Mark 5:1-20 (Wednesday Evening Bible Study)

Mark 5:1-20

  • Mark 5:1-13
  • They came to the other side of the sea, to the region of the Gerasenes. 2 As soon as he got out of the boat, a man with an unclean spirit came out of the tombs and met him. 3 He lived in the tombs, and no one was able to restrain him anymore—not even with a chain— 4 because he often had been bound with shackles and chains, but had torn the chains apart and smashed the shackles. No one was strong enough 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 When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and knelt down before him. 7 And he cried out with a loud voice, “What do you have to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you before God, don’t torment me!” 8 For he had told him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” 9 “What is your name?” he asked him. “My name is Legion,” he answered him, “because we are many.” 10 And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the region. 11 A large herd of pigs was there, feeding on the hillside. 12 The demons begged him, “Send us to the pigs, so that we may enter them.” 13 So he gave them permission, and the unclean spirits came out and entered the pigs. The herd of about two thousand rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned there.
  • My name is Legion, for we are many
    • This is an eerie and dark story
    • Looking back at Mark 4, as this is a continuation of the story of Jesus calming the storm, we find that this interaction with Jesus and the demon possessed man took place late in the day, possibly even at night
    • The disciples and Jesus had just finished crossing the Sea of Galilee (when Jesus calmed the storm). At its longest, it is 13 miles long. And at its widest it is around 8 miles wide. The particular part that Jesus and the disciples had just finished traveling was around 5 miles wide.
      • They landed in what is described later in Mark 5 as the Decapolis. We’ll discuss that when we get toward the end tonight.
      • This was part of the lakeside where there were many caves in the limestone rock, and many of these caves were used as tombs in which bodies were laid. At the best of times it was an eerie place; as night fell it must have been grim indeed
    • A demon possessed man came out of the tombs as Jesus and the disciples approached
      • This was a fitting place, for it was believed that demons dwelt in woods and gardens and vineyards and dirty places, in lonely and desolate spots and among tombs
      • It was during the night that they believed the demons to be particularly active
      • To sleep alone in the dark house at night was dangerous; to greet any person in the dark was perilous; to go out at night without a lantern or a torch was to court trouble; it was a dangerous place and a dangerous time, and the man was a dangerous man
    • Legion
      • Sometimes the man used the singular, as if it was him speaking, other times the plural as the demons spoke through him
      • A legion was a Roman regiment of 6,000 troops
      • This area was a staging area of Roman soldiers on the Eastern front, so this man had seen plenty of legions in his day
    • Jesus heals the man
      • It is clear that Jesus made more than one attempt to heal him
        • v. 8 tells us that Jesus began by His normal authoritative order for the demon to come out
        • He then demanded what the demon’s name was
          • It was a common belief that if you knew the name of a particular demon, the demon had lost all its power and control
        • Finally, Jesus gave him an unanswerable demonstration that the demons had gone out of him by sending them into the herd of pigs
          • This man needed deliverance, and Jesus delivered him by casting the demons into the herd of pigs
          • The pigs then rushed down the embankment, into the lake, and drowned
          • Like a wise healer who understood the psychology of a diseased mind, Jesus used the event to help the man climb back to sanity, and his disordered mind was restored to peace
  • Mark 5:14-17
  • 14 The men who tended them ran off and reported it in the town and the countryside, and people went to see what had happened. 15 They came to Jesus and saw the man who had been demon-possessed, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. 16 Those who had seen it described to them what had happened to the demon-possessed man and told about the pigs. 17 Then they began to beg him to leave their region.
  • The response to Jesus
    • I’ve mentioned this idea before, but here is the other side of it; there is no neutrality when encountering Jesus. You either want to follow Him, or you want Him as far away from you as you can get
  • The men in charge of the herd of pigs go into town to let the owners know what has happened
    • They may have been on the line for the cost of the herd if they couldn’t explain what happened, so they wanted to make sure they let someone know what was going on
