GOSPEL OF MARK – ROBBY GALLATY – Program 12
By: Dr. Robby Gallaty
|By: Pastor Robby Gallaty; ©2010|
|Jesus delivers the demon-possessed man, and demonstrates that he has authority over everything.|
Deliverance of Demoniac in Decapolis
The title of the message this morning is this: The Deliverance of the Demoniac in the Decapolis. This morning, I’m going to introduce you to a man who was possessed, not just by one demon, but by multiple demons. And the challenge for us is this: not to fall into the trap and focus on the demonic possession. Because the challenge in the text has nothing to do with the demons at all. In fact, the point of the text is simply this: that Jesus Christ has authority over everything and—watch this—and has the ability to change a situation in an instant.
Now I know in a room this size, we have come this morning with different backgrounds, different situations, different issues in life. I want you to know Jesus Christ is the answer to every question you have. Jesus Christ—get this—is the solution to every problem we face.
In your Bible, I hope you have it, join me in Mark 5:1-20. Look at verse 1: “They came to the other side of the sea.” Now, stop for a moment and pull your map out. The back of your outline is a map. Jesus Christ leaves the Jewish Galilean region on the top left of the Sea of Galilee. And then Jesus goes across the water, across the journey to the other side of the sea to the Decapolis. Decapolis is the region of 10 cities. Now, there are more cities in the region, but that’s just the name of it. And so it’s the Decapolis. The Decapolis is a predominately pagan site. It’s predominantly Gentile and many believe that Jews, in disobedience to the Lord, left the Galilee region, traveled over to the Decapolis in order to sell salted pork to the people that were there, the Romans who were oppressing them namely. And so they were in disobedience to the Lord. There’s no Sabbath rest in this region. There’s no observation of the festivals in this region. No one’s going to the synagogue in this region. No one’s worshipping the one true God in this region.
And so the question is why is Jesus going to this region? And I want to show you this morning that Jesus Christ is a man on a mission to find a man. Look at verse 2: “And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit.” This is worse than any horror movie you’ve ever seen. “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.” Imagine it. No one had the strength to subdue this man. He was a wild man. “Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones. And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him.”
There are four progressions. Get this; write this down. The fearlessness of Jesus. Anybody in their right mind would have never gone into the land, but not Jesus. Jesus is fearless. And right when he gets off the boat, he’s met by a man who is oppressed. The man who was oppressed. He’s going into a situation that is unbelievable by any standards. If you would have had that boat that day, you would have realized that it is a difficult time. I mean, you’re probably asking Jesus, “Why don’t we have a break? I mean, come on Jesus, we just got out of a storm and now we’re in chaos again.”
This morning, you’re probably thinking, “Pastor, my life is pretty difficult.” And I would suggest you’re probably right. There are some in here today that are struggling financially, physically, emotionally. But let me just encourage you this morning. Your life is nothing compared to this man’s life we’re about to meet. This man isn’t just possessed by multiple spirits. This man is possessed by thousands of demons as we will see. He doesn’t just have split personalities. This man is a basket case. He’s controlled by these demonic possessions.
If you would have seen him that day, if you were one of the disciples, this is what you would have seen as this man ran up to you. You would have seen a man that hadn’t shaved in probably years. You would have seen a man who was foaming at the mouth. You would have seen his hair was all matted together. You would have seen a man that was screeching and yelling and howling as he runs up to you. You would have seen a man covered with blood and lacerations and scars and infections coming from his body. You would have seen a man who was unsettled. He had no clothes on. He was naked as he ran up to the disciples. He didn’t even have a place to sleep. He was roaming around the tombs and he would hang out with dead people in the cemetery. That’s where he stayed.
