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Trusting in Christ’s Power over Darkness
The scary meeting with Legion–the gospel of Mark 5:1-20
What was the scariest moment of your life–a bungee jump, trapped under a boat, being electrocuted, t-boned in an accident, waiting for your firstborn to arrive, waiting for the doctor to tell you news . . . all scary moments for me. I’ve been scared in hallways, dark places and strange environments. I’ve been threatened with lawsuits and bodily harm more than once.
I was never into zombies, mummies, monsters, or vampires, but I’ve read a few scary stories, and have seen at least one very scary movie about demons that was part of my testimony. As a churchgoing non-Christian teen, I knew Satan was real, and that the devil was more powerful than me. Somehow I knew to avoid extremes—one that says he’s not real, and the other extreme, to focus all my attention on him.
But seeing the reality of demon possession began to move me toward submission to the only one who’s more powerful than demons, and that person is Jesus Christ, who is not afraid of anything. Open your Bibles to Mark 5 and follow along with your outline to experience one of the scariest events in the Bible, the exorcism of Legion.
Matthew, Luke and Mark each tell this same story, but Mark is the most detailed, describing the event in 20 verses, as opposed to Matthew’s 6 verses, or Luke’s 15 verses. But as we travel through this Halloween event in Mark 5, I will add in additional details from Matthew and Luke. You remember what just happened–the disciples just survived a dreadful storm.
But now another kind of terrible storm awaits them on the shore in the form of a demon-possessed terror. They transition from a storm no sailor could control, to a demon-possessed man no man could contain–from the Lord’s power and authority over the deep, to the Lord’s power and authority over demons. We have just seen the natural world bow in compliance to Christ’s command. Now we will see the spiritual world bow in compliance to Christ’s command.
In Mark 4:35 to the end of chapter 5, there are four great miracles that display the power of Jesus Christ–they prove Christ is God. Surprisingly, the disciples were slow to embrace His deity, saying after the storm, “Who is this that controls nature?” They didn’t know. But even though the disciples didn’t fully comprehend who Jesus was, the demons did. Remember Mark 1:23 and 24, “an unclean spirit … cried out, 24 saying,… I know who You are–the Holy One of God!” And then later in the same chapter, verse 34, “He … cast out many demons; and He was not permitting the demons to speak, because they knew who He was.”
The demons know that Jesus is their Creator and their Judge. So now with Mark 5:1 to 20, this miracle of the exorcism of the man possessed by Legion in the country of the Gerasenes, there are five scenes displaying the power and authority of Christ over the spiritual world, which naturally form the five points of our outline. But apart from wanting to have a nice scare, you may be asking, what difference will this event make in my life? At least five ways . . .
#1 God’s Word is POWERFUL
Supernatural events won’t change your life, but God’s Word will. Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ. This event will give you . . .
God is all-powerful. Every problem and trial is under His control, and will end, stop the moment Christ chooses. Plus, everything you need will happen the moment Christ wills. You, as God’s child, are right where He wants you. Plus, this event will give you . . .
There is no evil God cannot overcome–evil around you or in you. There is no pattern of sinfulness that can’t be washed away. Plus, Christ can transform the most rotten person you know–there’s hope.
In Christ, there is nothing to be afraid of. This is one of the scariest events in the Bible–a blood-curdling Halloween moment. Yet Jesus was unmoved, not afraid, in control and super compassionate to the real needs of others, even those who reject Him. And that same Spirit of peace lives in you, Christian. Finally, it will give you . . .
Not only can a filthy sinner like this man be washed, made whole and redeemed, but he was also commissioned to represent that same wonderful Christ who showed you mercy and to share the good news of that mercy to others enslaved by sin.
This event is awesome! So let’s join Jesus and the disciples as they make their way to shoreline after a wild and stormy night, and experience with them their wild and stormy morning.
#1 DEMONIZATION OF THE MAN Verses 1 to 5 Maniac in Mayhem
Read Mark 5:1 to 5, “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.”
This is a horror movie, and look at how it begins in verse 1, “They came to the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gerasenes.” They’re soaked, shocked and awed by Christ–wowed by His power. They’re recovering from a frightening, near-death experience. They’re fighting off the emotional downer of a post-adrenaline rush. They are six miles from Capernaum, after fighting for their lives, then watching Christ speak a word and silence a killer storm. They head for the safety of a quiet shoreline for a brief retreat. But that’s not what they get. They go from one fright to another.
