“So they came to the other side of the lake, to the region of the Gerasenes. Just as Jesus was getting out of the boat, a man with an unclean spirit came from the tombs and met him. He lived among the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. For his hands and feet had often been bound with chains and shackles, but he had torn the chains apart and broken the shackles in pieces. No one was strong enough to subdue him.
Each night and every day among the tombs and in the mountains, he would cry out and cut himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and bowed down before him. Then he cried out with a loud voice, “Leave me alone, Jesus, Son of the Most High God! I implore you by God – do not torment me!” (For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of that man, you unclean spirit!”)
Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” He begged Jesus repeatedly not to send them out of the region. There on the hillside, a great herd of pigs was feeding. And the demonic spirits begged him, “Send us into the pigs. Let us enter them.” Jesus gave them permission. So the unclean spirits came out and went into the pigs. Then the herd rushed down the steep slope into the lake, and about two thousand were drowned in the lake.” —Mark 5:1-13
Jesus came to seek and to save those who are lost. In these verses, we find Jesus and His disciples in a place inhabited primarily by Gentiles. It is here that this man possessed by many demons approaches the Lord Jesus. Driven by the demons to abide in a desolate area, this plagued person was kept in his own horrific prison-type experience. This oppressed man could not be subdued even by chains. He was as an untamed wild animal, shrieking wildly in an inhuman howl and cutting himself with sharp stones. The devil is a cruel master indeed.
His pathetic condition demonstrates this was not a mere sickness or insanity, but a satanic attempt to destroy one made in God’s own image. Praise God, Jesus is the One who saves the living from among the dead! Jesus tells us in Matthew:
“Now as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living!” When the crowds heard this, they were amazed at his teaching.” —Matthew 22:31-32
Seeing Jesus from a distance, the demon-possessed man runs and falls on his knees in front of the Savior. The demons were fully aware of who Jesus was. Using the vocal cords of the man they were housed in, they shout out: “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won’t torture me!” The demons are fully aware of our Lord’s divine origin and His superior power.
Jesus commands the demons to depart their host. When Jesus asks the demons their name, they respond through the man, “Legion, for we are many.” “Legion” was a common term in Palestine denoting a regiment of about six thousand soldiers–suggesting that this man was under the power of great strength and oppression.
Desirous to remain hosted in this desolate area these demons beg Jesus to allow them to stay. Jesus has the power to send them wherever he wills. These demons are fully aware of His power over them. Not wanting to be left without a host and in a desperate attempt to avoid being consigned to a disembodied state until the final judgment, the demons beg Jesus to allow them to enter into a herd of pigs feeding on the nearby hillside. Jesus gives them permission and the immediate destruction of the pigs ensues.
Take It to Heart
We are not matches in our own strength against these powers of darkness. It is only in the Lord and in His power that we are able to stand against them.
“It is His love for man, His compassion for the human race, that prompts God to hate sin with such a vengeance. He gave Heaven’s finest that we might have the best; and He loathes with a holy abhorrence anything that would hinder our being reconciled to Him.” —Billy Graham
“What is man, when reason is dethroned and Satan enthroned?” —Matthew Henry
“No one overcomes the corruptions of his heart except by the enabling strength of the Spirit of God.” —Jerry Bridges