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by Dr. C. L. Cagan

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, April 7, 2019

“And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw him, they besought him that he would depart out of their coasts” (Matthew 8:34).

Why did the people of that city beg Jesus to leave? What did He do to deserve that? Why, he healed a wild man! There was a demon possessed man who lived in the hills. This man ran around screaming, cutting himself, “exceeding fierce” (Matthew 8:28). Christ cast the demons out of him. The people found “the man, out of whom the devils were departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid” (Luke 8:35). “And they began to pray him to depart out of their coasts [out of their land, away from their borders]” (Mark 5:17). They asked Jesus to leave.

The man himself wanted to be with Jesus. The Bible says, “He that had been possessed with the devil prayed him that he might be with him” (Mark 5:18). But the people of the city had a different mind. “They besought him that he would depart out of their coasts.”

Why did they ask Christ to leave them after He had done such a good thing? Jesus had stepped into their lives. Near to the wild man there had been a great herd of pigs, thousands of them. The pig was forbidden to the Jewish people by the Law of God. The pig was an unclean animal, never to be eaten. They shouldn’t have had those pigs. It was a sin.

Jesus cast the demons out of the man into the pigs. The demon possessed pigs ran down a steep place into the water and drowned. They lost their pigs! They didn’t have pork to eat. They lost the money they could get from selling the pork. How terrible! Jesus had stepped into their lives. He healed a man and got rid of their sin – the pigs. They didn’t want Christ to interfere in their lives. They “were afraid.” They asked Him to leave – and He did.

It wasn’t just that they lost their pig-money. They had never seen a demon possessed man healed before. They saw him “sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid.” Here was something they couldn’t understand. It was outside their experience. They couldn’t handle it. So they were afraid!

Most of all, they wanted to go on with their lives. They would rather have the man demon possessed, wild and tormented – than lose their pigs. If Jesus stayed, they might lose even more. Or He might do something else that upset them. They didn’t want anything that they couldn’t understand. They reacted in primitive fear when Christ stepped in. They asked Jesus to leave. “Go away, Jesus. We don’t want you here.” They rejected the Son of God. As the Book of Isaiah says, they “hid as it were [their] faces from him” (Isaiah 53:3).

This is Easter season. This sermon asks a question, “Will you trust Jesus or go on with your life?” That question was especially important during the first Easter season, the climactic days leading up to Christ’s crucifixion. Then people faced the Son of God Himself and made their choices. This morning I will talk about some of them, and then speak a few words to you.

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I. First, people at the first Easter time who rejected Jesus and went on with their lives.

Jesus met such people all through His ministry. The Bible says, “Many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14). Some refused Jesus for small reasons. Jesus said to a man, “Follow me.” But the man said, “Lord, [allow] me first to go and bury my father” (Luke 9:59). Christ told him, “Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:60). Follow me now! There is no record that he ever trusted Christ. Another man offered to follow Jesus. He said, “Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house” (Luke 9:61). “Let me first go and say goodbye to my family.” Christ answered him, “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62). Follow me now! There is no record that he ever trusted Christ.

Did Jesus have the right to step into their lives? Shouldn’t the first man go back to his father’s funeral? Shouldn’t the second man go back to say goodbye to his family? Those sound good – but Christ is more important! You see, Jesus was not an ordinary man. He was not simply a rabbi, a teacher. He was the Son of God, God Himself in human flesh. When Christ came, God Himself came. When Christ spoke, God Himself spoke. When people talked with Christ, they were speaking with Almighty God.

Because He is God, Christ’s call is higher than all activities and priorities of life. His call is not for later, after other things are taken care of, but here and now – with the authority of God Himself, for so He is. The things of life are nothing compared to Jesus Himself. As God in the flesh, Christ overrides – He stands above – anything else in life.

Jesus said, “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37). Family relationships are good, but Christ is more important. He stands above your schedule, your friends – everything – because He is Lord and God.

Someone says, “Does Jesus expect me to drop everything and follow Him?” Yes! That’s the point! When Jesus steps into your life, God Himself steps into your life. He is more important than anything. Those two men wouldn’t trust Christ. They went on with their lives. And they lost their souls.

