Many years ago, Mohammed Ali was talking about the importance of education. He encouraged young people to stay in school and not lose heart. “After all,” he said, “if they can make penicillin out of moldy bread, they can make something out of you.”
The point he was making is obvious. Sometimes we feel that we cannot do anything of any significant worth. Certainly a Christian can feel that way. In the Bible we read of great men and women of faith. We see Christians today who are great speakers and others who have wildly successful ministries. It is easy to conclude that God could never use us in any great way. We feel inadequate and may even wonder if it is worth serving the Lord. We may even feel the same way about other believers around us.
We find such a person in Mark 5. We don’t even know his name. When we are introduced to him, he definitely comes across as a person who could never have any impact on the work of the Lord. Luke tells us that he was naked. Mark tells us that he lived among the dead, among the tombs. He would cut himself with stones and scream during the night. He was an outcast of society and could not be tamed even with chains. The reason he was in such a tragic condition is that he was possessed by a “legion” of demons.
Anyone familiar with the story knows what happens. Jesus cast the demons out of the man. Jesus spends some time with the man, and it is clear that he becomes a believer. He wants to follow the Lord as one of His disciples.
But what use could this man possibly have? His resume would look pretty bleak, wouldn’t it? He probably had very little theological education and certainly did not have a degree from any approved school.
Nonetheless, he asks the Lord if he could come with Him. Not surprisingly to us, the Lord tells him he could not go with the Lord. At that instant, the man may very well have thought, “What did I expect? The Lord can’t use me.”
But the Lord doesn’t stop there. He goes on. He tells the man to go to his own people and tell them what the Lord had done for him. The Lord made him a missionary!
What is interesting about this is that the area the Lord sent this man to was a Gentile area. It was known as the Decapolis (Mark 5:20). He would be preaching the Lord in an area by himself.
How in the world could he be of any value? What could he possibly do for the Lord? I find it very significant that Jesus would later visit the area this man ministered in. In Mark 7:31 we are told that when Jesus went to the Decapolis, a large multitude of people came out to meet Him. No doubt they heard about all the things He had done among the Jews. But also, no doubt, the man of Mark 5 played a role in Christ’s ministry in the Decapolis.
Imagine that. The man of Mark 5 paved the way for the Lord. He was like a John the Baptist in the Decapolis. What an honor for this man, and what a privilege the Lord gave him.
This man was a nobody. His past would have excluded him from doing anything significant. But the Lord used him.
What about you? Do you ever feel that you are not qualified to do anything of significance for the Lord? This man shows us the Lord can use us where we are and how we are.
If scientists could make penicillin out of moldy bread, the Lord can use us.