They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes.
Thus far in the gospel we have seen Jesus’ kingship announced and enacted.
The very first verse of the book has powerful political and kingdom connotations.
We see Jesus anointed as king at his baptism
We see Jesus fight as a good king in his temptations in the wilderness
We hear Jesus’ first words proclaiming his kingdom
and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
1:15, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel”
He then begins to build his kingdom by calling disciples
We see Jesus having kingly authority over the demon in the synagogue
We see Jesus having authority over sickness and disease when he heals Peter’s mother in law and the leper.
We see Jesus having the power not only to heal people, but he has the authority to forgive sins
We see that Jesus as king has authority not only over physical ailments, and not only over the demonic realm, and not only over the spiritual realm, but he is also king over the religious institutions when he says that he is the Lord of the Sabbath.
we then see Jesus tell three parables all talking about the coming of the kingdom,
He then calms the raging storm with the words of his mouth and proves that he is king even of the winds and the waves of the sea.
Last week Zach talked about the story of Jesus and his disciples on the boat crossing the Sea of Galilee.
Last week Zach talked about the story of Jesus and his disciples on the boat crossing the Sea of Galilee.
If you remember, Jesus was asleep in the bottom of the boat when a huge storm arose and the disciples were afraid of the storm.
They woke Jesus up and ask him if he even cared that they were perishing
The disciples, some of which have spent their entire lives on the sea as professional fishermen, are now thinking they are actually going to die in this storm.
What does Jesus do? He tells the storm to shut up, to be quite, he muzzles the storm - and the disciples fear turned from being afraid of the waters to fearing God when they say, “who is this that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
By commanding the raging storm to be quiet Jesus is asserting himself as king over creation itself. And how do the wind and the waves respond? they bow down in obedience to their king.
Marks gospel is about Jesus becoming king. And our passage this morning, though in many ways seems completely random, it is one more piece in the kingly mosaic Mark is constructing for us.
So turn with me to
Read the Passage.
Mark Chapter 5 picks up right where chapter four left off.
The storm has calmed, the sea is quite, and now they have arrived to the other side - to their destination.
country of the Gerasenes
Scholars believe that this contry of the Gerasenes in this chapter is refering to the city of Gadara
Gadara is a Roman city on the southeast side of the Sea of Galilee
When the Roman empire was advancing through the middle east Gadara was one of the spots that was completely conquered by the Romans.
The Romans turned this city into a prosperous city with great wealth, great buildings, and a vibrant culture.
When the Romans would conquered a city they would send in a Legion of soliders. This was a military unity comprised of about 6000 soldiers.
The city of Gadara was conquered by Roman Legions and is now ruled by the Romans. This is not a Jewish city.
So unlike the Capernaum, there was no synagogue, there was no Pharisees or Scribes to debate Jesus. There was no real influence of the Law or the Jewish customs such as circumcision or being ceremonially clean.
So why is Jesus traveling to Gadara? What is the purpose? Why is Mark telling us this historical fact about Jesus’ ministry?
Jesus’ kingship will not be contained by any man made boarders, it will not be contained by any demonic force, Jesus’ kingship will break through every bearer, and it will one day conquer the whole world.
First, lets look at the Madman who met Jesus on the shore.
First, Lets look at the Man with the demons
And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit. He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones. And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him.
He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones. And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him.
He was possessed by an unclean Spirit.
We have seen many people possessed by demons thus far in Marks gospel
Yet, Mark, who has moved rapidly through many stories, slows way down here and devotes 20 verses to this particular story.
Mark also spares no detail when describing this disturbing sight.
This demon has caused great agony for the man. He has tortured and tormented this man.
He lived among the tombs
This man lived in a cemetery, in a graveyard.
When he slept he would sleep beside the bones of dead men, woman, and children.
He had no home, he was not part of the community in Gadara.
He was a total outcast. despised and rejected by the people
People have tried to lock the man up
There is no doubt that people were afraid of this man.
They would have been worried that he would wonder into town and do great damage to either people or property.
So they tried to bind him, they tried to tie him up with shackles and chains
Yet each time they put the chains or shackles on him he would wrench the chain apart, and smash the shackles in pieces.
He was so strong that no one could bind him, they were unable to arrest him and keep secluded from the people of the town.
So they more or less left him alone in the graveyard, but certainly kept a close eye on him.
The Man was insane and and a self-mutilator
This man would mutilate his own body with stones.
he would contently be screaming and cutting himself.
When Jesus or the towns people saw this man he would have had a body full of scars and fresh wounds from the continual self mutilation.
This man is desperate for redemption. He is enslaved to the insidiousness of sin on many different levels.
Mark paints this picture with gritty realism informing us of many of the depraved details of this man.
What we see happening in this story is an assault on the Image of God.
This man was created in God’s image to reflect his glory.
He was knitted together in the womb in such a way that he was a reflection of God.
What has happened to this man is the demon has entered into him and has began a war against this man reflecting God’s image.
