Mark 5:1-20: Where true sanity is found.
” They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. 2 When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an impure spirit came from the tombs to meet him. 3 This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. 4 For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. 5 Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones. 6 When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. 7 He shouted at the top of his voice, ‘What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In God’s name don’t torture me!’ 8 For Jesus had said to him, ‘Come out of this man, you impure spirit!’ 9 Then Jesus asked him, ‘What is your name?’ ‘My name is Legion,’ he replied, ‘for we are many.’ 10 And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area. 11 A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. 12 The demons begged Jesus, ‘Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.’ 13 He gave them permission, and the impure spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned. 14 Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. 15 When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. 16 Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man – and told about the pigs as well. 17 Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region. 18 As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. 19 Jesus did not let him, but said, ‘Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.’ 20 So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed. NIV UK
‘The evil spirit who inflicted torment was also in dread of torment from the gentle Saviour, as one whose eyes are inflamed dreads the light.’ F.B.Meyer: ‘Devotional Commentary,’p.423. What an encouraging story this is. There are no untameable people. There are no untameable demons – not to Jesus. ‘’No one was strong enough to subdue him’’ (4b). Nevertheless we are introduced to One who was.
‘Jesus is stronger than Satan and sin, Satan to Jesus must bow; Therefore, I triumph without and within, Jesus saves me now.’
Another old hymn begins, ‘’It was down at the feet of Jesus…’’ Everything important that needs to happen in a person’s life begins here (6). At the feet of Jesus, life begins (2, 3). Like ‘’Legion’’ we too lived ‘’in the tombs’’ at one time (see Ephesians 2:1, 3 and 5). We were spiritually dead before God raised us with Christ. Death was our domain, you might say. Before we carried the aroma of Christ, the stench of death clung to us.
At the feet of Jesus, peace is given (5). I confess that this made me think about the many disturbed and troubled people who self-harm. A young youth worker spoke at our church a few years ago. He was working in an affluent area, with young people from, in the main, ‘very good homes.’ He said his greatest challenge at that time was the number of youngsters who were cutting themselves in their pain.
At the feet of Jesus, sanity is restored (15). He was ‘’seated, clothed and stone-cold sober’’ (Tom Wright translation).
At the feet of Jesus, ministry begins (18-20). This was a predominantly Gentile area, and maybe there is a true sense in which we can say that this formerly demonised man became the very first apostle to the Gentiles.
There’s a whole lot of begging going on in this passage (10, 17 and 18). Don’t you find it strange that the people would want this Jesus to leave (17)? However, the truth is some people are more concerned about money than they are the state of their souls. Vested financial interests took a hit with this miracle.