March 26th, 2023: Jesus Overpowers Legion- Mark 5: 1-13, 18-20
Updated: Mar 22
And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?
What manner of man is this? He is not like anyone ever known before. He overcomes every excuse of being too bad, too hardened, too complicated, or too far gone to save. He takes special interest in the rejected, outcast, forgotten, and poor. He is not impressed with possessions and material wealth; He looks on the abundance of the heart. He regathers, rebukes, and removes every barrier that separates us from God. That the wind and sea obey Him is small news compared to the salvation He brings to mankind. This is no ordinary man. He is the Savior, the King of Kings, and I AM. Do you know him?
The lesson today takes place in an area called the Gadarenes, the land given to the tribe of Gad on the east side of the Jordan River. Scholars record that this area aligned around 65 BC with nine other cities to form a separate little community/government called Decapolis. We know from other writers that Jesus not only visited here but that many there were believers. And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judaea, and from beyond Jordan. (Matthew 4:25). This particular area was populated mostly by Greeks and Gentiles. It is thought that in 69 AD, many Christians found refuge in this area when fleeing the siege of Rome before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.
And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes. And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains: Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones.
Jesus has traveled across the sea and through a storm to arrive in the Gadarenes. Keep in mind that it was Jesus’ idea to cross over to this area. And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side. (Mark4:35). Matthew mentions that there were two men that ran to meet Jesus. And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way. (Matthew 8:28). Where the second man went is not known. He might have fled before having the demons removed, or he could have also been healed and just didn’t come back asking for direction from Jesus. Luke sheds some light on his appearance and how long he has lived with these demons. And when he went forth to land, there met him out of the city a certain man, which had devils long time, and ware no clothes, neither abode in any house, but in the tombs. (Luke 8:27). This fellow is usually referred to as the maniac of Gadera. It is no wonder - listen to the description. He lives in the cemetery, mostly alone, cast out, and feared by many. He is wild, strong, hurting himself, loud, and out of control. What a terrible condition.
But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him, And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not. For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit.
Certainly the demons would not run to worship Jesus. It feels like this passage is showing that even in his terrible state, this possessed man realized his need. The conversation is like a split personality. What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? Look at the mess I am. Why would you bother with me? But, notice, he called him the Son of the most high God. Do the demons know who Jesus is? Of course, they do. The battle for this man is on. The only losers here are the demons.
And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many. And he besought him much that he would not send them away out of the country.
The demons answer now. The word used for where they don’t want to go is called the Abyss. This is the same bottomless pit that Satan is sent to in the book of Revelation. The demons don’t know for sure if this is their time to be locked up or not. What they do know is that they don’t want to go to the Abyss. And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season. (Revelation 20:1-3). Of extreme importance here is that God has control over all evil spirits, demons, and even Satan. It is not a matter of IF Jesus can do something. It is a matter of how/what He will do. He does not lose control, and Jesus is not afraid. He doesn’t break a sweat!
Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding. And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them. And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea.
Interesting. These demons that have been turning this man inside out for many years have no power with Jesus present. They obviously don’t know that even the swine would rather die than have them inhabit their bodies. Another indication that Satan and his crew are not all-knowing. Should there be swine in this area? If the Gadarenes were inhabited by Greeks and Gentiles, there would be no reason to expect there would not be swine present. However, the true sons and daughters of Abraham would not raise, touch, or eat pork. Ironically, what better place for an unclean spirit to be sent than into an unclean animal.
And when he was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil prayed him that he might be with him. Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee. And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel.
Left out of our lesson is that once the unclean spirits were destroyed, the man was clothed and in his right mind…sitting with Jesus. Sin leaves us all in a terrible condition. Just like the man in our lesson, we lose control of ourselves and become servants to something that moves us away from God and away from those we love. It is not enough to just clean up our lives and do better. When we get rid of sin, we must fill ourselves with Christ. We can’t do it on our own. We must seek Jesus for direction. When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation. (Matthew 12:43-45). As the people that knew him saw he was no longer a wild man, they were very afraid. Because of fear, and not understanding what manner of man He is, they asked Jesus to leave their area. Jesus, always allowing a choice, left. The healed man (who now needs a new name) asks Jesus to let him go wherever it is that Jesus is going. Jesus says no. Instead, He asks him to go home to friends and tell them what has happened. Consider the power of this man’s testimony! Could his testimony have played a part in adding to the kingdom of believers? The most effective story (testimony) we tell is the story we know. Don’t be afraid to share. We need to take as many with us to Heaven as we can!
Thank you for studying with us! God bless!