It’s the end of the fourth quarter of the toughest game of your life. Finally, you get to catch your breath for four downs while the offense tries to score. But what happens–the offense turns the ball over on first down, and now exhausted, you’re back in the game. That’s what happens to the disciples here as they arrive on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee, in the country of the Gerasenes, in the Decapolis (meaning ten cities) Greek cities Gentile territory, with many Jews comingled in.
As the boat hits land, the first thing that happens is verse 2, “When He got out of the boat, immediately a man from the tombs with an unclean spirit met Him.” Just as Jesus steps off the boat, a maniac rushes down at him. Can you imagine how the disciples are reacting at this moment? “Ah, finally the shore and safety”–then suddenly a blood curdling scream from above, and two men, one of them horrible, huge, wild, bloody, scared, and violent running down at you, threateningly. He is ghastly to look at, but you can’t look away–just like road kill. It’s often gross–but you still stare, trying to figure out what it was. Like the gawker’s block after a bad accident on the freeway, everyone has to slow down to see the horror.
Matthew mentions two demon-possessed men, but Mark refers to the prominent one. So with Mark, we will focus on the one man who Mark says was possessed with an unclean spirit. Unclean means morally filthy, wicked, impure, committing degrading actions as a part of the violence they impose on others.
Verse 2 also mentions he’s a man from the tombs. He’s been living in abandoned burial chambers designed for the dead, hewn right into the side of the cliffs, along with natural caves made into tombs–a graveyard. Luke tells us he used to live in the city. This guy was your neighbor–you knew him, he was a part of the community, but no more. Those days are done. He went from man to maniac, dude to demoniac, guy to ghoul. And no one–no one could help him or stop him.
Luke also says he’d been possessed by demons for a long time. He’s been terrorizing this region for years. So imagine this man rushing downhill from the tombs just above you, screaming in an unworldly manner, making threatening motions, while picking up speed, making it impossible to get back in the boat in time to get away.
According to the Jewish Talmud, there are four characteristics of madness: 1) walking randomly at night, 2) spending nights on graves, 3) tearing of one’s clothes, and 4) destroying what is given to you. This sad creature had all four going for him, which is probably why he wasn’t killed, since neither Jewish nor Greek culture made a practice of killing the insane, since they might recover.
Look at verses 3 and 4, “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.”
No one could stop him, subdue him, contain him, or jail him. Luke adds, he could not be kept under guard. They tried to bind him with shackles for his feet, and bind his wrists with chains, but he broke them. Torn apart is literally smashing them, or grinding them till they break. All attempts to stop this man from harming himself and tormenting others have failed.
Plus the man possessed Herculean strength–he was more than human. A trustworthy and godly friend of mine was dealing with a tiny demon-possessed woman, and told me she flipped a super-heavy metal desk with just two fingers. No one could restrain this man. Mark is telling us they would often capture him and bind him, but it was useless–he broke free to terrorize the region again. And Matthew adds he was so violent, people avoided the region, hindering travel and commerce. This maniac had now been around for years, altering the way people lived and traveled. This is total bondage and total terror–a true horror story.
He is untamable, unstoppable, doing violence to all who pass–and now he’s charging down right at you–a scary moment, but also a very sad moment. Look at verse 5, “Constantly, night and day, he was screaming among the tombs and in the mountains, and gashing himself with stones.” His screams were constant–at any time of day or night, you could hear the ear-splitting, blood-curdling, unnatural screams of this possessed man. Imagine hearing him from great distances as the sound traveled through the valleys to the local communities.
Plus, he was all alone. Yes, there was another possessed man, but there is no fellowship with the possessed. Not one tried, and no one could visit–he was incurably alone. And in his misery, he was also, “gashing himself with stones.” He might have been attempting to cut out the evil spirits, or to end his own miserable life. But the only thing he accomplished was to cover himself in scars, sores, bleeding, infections, scabs, cuts, gashes and dirt.
He’s a picture of someone dominated by wicked forces. He is a man made in the image of God–therefore Satan does all he can to mar and destroy that image, and turn this man mentally and physically, into a raging, insane monster. But remember, Christian–all demon possessions are not as gross. Satan sometimes appears as an angel of light—he can be attractive. And you don’t need a demon to be given over to gross sin–just read Romans 1. As a race, humans need no help to be sick with sin.
