In Mark 5:1-20, Jesus and the group arrived at the country of the Gerasenes. It says that when Jesus stepped out of the boat, IMMEDIATELY, a man out of the tombs and with an unclean spirit ran and met Him. This man lived among the tombs (among the dead), and was no longer able to be restrained with shackles or chains (he pulled them apart and broke them to pieces). It’s also said that night and day, he was always howling and bruising himself with stones. But when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and bowed down before Jesus, then shouted at the top of his lungs, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In God’s name, don’t torture me!” For Jesus had told the evil spirit to come out of the man. After the man replied, Jesus asked, “What is your name?”
“Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” Then they begged Jesus earnestly not to send them out of the country. Now, on the hillside, a great herd of pigs were feeding, and so the unclean spirits begged Jesus to send them into the swine. Jesus gave them permission, so they all came out of the man, entered the 2000+ swine, then rushed down the steep bank into the sea where they all drowned. The Swine-herders who saw this ran off and told about it in the city and country, and people rushed to see for themselves. When they saw what had happened, they came to Jesus, saw the demonic man sitting there with clothes on and in his right mind, and thus became afraid, and they begged Jesus to leave their neighborhood. As Jesus was getting back into the boat to leave (for He respected their wishes), the exorcised man begged to be with Him. But Jesus refused, telling him to instead go home to his friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for him, and what mercy He’s shown him.
Then, the Bible tells us that the man went away and began proclaiming in the Decapolis about how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone was amazed!
I found 3 events, or themes in this occurrence:
- Jesus’ Authority over the Legion
- Response of the townspeople
- Testimony of the once-possessed man
1) Jesus’ Authority over the Legion:
First, on the critical note, I thought it was interesting that Jesus didn’t know that there were many demons in the guy. I would just expect that Jesus, the Son of God, would know that already. Also, though they recognized Jesus’ authority, they didn’t come out of the man until Jesus gave them permission for the destination (:18). On that note, I also thought it was interesting that, instead of straight out rejecting their begging and casting them out, Jesus showed the demons mercy by listening to their plea and accepting the decision of their alternative fate. And just the fact that they appealed by the name of God, and ran up to Him, bowing down before Him, and begged for mercy shows that they recognized Jesus’ authority over them. And notice also that when Jesus told them what to do, they did it.
2) Response of the townspeople: Remember in Mark 1:21-28, the issue was that the synagogue was a safe place for the demon possessing the man there. It wasn’t threatened by Jesus’ presence, and didn’t feel threatened until people began to respond to Jesus. Here, we learn of a similar place, for not only did the demons beg Jesus to let them stay in the country/nation, but also the fact that the people herded swine (an unclean animal), and told Jesus to leave after they saw what He did (demons in swine, man clothed and quiet, etc.), confirms that this place too was a place where the demons felt comfortable and unthreatened…same situation as in 1:21-28, only this is on another side of the sea, and instead of being in the walls of a synagogue, it’s in a whole neighborhood!
So the demons recognized Jesus’ authority and did what He commanded them to do. But the townspeople, on the other hand, upon seeing all the good that He had done, begged Jesus to leave (no wonder the demons felt comfortable in that town!).
These people were comparable to the seeds scattered along the path
So, so far with the seeds, we have:
- The Apostles: seeds among the thorns
- The Townspeople: Seeds along the path
3) The Exorcised Man: Understand the situation that this man was in. He had MANY demons possessing him. He had become so strong and numb to pain that when people chained him up, he would wedge apart the chains. When they shackled him, he broke the shackles to pieces. When people tried to subdue him, he was too strong for them. And every night, he would howl at the moon and bruise himself with stones. But now, thanks to Jesus, the man was saved, clothed with new clothes, and full of the desire to follow and remain with Jesus.
But instead of allowing the man to go with Him, Jesus gave the man a mission based on his testimony. So where did the man go?
- Not to the church/synagogue
- Not to their deity’s temple
- Not to the streets…
- The man instead went to the Decapolis.
The Decapolis was a federation of about 10 cities in Palestine. In other words, he went to the place where the largest number mass of people can be found together at one time…and “EVERYONE was AMAZED!”
This exorcised man was a seed that fell among the good soil…”and 30, 60, 100 fold fruit is bore.”