He probably was deserted by his own family. His parents probably had nothing to do with him. His friends had disowned him. The man, I would write down—write this down—he’s unclean. He’s not only externally unclean, he’s internally unclean. He’s filled with demonic possession. He’s unsettled. Nobody in the community could contain this man, and so they sent him out to live among the dead people in the cemetery; kind of an oxymoron—dead people. He’s uncontrollable. He can’t be tamed. They tried to shackle this man and he’s, wow, he’s a maniac. He’s unsettled. He’s uncontrollable. He’s unclean. Fourthly, he’s unhappy. We believe from the text he’s probably depressed. He’s dejected. He’s demoralized. And finally, he’s unclothed. He’s wild and untamed.
And so you’re probably wondering, Robby, why is this guy like this? I’m glad you asked. Look at verse 15. It tells us: “And they came to Jesus and saw [here it is, underline and circle this] the demon-possessed man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind….” If you go down even further, it says in verse 18 “the man possessed with demons.” Now the literal translation in the Greek is this: demonized. Demon-possessed really doesn’t get the gist of it. It’s the idea to be influenced by evil spirits. This is the worst extreme of all extremes that we can imagine to ever come in contact with.
Now, a side note here. Believers can never be influenced or controlled or possessed by demons. Why? Because of the Holy Spirit. See, one of the things people forget is that when you give your life to the Lord Jesus Christ, when you repent of your sin, when you put your faith in Christ, at that moment God justifies you. He looks at you in a legal way and says it’s just as if you’d never sinned. But we forget to emphasize the fact that when we come to Christ, he fills us with the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. And when the Holy Spirit resides in a person, he or she can never be controlled again by another entity. So that’s encouraging news for us.
Not only was the man oppressed, the community was oppressive. I mean, who is he going to turn to? He doesn’t have anywhere to go, so he goes to the community. He says, “Hey, listen, can you guys help me?” They say, “Man, you’re wild.” This is a difficult case. And so what they do is they don’t set him free, they shackle him. Imagine. He comes to them, they put him in shackles. They ban him from the city. They put him out into the cemetery and all through the night, it says, he yells and screams and he howls, this man who resorted because of the demonic possession to cutting himself. I mean, he’s got scabs. He’s got infections. He’s got lacerations. I mean, this is worse than any horror movie you’ve ever seen. I mean, this guy is probably covered with blood, he’s pummeling himself, he’s beating himself. He doesn’t know what to do. And so he tried to go the community but the community said we don’t want anything to do with you.
Notice the point of Jesus here. The community tried to restrain him and bind him. Jesus is about to come and set this man free. Isn’t that what he always does? See, this demoniac doesn’t need a counselor on this day, doesn’t need a therapist on this day, he needs Jesus. He needs someone that is going to set him free from the sin that he’s in. Someone’s going to set him free from this addiction that he’s in. Someone’s going to set him free from this oppression that he’s in. And you have to admit, church, this is a difficult case, right? I mean, think about this. Think of the hardest case to tell somebody about the Lord, the hardest case for someone to be set free from something. This has to take the cake. But you know what’s interesting is Jesus loves taking on the hard cases.
What are you praying for this morning that is difficult? What are you praying for that’s impossible? Maybe there’s an illness in your family. May a close friend has just been diagnosed with something that is terminal. What about your finances right now? You may be saying, “Pastor, we’re at the bottom of the barrel. We’re at the end of the rope. We don’t know how we’re going to make it.” Maybe it’s a family member who’s addicted to drugs or alcohol. Maybe it’s a son or daughter that’s astray. Maybe it’s finances you’re praying for. Maybe it’s a job you’re praying for. Maybe you’re just isolated this morning like the demoniac. Maybe you’re just separated this morning. Maybe you’re lonely this morning.
Friends, I want to share with you Jesus can take care of any situation you’re going through. Aren’t you glad Jesus doesn’t leave this man alone? Aren’t you glad for this passage? I mean, I’m so thankful for this passage that Jesus says, like the army, “No man left behind. I’m going to find this man on a mission to set him free.” And that’s where we see what happens next. When he finds the man, then there’s a shift in the story.
