And when he was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil prayed him that he might be with him.…
Things must have looked perplexing enough to this poor man! "Go home to thy friends!" "But, Lord, I have no friend but Thee. I have been an outcast now these many years — a dweller in unclean sepulchres, abhorred of men. What have men done for me but bind me in chains and fetters of iron? But Thy hand hath loosed my bonds of pain, and bound me with Thy love. Let me be with Thee where Thou art!" But still from that most gracious One came the inexorable "Go back — back to thy friends and thy father's house. Go, tell them what the Lord hath done for thee." "What? I, Lord? I, so disused to rational speech? whose lips and tongue were but now the organs of demoniac blasphemy? I, just rallying from the rending of the exorcised fiends? I, surrounded by a hostile people that have just warned away my Lord and Saviour from their coasts? And can I hope that they will hear my words, who turn a deaf and rebellious ear to Thee? Nay, Lord, I entreat Thee let me be with Thee, there sitting at Thy feet clothed and in my right mind, that men may look and point at me and glorify my Lord, my Saviour! Let them go, whose zeal to tell of Thee even Thy interdict cannot repress — there be many such, send them! But let me be near Thee, be with Thee, and gaze, and love, and be silent, and adore!" Was ever a stronger argument of prayer? And yet the little boat moves off, and Christ departs, and the grateful believer is left alone to do the work for which he seems so insufficient and unfit! How like Christ's dealing is to His Father's! To translate the story into the terms of our daily life it shows us —
I. THAT THE PATH OF DUTY WHICH CHRIST HAS MARKED OUT FOR US MAY BE THE OPPOSITE OF THAT WHICH WE NATURALLY THINK AND ARDENTLY DESIRE. All our natural aptitudes, as we estimate them, yea, our purest and highest religious aspirations, may draw us toward a certain line of conduct, while on the other hand the manifest indications of God's Word and providence inexorably close up that way and wave us off in another direction.
II. WHEN RELIGIOUS PRIVILEGE AND RELIGIOUS DUTY SEEM TO CONFLICT, THE DUTY IS TO BE PREFERRED ABOVE THE PRIVILEGE.
III. DUTY, PREFERRED AND FOLLOWED INSTEAD OF PRIVILEGE, BECOMES ITSELF THE SUPREME PRIVILEGE. The interests of the soul are very great, but they are not supreme. The supreme interests are those of the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and whoso, forgetting the interests of his own soul, shall follow after these, shall surely find that all things beside are added unto him.
(L. W. Bacon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And when he was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil prayed him that he might be with him.