Luke’s account even adds that this demoniac was also naked–a bloody, scarred, violent, screaming streaker, coming right at you. We today imagine this man as a freak, or like some sort of crazy, violent person to be avoided–when in reality, every unsaved man or woman is very similar to this maniac . . . really? Yes–in three ways:
1 The unsaved are controlled by the devil—unbelievers are indirectly controlled by the devil, and the possessed are directly controlled, but both are controlled
2 All the unsaved need deliverance by God from their bondage
3 All the unsaved are utterly miserable without Christ
The spiritual need of this maniac is identical to everyone without Christ. Here he is, living among the tombs, couldn’t be bound with chains, couldn’t be under guard, naked, violent, screaming, cutting himself, miserable, unclean–one of the scariest, also saddest descriptions of human misery in the Bible. Imagine being the victim of demonic hatred, human indifference and human impotence. This man needed rescue, yet no one’s been able to do a thing for him. Here he comes, in all his violent scariness, running right at you.
#2 DESCRIPTION OF THE DEMONS Verses 6 to 10 Demons in Distress
Look at verses 6 to 7, “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!’”
Verse 6a, “Seeing Jesus from a distance, he recognized the Lord.” Maybe he slowed, or grew silent, or registered shock–regardless, the demon-possessed man knew who this was. So what’s he do? Verse 6b, “he ran up and bowed down before Him.” Does that strike you as odd–the enemy of Christ bows down? The word is used to describe paying homage to a superior. The demon’s first reaction is to display awe at seeing his Creator.
Next verse 7 says, “and shouting with a loud voice”–an unnatural chilling scream for all to hear, he shouts at his great opponent. He screams at the one who, 1 John 3:8, “came to destroy the works of the devil.” So the maniac bows, screams out, and defiantly says in verse 7, “What business do we have with each other?” Why are you bothering me? What do we have to do with each other? Then with absolute accuracy, the demons within this man declare who this Jesus is.
Remember what the disciples said after Jesus turned the stormy sea into a mirror calm in Mark 4:41b, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?” Now the demons answer the “who is this?” in verse 7—“Jesus, Son of the Most High God,” a title used to identify the true God of Israel, and distinguish Christ from all false gods.
How did the demons know who Jesus is? Why is it the disciples have seen Christ’s power calm a storm, raise the dead, but don’t know He is God–but the wicked demons know Him instantly? What’s the answer? They used to live together in eternity past! They worshiped Christ as holy angels. They knew He was their Creator. He is the one they rebelled against. They joined with the chief angel, Lucifer, and in defiance of God’s rule became Satan and demons. I would think also, that they can see beyond the flesh as spirit beings, and see beyond Christ’s human veil to see His deity.
So in continued defiance to their sovereign King and Creator, in a rude and demanding tone they say, “What do you want from us?” Yet they also acknowledge who is in charge with verse 7, “I implore You by God, do not torment me!” In Luke they add, “Don’t throw us into the Abyss,” the demon jail. They know God is just to send them to demon jail, or to cast them into the Lake of Fire, where they’ll be tormented forever.
Matthew 25:41, “Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels.” Or Matthew 8:29, “They cried out, ‘What business do we have with each other, Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?’” These demons know they stand before the One who will pronounce final judgment upon them–this is The Judge.
Look at verses 8 to 10, “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.”
Jesus gives these demons a command to come out that cannot be disobeyed. You cannot resist Christ’s will, anymore than a snowflake can defy a flame, as Job said to the Lord in 42:2, “I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.” And the Psalmist affirmed in Psalm 115:3, “Our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.” No power can resist Christ, and even though these demons are like bacteria invading a body, they know they must now leave.
Then Jesus asks the demons their name in verse 9–some say He does so because that’s what exorcists do to gain power over a demon. I believe . . .
1 it is so we know it’s more than one demon, but many, and
2 I also believe the Lord desires to calm the situation down so the man possessed, the human, can understand his condition and strengthen his resolve, in order to help him want to be separated from these demons by being delivered by Christ.
The answer the maniac gives is frightening–he is possessed by Legion. How horrible–he’s under the control of an army of demons. A legion is over 6,000 foot soldiers in the Roman army. The exact number is not the issue, but the truth of a huge mob, a gang, an army of darkness indwells this man. To the Roman reader, a legion is a symbol of invincible strength and vast numbers. Is Jesus powerful enough to defeat Rome? The veiled answer here is yes–if He wants to.
To the Jew, a legion means oppression, control and lack of freedom–and this Legion will not be defeated by any human effort. For the demon said, “for we are many.” No wonder no one could tame him–he had the strength of an army of supernatural beings.
This is Satan’s prized exhibit–yet the demons know they’re no match for the Savior, and are about to lose power over this man. So verse 10 says, “And he began to implore Him earnestly not to send them out of the country.” They begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the region, and in Luke, not to the Abyss–why?
