When God Says “No”

“As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged Him that he might be with Him.” [Mark 5:18]

The man who had been possessed with demons begged Jesus that he might be with Him. That’s all he wanted after spending so long under the tyranny of Satan.

All he now wants is to be a disciple of Jesus and stay with Him wherever He goes. Jesus has already been begged by the demons to enter the pigs… and what did our Lord say to the demons? “Yes.” He gave them permission.

When the Gentile townspeople begged Jesus to depart from their region, what did Jesus say to their request? According to verse 18, He said “yes” by implication that He got back into the boat to leave.

Now we have this third begging request and it’s from a man who’s just been set free from bondage to Satan and all he wants is to be with Jesus.

And what is Jesus’ answer to this newly redeemed man?

Surprisingly, Jesus said “no.” This is the only request that Jesus denied in this passage.

But which of these three petitioners do you suppose Jesus loved the most?

Well, we know it wasn’t the demons… but He told them yes.

And we’re pretty confident He didn’t have greater love for the Gentile townspeople who rejected Him. But He also told them yes when they begged Him to leave.

In an incredibly poignant irony, Jesus says “no” to the request of the one He loves more than the others who received a “yes” from Him.

Often in our relationship with God, “No” is a far more loving response than “Yes” when our present desires cannot encompass the full magnificence of His will for our lives.

When God saves you and has a purpose for your future that is really good; when He has plans to bless you beyond anything you can presently imagine, He is more likely to tell His children “no” to certain things that seem well and good to us in the temporal realm.

And that’s because He’s working out for us something infinitely better in the eternal realm than our temporal desires can understand or explain or accommodate.

Verse 19 says, And [Jesus] did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how He has had mercy on you.”

This formerly demon-possessed Gentile man becomes the first commissioned preacher to the land of the Gentiles in the NT. Before Jesus commissioned the 70 and before He sent the Apostles to preach in His name, this man was sent by Jesus to preach.

He is the first Gentile missionary to other Gentiles. And this is his mission:

“Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”

And what happened?  Did he become angry that Jesus denied his request?

No… it says in verse 20 “And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled.”

This word for “proclaim” in verse 20 is the word κηρύσσειν which means to preach.

He began to preach. This man demonstrated his salvation by obediently embracing the Lord’s “no” to his request and by doing exactly what Jesus told him to do.

He didn’t sulk. He didn’t argue. But he apparently saw in the eyes of Jesus a love that is so deep that His “no” became as sweet as honey to this trusting, newly redeemed heart.

Even when Jesus denies our temporal requests, it is always for our better interests and always for His greater glory.

We should always remember that there is an eternal “Yes!” behind every temporal “No” in God’s redemptive purpose for our blessing.

With joy in His purposes,
Pastor Kevin