Write this down: The fear of the demons. Jesus fearlessly enters this gravesite to find this man but then we see the demons are fearful. Verse 7, “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!’”
Imagine the scene. This naked, wild maniac comes running full speed towards the disciples. He’s filled with blood and open wounds and he takes a nosedive to the feet of Jesus and he slides and looks at Jesus and says, “Jesus, Son of the Most High God.” Now, don’t miss this. He’s not just professing who Jesus is. He’s actually trying to control him. There’s a tradition that the rabbis believe that when a person says the full name and identity of another, it’s a technique used to control them. In some wacky way, the demons thought that “if we just call Jesus’ name out and then tell him what we want him to do, we would control him.” But they’re sadly mistaken. They’re not going to control Jesus here. What is interesting is, they come before the Lord and they recognize him. He shouts with a loud voice, it says. Now in the language of the New Testament, it indicates that this man probably come to his knees, uncontrollably yells out this shriek that is ear-piercing. Then he says those words, “You’re the Son of the Most High God.”
Then they recognize judgment. They recognize who Jesus was. But then they recognize what he could do to them. Mark says this: “I adjure you by God [underline that word] I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” Matthew says on the same story in Matthew 8:29: “Have you come here to torment us [get this] before the time?”
See, the demons know one thing. They know that there’s coming a time where the Lord Jesus Christ will judge sin, sinners and the demons—names these beings, actually—and so they know there’s a time. Every time the devil sees the Lord Jesus Christ on earth, you know what he’s thinking of all the time? Guess what? The lake of fire. He sees the Lake of Fire. There’s a time when the demons and unbelievers will be judged with the devil and they will be cast into the Lake of Fire. But it was not always so.
Did you know there was a time when only the devil and the demons were meant for the Lake of Fire? Did you know that? But then came the unbelievers. Then there came man, and man separated from God through sin. Sin came into the human race and because man was separated from God, because man is in rebellion against God, and because man and woman did not choose the free gift through Christ for their eternal salvation, they are eternally and will be eternally separated from God. Did you know that? And so the point was never for man to go into the Lake of Fire. But because of the disobedience of man and because God has to be a just judge and punish sin, there is the lake awaiting those who have rejected God.
Now, what’s interesting is this: up to this point in Mark, the only people to truly identify the authority and the judgment of God have been the demons. Have you noticed that? In the beginning of Mark, remember the demon is the one who says, “Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me.” It’s the demon who recognizes Jesus. And then in Mark 5 it’s the demons who recognize Jesus. My question is this: how have the religious leaders missed it? I mean, the ones who should know their Bibles, the ones who should know the scriptures, the ones who had been in the synagogues, the ones who had witness the feast and worshipped God missed it. They missed it. And sadly today we see that as well.
Let me ask you. Have you missed the identity of Christ? Do you see Jesus as the God man who lived on this earth, who died, was resurrected from the dead, and went to the right hand of the Father, ascended into heaven? Do you believe that? Do you recognize the judgment of God, that God one day will judge unbelievers and believers? He’s going to judge unbelievers and they will be sent to an eternal lake of fire and believers He will give rewards based on what we have done for the Lord. Do you believe that? Because you should. They believe that.
But not only do they believe; not only did they recognize his authority; not only did they recognize his judgment; look what they requested. Write this down: They requested mercy. They may be demons but they’re not dumb demons, right? Verse 8, “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.’”
Now verse 8 is very difficult to understand. And I almost didn’t teach this, but I’m going to say it anyway so don’t get too nervous. Verse 8 in the Greek, unfortunately the NIV gets it wrong. It does not say in the Greek, “For Jesus said to him.” It says in the Greek, as the King James, New King James, and ESV get it right, it says, “For he was saying to him, ‘Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!’” And then verse 9 has the word “Jesus.” And Jesus asked the man, “What is your name.” So it’s kind of odd. As you read that, it’s like someone says, “Come out of him,” but then Jesus steps in and says, “What is your name?” It’s kind of out of context.