Demons are regional, according to Daniel 10
Demons prefer tombs, skeletons, desert, death and destruction
Demons didn’t want to go to their demon jail and not be free
So what happens?
#3 DESTRUCTION OF THE PIGS Verses 11 to 13 Pigs in Peril
Verses 11 to 13, “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.”
Matthew tells us there’s a herd of pigs some distance away. This herd of pigs had been in this area a long time, but this was the region where the pigs were raised for market. So what do the demons do? Verse 12, “The demons implored Him, saying, ‘Send us into the swine so that we may enter them.’”
The demons make the suggestion, because they prefer pigs to eternal torment or demon prison. So verse 13a, Jesus gave them permission. And coming out, the unclean spirits entered the swine. There’s no description of how this happened, or what it looked like. The man might have had a seizure, since Luke tells us he was often gripped by seizures because of the demons. And we know the pigs reacted to the possession, but the entire event was probably unseen, since demons are spirit beings.
But as a result, the end of verse 13 says, “and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea, about two thousand of them; and they were drowned in the sea.” The text indicates it was almost slow motion, like a funky YouTube video—2,000 pigs, one-by-one, ran down the slope and into the east side of the sea. Two thousand pigs is a lot of bacon and baby backs. Did you know that this does happen occasionally to pigs? When pigs drown themselves, the name they give it is “suey side”.
Over the years, this event has caused confusion and question. Why did the Lord allow all these pigs to die like this? Five-plus reasons:
1 To expose the evil power of the demons, and their goal of destroying whatever they inhabit
2 To celebrate the power of Christ, who can exercise authority over an army of demons–talk about a movie showdown where two enemies face off. Here it’s one versus an army, and it’s so one-sided the army can’t move without the one’s permission
3 To show the man he’s rescued–by the pigs going into the sea, Christ is showing this man these demons will not enter back into his life. The pain, shame and guilt are now over–his salvation is sure, he has been made truly free. Why did the Lord allow this?
4 To teach the townspeople the importance of people over pigs. These folks were selfish, they valued acquisition, retention and multiplication of material possessions far more than the liberation and restoration of a man enslaved and hated
5 Christ is the rightful King, and has the right to clean up an illegal pig-selling business as He saw fit. Like cleaning out the temple, like police seizing cocaine–if these are Jews, then raising pigs was against the law, and Christ has the right to shut it down
No doubt, 2,000 pigs is a costly lesson–and if you’re struggling with the death of pigs, but you eat bacon and eggs or baby back ribs, you might want to own your hypocrisy. The bigger issue here is, the Bible teaches us that all people, by nature, are in bondage without Christ.
The possession here merely showcases the horrific condition of all men apart from Christ. Sure, you are not possessed by Legion, but you are a slave to sin and utterly selfish without Christ. You also are like the maniac, in that you’re incapable of saving yourself, and incapable of subduing your own sinful habits by your strength, or by the power of any religion, person or discipline. Only Christ can set you free.
Calvin said this, “Though we are not tormented by the devil, he holds us as slaves till the Son of God delivers us from his tyranny. Naked, torn and disfigured, we wander around till Christ restores us to soundness of mind.”
The demon-possessed man leads to swine-in-a-soak, resulting in . . .
#4 DECADENCE OF CROWD Verses 14 to 17 Herdsmen in a Huff
Under Mosaic Law, the swine are unclean animals—and if Jews are the ones involved in this piggy business, it is illegal. Not only is their business wrecked, but this area is no longer a secret. They were keeping the pigs in an area people avoided, because of the demoniac. But now there’s no way to continue raising pigs in secret, because this demon-possessed man has been restored.
So what do the herdsmen do? Verse 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. Their mouths must have dropped open–what did they see? Verse 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”.
Picture this scene–thousands of dead pigs floating in the water of the lake, the violent, naked, scared, bloody, running, wild, madman is now . . .
1 sitting down in a restful condition at the feet of Christ
2 clothed, as one of the disciples must have given him a cloak or clothes
3 in his right mind, not screaming, cutting himself, or being violent, but completely self-controlled, calm, at peace, maybe even smiling
He who was in mad defiance of God is now in communion with God. Wow—from schizo to sitting down, naked to clothed, terrorizing to tamed, screaming to sane, demonized to docile, from a community dread to now a Christ disciple. Second Corinthians 5:17, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”
But instead of celebrating, the people from town become afraid. See the end of verse 15, and they became frightened. The disciples were afraid of the storm, then very afraid in awe of Christ calming the storm. But the fear of the herdsmen and community is different–it is a paralyzing dread and shock. In fact it was so upsetting, the people from the city and surrounding areas, the pig owners and others had to have it explained by those who were the eyewitnesses in verse 16, “Those who had seen it described to them how it had happened to the demon-possessed man, and all about the swine.”
