Today’s passage has A LOT going on, so we are going to spend at least two days looking at it. We are looking at Mark 5:1-19:
Jesus Heals the Gerasene Demoniac
5 They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. 2 And when he had stepped out of the boat, immediately a man out of the tombs with an unclean spirit met him. 3 He lived among the tombs; and no one could restrain him any more, even with a chain; 4 for he had often been restrained with shackles and chains, but the chains he wrenched apart, and the shackles he broke in pieces; and no one had the strength to subdue him. 5 Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always howling and bruising himself with stones. 6 When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and bowed down before him; 7 and he shouted at the top of his voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” 8 For he had said to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” 9 Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion; for we are many.” 10 He begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. 11 Now there on the hillside a great herd of swine was feeding; 12 and the unclean spirits begged him, “Send us into the swine; let us enter them.” 13 So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea, and were drowned in the sea.
14 The swineherds ran off and told it in the city and in the country. Then people came to see what it was that had happened. 15 They came to Jesus and saw the demoniac sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, the very man who had had the legion; and they were afraid. 16 Those who had seen what had happened to the demoniac and to the swine reported it. 17 Then they began to beg Jesus to leave their neighborhood. 18 As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed by demons begged him that he might be with him. 19 But Jesus refused, and said to him, “Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and what mercy he has shown you.”
Ok, look who meets Jesus on the other side of the sea. A guy (the other Gospels say was naked) living a cemetery. Demon possessed. And with pigs in the area. This is literally the worst Jewish nightmare you can think of. One of the things that I wondered about for the longest time is why there were pigs? I mean, this is Israel. Jews don’t do pigs? Why were their pigs in this story? Where did they come from?
This city across the sea of Galilee, you know what it was? It was a Roman city. It was a Gentile city. That’s why there were pigs there. Gentiles (i.e. non-Jews) didn’t mind pigs at all. So that’s why there would have been pigs there. By the way, the picture to your right was one that I took from the actual place where the pigs jumped off of. Things have changed since Jesus’ day, but that’s the spot!
This place on the other side of the lake would have been forbidden for Jews. They wouldn’t have wanted, or really, been allowed to go there. Many of you may have had grandparents say to you – don’t go outside (or wherever) that’s where the boogie man is! They would tell you “don’t go there” because they wanted to keep you away from that place.
So, good Jewish mamas would tell their kids – don’t go across the lake. You’ll find pigs! And naked men! In cemeteries! That are Gentiles! That’s how bad Jesus wanted rest, He went to this place He would have been warned not to go, because He knew no one would follow Him.
And they get across the lake and what do they find? A naked guy, in a cemetery, demon possessed, who is Gentile. Oh, and pigs! Turns out, mama was right! It would have been everything that they feared! It was literally the worst combination of what they feared.
And what does Jesus do? He brings calm. He brings peace. He brings restoration. He brings life. He brings hope.
Tomorrow, we’ll look deeper at what exactly Jesus did. But today, know this. Jesus encountered the thing that His Jewish followers would have feared teh most. And He triumphs over it.
Jesus is greater than whatever it is that you fear. Always believe that. Because it is truth. Always hold tight to that.
Tomorrow we’ll look at Mark 5:1-19 again.
If you’d like to receive these thoughts by email, be sure to click here and join my email devotional group!