Then finally, again, there is the healed man. The story ends where it began with the man begging Jesus again (5:18). This is quite astonishing and makes it an uncomfortable end for the preacher who would prefer that the man follows Jesus. That would make for a neat application. Jesus sets you free from what troubles you and then you follow him. Instead Jesus commands him to stay put (5:19).
Could it be that sometimes a person, or even a culture, can have too much of following Jesus. I think this might be true of the broader evangelical sub-culture. To follow hard after Jesus is the ideal. Attend the conferences. Buy the approved authors from the sound publishing houses. Listen to the podcasts of the celebrity preachers. Sing the songs. Follow hard after this culturally approved Jesus.
When all the time Jesus says, don’t change that much. Stay where you are, among the people that know you, who know your story and your history. Stay among them and witness to what has been done for you, and do it among those who know the backstory.
I’m sure he obeyed reluctantly. But the incredible thing is, this man, telling his story openly, achieved what Jesus himself couldn’t achieve. By putting a recognisable face to the story, by telling an unimpeachable account of what had been personally experienced, people are amazed, and not terrified (5:20).
Sometimes I fear the religious sub-culture we immerse people into so changes them that they become utterly unrecognisable, utterly foreign, to the communities we send them back into to tell the “Good News.” Not so here. The people in Decapolis hear this subversive story in a language, and a cadence, and from a healed body, that they completely recognise.