As we move into chapter 5 of Mark, the events here come on the heels of a very long day for Jesus. He was ministering to the crowds of people that came to be healed. He was dealing with the religious leaders who had closed their eyes to the truth and were looking for ways to put Jesus to death. His family thought He was nuts and tried by force to bring Him home, to get Him out of this situation before He gets hurt.
And finally, as the long day ends, Jesus gets into a boat with His men to go across the Sea of Galilee, and as He does, He falls quickly asleep at the back of the boat. He must have been exhausted at this point. But it was only a short nap because a storm came upon them, and it was so bad that the men in the boat with Jesus thought they were going to die. These were His men, the apostles, some of them were fishermen by trade, and now they were angry with Jesus for getting them into this mess. But Jesus calmed the storm and accused them of having no faith. Why did Jesus say that? Because before the storm came upon them, Jesus said "Let us cross OVER to the other side." not UNDER!
By this point, as they were coming to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, morning must have broken. And that is where we will pick up our story in Mark chapter 5, beginning in verse 1.
1. They now have landed on the eastern shores of the Sea of Galilee in the area of the Gadarenes. This area is where the tribe of Gad settled, outside of the promise land. Today this area is called Kursi.
2. This area, during the time of Jesus, was populated mostly by gentiles. There were some Jews still living there, and it seems they were raising pigs for the gentiles to eat. It was a good market without much competition. Now this was unlawful for a Jew to do because a pig was an unclean animal according to Leviticus 11:7. But greed is hard to resist, even if it goes against what God has said!
3. It is interesting that as soon as they got off this boat, this demon possessed man comes at them. Ministry is like that. Now Matthew tells us there were two men like this, but Mark and Luke only focus on this one man, who was probably the most vocal or dangerous. And these guys were so violent the people were terrified of them. They would avoid traveling down that road that went by were they lived, the tombs, were dead people were buried. Maybe they even had signs up warning people of the danger. It was so bad, they were so violent, that chains could not even bind them, they couldnt hold them!
Look at how these filthy spirits were destroying the lives of these men. Demons, which are nothing more than fallen angels, seek to pervert the work of God morally, physically, spiritually and even emotionally! According to Revelation 12:4, when Satan rebelled against God, he took 1/3 of the angels with him in his rebellion. It says "His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth..." So with the myriads of angels that God created, 1/3 of them rebelled, that means there are a lot of demons around.
Luke tells us this man was possessed for a very long time. Think about it, how much his life must have changed when this occurred. His family, his friends, his home, all gone. Now he is living in seclusion, hiding away in the tombs like the dead, causing people to fear him. If you want, this is the way you can live your life; isolated, shrieking, mutilating yourself, naked, separated from life and in darkness. But you dont have to be that way. Jesus said in John 10:10, "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." A relationship with God brings life, and a relationship with the devil brings about death! It is your choice!
4. The world could not help these men, their only response was to stand clear of them, avoid them, and warn others to do the same. Jesus came to set them free, and He alone could do that!
1. As He came and bowed down before the Lord, dont think it was from his heart. All this man did was acknowledge who Jesus is, God. And like it or not, one day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord. Some out of love and others out of the fact that He is God. You see, the devil believes in God and trembles, but He wont submit to God.
2. It is interesting that these demons are asking not to be tormented by Jesus, but look at the Hell they put this man through. You see, they dont care about life, but they will look out for themselves, their own well-being. Here the demons are afraid that Jesus is going to cast them into the abyss or the bottomless pit. They know there time is short, that judgment is coming, but they were not ready to be locked up yet.
1. For the Romans, a legion was comprised of 6,000 men. This guy was not just possessed by one demon, but by many, maybe thousands!
1. Now these 2,000 pigs represented a lot of money to whoever cared for them. It could take care a family of 4 for 15 years. And these demons, for whatever reason, ask to be cast into these pigs, and Jesus does that. And as they enter these pigs, they cause these pigs to run down towards the Sea of Galilee, off a cliff, and into the water, where they drown. In the area of Kursi today, there is a steep slop that goes down to the Sea of Galilee where this event probably took place. It is the only place around the Sea of Galilee that slopes down like that. And for those of you who like facts, this is the first reported case of DEVILED HAM!
2. You may think it is strange that these demons destroyed those 2,000 pigs just like that. But understand this, what they did to those pigs they want to do to you. A pig is no different than a man, in their mind. They will destroy whatever they can!
3. Now you would think that the people would be rejoicing at this point. A man who was in bondage to these demons was set free! But, as we are going to see, that is not exactly how they felt!
1. Now those who were in charge of keeping these pigs, what did they do? They ran and told everyone, especially their boss. They didnt want to get into trouble for this, it wasnt their fault.
2. Earlier I had said these were probably Jews who were in charge of these pigs, and selling the meat to the gentiles. It was a good business. Now the reason I say that it was Jews instead of gentiles running this business is simple. If it were gentiles, they would have asked Jesus to reimburse them for their loss of these 2,000 pigs. But, if they were Jews, there was not much they could say, this was an illegal operation for them to be running. So they kept silent about any kind of reimbursement. And if you really think about it, a drug dealer who gets ripped off is not going to go and tell the police! Thus, neither were these Jews going to say anything about the pigs they lost.
1. This is not just a few people that have gathered around Jesus to ask Him to leave. Luke tells us the whole town came out trying to get Jesus to leave before He caused any more trouble. Isnt that an interesting response to what Jesus did! They should have been rejoicing that Jesus freed this man, but instead they wanted Jesus to leave. They were more concerned about their economic loss than they were with this man! So they wanted Jesus to leave.
2. And you know what? Jesus will not stay where He is not welcomed. He wont force you to follow Him. You see, He wants you to call upon Him because He has already called upon you. He is waiting for you to open the door and let Him in.
3. We are also going to see that Jesus will leave behind a witness of His love for the people to see. And as they see what God can do, maybe they will turn to Him and receive Him into their lives.
1. Jesus was ruining their business so they asked Him to leave, they in fact begged Him to get out of town and leave them alone. And so He does. And as He is leaving this man whom Jesus set free desires to go with Him, but Jesus tells Him no. Not that Jesus didnt want him around, but he wants this man to remain behind and to be a witness of the love and power of God. Here was a man who once brought terror to a community, kept people away from this area, in bondage to the devil, not in control of his actions, and the people knew all about his problems. His family was well aware of his situation. And now this man who was once dead, living in the tombs, has been made alive again by Jesus. What a powerful witness. And this man is now going to share what Jesus did for him with the people living in the 10 cities on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee, also known as the Decapolis. And these cities were mostly filled with gentiles. God had His witness to the gentiles.
2. As we bring this study to a close there is something important that we must remember. It is important not only to set people free of the demons, but to share Christ with them to fill that void in their heart. Listen to what Jesus said in Matthew 12:42-45. We read "When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. Then he says, I will return to my house from which I came. And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first..."
In other words, if that void is not filled with Christ, it is like a vacuum that will then be filled with even more demonic spirits. But, if Christ has come into a persons life, there is no room for demons, God will not allow demonic spirits to enter in. As John said "You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world." I John 4:4.