Mark 5:1-20

(A Bible Study Led by Dr. Larry Reynolds – March 29, 2012)

 

 

We are looking at the third major section of Mark’s Gospel is from 3:7 – 6:6a.  In this section we have a summary Jesus’ later ministry in the area of Galilee.  In this larger section are six major movements:

1.      An introductory summary of Jesus’ Galilean ministry (3:7-12)

2.      The choosing of the twelve (3:13-19)

3.      Scandalous accusations from His own family and from the scribes from Jerusalem (3:20-35)

4.      Parables about the Kingdom of God (4:1-34)

5.      A series of miracles demonstrating His power (4:35-5:43)

a.       Calming the sea (4:35-41) – Power over nature

b.      Freeing a man from demons (5:1-20) – Power over the spiritual realm

c.       Raising of Jairus’ daughter (5:21-24, 35-43) – Power over death

d.      Healing of a woman with hemorrhage (5:25-34) – Power over disease

6.      Rejection by the people of His hometown of Nazareth (6:1-6a)

In this study we are going to focus on the --- miracle in the fifth movement in this section of Mark.

 

Mark 5:1-20

 

Verse 1 – “…the country of the Gerasenes…” - This is the northeast corner of the Sea of Galilee, called Decapolis. This area was mostly Gentile and very Hellenistic. The Synoptic Gospels vary on the spelling: Gerasa Luke 8:26), Gergesa , Gergusta , or Gadara (Matt. 8:28). All of these were towns in this area.[1]

 

Verse 2 – “And when He had come out of the boat…” - Maybe the disciples heard the screaming (v. 5) and were glad to let Jesus go first![2]

 

“a man from the tombs” - Matthew informs us that two demonized men met Jesus (8:28), but Mark and Luke focused on the one man who was the more vocal…[3] 

 

Verse 3 – “…had his dwelling among the tombs…” - These were probably cave-like rooms cut into the rocks of nearby hills which served as tombs and sometimes as haunts for demented people.[4]

Verse 4 – “…no one was strong enough to subdue him…” – The word translated “subdue” was used to describe the taming of wild animals.  This man was out of control and no-one could control him!

 

Verse 5 – “…crying out and gashing himself with stones…” - This behavior may be linked to expressions of self-destruction or to OT pagan worship practices (cf. I Kgs. 18:28). The graphic information about this man’s regular behavior must have come from the villagers.[5]

 

Verse 6 – “…he ran up and bowed down before Him…” - The first term implies hostility. The second implies respect and acknowledgment of Jesus’ position and authority (cf. v. 4b).[6]

 

Verse 7 - Three things indicate that the demon possessing the man was fully aware of Jesus’ divine origin and superior power: he knelt before Him (in homage, not worship); he used Jesus’ divine name in an attempt to gain control over Him (cf. 1:24); and he brazenly appealed to Jesus not to punish him. The words, Most High God, were used in the Old Testament, often by Gentiles, to refer to the superiority of the true God of Israel…[7]

 

Verse 8 – A parenthetical statement inserted by Mark to explain the man’s question in verse 7.

 

Verse 9 – The demon used Jesus name in verse 7 and now Jesus demands the demon to reveal his name. 

 

“Legion” - In the Roman Army 6,000 troops made up a Legion. This is another of the many Latin terms used in Mark. This may have been a metaphor of the degree of their control over the man. However, because of v. 13, which describes the demons causing the death of 2,000 hogs, it may be literal.[8]

 

Verse 10 – “…out of the country…” - This could refer to (1) the area of the tombs; (2) the Decapolis district; or (3) possibly to the Abyss…[9]

 

Verses 11-13 - Some people have criticized Jesus for destroying 2,000 pigs, but their accusations are foolish. Jesus could have sent the demons anywhere; but when He chose to send them into the pigs, He accomplished several purposes.

First, He demonstrated that the demons were real and that the deliverance was genuine. Second, He gave vivid proof that Satan is a destroyer (Rev. 9:11; John 10:10) and that, to Satan, a pig is as good as a man! If you surrender your life to Satan and sin, you end up living and dying like an animal. What a warning this was to those who saw it; but apparently they did not take it to heart, for they asked Jesus to depart from them. As the Creator, Jesus owns all things (Ps. 50:10) and can dispose of them as He sees fit. Finally, the destruction of the pigs revealed the spiritual condition of the people of that district: they would rather have their swine than have the Savior! Money was more important than the healing of the two men or the salvation of their own souls.[10]

 

The great danger we face in dealing with this story, which by the way appears in three of the four gospels, is that we'll get so caught up in issue of demon possession and the spectacular thing Jesus did in casting the demons into the heard of swine that we miss the practical lessons which are here... it seems to me the over‑arching theme of this story is what happens when a person is touched by Jesus...and with that in mind, want to  share with you from vv.15-20 three practical truths about what happens to us when we are touched by Jesus...

 

I. When we are touched by Jesus, our lives will begin to change

1.   Can't think of  person in Bible who came into presence Jesus, took  seriously what Jesus had to say, and went away from  encounter unchanged...just doesn't happen that way...when  make serious commitment our lives to Lord, change  sure to follow...