God has made people to live in community - as God himself is in perfect community within his triune self. The Father, Son and Spirit is the model of perfect community.
Yet this man has been driven out of the life giving community of the town and is forced to live among the dead. isolated. alone.
he is forced to live like a wild beast rather than as an imager of God.
God has created us to be free. Paul says that its for freedom that he set us free. there is freedom in Christ, there is freedom for image bearers who reflect the image of God.
yet, this man was not free. He was enslaved. Forced to live like a slave under a cruel master
People tried to put chains on him and bind him, though they were unable. Yet those chains only represent the true bondage he was in to the evil spirit.
he was completely enslaved to the demon.
God has given us bodies so that we might reflect who he is in all of life.
As the author of Hebrews says Jesus is the Perfect image of God and Jesus came to us with a physical body.
Our bodies are to be used to bring glory to God, with our bodies we speak the words of of God, we think the thoughts of God, we act the way God acts. Every aspect of our bodies have been given to us to bring glory to the father.
David says we are fearfully and wonderfully made
We have often been taught that the physical is bad and the spiritual is good.
As if our bodies are those things that keep us from being all that God would have us be.
This body of flesh is what needs to be done away with so that we might experience God in the spirit, the right way.
This way of thinking is completely false. Its Gnosticism at its finest.
God has given us our bodies for his glory. And the hope we have is not that we will leave these decrepit bodies behind to be with him in spirit for all eternity, but rather our hope is in the resurrection. When we are raised with him with glorified bodies. real physical bodies.
This is our hope. not that we will escape the body, but that we will become more fully human with glorified bodies.
However, this demon hates this mans body. he hates that this man is an image bearer of God because he hates God. So the demon seek to mutilate this mans flesh, to destroy that thing God has given him to reflect his glory.
The demon hates God, he hates this man, and he wants to destroy this man and his ability to image God. He treats this man not as image bearer, but as a beast of the field.
We likewise live in the midst of tombs with demonic influence seeking to destroy the image of God in each of us.
Racism: Racism is replacing God's image with your own, and anyone who does not bear your image is now subhuman. When your own reflection becomes your god you have successfully exchanged the truth of God for a lie. The lie you now believe is demonic and will be your destruction.
Abortion is perhaps the greatest assault in imaging God in our society. Doctors assuming the role of the demons seeking to destroy the bodies of image bearers.
Homosexuality is likewise an assault on the image of God. Saying we do not care how God has created man and woman not only to image him individually but also to image him together. Homosexuality distorts and abuses the image of God in men and woman for ungodly desires.
Pornography is also an attack on the image of God. Men and woman objectifying image bearers and using them for their own person pleasure.
The point is that God has designed us to be reflectors. We are supposed to reflect God, but if we are not reflecting God we are reflecting something else.
The demon had this man reflecting a beast of the field, something less then human.
The only hope for this man is for someone to come and redeem him out of slavery, renew his ability to reflect God (worship) and restore him before the God.
And that is what Jesus does
The Madman’s Exodus
The Madman’s Exodus
And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him. And crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” For he was saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. Now a great herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and they begged him, saying, “Send us to the pigs; let us enter them.”
Jesus gets off the boat on the shore and as he looks around he would have seen hills with jagged rocks, he would have looked and see a graveyard in the hills and then he saw a herd of about 2000 pigs grazing on one of the hills coming up off the sea of Galilee.
Jesus gets off the boat on the shore and as he looks around he would have seen hills with jagged rocks, he would have looked and see a graveyard and then he saw a herd of about 2000 pigs grazing on one of the hills coming up off the sea of Galilee.
He then see’s this madman running toward him. (image the disciples fear here)
And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him. And crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.”
The man asks Jesus a question,
And crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.”
What we have hear is not the man who is speaking, rather it is the demon who is speaking through the man.
Notice that the man, being controlled by the demon falls down before Jesus.
He bows before him because the demon recognizes that the true king has come.
He recognizes Jesus as the Son of the Most high God. The one with all authority.
Jesus then asks the demon for his name
And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.”
The demon gives him the name Legion, for we are many.
The demon actually steals the name Legion from the Roman empire.
You see when the Romans came and conquered this land they sent in Roman Legions
A Roman Legion was a military unit comprised of about 6,000 soliders.
These Legions were made up of trained warriors who were fierce on the battlefield.
So this demon is saying that there are many demons in this man and they are a fierce unit. A legion
So fierce that no one could bind the man. The demons are who gave the man his strength. It was the demon who broke the chains. It was the demons who smashed the shackles.
Yet when the King of kings and the Lord of lords come before this legion of demons how do they respond? the bow down before him.
Like the waves bowed down before Jesus on the boat, the demons bow down before him on the shore.
Notice what Legion asks in verse 10
And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country.
