The herdsmen fled and told it in the city and in the country. And people came to see what it was that had happened. And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid.
And those who had seen it described to them what had happened to the demon-possessed man and to the pigs. And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their region.
As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. And he 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."
And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled. (Mark 5:14-20 ESV)
People are not indifferent to Jesus Christ. No, really, think about it. Everything that I have read and heard about people and their experience with Jesus Christ - not with "religion", but with the person that is Jesus Christ - suggests that it is a definitive moment. There is either an attraction or a repulsion. You just cannot "hover" unmoved.
This is one of those moments, and we see both reactions. The herdsman flee immediately after the pigs are driven into the sea and drowned. That's pretty traumatic. Fleeing seems like a reasonable reaction. Understandably, they told others, and those people were concerned about the reports. Maybe they didn't quite believe it, or they thought the herdsmen were exaggerating, either way, they needed to see this themselves. Whatever it was, they didn't just shrug it off.
So, they get there, and it's told to them what happened. Here's that definitive moment: they have a choice to make. Do they see friend or foe? A known lunatic is now in his right mind, and seemingly freed from a horrible life of pain and chaos. Yes, the pigs were a loss. What would you do here? Fear is warranted - this situation is not normal, and clearly Jesus is a powerful man. "They were afraid". ἐφοβήθησαν is the Greek word and it can be said to be "put to flight". They wanted to run far, far away. So, instead of rightly humbling their hearts before God, and worshiping Jesus, they make the other choice: repulsion.
How often do we, do I, choose the safe, the known, the comfortable, predictable, boring of our daily lives?
Sin. From the beginning in the Garden, to this very minute. It blinds us from the reality that we are being deluded. Deluded into believing that we have it all under control (or that we even CAN get it under control), that we're not in need of help, and maybe even that we are victims of circumstances, or bad parenting, or some other excuse. Sin made these people see "deliverance" as a threat. Today, sin plays the same game on us.
On some level, yes, we have to have some control in this life. I'm not talking about being without discipline, or failing to use wisdom and judgment in choosing a course of action that is responsible and prudent. Fear is healthy. But it can be paralyzing, if not tempered with trust and humility.
I've heard someone say, "I know two facts: there is a God, and I am not Him."
Do I perceive that I have more control of something if I believe it is a known quantity? Am I resisting the Spirit because I choose to stay in my rut? Does this suggest a lack of trust, or do I rationalize it as "using the reason that God gave me"? Faith is not divorced from reason and logic, so how do I discern my path? Jeremiah 7:19 seems very applicable. We hear all the time that we are to "follow our heart", but that heart so often leads us astray. Am I following my heart? Or am I following my Lord?
These people asked Jesus to depart from them. What did He then do? He left. I do not read that He made even the slightest resistance or expressed any hesitancy. Contrary to a tyrant that only wants to increase his influence at any cost, here Jesus shows us that He only seeks to be Lord of those that choose His yoke. He doesn't forcibly place it on anyone's neck. We are still free to choose.
One man though... the man that Jesus rescued pursues Jesus. He begged Him!