In Jerusalem, the week that Jesus was crucified, the common people went on with their lives. They didn’t want anyone, even the Messiah Himself, to step in and change that. As in the days of Noah, people were “eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage” (Matthew 24:38). As in the days of Lot, “they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded” (Luke 17:28). As the Son of man preached among them, as He was arrested and carried away, as He was crucified, they went on with their lives.

The religious leaders went on with their lives. Jerusalem was the capital of the Jewish religion. There were strictly observant people – the Pharisees. They went on with their rituals. There were religious teachers – the rabbis. They went on studying and teaching. If Christ had come as just another teacher, they would have been fine with Him. There were priests in the temple, with the high priest Caiaphas at the top. They went on with their ritual prayers and sacrifices. They all went on with their lives. They did not let the God-man, the Messiah Jesus, step in, for He might change something.

These leaders were doing well in life. They had a good place in things as they were. They had money. They had comfortable lives. They wanted nothing to disturb them. When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, they should have been happy. In fact, they should have believed in Jesus then! Who but the Christ could raise the dead?

Instead, “Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation” (John 11:47, 48). They were afraid that everyone would trust Jesus. Never mind that this would be true and good. It would disturb things. It would interfere with their lives. The Romans would send their army and crack down on Israel. The leaders would lose their places. They couldn’t go on with their lives. So the high priest Caiaphas said, “Ye know nothing at all, Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not” (John 11:49, 50). The high priest was saying that Jesus should be killed to get Him out of the way and leave things as they were. Then everyone could go on with their lives!

The Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, wanted to go on with his life. His assignment as governor was dangerous. It was risky. Rome ruled there only by the force of its army. The Jews didn’t want the Romans there. At any moment they could rise up in revolt. Pilate ruled with an iron fist. When people made trouble, or gathered a following, he crushed them before things got out of hand.

And the Roman emperor was looking at Pilate. If the Jews rose up, the emperor would blame him. Pilate would lose his job and his head. Even without a war, Pilate could lose his head anyway. The Jewish leaders had powerful friends in Rome. If they complained about Pilate, the governor would lose his job and his head. It was a tricky situation! Pilate just wanted to serve his time and get on to something else. He wanted to go on with his life.

His job was more important to him than anything else. Pilate asked Jesus, “What is truth?” (John 18:38). He wasn’t interested in spiritual truth. He cared about his place on earth and nothing more. Pilate knew Jesus was innocent. He said to the priests and officers, “I find no fault in him” (John 19:4, 6). But they said, “If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar's friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar... We have no king but Caesar” (John 19:12, 15). That was what people call a power play. “Pilate, if you don’t crucify Jesus, we will complain to Caesar and you’ll be finished.” Pilate decided to go on with his life, and ordered that the innocent Christ be crucified.

What should Pilate have done? He could have said, “Jesus is innocent. I release him. I don’t care what you say about me.” But that would interfere with his life. There might have been a riot right then. Surely they would have complained to the emperor. Pilate would have been removed and executed. That was a hard one for Pilate. But it would be the right thing to do. Pilate should have valued Jesus and the truth of His innocence above the shouting of the mob. But he didn’t. He chose to go on with his life – and lost his soul.

II. Second, will you reject Jesus and go on with your life?

The call of Jesus says, “now.” Christ appeared to Saul of Tarsus and said, “I am Jesus” (Acts 9:5). There was no time window. There was no negotiation. Saul did not make excuses. He listened to Christ and became the Apostle Paul. On the day of Pentecost Peter preached, “Save yourselves from this untoward generation” (Acts 2:40). Three thousand people trusted Jesus that day. Christ said to the rich young ruler, “Come and follow me” (Matthew 19:21). Follow Me now! That young man walked away and went on with his life. Christ comes as Saviour, as Lord, and as God – for so He is. His call overrules all others. You either listen to that call or you send Him away. As the Bible says, “He is despised and rejected of men...and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not” (Isaiah 53:3).

To postpone trusting Christ, to make an excuse, or to negotiate a “deal” with Jesus, is to send Him away. There is no middle ground. Christ demands your trust. Submit to Him. He is Lord and God. Trust this Jesus, for this Jesus is the real Jesus. When the Apostle Thomas was converted, he did not ask Jesus, “What about this? Can I wait a while?” No, he simply said, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28). You trust Christ or you send Him away.

