“The eyewitnesses described to them what had happened to the demon-possessed man and told about the pigs. Then they began to beg Him to leave their region.” (Mark 5:16–17, HCSB)
There is a fascinating contrast between the way that Jesus is received by the village of Gerasa [near where the incident with the man/demons took place] and the people of Shechem which is in Samaria.
What the people of Gerasa do not and do find:
- They do not find a demon-possessed man shrieking among the tombs.
- They do not find any of their pigs.
- The do find the man who had once been demon-p0ssessed clothed and in his right mind.
What the people of Gerasa do and do not:
- They do beg Jesus to leave their region.
- They do not beg Jesus to stay and teach them how it was that demons must obey him.
Jesus departs, he does no further teaching or ministering in or around the village of Gerasa, although in his mercy he leaves the once demon-possessed man to tell others about what Jesus did for him.
“Many of the Samaritans in that town believed in Jesus because the woman had said, “He told me everything I have ever done.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they begged him to stay with them, and Jesus stayed there two days.” (John 4:39–40, GNB)
What the people of Shechem do:
- They do beg Jesus to stay with them.
- They do admit that “he really is the Saviour of the world.”
Jesus stays in Shechem at the town’s request and he teaches them how he had the power to tell the woman at the well “everything I have ever done.” The result: “many more believed his message.” Indeed, so far as we know from the gospels it is the Samaritans in Shechem who are the first of anyone anywhere to confess that Jesus is “the Savior of the world.” They begged Jesus to stay and got an eternal gift.
Two encounters with Jesus and two responses led to two very different outcomes. So far as we know Jesus has no further dealings with Gerasa. So far as we know Shechem became an outpost of believers in Jesus.
Quite a contrast, don’t you think? When we encounter Jesus we can beg him to leave or we can beg him to stay, and he will.