Mark 5:1-20 1 They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. 2 And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit. 3 He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, 4 for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. 5 Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones. 6 And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him. 7 And crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” 8 For he was saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” 9 And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” 10 And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. 11 Now a great herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, 12 and they begged him, saying, “Send us to the pigs; let us enter them.” 13 So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the pigs; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the sea.
14 The herdsmen fled and told it in the city and in the country. And people came to see what it was that had happened. 15 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. 16 And those who had seen it described to them what had happened to the demon-possessed man and to the pigs. 17 And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their region. 18 As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. 19 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.” 20 And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled.
In Mark 5 we see a continued progression of Jesus revealing His authority in the Kingdom of God. As Jesus began His public ministry following His baptism great crowds were drawn to His miracles. He healed the sick and cast out demons. But most people were following Him for the wrong reasons. And even the disciples who believed that He is the Christ; the Messiah; the Saviour, did not understand the Kingdom of God. Jesus began to teach them in parables about this secret Kingdom of which He is ruler and then gave illustrations in practice as He calmed the sea in the midst of a terrible storm and now casts out a legion of demons possessing a man.
But this was a much different situation as compared to the man with an unclean spirit in the synagogue in Capernaum (Mark 1:23-28). This man lived in the area of the ten cities (Decapolis Mar 5:20) across the Sea of Galilee outside of Israel among the Gentiles (non-Jews) and these people would have been considered by the Jews as unclean just because they were not of the nation of Israel. They did not live their lives based upon the Old Testament Law and the worship of Jehovah God. Jesus goes to this area just to meet this man. No crowds were there to meet Him. Jesus goes to a cemetery to meet with someone who could not be bound or subdued but had great power and brought fear to those who saw him. This was a place of great evil of which was avoided but Jesus purposely travels here to manifest the Kingdom of God.
What was Jesus’ purpose in crossing the sea of Galilee? To demonstrate His power in saving a single soul and to send him out as an evangelist among the Decapolis to share what Jesus had done for him. This man would prepare the way for the message of Jesus’ death and resurrection to be shared and believed years later. None of the disciples could have expected this! This man who was viewed as beyond hope and rejected by all was to be used by God in a great and mighty way!
When the man first talks to Jesus it is the demons who speak. Jesus asks their name to show His disciples how great a force was standing against Him. Jesus casts the demons into the pigs in order to confirm to His disciples the realities of the Kingdom of God in their eyes. Jesus had just conquered about two thousand demons in one single act (there were about two thousand pigs who were drowned in the sea (verse 13)). Can you see how Jesus was teaching His disciples? They were coming to know that Jesus Christ is the King in this Kingdom of God. He wasn’t just a miracle worker. They saw His authority over the powers of the devil who is also in this world fighting over the souls of men. They witnessed that Jesus did not come just to save Israel but all people and His ways are beyond human comprehension and expectation.
But the disciples also saw the Kingdom of God manifest in the response of the man who was demon possessed and people’s response. The herdsmen of the pigs told those in the city what had happened and they came out to see (verse 14). Just like the initial crowds that followed Jesus at the beginning of His public ministry people were curious and drawn to the excitement. But how did these people respond? They saw the man who was demon possessed in his right mind rejoicing at the feet of Jesus. They saw the pigs dead in the sea. But unlike the crowds that initially followed Jesus their response was clear and couldn’t be confused. They wanted nothing to do with Jesus Christ. They were afraid of Him (verse 15). They were not in awe of Jesus and drawn to Him as the disciples were when He calmed the sea (Mark 4:41). Rather they begged Jesus to leave them. They did not desire the Kingdom of God. They did not want to know the Truth. They preferred the chaos and darkness over the peace and light. They did not rejoice in the salvation of a single soul but only saw the loss of the pigs. They saw that to follow Jesus could mean personal sacrifice and they would rather have the pleasures of this world. This is the description of the lost sinner who couldn’t care less about Jesus Christ.
While the crowd that formed begged Jesus to leave, the man who had been demon possessed begged Jesus to let him go with Him. He would give up everything to follow Jesus. Rather than let him follow, Jesus gives him an assignment to share with his friends what the Lord had done for him and how He had mercy upon him. The born again Christian has a desire to share what Jesus Christ has done in saving them from sin and darkness to those around them for the rest of their lives! They continue to be in awe at Jesus Christ! For all eternity they will worship and adore Him in the Kingdom of God and they desire others to come to know Him! They know that He has saved them here and now and they are not hoping that He might save them. Does this describe the state of your soul or are you like the crowds that came to Jesus and begged Him to leave? Do you know anything about the Kingdom of God or do love the pleasures of this world?
