Mark 5:1-20

Sunday Morning Bible Study

November 7, 2004


At the end of a long day of teaching the multitudes, Jesus and His disciples had gotten into a boat and sailed from the western side of Galilee to the eastern side. On the way they encountered a surprise storm.  The disciples had panicked because Jesus was sleeping through the storm while it seemed like they were going to sink.  When Jesus woke up, He spoke and the storm ceased. 

(Mark 4:41 KJV)  And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?

:1 into the country of the Gadarenes.

GadarenesGadarenos – The small town of Gersa is located on the lake’s southeastern shore in the district of Gadara.

:2 there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit,

metapantao – to go to meet, to meet; in a military sense: a hostile meeting

the tombsmnemeion – It was common people to either use caves for tombs or to carve tombs out of rock. Tombs of dead people were an “unclean” place, a great place for a person with an “unclean spirit” to live.

unclean spirit – he was demon-possessed

:4 bound with fetters and chains

fetterspede – (from pous, “foot”) a fetter, shackle for the feet

:4 neither could any man tame him.

couldischuo – to be strong; Nobody was “strong enough”

This was a guy out of control. Nobody was strong enough to control him. Every time they would try and chain him up one way or another, he was able to break the chains.

:5 crying, and cutting himself with stones.

cryingkrazo – to croak; to cry out harshly, often of inarticulate and animal sound

cutting himselfkatakopto – to cut up in pieces; to slay; to beat, bruise; to cut, gash



Satan is a killer:
(John 10:10 KJV) The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
Satan hates you and has a horrible plan for your life.
(1 Pet 5:8 KJV) Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
One of the works of demons is that of self-destruction.
Not all suicides are a result of demon possession. I believe that mental illness can play a part as well.

But the truth still remains that Satan wants to destroy you one way or another.

From USA Today (a bit old, but could have been written yesterday)
Services are today (July 26, 1988) in New York for Carter Cooper, 23, son of Gloria Vanderbilt, who jumped to his death Friday. Vanderbilt, 64, great-great granddaughter of railroad and shipping magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt, was in seclusion Monday after the tragedy.
Cooper jumped from the 14th floor terrace of his mother’s Manhattan apartment. Police say his mother was trying to talk him out of it when he pushed off from a ledge.
Friends say he was disconsolate after breaking up with a girlfriend months ago.
Friday afternoon, Cooper went to his mother’s penthouse apartment to have lunch with her, according to police.
After taking a nap, Cooper reportedly stumbled into his mother’s bedroom, muttering “What’s it all about?” Then he ran to her terrace.
Vanderbilt was trying to restrain him when he jumped.
Many teenagers see suicide as an option. In one study, 34 percent of teenagers said they “seriously considered” suicide; 32 percent said they had made plans; and 14 percent said they had made an attempt.
Another study found 20 percent of teens claimed they were “empty, confused, and would rather die than live.” A survey of high school and college students asked the question. “Do you ever think suicide among young people is an option?” Forty-nine percent said “yes.”
There are certain warning signs that a teenager (or anyone) may be suicidal, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Among them:

* Changes in eating and sleeping habits.

* Withdrawal from friends, family, activities.

* Violent or rebellious behavior, running away.

* Drug, alcohol abuse.

* Changes in hygiene.

* Persistent boredom, difficulty concentrating, decline in schoolwork.

* Frequent stomachaches, headaches, fatigue.

* Loss of interest in pleasurable activities.

* Inability to accept praise.

* Feeling "rotten inside."

* Giving away favorite possessions.

* Verbal hints, such as "I won't see you again."

-- USA Today, 5/22/91, p. 3A

What do you do if you know someone who fits these descriptions? Talk to them. Ask them whether or not they are struggling with thoughts of suicide. Ask for help.  Call the police if you need to.  Just don’t ignore it. Don’t pretend that it will all pass and things will be okay.
The most important thing – get them to Jesus. Jesus is going to take away the influence in this man’s life that wants to destroy him.

