The disciples and Jesus have just spent a rough night on the sea. Actually it was more the disciples. Jesus was sleeping through the storm. The boat was full of water and they were ready to sink. And Jesus had calmed the storm and taught them a really important lesson about fear and faith. Now they get out of the boat on the other side and look what happens!
1 And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes. 2 And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit.
- They go from the storm to a man with an evil spirit. From the fire into the frying pan. This man wasn’t coming out in his right mind to greet them. Look at what the Bible describes about him.
- Mark 5:3-5
3 Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains: 4 Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him. 5 And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones.
- He was a sight to behold! Chains hanging off his arms and legs. Dried up blood everywhere, maybe even some fresh. Hair all mangled and messy! Not even a look of sanity in his eyes. He looked like he was ready to come out and tear them to pieces!
They’ve had a really long night! And now they are ready to run back into the boat and go off again. Ready to face another storm than this crazy man that was running towards them!
You know, sometimes we are like this man with the unclean spirit. Look at how this unclean spirit is described.
- He has chains hanging off his body. Many people wear chains everywhere nowadays. Small chains. Around their necks. Around their wrists. Around their ankles. All over our bodies!
- He was cutting himself. We like to cut ourselves today as well. We make small cuts – tattoo’s. Ear rings, nose rings, belly button rings, tongue rings. Cutting ourselves everywhere!
- There is one more description given of the demoniac that we read about in Luke 8
- Luke 8:27
And when he went forth to land, there met him out of the city a certain man, which had devils long time, and ware no clothes, neither abode in any house, but in the tombs.
- This guy was naked! And let me tell you, in our society we are close to being naked. Micro mini skirts. And tops so low, you can see everything underneath! See through clothing. The list goes on and on.
- We have much in common with this man don’t we?
So the disciples see him, they turn around are probably getting back in the boat. But Jesus is not with them! Where is He? What is happening?
- Mark 5:6-8
6 But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him, 7 And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not. 8 For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit.
- This man, even though filled with these unclean spirits, stopped short of Jesus and bowed down to worship Him. He wanted to be free. But as he bowed down to worship Christ, the evil spirits took over and spoke instead of him. They recognized the Son of God and they asked Jesus to not torment them because Jesus had commanded them to come out of the man.
The encounter continues though:
- Mark 5:9
And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many.
- This man had many evil spirits in him. A legion is 3000-6000 infantry troops and 100-200 cavalry.
- Mark 5:10-13
10 And he besought him much that he would not send them away out of the country. 11 Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding. 12 And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them. 13 And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea.
- Jesus gives the demons permission to go into the swine, the pigs. And when they get into the pigs they cause them to run down this slope, jump into the sea and kill themselves! All 2 thousand of them! That was a lot of money that this person who owned the swine just lost.
- It must have been a scary experience for those who were taking care of the pigs. All of a sudden, the pigs just run off and into the sea.
So what happens?
- Mark 5:14
14 And they that fed the swine fled, and told it in the city, and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that was done.
- So those that were taking care of the pigs, they ran off into the city to tell everyone what had happened. So the city people come out to see what is going on. After all, it’s not often 2000 pigs get drowned in the sea.
- The owner is the definitely one of those that come out. He just lost $1.2 million dollars! Estimates put a pig at around $600 per animal. That’s a lot of money!
And what is their reaction when they see Jesus and this man who is now freed from any evil spirits?
- Mark 5:15-16
15 And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid. 16 And they that saw it told them how it befell to him that was possessed with the devil, and also concerning the swine.
- How did they react? They saw this guy, he’s not in his right mind, he is clothed and he’s calm. Not running around screaming anymore! And when they saw it, they were afraid!
- Afraid? Why were they afraid? Why were they afraid of this man who was now healed? Were they scared that he wasn’t really healed? Were they scared that he was just going to jump up at them and bite them or beat them?
- No of course not! They were afraid because of what had happened to the pigs. You see, the evil spirits had obviously left this man. They went into the pigs and made the pigs kill themselves. So obviously the evil spirits were now floating around somewhere. And they people from the city were afraid because of who or what the evil spirits might enter into next! Maybe one of the guys owned 1,000 cows. Or another guy owned 2,000 sheep! If the evil spirits entered into them, surely they would incur a LOT of loss!
- Instead of being joyful that this man was not going to terrorize their area anymore with shouting and chasing them to beat them, they were afraid because they were scared for their own lives and for their own property. They were probably more content with having this man be possessed with evil spirits than to be free now because of the consequences of what they just saw.
- You know, many times we are afraid of Jesus. We are afraid of what He is going to ask us to sacrifice that we know is not good for us. You see Jesus allowed the evil spirits to go into the pigs. Jesus was God. He knew that the evil spirits were going to make the pigs go and drown themselves in the water. Jesus had a purpose for that. The Jews considered this unclean meat. They should not have been rearing pigs. Just as any well-meaning Christian.
- And so Jesus was trying to save the owner who had obviously been going down a wrong path simply to earn money. He was trying to awake his conscience to show him that he needed to change. But instead of repenting, they came and felt that pecuniary loss and got afraid. Afraid of what was possibly going to happen next. Who was going to lose something next.
