of the legion of devils. It is an awfully solemn warning to us. They besought that they might enter into the swine, and Jesus gave them leave. What then became of them? The whole herd ran down a steep place, and perished in the sea; they were choked in the waters. In another gospel the word for sea is abyss: they perished there.
We have in these a picture of those who refuse this salvation which is offered in Christ, for whom there is nothing remaining but the lake of fire, torment for ever with the Devil and his angels. Judgment is expedited, and expedited by themselves. How awful to think of a soul that has trifled, so to speak, with the mercy of the Lord Jesus. It has been brought before him, he has had to consider it, but Satan has brought forward some other thing, and he has rejected Christ, and, from that moment, has gone headlong to destruction. Many a soul will have to say, “A moment came when God was offering me salvation, but the Devil presented something else, some bauble, and I went after that; I rejected Christ, and I never had another opportunity.”
Now, those who came out to see what was done, what did they think? Those that fed the swine fled, and told it in the city and in the country, and they went out to see what it was that was done. And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devils and had the legion, sitting and clothed, and in his right mind (v. 15). Were they glad? Not they. They would rather have the swine. They had no right to them. Swine were unclean animals, forbidden to the Israelites. They ought to have turned from such illegal traffic, but it was a lucrative traffic, and they did not wish to lose it. The devils were gone, and the man was in his right mind, but that was nothing to them. They say, in effect, “We would rather have the swine, even if the devils are with them, than have you,” and they besought Jesus to depart out of their coasts, they tell Him to go away..
Many a man, for the sake of illegal gain, has done this. Have you ever done so? Well, even if you have done this, God is giving you another offer of mercy now. All who have come to Christ have rest, are clothed, and in their right mind. But possibly someone may say, “You are telling me of Christ’s power exercised on our behalf. How does it work in me?” In the end of the chapter we get this side of it.
Now, souls may avail themselves of the mercy that is in their midst. Jesus crosses the sea again, and many gather to Him. “And, behold, there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw Him, he fell at His feet, and besought Him greatly, saying, ‘My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray Thee, come and lay Thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live” (vv. 22-23).
This child is typical of the state of Israel at that time—at the point of death. Christ goes, with the ruler to raise her, as assuredly He will dead Israel, but while on the way there He comes across “A certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years, and had suffered many things of many physicians” (vv. 25-26).
Mark that. She had suffered many things, they had put her to torture, but none of them had done her any good. Here we have the other side, not Christ going to seek the man, but the woman coming to Him. No doubt the Lord had wrought in her heart, attracting her to Himself. Would God that your heart might now be touched and led to Him! It might be for a selfish reason, but, whatever it may be, come to Him, He will receive you. She came in the press behind, and touched His garment. She knew there was enough in Him, though she only touched with her finger. Jesus immediately asks, “Who touched Me?” Peter knew nothing of this, he says to the Lord, You ask who is touching You; why, everyone is touching You!
I think this is very solemn. You may be so close to Him that you may be touching me, yet, if it is not the touch of faith, no virtue will be in it for you; but if you come tremblingly and humbly to Him, what then? There need be only the single touch of the finger of faith and you are healed. We have in this a beautiful type of the way salvation flows from Christ for faith. Reader, will you not have it? Christ had cast out the devils; He had come to give rest, righteousness, and a right mind. He comes to give help and healing—when life’s blood is ebbing. He does it, not in secret, but He rejoices to give it freely; but you must come before Him and confess all. He is not angry with the woman coming in this way. No. He encourages her, and says, “Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague (v. 4). Christ delights to give, and, more than that, Christ gets His joy. Do not be denying it to Him.
When Christ left the country of the Gadarenes, the man who had been delivered besought that he might go also. “Lord,” he said, “I want to be with you.” Is not that a sign of life? The heart goes up with a bound to Him, and only wants to be with Him. And if death lies between he would rather go. The. Lord says, “Not now, first go home and tell what great things the Lord has done for thee.” And we learn, “immediately he went declaring what great things Jesus had done for him.” The man had owned Him as God before, now he does it again.
“He was true God in Bethlehem’s crib,
At Calvary’s cross true God;’
Every step of the way, from the manger at Bethlehem till Calvary’s cross, there was not a moment when He was not God.
He wants us to know and own that, not only for ourselves, but in the presence of others, and He sends the man to his immediate friends. I know that is a difficult place. You can go more easily to any rather than your own friends, your brothers, sisters, your father, your uncles, but the Lord sends him to the most difficult place first.
Now, dear reader, have you this of which we have been speaking? This deliverance from the Devil, this rest, this righteousness, this right mind? It is only to be had through the power, and at the feet, of Jesus. You will never find here what will satisfy, never get what you desire. You remember, perhaps, how you looked forward to the day when your hopes would be realized, when the aspirations of your heart would be fulfilled. Were they so? No. But here you may find more, rest, righteousness, a right mind, every desire of the new nature fulfilled. You get all in Christ. He crossed the sea of death in order that you might have all this, this deliverance, this life, this rest. But let me remind you, beloved, God is now a giver; see that you are a receiver. There is no time to lose, day by day your life’s blood is ebbing, soon all will be over. Let me entreat you to receive salvation now.
Scattered Seed 1887, p. 37, etc.