:6 But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him,

he rantrecho – to run; of persons in haste

worshippedproskuneo – to kiss the hand to (towards) one, in token of reverence; to fall upon the knees and touch the ground with the forehead as an expression of profound reverence; to do homage (to one) or make obeisance, whether in order to express respect or to make supplication (like here).

When Jesus first landed on the shore, the man had come out in a hostile manner (vs. 2).

It could be that the man initially came out to fight, since that was what he apparently did all the time.

But when he saw who the visitor was, he fell in worship before Jesus.

Could it be that the demons inside the man are also bowing before Jesus?

(James 2:19 KJV) Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
(Phil 2:10 KJV) That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;

:7 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.

What have I to do with thee – The demon is speaking, “What do we have in common with You, Jesus?”

thou Son of the most high God – the demon certainly knows who Jesus is.

I adjurehorkizo – to force to take an oath; “swear to me that …”

tormentbasanizo – to test (metals) by the touchstone, which is a black stone used to test the purity of gold or silver.  The precious metal was rubbed on the black stone and the color of the mark proved if it was gold or not.  The word was also used to apply to questioning through torture; to torment; to harass

The demon is begging not to be tormented.

Luke records:

(Luke 8:31 KJV) And they besought him that he would not command them to go out into the deep.
deep – the “abyss”. Revelation 9 records a horde of demonic locust creatures being released from the “bottomless pit” (the “abyss”). We believe this is a place of imprisonment and torment for demonic beings.

:8 For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit.

he said – imperfect tense – continuous action in the past, “Jesus had been continually saying to him …”. This is what Jesus had been doing, apparently several times, when the demons responded in asking not to be tormented.

:9 My name is Legion: for we are many.

Legionlegeon – a legion, a body of soldiers whose number differed at different times, and in the time of Augustus seems to have consisted of 6826 men (i.e. 6100 foot soldiers, and 726 horsemen)

It is possible for a person to be possessed by more than one demon at a time. Mary Magdalene had been possessed with seven demons (Mark 16:9).

:11 a great herd of swine feeding.

What’s wrong with this job title: “Jewish Pig Farmer”?

The people living in the area of Gadara or Decapolis were for the most part Jews that had adopted the Greek culture and had fallen away from following God’s laws.

Pigs are an unclean animal to a Jew. They should not have been raising pigs.

:12 Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them.

It seems that demons prefer to dwell inside a living being than to just be a disembodied spirit.  Jesus said,

(Luke 11:24 KJV) When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out.

:13 And forthwith Jesus gave them leave.

gave them leaveepitrepo – to permit, allow

Apparently Jesus felt it was appropriate for unclean spirits to go into unclean animals. He gave them permission to do what they asked.

When the demons were inside the man, he was trying to destroy himself. Now they move into the pigs and guess what the pigs do? They destroy themselves.

:15 and see him …sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid.

seetheoreo – to be a “interested” spectator, view attentively, pay attention to detail.

sitting – Luke tells us that he was sitting at the feet of Jesus (Luke 8:35)

clothed – Luke also tells us that this man had been running around naked (Luke 8:27).

in his right mindsophroneo – to be of sound mind; to be in one’s right mind; to exercise self control; to put a moderate estimate upon one’s self, think of one’s self soberly; to curb one’s passions

Before this man was “untamable”. No man had the strength to tame him.  Now he has self-control.

These are the things Jesus does when He affects a person’s life.

they were afraidphobeo – to put to flight by terrifying; to fear, to reverence

This was the same word used of the disciples when Jesus had calmed the storm as they had made their way to this place (Mark 4:41).

But they’re going to react differently from their “awe” of what Jesus has done.

:17 And they began to pray him to depart out of their coasts.

to pray himparakaleo – to call to one’s side; to beg. This word has been used several times in this passage. The demons “begged” Jesus not to be sent out of the country (vs. 10). The demons had “begged” Jesus to be allowed to enter into the pigs (vs. 12). Now the people of the Gadarenes “beg” Jesus to leave.

It almost seems as if the demons have more respect of Jesus than the Gadarenes do.


Can you take the changes?

