The Legion Loses to the Lord: Mark 5:1-20

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Introduce

The story we studied last week revealed that Jesus has authority over nature. He calmed a stormy sea with His words. Jesus’s authority has been put on display throughout Mark’s Gospel. Indeed, it is on display the story we just read. In our time together, let us consider the story, the picture of Jesus it conveys to us, and the response it calls from us. After I retell the story, I will apply it.

Retell

At the beginning of the story, we see the demoniac delivered: 1-13

The disciples and Jesus finally got across the sea. They landed in another country, a region called the Decapolis. The Decapolis was a group of cities east of the lake of Galilee. Its population was mostly gentile.
Jesus was immediately confronted by a demoniac, who came from among the graves. Luke informs us that there were two men, but Mark and Matthew likely exclude one to focus in on the main speaker.
Background on the demoniac is provided. He was frighteningly powerful and unable to be bound, having freed himself from all restraints. He was isolated among the graves, cried out unceasingly, and cut himself with stones. What would come of this strong man in presence of the stronger man?
The man ran to and bows before the Lord Jesus. He cried loudly, "What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?” The demon recognized Jesus. He then attempted to bind Jesus by God to not torment him. The man’s question and cries are given reason. Jesus had been commanding the unclean spirit to come out of the man.
A dialogue ensued. We find out this man had not one, but many demons, hence the name Legion. A Roman legion consisted of roughly 5,600 soldiers. This man had been occupied by a demonic military force of great size, power, and torment. Yet, the demons begged Jesus, this time wishing to not be sent out of the region. Perhaps the demons enjoyed the easy pickings for possession among the pagan gentiles or the real-estate among the graves and death.
A great heard of pigs is said to be grazing near the mountain. The demons again begged, but this time to be sent into pigs. They would rather be in swine at the bottom of the sea than sent out of the region.
Jesus permitted them and they go out from the man into the pigs. What follows is puzzling. Around 2000 pigs ran headlong into the sea and were drowned.

Following delivered demoniac we witness the puzzled petrified: 14-17

The men overseeing the swine fled and reported what they had witnessed all over the region, including cities and the country-side. Perhaps they didn’t want to be blamed for the disastrous drowning of 2,000 pigs. The news traveled fast and a crowd came to see what had happened to the pigs. Upon their arrival, they saw the man who had been possessed sitting, clothed, and of sound mind. This sight caused them to be afraid. Those who had seen the events told the crowd what had happened to the man and the pigs. Though Jesus had done what they could not and freed a man from great distress and destitution, He had also disrupted their normal way of life, depriving them of their property. In this case, property triumphed as more important than people like the demoniac. The crowed begged Jesus to leave their country out of fear and probably anger.

Having seen the delivered demoniac and the puzzled petrified, we observe the saved sent: 18-20

Not all, however, are angered by and petrified of the Lord Jesus. Jesus did comply with their request and began to get in the boat to leave. When he got into the boat the man He had delivered begged to go with Him. Jesus however didn’t let Him. Instead, He charged 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.” The man went away and did as Jesus had commanded him. He “began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him.” Those who heard were amazed.

Transition

You might be asking yourself: “So what? What does this story have to do with me, my life, work, family, and so forth?” Thanks for asking. I will answer your questions, first, with another question. Is our culture at a moment of crisis? I mean consider polarizing politics, pandemics, murders, economic instability, and riots. Do you ever feel powerless over such big problems? Do you ever wonder who has the power to bring reconciliation between enemies, transformation to the wicked, deliverance to the downtrodden, or purpose and hope to the hopeless? Who has the power? The answer is Jesus. Jesus has the power. These four words are the main thrust of the text and the big idea of this message. With this truth being the case consider now what Jesus is able to do with His power.

Apply

1. Jesus has the power to dominate the demons

I have made this exact point before. Indeed, demons or unclean spirits appear throughout Mark. They identify Jesus correctly, are frightened by Him, silenced by Him, and cast out by Him (Mark 1:24, 34; 3:11; 5:6–10; 9:20, 25). Jesus is the strong man who overpowers the dominion of darkness and the ruler of it (Mark 3:27). He even overcame the temptations of Satan himself (Mark 1:12-13). Demons still exists. They still tempt people and draw them away from life, truth, and salvation. They are far stronger than any mere human, especially fallen and sinful people like you and me. However, Jesus in our text demonstrates that He is more powerful not only one on one, but has absolute power over all demons. Demons cannot stop the advancement of God’s Kingdom established in Christ and furthered in the Church through the proclamation of the gospel. Jesus has the power to dominate the demons.

2. Jesus has the power to deliver the destitute

The man who had been possessed by legion was destitute and downtrodden. He lived in isolation. He cried out in agony. He cut himself with stones. People avoided him. The crowd cared more for the pigs than how he had been freed. But Jesus freed him from isolation, returned him to his home, friends, and family. Jesus freed him from captivity and insanity. Jesus restored him to freedom and soundness of mind. Are you destitute, downtrodden, depressed, deserted, or dying? Are you an outcast or a sinner? Jesus is able to deliver you. He has the power. He has the desire. Indeed, He will not fail to save a single person who receives Him with faith. Do you have family, friends, or neighbors that are lost? Jesus is able to save them too. Jesus has the power to (1) dominate the demons and (2) deliver the destitute.

3. Jesus has the power to dispatch the delivered

The man in our text who was delivered desires to be with Jesus like the disciples. Jesus doesn’t grant this man’s desire. Instead He leaves him in the Decapolis as a witness to testify to the marvelous things that Jesus had done. Jesus has given a similar charge to all of us who have trusted in Him. To be in the immediate presence of our risen Lord would be awesome. Yet, for the time being, He has placed us here in Vista and the surrounding region to be His witnesses. He has commissioned us to make disciples here. A time will come when we will be with Jesus, but for now let us give ourselves to the calling He has placed on us: gathering with saints on the Lord’s Day, evangelizing the lost, and teaching all to obey what Jesus has commanded. We are citizens of the heavenly Kingdom and we take our marching orders from its King, namely Jesus. Jesus has the power to (1) dominate the demons, (2) deliver the destitute, and (3) dispatch the delivered.

4. Jesus has the power to deserve the dependents

In saying Jesus has the power to deserve the dependents, I’m saying that He is a worthy object of faith. Jesus throughout the Gospel of Mark commends faith, warns of hardship, and declares that those who are with Him are a part of His family. To enter the Kingdom of God is directly related to how one responds to Jesus. There are a few responses that Jesus gets throughout Mark, all three show up in the story we are studying.
Fascination: This is the common response of the crowds.
Fear: The demons fear Jesus, as do the disciples from time to time (See preceding passage). Sometimes fear leads to faith.
Faith: This man wanted to be with Jesus like one of His disciples, who are the men uniquely called to follow Jesus during His earthly ministry (3:14). However, He is denied. Instead, Jesus sends him home to be a witness to what the Lord (He) has done for him.
Since Jesus is a worthy object of faith, as our text demonstrates, then I charge you to place your faith in Jesus.

Conclude

As I said at the beginning, Jesus’s authority has been put on display throughout Mark’s Gospel. Indeed, it is on display in the story we have been studying. In our time together, we have considered the story, the picture of Jesus it conveys to us, and the response it calls from us. I have retold the story that shows the delivered demoniac, the puzzled petrified, and the saved sent. I have applied the story by showing how it teach us that Jesus has the power to dominate the demons, deliver the destitute, dispatch the delivered, and deserve the dependents. I have charged all of you to behold, trust in, and follow King Jesus.
The story we’ve studied is a foretaste of an even greater work that Jesus came to accomplish. Jesus came to bring God’s Kingdom. He declared it with preaching and demonstrated it with miracles like the one in our passage. As the King, Jesus is stronger than Satan and his horde, His death and resurrection will prove His power over death and the devil in an ultimate way. All who trust in Jesus will find Him to be a gentle and lowly savior to His wounded, confused, and sinful people. All who reject Him will find Him to be a sovereign defender of His Kingdom and those who are a part of it. He will protect His people and cast His enemies to the depths of judgement.
So, which are you? Are you an enemy of Christ? Are you among His people? My plea with you is that you would trust in Him for the forgiveness of sins and eternal life. That is the only way to become one of His people.
Trust in Jesus, who dominates the demons, delivers the destitute, dispatches the delivered, and deserves the dependents. Let’s pray.
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