2.   Changes in this man were dramatic and obvious...verse 16 summarizes the changes...says he was "sitting down, clothed, and in his right mind..."

--before met Jesus running wild among tombs/after sitting down at Lord's feet...

--before met Jesus, according Luke's account of  event, refused wear clothes/after was fully clothed...

--before met Jesus obviously out of his mind and out of control of his life/after was in his right mind...

3.   Obviously, the Lord caused some radical changes occur in his life...

 

1.   How is God changing you? What is God doing in your life?...(not what are you  doing for God?...can wear selves out attempting do  things for God and in process be out of touch with  Him!)..but what changes are taking place as result God being at work in you?...change experienced by this man was sudden and dramatic...doesn't always happen that way...as matter of fact, not even the norm...normally, God does His work in us in subtle and gradual ways...but for those who know Him...for those who seek His face...for those who are committed to Him, the change is taking place...

2.   Scripture teaches in Romans 8 that God's will for every Christian is that we be conformed to image of Christ...that we become more like Jesus...that's the main work of God in our lives...making us more like Him...and it's God's desire to be at work in us, often in subtly and occasionally in dramatically,  doing just that...

 

II.  When we are touched by Jesus, we'll have desire to live in close relationship with Him

1.   Notice strong contrast in vv.17‑18 between how people from the town felt about Jesus and how man Jesus had touched felt about Him...people were  frightened...wanted nothing do with Him...begged Him to leave...in effect said, "Disturbing our lives...go  away and leave us alone.."...v.17 one of saddest in Bible.."And they began to entreat Him to depart..."...imagine that!...the only one who could give life...make life complete they were casting out!...

2.   But notice how the man who had had the demons responded...v.18 "...was entreating Him that he might accompany [be  with] Him..."...think about it, amazing statement...by all indication had never heard of or seen Jesus until that moment...no idea where come from/going...but knew had  changed his life forever and wanted be with Him...

3.   That's what happens when we're genuinely touched by Jesus...we'll just want  to be closer to Him...

 

1.   Which more like?...people who begged Him leave or man  begged allow go with?...of course, all would immediately say, "Have same desire that man had...desire live  close Jesus...never push Him out life..."

2.   But if that true, doesn't make sense to place self in  position where most likely meet Him...for example, if  desire be close to Jesus won't we‑‑

‑‑    make reading, studying, and allowing Holy Spirit apply to our lives truths of Bible a priority in  our lives...after‑all, this written Word tells us  about living Word...this is our best source of  information about Him.. if desire know/live close  Him, won't neglect word...

-          make prayer a priority in our lives...how can claim  desire be close to Him if don't talk to and listen  to Him?...prayer basic means communication with  Jesus....if desire be close won't neglect prayer  life...

-          make fellowship with His people a priority  in our lives...has told us where His people gather,  there He is...if want be close to Him, must be close  His people...

 

1.   Can imagine young man/woman saying to bride/husband  to be, "I love you but I don't want to be near you"...or parents saying to children, "We love you but we  don't want you around us..."...that's absurd...but no more absurd than Christian saying by his/her actions,  "Lord, we love you but leave us alone and we'll call  when we need something..."

2.   If we've been touched by Jesus, we'll have deep desire live  in closer and closer fellowship with Him...

 

III.  When we are touched by Jesus, we'll be characterized by radical obedience to Him

1.   Lord's response to this man's request little surprising...often invited people "Follow Me"...but in this case  said "No...go home and tell them what has happened.."

2.   Difficult command...knew him...chained him...would question validity..."Here comes that crazy man...wonder  what up to now..."

3.   But notice response in v.20..."And he went..."..no complaining... arguing...negotiating...just did it!..

 

1.      That's the most fundamental test of whether or not  person has really been touched by Jesus...of whether or not living in relationship with Him...it actually boils down to rather simple question, but question which has great implications for our lives...Are we doing the  things God wants us to do?...Are we being obedient to Him?

 



[1] Utley, R. J. D. (2001). Vol. Volume 2: The Gospel According to Peter: Mark and I & II Peter. Study Guide Commentary Series (62). Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International.

[2] Utley, R. J. D. (2001). Vol. Volume 2: The Gospel According to Peter: Mark and I & II Peter. Study Guide Commentary Series (62). Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International.

[3] Wiersbe, W. W. (1997). Wiersbe's expository outlines on the New Testament (114). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.

[4] Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. (1983-). The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures (Mk 5:2–5). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[5] Utley, R. J. D. (2001). Vol. Volume 2: The Gospel According to Peter: Mark and I & II Peter. Study Guide Commentary Series (63). Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International.

[6] Utley, R. J. D. (2001). Vol. Volume 2: The Gospel According to Peter: Mark and I & II Peter. Study Guide Commentary Series (63). Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International.

[7] Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. (1983-). The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures (Mk 5:6–7). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[8] Utley, R. J. D. (2001). Vol. Volume 2: The Gospel According to Peter: Mark and I & II Peter. Study Guide Commentary Series (63). Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International.

[9] Utley, R. J. D. (2001). Vol. Volume 2: The Gospel According to Peter: Mark and I & II Peter. Study Guide Commentary Series (63). Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International.

[10] Wiersbe, W. W. (1997). Wiersbe's expository outlines on the New Testament (114–115). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.

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