      • When the people from town (not just the owners of the pigs) arrived, they found the formerly demon possessed man clothed and in his right mind
        • Note that Mark described the area as filthy, dirty, etc. and now is describing that man as clean, clothed, and in his right mind. The area is a gentile area, but through Jesus, the man (and the area) are now clean
  • Instead of embracing Jesus and the miracle of the healed man, the crowd focused on the economic impact of losing the herd of pigs
    • The routine of life had been unsettled, and they wanted the disturbing element removed as quickly as possible
  • A frequent cry of the human mind is, “Please don’t disturb me.” On the whole, the one thing people want is to be left alone
    • Don’t disturb my comfort
      • We get comfortable in our routine and we don’t like anything that disrupts that routine
      • We like to stay in our comfort zones
      • Myself included, that’s part of the reason this virus is causing so much havoc…it’s disturbing our comfort and our routine
    • Don’t disturb my possessions
      • None of us really willingly gives up anything we may possess
      • The older we get the more we want to hold on to it
    • Don’t disturb my religion
      • Don’t let unpleasant subjects disturb the pleasant decorum of my religion
      • Don’t let personal relationships disturb my religion
        • There is a type of religion which is fonder of committees than it is of housework, which is more set on quiet times than it is on human service. It prides itself on serving the church and spending itself in devotion—but in God’s eyes it has got things the wrong way round
      • Don’t disturb my beliefs
        • There is a type of religion which says, “If it has been good enough up to now, it is good enough for me.” There are people who do not want to know anything new, for they know that if they did they might have to go through the mental sweat of rethinking things and coming to new conclusions. There is a cowardice of thought and lethargy of mind and a sleep of the soul which are terrible things
        • The Gerasenes banished the disturbing Christ—and still there are people who seek to do the same
        • Conversation with Byron about making sure we don’t do the same things that our generation see as frustrating.
  • Mark 5:18-20
  • 18 As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged him earnestly that he might remain with him. 19 Jesus did not let him but told him, “Go home to your own people, and report to them how much the Lord has done for you and how he has had mercy on you.” 20 So he went out and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and they were all amazed.
  • Life on Mission
    • Like I stated earlier, this took place in an area known as the Decapolis (Ten Cities)
      • Scythopolis (west of the Jordan), Pella, Dion, Gerasa, Philadelphia, Gardara, Raphana, Kanatha, Hippos, and Damascus
    • With the conquests of Alexander the Great, there had been a Greek penetration into Palestine and Syria
    • These Greek cities were within Syria, but were largely independent
    • They were liable to Roman taxation and Roman military service; frequently were the headquarters of Roman legions in the eastern campaigns
    • They were beautiful cities; they were stubbornly Greek in culture; they had their Greek gods and their Greek temples and their Greek amphitheaters; they were devoted to the Greek way of life
    • This is all to point out that this was not a Jewish territory. It was very much a Gentile area.
    • If Jesus was in the Decapolis, it is one of the first hints of things to come
      • There would be Jews there, but it was fundamentally a Greek area
      • Here is a foretaste of a world for Christ
    • The demon possessed man knew how much Christ had done for him. Instead of wanting Jesus to leave, he wanted to remain with Jesus and follow Him. 
      • There is good reason, however, to see why Jesus sent the man back
        • He was to be a witness for Christianity (which is what any Christ follower is called to)
          • He was to be a living, walking, vivid, unanswerable demonstration of what Christ can do for us. Our glory must always be not in what we can do for Christ but in what Christ can do for us
          • The unanswerable proof of Christianity is a recreated human being
        • He was to be the first seed of what in time was to become a mighty harvest
          • The first contact with Greek civilization was made in the Decapolis. Everything must start somewhere; and the glory of all the Christianity which one day flowered in the Greek mind and genius began with a man who had been possessed by demons and whom Christ healed
          • Christ must always begin with someone. In our own circle and society, why should He not begin with us

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