Bible Society of South Africa
Frank Retief

Remember his strength – Day 6

Rejection

Bible text(s)

15and when they came to Jesus, they saw the man who used to have the mob of demons in him. He was sitting there, clothed and in his right mind; and they were all afraid.

Jesus Heals a Man with Evil Spirits

1Jesus and his disciples arrived on the other side of Lake Galilee, in the territory of Gerasa. 2As soon as Jesus got out of the boat, he was met by a man who came out of the burial caves there. This man had an evil spirit in him 3and lived among the tombs. Nobody could keep him chained up any more; 4many times his feet and hands had been chained, but every time he broke the chains and smashed the irons on his feet. He was too strong for anyone to control him. 5Day and night he wandered among the tombs and through the hills, screaming and cutting himself with stones.

6He was some distance away when he saw Jesus; so he ran, fell on his knees before him, 7and screamed in a loud voice, “Jesus, Son of the Most High God! What do you want with me? For God's sake, I beg you, don't punish me!” 8(He said this because Jesus was saying, “Evil spirit, come out of this man!”)

9So Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”

The man answered, “My name is ‘Mob’ — there are so many of us!” 10And he kept begging Jesus not to send the evil spirits out of that region.

11There was a large herd of pigs near by, feeding on a hillside. 12So the spirits begged Jesus, “Send us to the pigs, and let us go into them.” 13He let them go, and the evil spirits went out of the man and entered the pigs. The whole herd — about 2,000 pigs in all — rushed down the side of the cliff into the lake and was drowned.

14The men who had been taking care of the pigs ran away and spread the news in the town and among the farms. People went out to see what had happened, 15and when they came to Jesus, they saw the man who used to have the mob of demons in him. He was sitting there, clothed and in his right mind; and they were all afraid. 16Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the man with the demons, and about the pigs.

17So they asked Jesus to leave their territory.

18As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had had the demons begged him, “Let me go with you!”

19But Jesus would not let him. Instead, he told him, “Go back home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you and how kind he has been to you.”

20So the man left and went all through the Ten Towns, telling what Jesus had done for him. And all who heard it were amazed.

Mark 5:1-20GNBOpen in Bible reader

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.”

Bible Society of South Africav.4.16.16
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