Remember his strength – Day 6
Jesus Heals a Man with Evil Spirits
Our generation of people are used to seeing pictures of the weird and the wonderful. Movies and special effects have left us largely expecting the spectacular and, sadly, we have been so spoiled that at another level, it is hard to impress us anymore.
However, this story in Mark 5:1-20 takes some beating. It is a bizarre story, to say the least, and we need to know what it is we should watch out for and what we need to learn.
First, it is helpful to remember that the area Jesus visited (described in verse 1) was a Gentile area, not a Jewish area. The presence of pigs, the unearthly cries of a man possessed by evil spirits and living amongst the tombs would have been experiences that were common to the darkness and superstitions of many Gentile communities.
Then, notice how the evil spirits in the man respond to Jesus. They bow before him and express fear of him (Mark 5:6,9). This is because the world of darkness knew that, with the arrival of Jesus, the game was up. Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil and although not destroyed yet, Satan is, in principle, overthrown and faces a frightening judgement from God.
Next, comes the request to enter the pigs and the permission given by Jesus. The pigs all perish in the lake and the people of the area are dumbfounded.
Why did this story play out like this? It is all so strange. Why did Jesus go there? How do the evil spirits recognise him? Why does he silence them? Why give them permission to enter the pigs? These and many other questions arise from this passage. However, these questions are not Mark’s aim here. What he wants us to see is how people responded to Jesus.
You would think that poor frightened people, who had lived with a mad man terrorising them for years, would be grateful for what Jesus did. Perhaps, they would invite him into this village, plead with him to bring his power and his light, and deliver others? Nothing of the kind! They asked him to go! Read verse 17. Isn’t this a strange response? The Saviour appears but he is turned away! This is no different to many people today, who see the wonderful difference Jesus makes in the lives of others, yet find within themselves a strange fear of him and, therefore, turn their backs on him.
Do you know people like that? Pray for them that God will open the blind eyes and soften the hard hearts.
At least one person welcomed Jesus and would have stayed with him – the man who was delivered. However, Jesus gave him the same command that he gives you and me, once we have experienced his power, “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”