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