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“The Demon Possessed Man of Gadara”
Mark 5:1-20 MEV “They went to the other side of the sea to the region of the Gadarenes. 2 When He had come out of the boat, immediately a man with an unclean spirit came out of the tombs and met Him. 3 He lived among the tombs. And no one could constrain him, not even with chains, 4 because he had often been bound with shackles and chains. But he had pulled the chains apart and broken the shackles to pieces. And no one could subdue him. 5 Always, night and day, he was in the mountains and in the tombs, crying out and cutting himself with stones.
6 But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran up and kneeled before Him, 7 and cried out with a loud 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 Jesus said to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!”
9 Then He asked him, “What is your name?”
He answered, “My name is Legion. For we are many.” 10 And he begged Him repeatedly not to send them away out of the country.
11 Now there was a great herd of swine feeding near the mountains. 12 All the demons pleaded with Him, asking, “Send us to the swine, so that we may enter them.” 13 At once, Jesus gave them leave. Then the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine. And the herd, numbering about two thousand, ran wildly down a steep hill into the sea and were drowned in the sea.”
The first part of today’s message is not pleasant because we’ll be looking at the work of the devil.
The story we just read introduces us to what could be the worst case of demon possession in the history of the world.
We note that when Jesus asks the demons their name, they reply, “My name is Legion. For we are many.”—vs.9
The word “legion” is used to describe a division of the Roman army, numbering about 6,000 infantry with additional cavalry.
So, up to 6,000 evil spirits inhabit this man’s body!
One commentator writes, “Nothing more terrible, vivid, penetrating, and real was ever conceived by the creative mind of man” than the picture drawn of this man’s condition.
Let’s look at the tragic marks of Satan’s work in his life:
—First, a fascination with death: He is drawn to and lives in the rock carved tombs that overhang the beach.
Tombs like these in those days consisted of a small chamber in front, and a door leading from there into the tomb, which was about six feet square for the body—These were his home.
—Second, he possessed superhuman strength: The authorities had tried desperately to ‘tame’ him by force like a wild animal—But he snapped the chains of iron like toothpicks.
—Third, Luke’s gospel adds that he wore no clothes: Not necessarily that he was naked, but that he had no outer garment to dignify himself—so his self respect and natural modesty had been stripped away.
—Fourth, he was self-destructive: We’re told that “he was in the mountains and in the tombs, crying out and cutting himself with stones.”
Under Satan’s torment, he cut himself with splinters of rock—Today we would call him a self-harming “cutter.”
—Fifth, it says he “cried out” in the night.
One commentator writes what the people of Gadara may have been subjected to once the sun set:
“He made the night hideous with his wild shrieks, and fled, swift as the wind, from place to place among the lonely hills.”
—And finally, Luke tells us the whole town was in fear of him so that “none could pass by that way” for fear of being attacked by him.
This poor man was not at war with himself, but was at war with other beings that had somehow gained entrance into his house of life.
He is the poster child for Satan’s handiwork.
Now, the context of the story actually begins in chapter 4 of Mark where Jesus commands the disciples to get into a boat to cross over to Gadara.
It was on this journey they encountered the great storm the disciples feared would drown them.
They had cried out to Jesus, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”—4:38 MEV
And Jesus stood up and, “…and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.”—4:39 MEV
“And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”—vs.41
On the heels of this event, Chapter 5 opens with their arrival to the shores of Gadara.
Immediately this demon possessed man is seen charging out of one of the tombs toward Jesus.
It’s a good thing the disciples had just seen Jesus take authority over the storm, because a storm of a different kind was running toward them.
Now, let’s break down what happens when the man reaches Jesus.
It immediately morphs into a supernatural encounter between the forces of hell and the Lord Jesus.
I. The demons instantly knew Him
“But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran up and kneeled before Him, 7 and cried out with a loud voice, “What have You to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure You by God, do not torment me.”—Mark 5:6-7 MEV
These demons knew more about Jesus than most people!
Notice, they knew his name without the man having been told…
‘Jesus’ they said!
But more than His name, they also knew Who He was: They called out, “Jesus, Son of the Most High God!”
Now, while I would never advise listening to anything Satan has to say, in this instance the devil is right—Jesus is the Son of the Most High God!
The knowledge they had reached back into ancient times, to an ancient rivalry, even before the creation of the world.
Satan once was the a great archangel named Lucifer—the light bearer, the “guardian cherub that covers” according to the Prophet Ezekiel.
The Prophet Isaiah reveals he was judged by God and cast to the earth for seeking to exalt himself to an equal level with God.
Jesus once told His disciples, “I saw Satan fall from heaven like lightning!”—Lk 10:18 NLT
Jesus had witnessed the judgment of Satan long before God made the heavens and the earth!
These demon spirits knew God the Son from before their rebellion against God.
And the demons also knew about God’s prediction of Satan’s defeat in Genesis 3:15:
After Adam and Eve’s fall into sin, God told Satan: “From now on you and the woman will be enemies, as will your offspring and hers. You will strike his heel, but he will crush your head.”—LB
So they knew exactly Who Jesus was and what He came to do—defeat them and their boss, Satan!
The SECOND thing we hear from the demons is:
II. They knew their destiny
Matthew records, “They shouted, ‘Have you come here to torment us before the time?’”—Matthew 8: 29 NKJV
Luke’s account adds, “they begged Him that He would not command them to go out into the abyss.”—Lk 8:31 NKJV
What ‘time’ and what ‘abyss’ are they talking about?
The ‘time’ is at the end of the Great Tribulation that lasts 7 years and is described by John the Revelator in Revelation 20:1-3:
“Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the abyss and a huge chain. 2 He seized the dragon, the old snake, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. 3 He threw him into the abyss, then locked and sealed it over him.”—CEB
The ‘abyss’ is “the bottomless pit, the immeasurable depth.”
The demons KNEW that it was Jesus who would one day cast them into that place, and they begged Him not to do it ‘before the appointed time.’
Then next we see that…
III. Jesus sets the bound man free
“Jesus said to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!”—5:8 MEV
And the Bible records that, with Jesus’s permission, “the unclean spirits came out and entered (a herd of) swine. And the herd, numbering about two thousand, ran wildly down a steep hill into the sea and were drowned in the sea.”—5:13 MEV
With a word Jesus triumphed over Satan’s legions!
He turned a nightmare into a mighty testimony, and a tortured soul into a grateful believer!
The Bible says that the townspeople that had been so terrified of this man, “…came to Jesus and saw him who had been possessed with the legion of demons sitting and clothed and in his right mind.”—5:15 MEV
And they were all AMAZED!
As with everyone Jesus touched, look at the amazing before and after:
This possessed man went from a half naked, living in a graveyard, cut and bleeding, wild-eyed, howling maniac, out of control, out of his mind, and almost out of time into…
A delivered, clothed, sane, serene, level headed, peaceful, Jesus loving, God praising redeemed saint who proceeded to go out and preach to ten different cities what Jesus did for him!
• Jesus will cross land and sea to reach one lost and tormented soul.
• No case is too hard for Him.
• The mark of the devil is death and destruction, the mark of Jesus is peace, a sound mind, and a purposeful life!
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