Mark 5:1-20 Legion of Destruction

Why are You here

Why are You here

We have just spent a dark and stormy night, that miraculously changed, with Jesus and His disciples. Now we have reached Jesus’ intended destination; Gerasenes. Here Jesus will meet with a very famous man from this region. We are not told his name, but we are given some background information about him.

This man is famous for two reasons, the whole region thinks he is crazy, and he is incredibly strong. We are not told how long the man behaved in the fashion he has become famous for, but you can tell it has been a LONG time. I’m assuming his behavior escalated over time. He probably lived like any other person for a portion of his life. We are left without a clue as to what started his downward spiral, but spiral he did. He went from one demon to a legion of them living within him. He moved from being able to respond to verbal “restraint” to being beyond the use of chains and shackles.  

The man’s behavior was self-injurious. I have a feeling this is why they tried to chain him or shackle him earlier in his life. Now that he has moved past the point of being able to be restrained, he roams the hills and graveyards hurting himself at all hours. I imagine he is one scary looking dude! He was naked, filthy, had wild hair, and was covered in sores and scabs. This is the man Jesus sailed across the Sea of Galilee for. The same man who Satan tried his best to keep in his current state.

As soon as Jesus landed, the demons controlling this man came running to Him. Mark comments that the man saw Jesus from afar. The demons apparently didn’t try to hide from Jesus but came running right up to Him. They didn’t come to worship Him, but to beg for their existence. They knew exactly who Jesus was and what He could do to them. They were terrified! They were afraid of where Jesus might send them. They knew He wasn’t going to let them keep the body they currently occupied because He was already telling them to vacate, but they desperately wanted to be in some body.

Apparently it is hard work for a demon to be without a body. They don’t get sent to Hell immediately upon departing from a body, as some would suppose, but they wander about looking for a new body. Jesus says in Matthew 12:43 that the demon “passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none.” It finds rest when it enters a body. Is this wandering the “torment” that the demons inhabiting the man were referring to? Judging by the number of demons in this man, I would guess he may have experienced the next part of Jesus’ teaching about demons in Matthew 12. Jesus said that when a person is freed from an unclean spirit that if they don’t set their life in order, the unclean spirit will return and bring seven even worse spirits with itself and take up residence again. Is this what happened to our man, MULTIPLE times, or was there another reason he was inhabited by a legion of demons? What was it that opened the door to his mind?

The demons requested that Jesus let them remain in the same country that they were presently occupying. They even located a new host for themselves. “If we can’t have this man, then let us have the pigs.” There were enough pigs to accommodate the whole bunch of the demons.

I was wondering why Jesus didn’t send the demons straight to Hell. He had the authority and ability if He wanted to. But He let them move into the pigs instead. When the demons asked to enter the pigs did they know the pigs would rush down the hill and drown themselves? I’m sure Jesus knew. Did Jesus do this on purpose; to get the attention of the local people? The whole heard of pigs rushing into the sea was enough to bring the town’s people running. If Jesus had simply healed the man by sending his demons into Hell, who would have noticed the man’s recovery? This way the whole town came out and observed the man fully dressed and in his right mind. I have a feeling some teaching time happened between the pigs rushing down the hill and the towns folk finding the man with Jesus. There was certainly some dressing time.

The healing of this man and the death of the pigs was a miracle that was impossible to ignore. The whole town was a buzz with the news. They were also terrified of what Jesus might do next. I find this so strange. They have proof right in front of them, in the form of the man who was healed, of Jesus’ miracle power. In the other regions Jesus visited, when one person was healed He became so popular with those in need that He couldn’t even get into the cities any more. The crowds seeking Him were too big. Here they just want to get rid of Him. Why?! Didn’t they have sick people who would have benefited from some time with Jesus? Maybe they were afraid they would lose more of their pigs.

I’m assuming that it wasn’t time yet to do many works in the Decapolis. However, there would come a time when the gospel would be preached there. Paul would visit the Decapolis during his journeys and I’m betting that the story of the demon possessed man and the pigs were still well remembered. Nothing Jesus ever did was without reason or impact. Jesus not allowing the man to come with Him when He left was instrumental in spreading the good news before Paul arrived. Our restored man went all over telling everyone who would listen about Jesus and what He did for him. He was a walking testimony that no one could dispute.

Thank You Jesus for caring about one tortured soul. Thank You that You didn’t let anything keep You from getting to him. You also prepared the way for the future. It is awesome looking back at the path You wove to bring Your word to the Gentiles. You know just how to get our attention. I’m glad You don’t always use such grand scale plans. You often use the small, almost insignificant, things in my life to show me Your love. Things like sending me a song that speaks directly to the issue I’m facing when my heart is troubled. Or providing exactly what I need even before I even know of the need. Those times are especially comforting for me.

I’m so glad You have authority over Satan and his minions and that I don’t have to fear him or them. When I put my life in Your hands You protect me and deliver me too. This doesn’t mean that I never have to deal with the schemes of Satan or that I don’t ever experience demonic oppression, but that You are on the throne of my life and there is no room for demon possession/occupation in me. Thank You that You can, and do, break the bonds of oppression too. Satan has no power in my life that You can’t reach and break, once I turn the area he is influencing over to You. Thank You for reminding me of that again today. One of those areas where I have been set free was starting to slip again. Satan was knocking at the door making suggestions. Thank You for giving me the strength to NOT let him influence that area again. Remind me always to come to You when I hear him start whispering.

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