They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. 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 bruising himself with stones. 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.” 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 were drowned in the sea. The herdsmen fled and told it in the city and in the country. And people came to see what it was that had happened. 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. And those who had seen it described to them what had happened to the demon-possessed man and to the pigs. And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their region. As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. 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.” And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled. – Mark 5:1-20 –
Act III: The Power of Jesus Reviled (vv. 14-17)
In the first act of this story we saw the power of Jesus required. In act 2 we saw the power of Jesus revealed. Now, in act three, we will see the power of Jesus reviled. In other words, we will see a rebellious response to the power of Jesus. This act begins in v.14 where Marks writes, “The herdsmen fled and told it in the city and in the country. And people came to see what it was that had happened.” Mark begins with the herdsman. These guys were in charge of the pigs that had just run over the cliff. And so, when all 2,000 of these pigs ended up dead they wanted to make sure that everyone knew that it was not their fault. They did not want to take the blame, and so they told everyone what had happened.
Word spread quickly concerning what happened, and people from all throughout the area came out to see what was going on. When they arrived on the scene they immediately saw the evidence of Jesus’ power when the saw the man you used to be controlled by demons. In v. 15 Marks tells us what that they “saw the demon-possessed man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid.” These people were shocked! Notice the contrast here between how this man was described before Jesus’ intervention and then after:
– calmly sitting vs. running madly through the tombs
– clothed vs. naked
– in his right mind (literally under control) vs. crying out and cutting himself.
As these people looked at this man they saw first hand how Jesus had changed this man’s life. Additionally, v. 16 tells us that “those who had seen it described to them what had happened to the demon-possessed man and to the pigs.” These people were standing right in front of the person who was powerful enough to cast out the demons who had been terrorizing their region, and they were afraid. But this was not the same kind of fear that the disciples had experienced (4:41). In fact, this response is shocking. Rather than bowing before Jesus—even the demons had done this—v. 17 tells us that “they began to beg Jesus to depart from their region.” They didn’t want anything to do with Jesus. Mark does not tells us exactly why they responded this way, however I think there were a few factors that went into this decision:
- They were upset about the economic loss. They were so tied to the material possession that they failed to see the spiritual benefit that Jesus could have provided. What seemed like a horrible economic loss could have been to their spiritual advantage, if they would have responded correctly.
- They were probably afraid. They should have seen Jesus actions as an act of mercy toward this oppressed man. But instead they were afraid because they knew that they could not control Jesus.
- Ultimately they simply did not what to submit to the power of Jesus. This is why they asked Jesus to leave.
As we look at the response that these people had toward Jesus we need to ask ourselves how we have responded to the power of Jesus. What about you? How have you responded to the power of Jesus? Are you too concerned with the things of this world to accept Jesus? Are you unwilling to submit, and allow Jesus to control your life? If so, then you are missing you opportunity to be changed by Jesus for the better.