I’ve got several stories in the Gospels that are my favorite, but the story of Legion is perhaps one of my favorites. I suppose it’s because of the powerful transformation of one not-so-human to one fully human. A metamorphosis of one chained by fear, doubt and the devils of hell to one who is not only whole, but wholly in his right mind.
The one thing I find intriguing is that Legion, flushed with new life, desires nothing more than to go with Jesus. Not just to be with him, that would be understandable, but to go with him. To be a follower/learner like the other disciples and the twelve. But Jesus does not permit him. Instead, he tells him to go back to his hometown and tell people what has happened to him – “how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” A noble charge indeed but it is not what the man desired. Nevertheless, he does as Jesus asks and tells all who will listen the marvelous things the Lord has done for him and the great mercy he has received. For what end? “Everyone marveled.” That’s it. Everyone marveled at his words and his new life. They were astonished but not necessarily attracted to the Kingdom. Mark does not say “Many believed in the Lord because of his testimony.” He simply says, “Everyone marveled.”
It is odd is that Jesus was not willing to have Legion accompany him. I’m not certain why, and Mark apparently doesn’t know either. Had this been today – Legion would not only have been permitted to be a part of ministry, he would have been on the fast track lecture circuit, had a book deal and perhaps a movie deal in the works, and every minister in town would be signing him up to come give his testimony. But not Jesus. From him, permission was NOT granted for Legion to join his band of kingdom missionaries.
Of course, we never hear from Legion again. The song the Singer gave him may have been one verse and done. Or it could have developed into a symphony, orchestrating the grand stanzas of the gospel message. Then again, once the attention faded and the crowds stopped listening, perhaps Legion began to have doubts about his mind once again.
There is not always room on the stage for everyone. There are just so many roles. Beyond that, many of us are merely extras in the drama of the Kingdom. Legion may have been simply an extra. The leper, the blind man, the woman with the “issue of blood” and the deaf man may have all been extras in the Kingdom drama. The stage belonged to the Christ and his chosen twelve. Yet each extra has a place in time. We may all want to “go with Christ” but often permission is not granted. He has other tasks for us. They may be just as important because they fit into the drama, nonetheless, they are other tasks. Are we faithful to the task?