Now I ask you the question, “Will you trust Jesus or go on with your life?” Some people reject Christ for small reasons, like the two men I told you about. You say, “I have something else to do. I have another plan. I can’t change my schedule. Do you really want me to change my life and trust Jesus?” Yes, exactly that. I won’t soften it. It’s the truth. Jesus is God the Son. He comes to you as God the Son. He is Lord. People call Him “the Lord” without understanding what that means. When Jesus comes, He comes as the Saviour to forgive your sins. But He is also the Lord, and His call stands above all else in life. He calls you and He calls you now.

I did not choose when I would be converted, when God would awaken me, or how I would serve afterwards. He chose me. I didn’t choose the time of life when He spoke to me. He awakened me at 21 and I was converted at 23. That’s when it happened. If I had waited much longer, I would not be a Christian at all. If you keep sending Jesus away, He will grant your wish and go away.

As a Christian, I did not tell Jesus what I could and couldn’t do for Him. Once I trusted Jesus, He was my Saviour and my Lord. I had read about the martyrs of the first three centuries. I had read Pastor Wurmbrand’s book, Tortured for Christ. I didn’t know what would happen to me, but I knew that Jesus was everything. He forgave my sin. He gave me new life. I must not deny Him. I must serve Him, and suffer for Him if I have to. Jesus changed my life. There was no saying, “But I have this plan,” or “What about this?” He was the untamed, unrestricted Lord. Jesus had to be trusted as He is, on His terms, not mine. If I had known then all that would happen to me, I’d be astounded. But I don’t regret it one bit. I wouldn’t exchange being a Christian for anything.

Some of you say, “I’d like to trust Jesus, but I want to wait. I’ve seen this and I’ve seen that. I want to see what happens. So I’ll wait. I’ll see about trusting Christ later. I’ll wait for a better time.” As an old hymn says, “Some more convenient day, On Thee I’ll call.” But Jesus says, “I am the Son of God. Trust me now.” It doesn’t matter what someone else did. It doesn’t matter what your situation is. Listen to Jesus here and now. Another song says, “And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace.”

Dr. Hymers took Christ seriously even before he was converted. You say, “But I’ve seen this. I’ve seen that.” Dr. Hymers saw a lot of things himself before he was saved. He saw hypocrisy. He saw church splits. Others dropped out. Dr. Hymers could have quit, but he kept on. His eyes were on Jesus, not people. After he trusted Christ, Dr. Hymers went through many trials. Life wasn’t easy. People – yes, Christians – were hard on him. But he had heard the call of Christ and he couldn’t go back. His eyes were on Jesus, not people.

Jesus is the Lord. He is the God-man. He is God the Son. He overrides everything. When He calls, His words are preemptive. They cancel all other words and plans. Christ says, “Trust me now. Not after everything in your life is settled, but now.” When you have trusted Him, He says, “Follow me now. Not after everything is settled, but now.” Whoever you are, whatever situation you’re in, Christ calls you now. Will you listen to Him?

Jesus died on the Cross to pay for your sin. He shed His Blood to wash your sin away. He rose from the dead to give you life. It was all for you. What will you do with Him? Will you send Him away, or will you trust Him? If you would like to speak with me about trusting Jesus, please come and sit in the first two rows. Amen.

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Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Jack Ngann:
“What Will You Do With Jesus?” (by A. B. Simpson, 1843-1919).




by Dr. C. L. Cagan

“And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw him, they besought him that he would depart out of their coasts” (Matthew 8:34).

(Matthew 8:28; Luke 8:35; Mark 5:17, 18; Isaiah 53:3)

I.   First, people at the first Easter time who rejected Jesus and went on
with their lives, Matthew 22:14; Luke 9:59, 60, 61, 62;
Matthew 10:37; 24:38; Luke 17:28; John 11:47, 48; 49, 50;
John 18:38; 19:4, 6, 12, 15.

II.  Second, will you reject Jesus and go on with your life? Acts 9:5; 2:40;
Matthew 19:21; Isaiah 53:3; John 20:28.