A Bible Exposition Of Mark 5:1-20
Today’s passage is an incredible demonstration of the power and authority of Jesus recorded by Mark.
As you remember, the disciples have just had their faith tested and exposed as weak. Their understanding of Jesus is becoming clearer bit by bit. But as they all came face to face with the reality God was in their boat, they were terrified. At first, they were very afraid of the storm, then they became even more afraid as Jesus miraculously calmed the storm.
The rest of the boat journey brings them to the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee. This next encounter is no accident. Jesus clearly has an agenda. He made a divine appointment with a demoniac and added it to calendar.
He will leave the terror of a stormy sea and confront the terror of the storm raging within an individual—a man created in His image, for His glory, who is both sinner and sufferer. This is the most descriptive and involved account of all the demonic influences that we read of in Mark’s Gospel. Mark devotes 20 verses to his portrayal of the events, while Matthew gives six.
4 Descriptions as Jesus Delivers the Doomed
- The wretched situation (1-5)
- The miraculous deliverance (6-13)
- The unsettled observers (14-17)
- The devoted follower (18-20)
Jesus steps foot on the shore after a two hour or so boat trip, and before He can get unloaded or make His way into town He has a pitiful and dangerous man awaiting Him on the shore. This man was characterized as one with an unclean spirit.
Matthew records the same event. We know it’s the same because it is right after the storm, it involves the tombs, the violence, the townspeople, and the pigs. The only difference in Matthew’s record is that there isn’t just one man, but there are two, and the location is different.
Matthew calls it the Gadarenes. Mark says Gerasenes. Different places, one is broad and one is specific. Like two people recounting a story and one says we were in Linn County, and the other says, we were just outside Albany.
Gadarenes was the broader region. Garesenes is the more poinpointed location. We know almost nothing about this city—it is most likely at a site that was accidently happened upon by a bulldozer making way for a road in 1970.
East side of the lake. Topographically we need to have a beach, and also a cliff nearby. That’s this location on the East side of Lake Galilee.
As Matthew says, there were actually two men, but Luke and Mark focus on the main character of the two. It’s like if two guys go fishing and you ask the first, tell me about you trip? The first guy says, we caught three fish. A big one, and a couple of little ones we just threw back.
Later you ask the second guy, separately. How was your trip, and he says, “we caught a 25 lb. coho.” Do you scream, “liar!” No. No one is lying. No one is forgetting details. They had different purposes.
One is telling you the exact number of fish caught. The other is telling you the only fish that really mattered.
They are in the country of the Gerasenes. Outside of Israel.
Jesus so far hasn’t been in Gentile areas. This is significant. And so, here’s His first trip abroad, and He is met by a man who had been invaded by and is now under the controlling domination of an unclean spirit (a demon.)
This is a man who is demonized. We distinguished last week that there is a difference between demonic influences, which can be resisted by the Christian standing firm in the promises of God, and demonization or demon-possessed by which a person loses the ability to resist the demon’s influence.
The latter is what we are facing here. And Mark will go into great detail to give us a description of what this man’s condition when He meets Jesus.
It’s hard to imagine this scenario. One of the darkest pictures of human suffering recorded for us in all of Scripture. As we have said, demons desire to destroy. Their goal is to maximize human suffering. And this man is severely afflicted because he is suffering not from one demon, but from many.
1 They came to the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gerasenes. 2 When He got out of the boat, immediately a man from the tombs with an unclean spirit met Him, 3 and he had his dwelling among the tombs. And no one was able to bind him anymore, even with a chain; 4 because he had often been bound with shackles and chains, and the chains had been torn apart by him and the shackles broken in pieces, and no one was strong enough to subdue him. 5 Constantly, night and day, he was screaming among the tombs and in the mountains, and gashing himself with stones. 6 Seeing Jesus from a distance, he ran up and bowed down before Him; 7 and shouting with a loud voice, he said, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God, do not torment me!” 8 For He had been saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” 9 And He was asking him, “What is your name?” And he said to Him, “My name is Legion; for we are many.” 10 And he began to implore Him earnestly not to send them out of the country. 11 Now there was a large herd of swine feeding nearby on the mountain. 12 The demons implored Him, saying, “Send us into the swine so that we may enter them.” 13 Jesus gave them permission. And coming out, the unclean spirits entered the swine; and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea, about two thousand of them; and they were drowned in the sea. 14 Their herdsmen ran away and reported it in the city and in the country. And the people came to see what it was that had happened. 15 They came to Jesus and observed the man who had been demon-possessed sitting down, clothed and in his right mind, the very man who had had the “legion”; and they became frightened. 16 Those who had seen it described to them how it had happened to the demon-possessed man, and all about the swine. 17 And they began to implore Him to leave their region. 18 As He was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed was imploring Him that he might accompany Him. 19 And He did not let him, but He said to him, “Go home to your people and report to them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He had mercy on you.” 20 And he went away and began to proclaim in Decapolis what great things Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed.