Mark 5:19 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.”
Several times Jesus is recorded as forbidding people to talk about what He had done for them. (They generally did it anyway.) Here, however, He expressly tells this man to go back to his family and to tell them what had happened. What was different? One thing we can learn is that every situation, every individual, is different. There’s no such thing as “one size fits all.” This particular person had been in such an extreme situation, recognized by everyone who was aware of him, that his testimony was both powerful and devoid of pride. One reason he wanted to go with Jesus was probably so that he could go somewhere that nobody knew him and what a state he had been in. However, Jesus wanted him, and those who knew him, to focus on the power and grace of God. If this were to happen today, the owners of those pigs would doubtless sue both Jesus and the man He delivered from demons, but to do so they would have to acknowledge both that demons are real and that Jesus has authority over them. That’s an amusing thing to imagine! In any case, I would expect that a majority at least of this man’s family ended up fully convinced that Jesus was the Messiah, and joined with the other believers after the resurrection. They probably had less difficulty believing than most, because of the undeniable testimony of this man.
There’s no question that personal testimony is the most effective form of evangelism. Theoretical theology has little power to persuade, but as has been said, a person with a theory will never win an argument with a person with an experience. I know that nothing could convince me the Gospel isn’t real, because of my own experience of personal fellowship with my Lord. My frustration in trying to communicate that here in Japan is that people look at me and say, sometimes in so many words, “That’s true for you because you’re a foreigner.” On top of that, there are the two factors of identifying religion with culture (which makes them think that becoming Christian will make them un-Japanese) and the general lack of any personal faith in any religion, which makes them feel that living for Christ is absurdly fanatical. On top of that, Japanese are very private people, seldom divulging much personal information. People can work in the same office for years and not even know the other’s marital status. It takes enormous courage for a Japanese Christian to talk about how they came to Christ. We have a member who has that courage, but their very openness makes some other members distrust them! I don’t have a magic wand to fix that situation but I can pray, and I need to pray more. I need to pray for believers who will indeed do as Jesus told this man to do: go to their family and friends and tell what the Lord has done, and how He has been merciful to them.
Father, You know better than I do how generations of missionaries have agonized over how to get Your Gospel through to the Japanese people. You also know that we can’t do it on our own. I do ask for an anointing of faith and courage for Your Japanese children so that they may indeed be the witnesses You have called them to be, by Your spirit for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!