Pastor Murray Hack
Mark 4:35-41 35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
Following the initial parables spoken by Jesus recorded in Mark 4, there is an incident describing a terrible storm and a further revelation of the Kingdom of God. As Jesus and the disciples were crossing the Sea of Galilee a great storm arose that was so severe that even the fishermen who were in the boat were afraid. In spite of the fact that the disciples had just heard the teachings of Jesus about the Kingdom of God which cannot be seen by the naked eye in which Jesus Christ reigns they did not yet understand. How often do we hear a message from God and while we hear with our ears it does not penetrate our heart- it doesn’t change us? The Christ was among them but they did not yet know what that meant. They believed and yet they did not yet understand.
The disciples were in the Kingdom of God and in the presence of the King and yet they were afraid. Why? Because they saw a terrible storm. They did not recognize that the Kingdom of God was manifest in their presence. They were in the same boat as Jesus Christ. They had repented and believed in Him and yet they were afraid. Because Jesus was asleep they lost sight of the reality that the Kingdom of God was in their presence and they still did not yet understand the authority that He has. Jesus awoke and calmed the storm and then questioned their faith. The fear that the disciples felt towards the sea turned to a fear in awe at the man who was in their presence. They had witnessed that the Kingdom of God was manifest in their presence. They probably at this point began to understand in their heart what the Kingdom of God looks like in a manner of which they did not understand before. Jesus had performed miracles before which excited the people and even the disciples but here they are beginning to understand who He is as the Christ and what the Kingdom of God is. It is a spiritual kingdom that can also be seen manifest here in the physical world. It is a future kingdom which is yet to be revealed. The signs and wonders performed by the prophets of old in the nation of Israel gave glimpses of the future kingdom of God but the disciples themselves were seeing it being manifest for the first time with its King and Ruler revealed- not yet in all His fullness which could only happen after Jesus rose from the dead, but as a man walking and talking upon this earth as they were. No one has yet seen Jesus Christ reigning over all the earth in His full authority. This will occur after His second coming. But here, with His first coming, and Jesus beginning His public ministry the disciples were seeing something new and astounding! They had reason to be amazed and fearful at what Jesus could do for He manifests the Kingdom of God upon earth!
And the Kingdom of God is a kingdom of peace. No matter who we are we experience all kinds of chaos in our lives as a result of the fall and of sin. Partly because of our own sin and the sins of others and even because the creation itself was cursed as a result of man’s sin. None of us can escape experiencing much trouble and chaos at different points in our lives. And if you have lived a life filled with evil the chaos can be virtually unending. The chaos can carry on from day to day and from year to year as if it could never end. It can seem normal. It can seem as if this is the only way to live. But the Kingdom of God is a kingdom of peace. There is no chaos in the Kingdom of God. And if you are in the presence of Jesus Christ you can know peace no matter what surrounds you. Not only can He calm the storms as they come against you but even in the storms you can know peace. You can rest as Jesus was able to rest in the boat in the midst of a terrible storm. If you live in fear of Jesus Christ- in awe of His majesty and splendor and if you are in the Kingdom of God and know Him, you do not need to fear the chaos around you. He is all you need. He will manifest His Kingdom in your presence and you will see His future perfect Kingdom of which only the righteous may enter. There will be no trouble, no temptation, no evil in His future kingdom. Do you desire this Kingdom? Do live with your eyes not only set upon Jesus Christ but upon what is to come? Do you know the peace of God?
Anyone can know the peace of God if only you are willing to surrender your life to Him. God can completely change the life of any person from a life filled with chaos to a life filled with peace in His presence. Is this your heart’s desire? No one is beyond hope. Anyone can be saved. But we must see Jesus Christ for who He really is. We must set our eyes upon Him and come to a true understanding of what Jesus Christ did for us in dying in our place upon the cross and rising from the dead. He endured the chaos of the cross so that you can know peace. He entered this world with all its evil in order to save you and me if we will only repent and believe. How great is the man who was asleep in the boat! How amazing it is that He came to this earth to save us!
Pastor Murray Hack
Mark 4:26-34 26 And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. 27 He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. 28 The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. 29 But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”
30 And he said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? 31 It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, 32 yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”
33 With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it. 34 He did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything.
