Mark 5:1-20 – Jesus Heals a Man With a Demon

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Mark 5:1

  1. Jesus goes to a non-Jewish area where most Gentiles live.
  2. The “Gerasenes” were probably non-Jews because they had a large herd of pigs.
    1. However, if the Gerasenes were Jews, they were breaking the rules of the Pentateuch because pigs are unclean animals for Jews (Leviticus 11:7).

Mark 5:2

  1. Since Jesus goes to this area, frees this man from the unclean spirit, and then immediately leaves, it seems that Jesus’ only purpose was to meet this man. Perhaps Jesus had heard rumors about him, perhaps he was led by the Spirit of God.
  2. The man was possessed by an “unclean spirit” or “demon” as it is also sometimes called.
    1. A demon is a “fallen angel”. The Book of Revelation says: “And the great dragon, the old serpent, which is called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world, was cast down to the earth, and his angels were cast down with him.” (Revelation 12:9). The Bible does not describe the origin of the devil and the demons very clearly, but it is usually reasoned that Satan was an archangel named Lucifer who rebelled against God in some way and was therefore cast down to earth with the angels who supported him (Isa 14:12-15 and Ezek 28:12-15).
    1. Ever since the fall of the devil, the devil and his demons have been trying to deceive us humans and prevent us from receiving the gospel (1 Peter 5:8, 2 Corinthians 4:4, 2 Corinthians 11:14-15).
    1. Jesus triumphed over the devil and his demons on the cross: “He stripped the powers and authorities and presented them in public, triumphing over them on the cross.” (Col 2:15).
    1. It is my understanding that no Christian can be possessed by a demon or unclean spirit, this is because when a person becomes a Christian the Holy Spirit moves into that person and demons cannot possess a body where the Holy Spirit dwells (Rom 8:9). On the other hand, a Christian who is not vigilant can be influenced and deceived by Satan and his demons (Matt 16:21-23). James therefore gives the good advice, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7).

Mark 5:5

  1. Presumably this man was part of the local community before he became possessed with the unclean spirit. People around him didn’t know how to deal with him or how to cure him so they pushed him away.
  2. The unclean spirit affected the man in different ways:
    1. He was alone.
    1. He was among graves.
    1. He became very strong.
    1. He hurt himself.

Mark 5:6

  1. How would you react if a possessed, naked and very strong person, who also lives among tombs, runs towards you and screams? Most people would probably run home to mom. But not Jesus, he remains standing and the man eventually falls at Jesus’ feet.

Mark 5:7

  1. When Jesus came near people possessed by demons, it was common for them to confess his name and title.
    1. In Jesus’ day, it was not uncommon to believe that if you knew someone’s real name, you had power over that person. So it is very possible that the demon is trying to gain power over Jesus, as we can see from his attempt to use “spells” against Jesus.
      1. However, it is not possible to have power over Jesus because the Father has given Jesus all authority in heaven and on earth” (Mt 28:18).

Mark 5:8

  1. Jesus has power and authority over demons, they must obey him.
    1. Jesus has given the same authority to his disciples (Mark 3:14-15).

Mark 5:9

  1. Jesus asking for the demon’s name does not mean that Jesus had to know the demon’s name in order to cast it out. On several other occasions, Jesus casts out demons without knowing their names (Mark 9:14-29).
  2. In biblical times, a person’s name meant more than just the name of address, it could also say something about the person. It seems that Jesus is asking for the demon’s name in order to understand the scope of the problem facing the possessed man.
  3. When the demon failed to get power over Jesus and is forced to say his own name instead, he seems to be lying; “Legion” is not a name but a military unit of about 6000 soldiers.
    1. The fact that the demon does not say his own name but instead a military unit may mean that he is defying Jesus and showing that he is ready for battle.
    1. The fact that the demon gives such a large number could also mean that the man is possessed by many demons and that he suffers from very big problems.

Mark 5:12

  1. The unclean spirits in the possessed man understood that Jesus had power over them and therefore pleaded feverishly that Jesus would not send them away to a place where they could no longer torment anyone.

Mark 5:13

  1. Why did Jesus allow the unclean spirits to enter the swine?
    1. Perhaps to challenge the locals’ priority?
      1. What was more important; the man’s well-being or their own wallet?
      1. The Gerasenes should have been more concerned about the ill health of the possessed man than about their lost herd of pigs.
    1. Perhaps to show in a concrete way how destructive demons are and that we really need to beware of them.
    1. Perhaps these Gerasenes were Jews and thus needed to be rebuked by Jesus for dealing with unclean animals?
    1. Perhaps this was a dramatic lesson for the locals that Satan and his demonic activities lead to uncleanness and eventually to death.

Mark 5:17

  1. The miracle that Jesus performed on the possessed man should have led to joy and a great celebration for the man who had finally been freed. Instead, the locals clearly show that they valued their own financial gain more than the possessed man being freed from his demons.
    1. If they had accepted Jesus as a deliverer, it would not have been a big problem for Jesus to fix large quantities of both wine and bread (John 2, John 6).
  2. This text in Mark is a great challenge to today’s materialistic society that values economic gains above all else.
    1. Anyone who puts his own finances above the well-being of others will be extremely challenged and provoked by Jesus and may even eventually reject Jesus.
  3. Following Jesus is a free offer and is always accepted voluntarily. If these people didn’t want Jesus in the area, Jesus simply leaves.

Mark 5:18

  1. In contrast to the rest of the locals who wanted to drive Jesus away, the formerly possessed man wants to go with Jesus.
  2. Certainly, it is important to study and learn more about Jesus, but preaching the gospel is even more important.

Mark 5:19

  1. When Jesus has performed miracles in the past, he has told people to keep quiet about what they have seen, but now Jesus wants the man to tell (Mark 1:44).
    1. This is because Jesus had previously performed the miracles in Jewish areas where the rumor of the Messiah could quickly lead to the Jewish people resorting to violence to make Jesus king in an effort to drive out the Romans (John 6:15). This was a non-Jewish area where the risk of this happening was much less.
  2. Since Jesus was not welcome in this area, he let the formerly possessed man preach the gospel there instead.
    1. The man’s presence among the locals became a constant reminder that they had done wrong and should instead listen to the man’s encounter with Jesus.
  3. Jesus’ mission to the man was:
    1. Go to your own people.
    1. Tell me all that God has done for you.
    1. Tell us how God had mercy.
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