Mark 5 v 1-20
- The Setting
One of four miracles – all underlying the importance of faith.
a. The Calming of the sea
b. The Demoniac (this passage)
c. Woman with flow of blood.
d. Jairus’ daughter.
- The Demoniac.
Demon possession is a reality – being possessed by a foreign, evil spirit, and is very real. Demons are the devil’s agents.
Satan threw everything he had against Christ, which is why we find so many encounters with demons in the Gospels.
The demoniac was extremely violent, being unnaturally powerful, and exhibited irrational behavior, and was naked. Here we see the horror of being subject to Satan. This is where unbelievers will ultimately be taken.
He encounters Jesus, charges up to Him. We expect a violent confrontation, but instead he falls at His feet. The demons know better than atheists to tremble before Him.
- The Miracle.
Jesus immediately commands all the demons to depart, while nobody else could do anything. They begged Him to send them into the pigs and He allowed them. Some see a great ethical problem as to why Christ allowed it to happen.
The answer is that Christ owns all things. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills – He is Jehovah God! You and I, and every farmer own nothing. We are just stewards over what God has given to us. God in Christ has absolute sovereignty over everything that we have. We have seen some of this happening over the last couple of months – billions of dollars being wiped off financial markets (due to the pandemic). Is it just time and chance that a little virus has such a great impact? No, God sovereignly in Christ controls all things and works all things.
Nebuchadnezzar had to learn that lesson the hard way. After coming to his senses he praised and honoured Him who lives forever, saying in Daniel 4:34a-35:
“His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom endures from generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and He does according to His will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay His hand or say to Him, “What are You doing?”.
Christ is sovereign and can do with us and what we own whatever He chooses for His own good and wise purposes for His glory.
We see men getting very upset, shaking their fists at God, trying to tell Him ‘You brought me to ruin!’, but who gave it to them in the first place?
Job’s response was ‘The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord’, and Job did not sin in his attitude.
- The Reactions.
The locals saw that the demoniac was healed but responded with fear, being more concerned about their precious pigs that drowned. Here is the Lord of glory come to earth, but instead of welcoming Him, they begged Him to depart from their region. Is that how you respond to the Lord of glory when He puts His finger on the things that are more precious to you than God?
John Calvin put it this way in his commentary:
“Here was the Pastor who gathers men in. Yes, God by His Son reaches out His arms to lift them to heaven in His embrace when they have been overwhelmed by the shadows of death, but they preferred to do without the offered salvation rather than tolerate the presence of Christ anymore.”
If you are an unbeliever this morning, then that’s what you are doing. You are saying ”I’d rather have my pigs than Jesus Christ”, whatever those pigs may be. What a wretched choice to make!
But a heart of faith says with Augustus Toplady:
“Nothing in my hands I bring,
simply to Thy cross I cling
naked to Thee look for dress,
helpless look to Thee for grace,
foul, I to the Fountain fly,
wash me Saviour, or I die!”
So Jesus does that, He climbs into the boat and goes away. Those people are in hell today, suffering because of the wretched choices that they made, turning away the Prince of glory!
Thankfully, the demoniac who was healed had the opposite response, begging Jesus that he might be with Him (verse 18). You want to be like Mary who sat at the feet of Jesus and drank in His words, fellowship with Him and pray to Him.
Yet, Jesus did not grant him his request. Rather, He commanded him to go and preach the Gospel. Is that your response when Christ comes with His Spirit and starts convicting you? I trust that it is.
- Some lessons.
The miracles are all a graphic display of salvation that Christ brings, which affects the whole person.
JC Ryle put it this way:
“Never is a man in his right mind till he is converted, in his right place till he sits by faith at the feet of Jesus, or rightly clothed till he puts on the Lord Jesus Christ.”
How are we going to respond – in faith or in unbelief?
What charms you most, mountain bike, hobbies, little idols?
Christ comes to test our hearts to see whether we have a true devotion to Him. I trust that you will not make the wretched choice that the villagers made.