Here in Mark 4 Jesus is speaking in parables about the Kingdom of God. These parables contain hidden truths. The common thread of all these first parables of Jesus is that God’s Kingdom cannot be seen by the naked eye but it is a real kingdom of which the evidence can be seen. It is a spiritual kingdom in which Jesus Christ reigns:
Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
It is also a perfect future Kingdom which will be finally and ultimately revealed to all when Jesus Christ returns to judge the nations. The authority that Jesus Christ has even now following His resurrection from the dead has not yet been fully revealed to all of mankind but will one day in the future.
The first parable in Mark 4:3-9 describes seed being scattered. Only the seed that fell into good soil grew and produced a harvest. The evidence of those who have entered into the Kingdom of God through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ is seen as the Word of God which is planted in their heart produces new life and a complete transformation in the believer. They are no longer as they once were. Just as a good secret or surprise is only hidden for a while (with the purpose of being revealed) so too is the believer in Jesus Christ going to be revealed to all around them (Mark 4:22). They are a blessed surprise and God rejoices in them! What they really are cannot be hidden just as a lamp is not put under a bed but on a stand to fill the room with light for all to see (Mark 4:21). And who they really are, as born again Christians, is revealed in how they treat others. We are willing to forgive others because we know God has forgiven us through faith in Jesus Christ. We don’t condemn others but desire for them to know Jesus Christ and be saved. And in the final judgment, when Jesus Christ returns from heaven, we will be rewarded for the faith that has been revealed in us (Mark 4:24).
In these final two parables Jesus reveals more imagery describing the Kingdom of God (this spiritual kingdom that cannot be seen in which Jesus Christ reigns). In Mark 4:26-30 He describes how mysterious the child of God is in reality. He describes a man scattering seed on the ground but not really knowing how the seed sprouts and grows. The man who scattered the seeds does not produce the grain but it is the earth that produces by itself. The seed sprouts and grows and develops into a blade, then an ear, and then a full head of grain in the ear. He plants and he harvests but he doesn’t really comprehend how the seed grows. It is mysterious. So it is with the born again Christian- the child of God in the Kingdom of God. There is a beginning: a spiritual birth as the seed sprouts and grows (as we are justified by faith in Jesus Christ- called justification). And there is an obvious end: a harvest as we are glorified and made perfect when Jesus Christ returns (called glorification). An obvious transformation happens in the believers life but no one really knows how God produces this change. It is mysterious as God manifests His presence and power in the heart of every believer. But there is always an obvious beginning and an end- a progression of genuine spiritual growth that produces an overflow just as one seed always produces more at the harvest. The believer in the Kingdom of God always expands the Kingdom of God in some way as the Good News is shared through them to others and the darkness and evil that they once knew is removed and forced back around them.
The final parable in Mark 4:30-32 describes a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed, growing into the largest garden plant with enough strength that a bird can safely build a nest in its branches. This not only implies the hidden aspect of the Kingdom of God but also its surprise. No one would expect a seed so small to be able to produce a plant so large. And the Spirit of God always produces the same result in the heart of every genuine born again believer. It is amazing what God can do in a person’s life if they are totally surrendered to Him and they are seeking Him with all their heart! It is astonishing and defies human comprehension! How could we, who were once so vile and evil now reflect His glory? How can we who so rejected and despised the One who came to save us now love Him with all our heart? How can we who used to only think about ourselves now be more concerned about the salvation of others?
Do you see why Jesus began with these parables? Do you see how the unbeliever cannot comprehend them? They cannot see the unseen. They do not know this Kingdom of God. They do not know the love of God although they may claim to know Him. It is only as we come to hear the voice of Jesus Christ and are enabled by the Spirit of God to understand that our heart is touched. It is as the Word of God is shared and believed that lost souls are brought into this glorious Kingdom where righteousness reign! How amazing is this Kingdom of God! How awe inspiring and majestic are His ways! How contrary are His ways to all human understanding- our natural thinking! He constantly is at work transforming hearts that were evil and making them good! He always saving sinners from the suffering of eternal fire! Are you as a grain of mustard seed? Are you someone of insignificance that God desires to save and raise up to reflect His glory? Can you see Him? Do you know Him? Is His continually in your thoughts and in your mind? Does He direct your paths day in and day out? Do you see His hand of favor in your life even in the midst of great trials? Do you have peace with God?
