Passage: Mark 5:1-20
They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit. He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones. And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him. And crying out with a loud voice, he said,
What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.
For he was saying to him,
Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!
And Jesus asked him,
What is your name?
My name is Legion, for we are many.
And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. Now a great herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and they begged him, saying,
Send us to the pigs; let us enter them.
So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the pigs; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the sea.
The herdsmen fled and told it in the city and in the country. And people came to see what it was that had happened. And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. And those who had seen it described to them what had happened to the demon-possessed man and to the pigs. And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their region. As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. And he did not permit him but said to him,
Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.
And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled.
This passage is memorable to me as a whole because it was used as a demonstration of the then new Discovery Bible Study technique for bible studies. Today, in the context of our church value of reproducibility, the clear stand-out verse from the passage is verse 19, which I have simplified for the Threadless design.
The man now freed from the demon possession wanted to follow Jesus literally – leaving the region behind. Instead Jesus insisted that he stay; not just stay but also share the testimony with friends. Jesus was commanding reproducibility.
Retelling the story for someone else (you – my audience):
Jesus came to the region called Gerasenes on the other side of the Sea of Galilee. One of the first locals Jesus and the disciples encountered was a demon-possessed man, who had been confined to the area of tombs, located nearer to the shore than the main dwellings. Such was the demonic possession that the man could not be physically restrained for long by chains or shackles. As Jesus arrived and approached, this possessed man recognised Jesus in the spirit, calling out to Jesus as the Son of the Most High God and pleaded for mercy. Jesus demonstrated his authority by commanding the spirit out first. As part of the exorcism activity, naming the spirit then took place – Legion. In this way, Jesus also demonstrated he had the power to deal with multiple lesser spirits who were all simultaneously possessing the man. Fearing their fate was near, the Legion demon(s) begged Jesus to drive them into a herd of around 2000 pigs instead. Jesus granted the demon(s) this request and the demon-possessed pigs all ran over the cliff edge and drowned in the lake.
The herdsmen then ran away in fear, spreading the news of what had just happened to the city of Gerasenes, but this piqued the curiosity of the locals. As the locals started to investigate and find out for themselves what had transpired, they encountered Jesus and also recognised the previously demon-possessed man with him, now fully restored and quite normal. As stories of the demonic exorcism spread, the locals pleaded that Jesus leave them. Jesus acceded to their wishes, but also intentionally did not allow the demon-free man to join him and the disciples. Instead, Jesus commanded the man to stay with the very locals who had just asked him to depart, and instead bear witness and share his testimony with his friends. In this way, Jesus’ actions were complete, and this man would start and spread Jesus’ ministry to the region of Decapolis. The clear transformational experience of the man, as a local to the area, carried so much significance in itself that everyone acknowledged the power of Jesus.
What I Discovered
Insights revealed by this passage include:
- Jesus’ form of teaching and spreading the Gospel did not require much words in this example. Instead, the primary focus was on his act of exorcising the demon-possessed man. This one act, and the sheer evidence in the transformed life of the man was enough to compel the man to share (with a little prompting).
- The spiritual world recognises and acknowledges the Lordship of Christ over all. Such is the power of the name of Jesus as God. This revelation was something I also shared with a non-believing cousin recently that we may struggle to recognise Jesus as God, and confuse the matter, but in the spiritual realm, it is really black and white – God/Jesus/Holy Spirit are the superior spiritual forces against whom, no other spirit can stand against.
I believe wholly that the spiritual battle makes our calling as disciples clear. Using that last perspective, that God is the ultimate spiritual force that ALL spiritual beings recognise should help those in states of unbelief. If the spirits recognise and acknowledge the Lord, how foolish are we mere mortals and physical beings in thinking God does not exist, let alone recognise He is who is says He is – Jesus Messiah, the God who is, who was and is to come.
Threadless Artist Shop Design
Today’s devotion is summarised in the single design graphic above and has been added to my Threadless Artist Shop under the collection Discipleship Devotionals as Mark 5:19. This design continues an evolution in that the artwork dimensions are more vertical than horizontal as originally laid out. This is intentional as I continue to learn and understand more about the space available for designs to be positioned on the various apparel, home-ware and accessories. As of this design, two versions of the design have been generated – one each for website viewing here, which is more landscape dimension and suited to the Feature Image container, whereas the Threadless design is more portrait dimension to take advantage of t-shirt styles.