Lets consider this landscape of this scene
We have thousands of unclean spirits, demons, possessing a man
We have the man living among the tombs, a graveyard, which is an unclean place for any Jew
the law says that if you come into contact with a dead body or even touch something that the dead body had touched then you are unclean and need to be cleansed.
We have a herd of 2000 pigs, which is an unclean animal that Jews were not allowed to touch or eat.
The entire landscape of the story says Jesus should not be there. It is unclean, it is sinful, it is evil, it is broken.
Yet, the demon asks Jesus, the one with authority even over that land, to not send them away.
The demon asks this question because he has to.
Jesus is not only the king over the sick and the sabbath
He’s not just king over the waters, but he is king over everything!
Even this unclean land with demons, and pigs and dead bones.
Jesus is king over all!
The demons ask not to be thrown out of the country, but to instead be put in the pigs - the unclean herd of 2000.
11 Now a great herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, 12 and they begged him, saying, “Send us to the pigs; let us enter them.” 13 So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the pigs; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the sea.
Here is the beautiful irony of the story...
When the demons ask not to be sent away from the country, they were not talking about wanting to stay in Gerasenes they were saying they want to stay in the country of man. They want to stay on earth, they don’t want to be sent into the abyss, which is a holding place for many demons.
We see this clearly in where Luke tells the same story
And they begged him not to command them to depart into the abyss.
30 Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion,” for many demons had entered him. 31 And they begged him not to command them to depart into the abyss.
Throughout the bible this word abyss is associated with water. It is the holding place of the dead and it associated with a watery darkness.
It is this place the demons did not want to go, they wanted to stay on earth. So they thought if they could go into the pigs they would be safe.
However what happens to the pigs as soon as Jesus sends the demon into them… they run down the hill and drown in the sea.
Jesus sent the unclean pigs who were possessed by thousands of unclean demons to straight into the abyss.
By doing so Jesus has begun to advance his kingdom into this gentile land.
People had tried to bind this strong man with chains and shackles and were unsuccessful. Jesus, the true King comes and binds this strongman with just a word of his mouth. He not only binds this strong man but he throws him into the abyss and saves the man.
The Madman’s Exodus
The Madman’s Exodus
So the Madman has experienced an Exodus story
The Image bearer of God was enslaved under cruel master
The cruel master physically tortured the man
The master oppressed the man and did not allow him to live the way God created him to live
Then the redeemer showed up and did war with the evil spirits, in the same way Moses did battle with the gods of Egypt.
The man is then freed from the oppression of the cruel master
Then the demons, like the Egyptians, are destroyed by drowning in the water.
That same water that Jesus brought his people across with safety in the last story.
This is what God does in the scriptures, he tells the same stories over and over so we can see that he is constantly faithful to bring his people to himself no matter the circumstances.
Now that the enemy has been destroyed and the man has been redeemed, Jesus commissions the man to a new mission - and that new mission is to see Jesus’ kingdom advanced.
14 The herdsmen fled and told it in the city and in the country. And people came to see what it was that had happened. 15 And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. 16 And those who had seen it described to them what had happened to the demon-possessed man and to the pigs. 17 And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their region. 18 As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. 19 And he did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” 20 And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled.
The people heard about what happened and came to see Jesus and the man. Jesus and the man were talking and now the man is no longer naked, but he is clothed. He is clothed and he is in his right mind.
You see, when God redeems a person or a people, he never leaves them where they were. He clothes his people in the garments of adoption and covenantal security. Like the father who clothes the prodigal son upon his return, Jesus clothed this man symbolizing that he has been brought from being an orphan to an adopted Son, an heir of the kingdom.
Though the people from the city saw the man in his right mind and heard about what had happened with the Legion and the pigs they wanted nothing more to do with Jesus. They were, like the disciples in the boat, afraid.
As Jesus was getting into the boat the man who had been redeemed from the spirits and clothed by Christ begged Jesus to come with him.
The man wanted to stay with the king who had faught for him and freed him from the enemy.
However, Jesus says no.
This man thought that he had to be with Jesus in order to be under his kingship, but what this story shows us that that Jesus’ kingship had spread to Gadara and he is king over that land whether he was there or not.
he then, as King, commissions the man (the first great commission)
19 And he did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” 20 And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled.
This man now healed, redeemed and clothed by Christ is commissioned to go and plunder the city for God’s glory.
He is told to go
Redeemed and clothed by Christ is commissioned to go and plunder the city for God’s glory.
To share with everyone what Jesus has done and to tell them about the mercy of God!
So the man went, and he preached to everyone how much had done for him!
27 But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. Then indeed he may plunder his house.
My friends, Jesus has bound the strongman. The whole earth is His, and we are called to plunder the earth. We are called to testify about this great king who is king over every square inch of Wichita. Every square inch of Kansas. May we, as men and women who have been set free and commissioned go forth with full allegiance to our king and plunder this city for our God!
The chains and shackles of our sin have been loosed, and we have been given marching orders. Let us follow our king with boldness and confidence and see what he will do through Exodus Church.