All who heard these parables and were being drawn to Jesus Christ understood them. Do you understand? Do you have true faith or is it merely an illusion? Are you filled with God’s love to overflowing? Are you being drawn heavenward, nearer and nearer to the throne of God where Jesus Christ is reigning even now? Do you live in awe of God in all His majesty?
Pastor Murray Hack
Mark 4:24-25 24 And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you. 25 For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”
Every one of us have at one point or another listened to someone speaking and pretended that we understood what they said but in reality we did not. Or we thought we understood but we didn’t. The amazing thing about speech is that we convey our thoughts through the words we speak and through our hearing we receive this information spoken by others but the words spoken may not convey the actual intent of the heart and the words heard can be completely misunderstood and misinterpreted. We often can’t tell for sure whether we are conveying our thoughts in a way that can be understood or that we are interpreting what we hear in the right manner. As Jesus is speaking in parables in Mark 4, He is intentionally hiding the truth of what He is saying from those who will not believe while at the same time the Holy Spirit was revealing His desired message to the hearts of those who were drawing near to God. All these initial parables convey the same idea that the Kingdom of God is something that cannot be seen by the naked eye just as any spoken word can be misunderstood by the hearer. It can be hidden in spite of being heard and the irony of course is that the Christ, the Saviour of the world, is the person physically present and speaking these truths to the Jewish people who were supposed to be looking for His coming and yet most who heard His message could not understand.
But what does it mean, “Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you”? The parallel passages in Matthew and Luke bring more clarity:
Matthew 7:2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.
Luke 6:37-38 37 “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; 38 give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
These passages are not saying that we are not to judge others. We judge each other all the time as we try to examine the motivations for why people say the things that they do. In our attempt to understand others we are continually judging them. What this passage is saying is that whatever your relationship is to God this will determine how you judge others- how you respond to and treat those around you. This passage is saying that the true condition of your heart of which nobody can physically see will be revealed in how you respond to others. If you have been forgiven by God through Jesus Christ’s redemptive work upon the cross you will be willing to forgive those who have sinned against you. If you know that you deserved to be condemned to an eternal suffering for the wicked deeds of your own heart acting in rebellion against God and you have become poor in spirit and mourned over your sin and have repented before God and believed in His Son Jesus Christ, you are no longer condemned but are deserving of eternal life in the presence of God through His free gift of grace. You know you are not condemned and this is revealed in how you treat others: you will not condemn them because you want the same reality to be true for them. You don’t cast aside others as utterly hopeless. You have hope for their souls no matter how evil they may be for you know how evil your heart is by nature and that God has given you a new heart through faith in His name.
The reality is that throughout our entire lives we are being put to the test. Our actions reveal what we believe about God and the true condition of our heart. We all face different trials of varying degrees of difficulty but we all are tested in one way or another by God. Do we reflect the glory of God with our lives? And in the final judgment when Jesus Christ returns to this earth our lives will be weighed in the balance. We will be measured and examined by God to the most minute detail and action. Our passage in Mark 4:24-25 is saying that if we have lived our lives out of a sincere and ever increasing love to God it will be evident in how we treat others. Whatever measure of faith we have now in God will only be increased. But for those who do not reflect the glory of God here and now in this realm of time in which we are tested before the eternal state (this period of time from our birth until our death) all the temporary pleasures that they have gained in one manner or another- either honestly or deceitfully will be taken away for all eternity. They will receive their reward: eternal suffering.
Do you see why we must pay attention to what we hear? You can hear the Word of God and yet not never understand and be saved. You can claim to be a Christian but your actions are only a show to mask and deceive others of your present reality. You can claim to know who Jesus is and yet be totally wrong in your understanding. The religious leaders and so many others heard Jesus speak but did not understand. In their arrogance they could not hear. God had blinded their understanding and this can happen to anyone who claims to know God. If we do not walk with God in all humility, we too will become blinded. Jesus had chosen the twelve disciples of which one, Judas Iscariot, never paid attention to what he heard and he was eternally condemned.
What a blessing it is to know that if we are born again not only will God increase our faith in His glorious Name but we will be with Him forever! We pay attention to the Word of God and are growing in our understanding! We seek Him with all our heart! We love Him because He first loved us:
1 John 4:10-12 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
How it grieves God when we don’t listen to Him or even try to understand Him. How it grieves God when we turn away from loving Him as we should. But the love of God abounds! He will restore us to Himself if we turn back to Him. And we will continue to show love to others out of our love to God in an ever increasing manner as our faith in Him increases. The promise is ours: Mark 4:24 ...with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you.
Pastor Murray Hack