I think—this is what I think could possibly be happening here—I think one of the zealous disciples get excite. And keep in mind what just happened. In chapter 3 of Mark, Jesus gives the disciples the authority to go out and cast out demons, remember? He says, “You have authority to preach and cast out demons.” So possibly Peter here sees this man, he’s excited and anxious at the same time, and calls him out: “Come out of him, you unclean spirit!” And Jesus says, “Peter, hold on. There’s a process here to cast this man out.” He says, “What is your name?” The man says, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” If the disciples weren’t scared up to this point, they’re shaking in their sandals, church, at this point, because the word “legion” would bring up pictures of thousands and thousands of military personnel. In fact, a legion in the Roman military is 6,000 troops, 120 horsemen and personnel that are technical that flow along with that.
Now, don’t miss this either. I don’t think Jesus is showing us that it’s 6,000 demons within the man, as many people have preached. I think it just brings the idea that this is a strong and powerful military force that is within this man that is controlling him and destroying him. It could have been 2,000 demons because we see the 2,000 pigs. But notice what happens. The man says, the Legion says they “begged him earnestly [verse 10] 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.’”
What they do is they basically adjure Jesus; they beg him. That word is to solemnly plead with, it’s to beseech. Get this, it’s actually the word that means pray. The demons could actually be praying to God, asking God, beseeching God, “Can you spare us?” They had this insatiable desire to possess a body. And so they realized they’re about to be condemned into the abyss so they say, “What about those pigs right there. Can you send us into the pigs?”
Now the pigs—don’t gloss over this—the pigs are big business. We don’t know exactly why Jesus sent them into the pigs, but I do know this: the pigs give us the idea that there was a big business going on. Two thousand pigs is no small flock. Think about it. I mean, 2,000 pigs. More people than we have coming to Brainerd Baptist. Two thousand pigs are in this flock. So basically what is this: maybe there were disobedient Jews who had left the Galilee region, who are now living among the Gentiles and they had this pig farm. And what they were doing is raising pigs to sell to the Roman guards who were oppressing them for salted pork. I mean, now many people like salted pork? They surely did. And so Jesus could be saying, “I’m going to slap you in the face for disobedience to show you that you shouldn’t invest in materialism and secularism by hanging around with these pigs, and so I’m going to condemn these demons into the pigs.”
And now we see the received judgment. Not only do they request mercy, they receive the judgment and the judgment is they go into the pigs. And so we know what happens. Look in the story. They go into the pigs and look what it says. They “…rushed down the steep bank into the sea and were drowned in the sea.”
Can you imagine the scene? The pigs run full speed and do a swine dive right off the cliff into the water. And Jesus sees this and the crowd is appalled at this. They can’t believe what’s happening. Now, don’t miss this. “Much ink and compassion,” says Michael Green, “has been devoted to this passage by scholars who enjoy bacon and eggs for breakfast and pork for dinner. But the main point of the story is not the pigs.” And he’s right. The main point of this passage is not the fact that Jesus would send demons into pigs. The main point of the passage, church—get this—is that Jesus has the power to control the demons, and the demons have to ask him for permission to go into the pigs.
Now that’s encouraging news for us because it shows us that that devil cannot do anything in this world unless God gives him permission. We see this from Job. Remember Job? God says, “Have you considered my servant, Job?” and the devil says, “Yes.” He asked God for permission to put Job through tests and tribulation and trials. So be encouraged. If you’re going through a trial, know that God does not allow the devil to do anything without his own permission.
Thirdly, the fear of the undelivered. We see the fear of the crowd and we see the fear of the demons and now we see the fear of the undelivered. Look at the response of the herdsmen. Verse 14: “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.”