- Are you afraid of Jesus? Are you afraid that He is going to come up to you today and ask you to give up that which is not good for you? That which is taking up your time and money that is pushing you down the wrong path, the path to destruction?
- Are we too attached to this world’s goods that we’ve taken short cuts to making money? Dabbled in things that we should not be doing? Maybe some of you have been gambling at the casino. And you’re afraid that God is going to tell you to stop. Or you’re cutting corners on the Sabbath, running an AirBNB or hotel and working on Sabbath – meeting customers and clients.
And so what do we do? What did the townsfolk do?
- Mark 5:17
And they began to pray him to depart out of their coasts.
- They begin to pray to Jesus. Isn’t that amazing. That’s what the Bible text said. They began to pray that He would depart. They didn’t want to sustain anymore loss. So they’re praying for Jesus to leave.
- You know, I’m sure that we would not do that today. Who would really get on their knees and ask Jesus to leave them alone? To depart so they could make more money or so that we can keep our property and personal belongings?
- But let me tell you friends, if you know that you are going against God in the business that you are doing, or maybe you don’t even own a liquor shop but you work at one, and you ask God to bless you, that means you are asking God to bless the liquor shop right? Then you are asking God to bless something that He says He would never bless! Or to bless your business which is going against His express will! In essence, you are asking for Jesus to leave because you want all the blessings of a Christian, but you don’t want to be faithful to him.
- And so the people got on their knees, and asked Jesus to leave. They were more happy to have a demon possessed man trouble them than have loss of their own possessions and belongings.
Before we finish this story, I want to have a look at the demon possessed man though. You know, before he was healed by Jesus, he was running around screaming his head off, he was naked, he had chains hanging off him, obviously no ounce of sanity in him. But look again at how he had changed when Jesus touched his life.
- Let’s read again Mark 5:15.
- Mark 5:15
And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid.
- This man was sitting, clothed and in his right mind. You know when Jesus touches our lives, He changes us in every way.
- Instead of running around everywhere, he was now sitting. He changes our actions.
- Before he was naked, now he was clothed. He even changes our outward appearance.
- And before he was insane, but not he’s in his right mind. Christ changes our mind.
- When a man or woman gives their lives to Christ, He doesn’t leave us just as we are. He saves us by His grace – absolutely! But that’s just the beginning. He gives us a new mind. New thoughts. New purposes. To the extent that maybe even our life direction changes. We learn to have peace in our lives and can be still to allow God to speak to us and guide us. And God changes even how to dress and how we hold ourselves.
- The Bible tells us in 1 Corinthians 4:9.
- 1 Corinthians 4:9
…for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.
- Everyone looks at us to see whether God is with us or not. Everyone! Angels, men, everyone!
- That change should be obvious. When Christ touched the life of this man who had these unclean spirits in him, when the people came from the city, they gave him one look and they knew that he was a changed man! They were afraid because it was so obvious to them that he did not have any trace of unclean spirits in him anymore!
- That’s what the life of the Christian should be to everyone around them. Does people see Jesus in me? Not just my words or thoughts. But even by the way I dress and all my actions. Does it speak of Christ or of the world?
So the people prayed that Jesus would leave. He doesn’t defend Himself. He does not force Himself on anyone. He didn’t back then and He doesn’t even today. But as He’s turning back to get into the boat, someone comes chasing after him.
- Mark 5:18
And when he was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil prayed him that he might be with him.
- The man that was free from the unclean spirits. He begs Jesus, he is praying to God to let him go with them!
- If you were Christ, what would you have said? Looked at Peter – get out. Or Judas – get out! This man would have been more loyal right?
But how did Jesus respond?
- Mark 5:19
Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.
- Jesus said no to him. He didn’t say no because He didn’t like him. He said no because he had a more important mission to stay behind. Christ wanted him to be a witness.
- He had had no Bible study. No Theology training. But look at the result.
- Mark 5:20
And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel.
- He went everywhere preaching! He gave no excuse. He just had his story of what Jesus did for him.
- What is your story? How has Christ touched your life?
What was the result of this man’s ministry?
- Luke 8:40
And it came to pass, that, when Jesus was returned, the people gladly received him: for they were all waiting for him.
- When Jesus came back a second time, they were ready to receive Him this time. It was because of what that man had been sharing about his own story and testimony.
God doesn’t need us to have all a clear understanding of our doctrines to be effective for Him. All we need to start with is a testimony and a willingness to share. Two things.
- Your own story and experience of Christ.
- And a willingness and ready mind to share with others what great things God has done for you.
And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
We cannot underestimate the importance of our own testimony. Not only does it become a witness to others, but it helps us to overcome. It reminds us of what Christ has done in our own lives. It keeps His grace fresh before our eyes and mind every time we share it! We need that testimony today. What is your testimony? How has God touched your life?
Maybe it’s time to pause and to pray and ask God to show us His goodness towards us. For surely everyone has a testimony. Because God is good all the time!