16. Healing the Demoniac at Gadara
A. Passage Selected: Mark 5:1-20
Parallel passages: Matt 8:28f, Luke 8:26
B. Progression Stated: Biographical
Tracking the miracle as the characters in the event relate to Christ.
C. Presentation Summarized:
1. Context 5:1
Historical Context - Did this happen in the Gerasenes, Gadarenes or Gadara? Matthew, Mark and Luke all refer to a different place. No one is sure where this happened or where Gadara is or was. The present town of Gadara is 30 miles from the water. That would be a long way for pigs to run into the water and to make it worse, the land between modern day Gadara and the water is flat - no cliffs - and no caves. Up in Kersa on the northeast portion of the Sea of Galilee there are in fact some small caves that a man could hide in and small cliffs for the pigs to fall off of. So this is possibly the place where it happened. The Arabic name of Kersa is probably related to the Greek name Gerasa and is probably the location.
Literary Context - We have just dealt with his power over the natural world, but now we come to power over the supernatural world.
2. Content 5:2-20
a. The contact of Jesus with the possessed man (2-6)
We see the effect on the personality of this man. He had superhuman strength. He was self-destructive. And he was dangerous (Matt 8:28). So the demons are very powerful. But when the man sees Jesus, even with all the power that “binds” him, he comes and falls at Jesus’ feet. This is a testimony to the surpassing power of Jesus.
b. The confrontation of Jesus with the demons (7-13)
(1) The revelation
When the man goes to Jesus for help, the demons immediately recognize Jesus. They had called Him “the Holy one of God in an earlier miracle, (the Isaiah affirmation) now we see that they identify him as the son of the most high God.
The demon said his name was Legion. A legion was 6000 men. Whether or not there were actually 6000 demons in this man, we don’t know, but I’m sure it means that there were a number of demons in this man.
(2) The request
The demons were worried that their judgment was coming now. They say in Matt 8:29, “ Have you come to torment us before “the time.” This shows us that they know that they are doomed. But they think that their judgment is coming a little early. This could mean that they understand the events of prophecy a little and recognize that some things have not yet happened. Or they could be referring to the fact that some demons will be confined to the abyss until they are released for a short time in the tribulation (2Pe 2:4; Rev 9:1-3). Luke 8:31 says that they were afraid of being cast into the abyss. The abyss is not the sea of Galilee. The abyss is a place of confinement until the final judgment. This shows us that they understand their destiny
The demons want to stay where they are because they had a foothold in that area and they ask if they can go into the swine (2000 of them).
What do the pigs think about demon possession? The swine can’t stand the demons and commit suicide. There may be some symbolic value to what happens to them. Giving them a taste of final judgment, etc.
c. The conflict of Jesus with the crowd (14-17)
The people are so glad that this man is healed that they applaud Jesus....wrong.
Some have asked, “If these are Jews what are they doing raising pigs?” This was actually a Greek area called the decapolis, so they probably were not Jews.
Losing 2000 pigs does not settle well with the people. They don’t applaud Jesus for healing the man of this terrible plight. Instead they ask Him to leave. They respond in fear (vs 15) but also in rejection.
Would a group of people reject God over a bunch of pigs? These did. Their value system is messed up just like in the miracle of the man with the withered hand where Jesus pointed out the Pharisees’ concern about sheep over people.
Here they are more concerned with their money than the man.
They have tried to bind this man/satan with no success and Jesus handled 6000(?) demons with no trouble.
d. The commission of Jesus to the man (18-19)
The man wants to go with Jesus, but Jesus tells him to go and tell others in the area about God. He was to tell, “What great things the Lord has done..” Tell about the work of God. And, “How He had mercy on you.” Tell about the character of God.
Remember that we said that some teach that Jesus tried to keep his identity secret because He knew that He really wasn’t God. But there is no secrecy here. Perhaps there is no secrecy because this is not Jewish territory. If our chronological ordering of the miracles is correct, this fits with what we saw in the last miracle where Jesus was rejected by the religious leaders and is now turning to the Gentiles. He is more open with Gentiles because it fits His purpose about revelation to the Gentiles and the new inclusion in the kingdom. Also, He is sometimes more open with outsiders/Gentiles than Jews because the negative reaction by the Jewish leaders would hinder his ministry more than rejection by Gentiles.
e. The communication of Jesus by the man (20)
Jesus told the man to tell everyone what “The Lord” had done... The man goes and tells everyone what “Jesus” had done for him. Mark wants us to make the connection between “Jesus” and the “Lord.”