After losing the pigs, the herdsmen probably went into town and said, “You’re never going to believe what just happened. My whole flock is destroyed. All the pigs have died.” And I believe the townsmen came in to check the reliability of the story. I mean, they wanted to see with their own eyes. Imagine as they walked over to that cliff and saw all those pigs in the water. I don’t know what amazed them more, 2,000 pigs in the water or the man who was out of his mind now in his right mind. I mean, this is worse than the BP spill. Imagine. I mean, imagine the cleanup on 2,000 pigs as you look out into the lake. It would be a constant reminder of the miracle of Jesus that for days and weeks afterwards, all the CNN cameras, all the news crews, Chattanooga Times Free Press is out there trying to figure out what in the world just happened here. It’s a constant reminder of the authority of Christ.
But not only were the herdsmen fearful; notice secondly, the community was fearful. The response of the community. The local people were more upset over the loss of pigs than over than over the miracle of the man. And it shows us that because of their desire for material things and possessions, it shows the true meaning of their heart. Listen to what D.A. Carson says, “The loss of the herd of pigs becomes a way of exposing the real values of people in the vicinity. They preferred pigs over people. They preferred swine over the Savior.”
And because of the fear of the people, because of the fear of the community, because of the fear of the herdsmen, notice, sadly, third, the rejection of Christ. Friends, this is the only time, maybe the one of the only times, where Jesus does a miracle and the people drive him out of town. They don’t want anything to do with Jesus. And so the community focuses on the loss of the pigs and they say, “Jesus, we want nothing to do with you.” They see the miracle and they say, “We don’t want you here!” What I love about Jesus is this: he goes to the town and he doesn’t ask the man how he got there. You know, you and I would probably give him a handout, a survey, fill out these 16 questions and then we’ll see you in the office, right? Why don’t you tell me where you’ve been, or why don’t you tell me how you got there. Jesus is not interested in that. Jesus walks up to the man, sets him free. You need Christ; you need me.
You know, what’s encouraging for us and it’s a challenge for us when we counsel people as believers, our first question should be, do you know the Lord Jesus Christ? When I counsel marriages and counsel a couple that’s having marital issues, the first question I have to ask people is this: do you know Jesus? Because if you don’t know Jesus, then I can’t help much. When I counsel people on addiction or drug abuse or alcohol abuse, the first question is, do you know Jesus? Have you repented of your sins and put your faith in Christ? Because if you’re not set free from sin, then I can’t do much for you. An encouraging reminder for us that that’s what exactly Jesus did.
Now, notice what the man does. The man is set free and he has the desire to follow Jesus naturally. And we see here finally the faith of the delivered. Write down this: he has a desire to travel with Jesus. I mean, the ex-demoniac is now in his right mind. Look at verse 18: “As [they were] 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.’”
This man is finally in his right mind. It says that he’s dressed for the first time in a while. Maybe one of the disciples took their coat off or one of their pieces of clothes off and said here, wear this. The man is thinking correctly for the first time and he begins to plead with Jesus. “Jesus, if anybody needs to be trained, it’s me. I mean, if anybody needs help, it’s me.” But Jesus says, “Oh, no. I want you to stay.” Jesus tells the man, “I don’t want you to go with me. I want you to stay and I want you to tell people about what I did in your life.”
And that’s the demand to share his testimony. This man, it says, stayed. “And Jesus said, ‘Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you and how he had mercy on you.’ And the man went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him and how everyone marveled.” Friends? Jesus, this man has no friends. Is that a joke? Jesus said go home and tell your friends. This man doesn’t even have any family probably that wants to deal with him. But Jesus shows us a powerful lesson in this story. Jesus shows us that this man, no matter where he goes, is going to be a demonstration of his grace. Just by his actions and his attitude, this man to the herdsmen, to the community, to his family and to his friends will be trophy of God’s grace.
But, Jesus, I don’t think you understand. This man’s never been to church yet, right? I mean, Jesus, I don’t know if you understand. This man doesn’t know all the tenets of systematic theology yet. This man’s never been trained in a seminary. He’s never gone through EE or Faith. He doesn’t know how to share his faith, Jesus. What are you talking about? This man doesn’t know what to wear in church. This man doesn’t know what not to wear. Nobody’s told him what to say or what not to. How in the world can he share?
