Reflections on the Lessons of the One Year Bible: Mark 5:21-43

The healing of the man possessed by demons is as beautiful as it is dramatic. This region around the Galilee was inhabited by Gentiles, hence the availability of a herd of pigs into which Jesus could cast the demons. (The loss of so much bacon gives pause for sadness but that is another story). The naked demon-possessed man was out of his mind, enormously strong and self destructive, cutting himself with sharp stones. He reads like a character from a Stephen King novel. And even before coming into contact with the man, the Savior takes spiritual dominion. From a distance He commands the demon to leave the man, which resulted in the demon driving the man to Jesus, like a messenger riding an exhausted, sweat covered horse. “Why are you interfering with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In the name of God, I beg you don’t torture me.”  (NLT).

Three things jump out at us from this pain filled cry. First, the demon knew exactly who Jesus was, the Son of the Most High God. What a shame that more men do not know that truth. Second, the demon appeals to Jesus in the name of God. It would have done the demon no good at all to appeal in any one else’s name. Jesus had come to do only His Father’s will. Third, the submissive nature of the appeal demonstrates that demons were fearful of Christ. Because of that, those who bear His Name need not fear them.

After Jesus dramatically casts that demons into the pigs, and they plunge to their deaths, the man is found fully clothed and sane. The nameless man begs Jesus to allow him to go with Him but Jesus refuses. He tells that man instead to go tell his family what the Lord has done and how merciful He has been.

This command by Jesus is in contrast to many other healings after which He told the one healed to tell no one. It is very likely He told them two different things because of two different audiences with two different expectations. The Jews were expecting a king from the line of David to emerge and to reestablish the kingdom. Therefore Jesus wanted the Jewish people that He healed to keep it under wraps lest there be a ground swell of the populace, and they try to force Him to be king, as they did on one occasion (John 6). He was on another mission, having set His face towards Jerusalem. Now was not the time to be made king. By contrast the Gentiles were not looking for a king or a restoration of a Davidic kingdom, so they needed to hear the good news soon and often. Healed Gentiles were released to tell their story, which is a great model for us Gentiles today. We don’t have to be students of apologetics or have the mysteries of the Bible within our grasp. We simply have to tell our story, of what the Lord has done for us and how merciful He has been.

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