The disciples and the herdsmen retold the story just as they had witnessed it. Again, these people most likely had known this possessed man prior to his years of terrorizing their community. It had been many years where they’d watched out for him. They’d heard his screaming, they warned their children and guests. They should have been thrilled for him, but they weren’t. Verse 17, “And they began to implore him to leave their region.” Far from being excited for the man made free, they were upset. They wanted Christ to leave their shores now. Why?
First A love of MONEY–the people were more bothered by the financial loss of pigs than the deliverance of a man tortured by demon possession. They may have even used the maniac to keep their pig-raising in isolation or keep others from stealing their pigs
Second Lack of COMPASSION–the people valued pigs more than people. They should have said, “We’ve been selfish and only concerned about our pig money, please forgive us.” Instead they tell Jesus to leave.
Third No HEART for God–the people valued pigs more than God’s power, swine more than salvation. They expressed no interest in how Jesus could free a man nobody else could.
Fourth Didn‘t see their NEED–they didn’t see themselves as just as needy as the maniac. They saw the possessed man as desperate, but saw themselves as fine.
Fifth They RESISTED a sovereign God–if you’re not comforted by the sovereign power of God, then you will be afflicted by it.
In Mark 4 and 5, Jesus is absolute over creation with the storm, then sovereign over the spirit realm, and next Lord over all illness and disease. How do people respond to absolute control?
A When they need it, it is attractive to them
B But when it costs them, they resist it
The Lord’s power is beyond their understanding, and it filled them all with dread. They were facing down awesome goodness, impeccable holiness, supernatural power and invincible love, and they didn’t like it–they recoiled from it. Yet because God is so loving, wise and trustworthy, He is worthy of their trust and submission, even when it costs them–but they didn’t.
You know, even when you don’t submit, God will still do as He pleases–and it will not go well for you who kick against the goads. The sovereignty of God is going to move you. The total control of God over all things, events and people will either curse you or comfort you, agitate you or alleviate you–there’s no middle ground. My hope is that you here fall into the powerful arms of a God who is loving, merciful, all-wise, all-powerful and sovereign.
To the people of this region, this pig loss was not designed for them to reject Christ, but embrace Him. They weren’t supposed to turn away, but turn to Him. They chased the all-powerful deliverer away. They should have begged Him to stay, but they begged him to go. Great miracles do not produce faith–these people saw a great miracle, but rejected Christ. But today, right now, God’s Word produces faith, and you should respond.
Oh don’t chase away your soul’s only hope. Maybe some things have happened to you that have caused you to doubt–you say, “Chris, you don’t know what has happened to me.” And I say, “You’re right, but I know the character of the one who can do something about it. He will never fail you.”
There are people in this text, and in this room, who’d prefer Christ’s absence than His company–how insane is that? Christ alone is the one who can rescue you, wash you clean, and make you sane–Christ alone can deliver you. Fall down before Him in abject need, and don’t tell him to go away.
These verses prove the heartlessness of demons, swine-herders, and people. But these verses also prove the helpfulness of Christ. These folks were scared of Jesus and resented Him. He had deprived them of property–just like today, 2012. People love to hear the story of Jesus, the cross, God’s love–but teach them the cost of following Christ, and they go away.
Listen friend, does guilt haunt you? He’ll wash you white as snow.
Does fear cripple you? He will be your rock of refuge.
Does doubt afflict you? He will give you faith.
Do what this man did. Rush to Christ and fall at His feet. Jesus can change your heart and make you new. Finally, after the pigs in peril and herdsmen in a huff, finally . . .
#5 DEVOTION OF THE MAN Verses 18 to 20 Man on a Mission
Verses 18 and 19, “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.” Did you notice how many times Jesus was begged in this passage?
The demons begged, and Jesus said yes. The unbelieving people begged, and Jesus said yes. But now the delivered man begs, and Jesus says no. God loves you enough to say no, and saying no is not a sign of God’s disfavor. It’s just as loving for God to say no as it is to say yes.