Jesus shows us an interesting fact and here it is: You don’t need to have all the answers to share your faith. Because if you’re a believer of the Lord Jesus Christ you have one thing. What is it? A testimony. In order to have a testimony you have to go through a test. And if you’re a believer of the Lord Jesus Christ, you have a testimony. Here’s a testimony: This is where I was, this what God did, and this is where I am now. Any questions? Listen to what I’ve learned through the years. People can debate scripture; they can debate theology; they can debate doctrine; they cannot argue with a changed life, right?
When I came to the Lord, my Mom and Dad thought I was going to follow Jesus like I play guitar: This is just a phase he’s in. He’ll get out of it. He used to have a stamp collection. Maybe he’ll grow out of it one day like he has the stamps. They didn’t know. But you know what proved the faith of Christ within me? It was a changed life as the Lord continued to work.
Friends, let me ask you. When was the last time you shared your testimony? When was the last time you shared your story with someone? When was the last time you walked across the street to your neighbor and said, “Listen, this where I was, this is what God did for me. And this is what God can do for you.” I think one of the problems in our churches today is we have silent Christians. We’re so worried about not having the right answers, we’re so worried about not having the issues of the Bible, we’re so worried about not knowing the themes of the text that we don’t say anything and the devil wins. Jesus said, “I want you to go into the world. I know you don’t have all the answers. I know you don’t have all the issues worked out but just tell people about what I did.”
And look what it says at the end of the text. The whole town marveled over Jesus. Now you’re probably three different requests to Jesus; if you will, three prayers to Jesus. The first prayer was this: it was the prayer from the demons. Did you see it? They begged Jesus. Jesus, send us into the pigs. And what did Jesus do? Yes. Right? He sent them into the pigs. The second request was from the towns people. What did they say to Jesus? Jesus, leave. We don’t want you here anymore. And what did Jesus do? He granted their request. But the final man, I mean, the one that needed Jesus the most. I mean, the one that could’ve stayed with Jesus the most, he said no.
You know what’s interesting is we as Christians love to be comfortable, right? We love to come to church—and I love you guys coming to church—but church is not Christianity. In fact, I would rather you not just come to church; I’d rather you go be the church, right? I’d rather you live like the church Monday through Saturday and then come and rejoice on Sunday. We like it comfortable. We like it easy. We like it clean. We like it air conditioned. We really don’t like to get messy. But Jesus says, “Oh no, you’re not going to come with me. You’re going to go.”
So the question is this: why does Jesus not grant this man’s request? You may be here this morning and you’re saying, “I’ve prayed to the Lord earnestly and he’s not answered my request.” You know, when God answers our request it’s a mixed bag of blessing. Because the swine or the demons got their request answered; they went into the swine and then they died. And so answering requests that we make to the Lord is a mixed bag.
But there may be some in here this morning that are saying, “Pastor, I’ve been earnestly praying to the Lord and God hasn’t answered my request.” I want to encourage you this morning that if God doesn’t answer your request, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t love you. If God doesn’t answer the request the way you want, it doesn’t mean God’s favor is not upon you. You know what it means? It means that God has a different plan for you that you can’t see. It means that God has a different purpose for you that you can’t see.
And so as believers we should be encouraged this morning to know that if I’ve been praying for a job and God has not granted that job to me, then I trust that God knows best. If I’m praying for resources because we’re at the end of the rope and it hasn’t happened yet, then I trust that God knows best. If I’m praying for an illness or a disease to go away and it hasn’t happened, then we trust that God knows best. If we’re going through difficult times in life and God hasn’t… “Where’re you at God? You’re not answering my prayers!” we trust that God knows best. And, friends, it’s important to know that God’s in control not only over the demons but over everything.