These people have gotten a taste of what Jesus can do, and they have decided they don’t want any.
The Ark and Dagon (1Sam. 5)
Before they had a king, the Israelites had begun to trust more in the Ark of the Covenant rather than in God. As a result, God allowed them to lose a major battle with the Philistines and to allow the Philistines to capture the Ark.
(1 Sam 5:1-7 KJV) And the Philistines took the ark of God, and brought it from Ebenezer unto Ashdod. {2} When the Philistines took the ark of God, they brought it into the house of Dagon, and set it by Dagon.

Dagon was their “god”, half fish, half man.

{3} And when they of Ashdod arose early on the morrow, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the earth before the ark of the LORD. And they took Dagon, and set him in his place again.

Things are pretty bad when you have to prop up your “god”.

{4} And when they arose early on the morrow morning, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the ground before the ark of the LORD; and the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands were cut off upon the threshold; only the stump of Dagon was left to him. {5} Therefore neither the priests of Dagon, nor any that come into Dagon's house, tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod unto this day. {6} But the hand of the LORD was heavy upon them of Ashdod, and he destroyed them, and smote them with emerods, even Ashdod and the coasts thereof. {7} And when the men of Ashdod saw that it was so, they said, The ark of the God of Israel shall not abide with us: for his hand is sore upon us, and upon Dagon our god.
God was giving the Philistines a message.  There is only one True God.  And “Dagon” isn’t it.  They could have turned to worship the One True God.  But the Philistines couldn’t stand what was happening to their “god”. So instead of removing their “god”, they removed the Ark, the symbol of God’s presence.
When Jesus comes into your life, He’s going to make some changes. He’s going to want to get rid of some demons. You’re going to wake up in the morning and see that some of the gods you’ve trusted in have fallen apart. He may even ask you to push over some of the idols you’ve trusted in.
These people of Gadara had been affected by having Jesus in their land. He had affected their pigs. They loved their unclean pigs, just like Farmer Fred …
Farmer Jones got out of his car and while heading for his friend’s door, noticed a pig with a wooden leg. His curiosity roused, he ask, “Fred, how’d that pig get him a wooden leg?” “Well Michael, that’s a mighty special pig! A while back a wild boar attacked me while I was walking in the woods. That pig there came a runnin’, went after that boar and chased him away. Saved my life!” “And the boar tore up his leg?” “No he was fine after that. But a bit later we had that fire. Started in the shed up against the barn. Well, that ole pig started squealin’ like he was stuck, woke us up, and ‘fore we got out here, the darn thing had herded the other animals out of the barn and saved ‘em all!” “So that’s when he hurt his leg, huh, Fred?” “No, Michael. He was a might winded, though. When my tractor hit a rock and rolled down the hill into the pond I was knocked clean out. When I came to, that pig had dove into the pond and dragged me out ‘fore I drownded. Sure did save my life.” “And that was when he hurt his leg?” “Oh no, he was fine. Cleaned him up, too.” “OK, Fred. So just tell me. How did he get the wooden leg?” “Well”, the farmer tells him, “A pig like that, you don’t want to eat all at once!”
Sometimes it’s kind of hard to let go of those “pigs” in our lives.
We might think of the “unclean” things in our lives as “pets”. We might even foolishly think they’ve saved our lives once or twice.
What if Jesus threatens to make your pigs go away?
Can you take it? Or are you going to tell Jesus to go away?
(Rev 3:20 KJV)  Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

Are you going to leave Him at the door?

:19 Go home to thy friends

Jesus several times had told the demons not to talk about Him (Mark 1:34). Here He tells the man who has been delivered from demons to go and talk about Him.

:20 …and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done

to publishkerusso – to be a herald, proclaim openly something which has been done

DecapolisDekapolis – “ten cities”; the area southeast of the Sea of Galilee.


Go home

JFB: To be a missionary for Christ, in the region where he was so well known and so long dreaded, was a far nobler calling than to follow Him where nobody had ever heard of him, and where other trophies not less illustrious could be raised by the same power and grace.
Sometimes we would love to just stay at church or at some mountain retreat, but Jesus says to go home and tell the folks that know you best about what God has done.  Sometimes we will be rejected (like Jesus was here), but we still go.