A Tale of Two Towns
Gadara, where Jesus healed a demoniac
When the herdsmen saw what had happened, they fled and told it in the city and in the country. 35 Then people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. 36 And those who had seen it told them how the demon-possessed man had been healed. 37 Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. (Luke 8:34-37).
Sychar, where Jesus met a woman at the well
Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of his word. 42 They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.” (John 4:39-42).
In one town, they saw Jesus perform a miracle, delivering the man from his legion of demons. Jesus demonstrated his sovereignty over creation, including the demons in the spiritual realm. The people saw, and rejected.
In another town, one woman’s testimony, a well-known immoral woman, seemed to have been changed. Her shame was gone, or at least diminished in the face of the incredible news that this man who told her all she ever (shamefully) did (but seemed to love her anyway), could be the Christ.
Things to ponder:
1. Just because they witnessed a miracle does not mean that belief always follows. Some believed because of the signs (John 2:11, John 2:23, John 11:45). Others saw signs and miracles and did not believe (John 11:46).
2. Far from being dry, dusty, and unnecessary, doctrine leads one to faith and repentance. Doctrine is the act of teaching or that which is taught. “Doctrine is teaching imparted by an authoritative source.” (GotQuestions). Like the Bereans who consulted the word after hearing Paul, the townsmen of Sychar were open to hearing Jesus teach. They listened and heard. “And many more believed because of his word”.
3. Some in the same crowd or the same room or in the same family believe, and others don’t. That’s the way it always has been and always will be. Some wonder why that is when we all have free will. Our will isn’t as free as one thinks it is. Our will is a slave to sin, it’s bound. Belief comes when Jesus opens ears and eyes to see and repent, gives a spirit of repentance. He intervenes from outside of earth, outside of ourselves, from heaven and breaks the binding of our soul to sin by giving us the Holy Spirit. There is nothing in us that can awaken our dead soul. Picture Lazarus dead in grave cloths, awakened by the sovereign call of Jesus. That was a picture of God’s sovereign election of individuals to save whom He decided in eternity past to save, before history began. Did Lazarus have free will? Only to remain dead.
The Reformed view of election, known as unconditional election, means that God does not foresee an action or condition on our part that induces Him to save us. Rather, election rests on God’s sovereign decision to save whomever He is pleased to save. (Source: Ligonier, Tulip & Reformed Theology: Unconditional Election)
Two towns, Gadara and Sychar. Two individuals in the same family, the unconverted and the saved. One rejects and departs, one repents and believes. Continue to pray for those in unbelief.