This redeemed soul begs the Lord to allow him to go with Him. In stark contrast to the crowd, who wants Him to go away, this man never wants to leave Christ’s side. His joy on being delivered is so overwhelming, he wants to stay with Christ. No way is he going back to the tombs, and after being treated the way he was by the community, there’s no desire to return. And now the entire community blatantly rejects his deliverer, his Savior, his Lord.
He knows with certainty who Jesus is, because as he was indwelt with the demons, he’d most likely know of their affirmation of His deity. Why does Jesus say no? Feel God’s great mercy here—it’s awesome. While the Lord is being chased away by the people of this region, the Lord, even to those who are chasing Him away, still loves them, and is still merciful and gracious. So as He departs, He leaves them a missionary, a witness. Verse 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.’” Go back to your family and friends, the people you know, and proclaim to them two life-changing truths . . .
ONE The great things the Lord has done for you
TWO And how the Lord has shown mercy on you
Today, if you dare, grab a sheet of paper and write down the great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has shown you mercy–you’ll be a joyful Christian, and you’ll have something to share. Focus on this every day, and you’ll know joy like few do.
The delivered man is to proclaim the Gospel to the very people who once sought to chain him up, jail him, and possibly use him as a wicked guard dog to keep people from discovering these Jews who were raising illegal and unclean pigs. So what is Mark’s point in all this? Why share this scary story of the exorcism of Legion? It is not simply to wonder over the power and authority of Christ, but is also to be lost in the wonder of how much the Lord has done for you, and how He has had mercy on you–are you?
So Jesus gives the restored man two commands in verse 19–GO and TELL. And like a genuine believer, he obeyed–verse 20, “And he went away and began to proclaim in Decapolis what great things Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed.”
This man became a powerful witness–Jesus said go back to your own people, but verse 20 tells us he went to the entire ten-city region, the whole Decapolis. The Greek word “proclaim” is announce, or preach, or publish—and began indicates this was a new work, in a new place.
Mark, as well as this man, is proclaiming that Christ is God. Notice verse 19, “Tell of the things the Lord has done for you.” Then verse 20, “the great things Jesus has done for you.” And in Luke 8:39 the parallel passage, “God” is substituted for “Lord”, affirming that the gospel writers were declaring Jesus is God. For the healed man, the Lord and Jesus are one, and the authority of Jesus is the authority of God Himself.
The author, Mark, knows, and I believe this delivered man knows that Jesus is God in a bod–God added humanity to Himself and was born a baby. This same child grew into a man who was fully human and fully divine. In an act of great love, Jesus offered Himself to take the punishment for our sins upon Himself on a cross, and because He had no sin of His own, death could not hold Him, and He rose from the dead, ascended to heaven, and now lives to give new life and eternal life to His own.
He is eternal, He existed prior to angels and men, created angels and men, and always will have authority over all the angels, good and bad, and over all men, saved and unsaved. Christians are the ones who bow to Christ’s authority now, as they follow Him and look forward to eternity with Him in Heaven. Non-Christians are those who do not bow now, but will bow later as He condemns them to the place prepared for Satan and demons, called the Lake of Fire–a place of torment, eternal Hell.
The delivered man told everyone in this region, and at the end of verse 20 it says, “and everyone was amazed”–that’s amazed astonishment! Can you see him talking to the very people he used to chase around? “Yeah, that was me snarling after you.” Can you picture him sharing with those who chained him up once? Can you hear him speak with the children who were frightened by his screaming at night? “That was me, but Jesus delivered me,” telling all of them the great things Jesus Christ did for him, and the mercy he was shown–no wonder they were amazed.
But friends, it is no less amazing that Jesus Christ delivered people in this room from enslavement to all sorts of sins, drugs, evil habits, wicked lifestyles, false cults, superficial Christianity, pornographic lusts, hateful greed, unforgiving hearts, violent outbursts and worldly passions–I could go around pointing you out . . . but I won’t. When people genuinely submit to Christ, they change. You cannot and will not be the same person you were, once you are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and are reborn.
Friend, maybe you feel that you have sinned so greatly you don’t believe you could ever be forgiven. Maybe you’ve done things that make you feel you could never be clean. Maybe your past is so dark, you think you’ll never be rid of your guilt, and you could never be made whole. Possibly as a Christian, you think your sinful habits are too entrenched, too imbedded, too deep for the Lord to remove.
Friends, this delivered man today speaks to you from His scarred face, but clear eyes and clean heart, and he says to you with a loving voice, “You are so wrong.” The Great One who calms the storm at sea is also the Awesome One who can clean any soul. Let’s pray.