Mark 5:1-20 (NLT)
Jesus Heals a Demon-Possessed Man
1 So they arrived at the other side of the lake, in the region of the Gerasenes.* 2 When Jesus climbed out of the boat, a man possessed by an evil spirit came out from a cemetery to meet him. 3 This man lived among the burial caves and could no longer be restrained, even with a chain. 4 Whenever he was put into chains and shackles—as he often was—he snapped the chains from his wrists and smashed the shackles. No one was strong enough to subdue him. 5 Day and night he wandered among the burial caves and in the hills, howling and cutting himself with sharp stones. 6 When Jesus was still some distance away, the man saw him, ran to meet him, and bowed low before him. 7 With a shriek, he screamed, “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!” 8 For Jesus had already said to the spirit, “Come out of the man, you evil spirit.” 9 Then Jesus demanded, “What is your name?” And he replied, “My name is Legion, because there are many of us inside this man.” 10 Then the evil spirits begged him again and again not to send them to some distant place. 11 There happened to be a large herd of pigs feeding on the hillside nearby. 12 “Send us into those pigs,” the spirits begged. “Let us enter them.” 13 So Jesus gave them permission. The evil spirits came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the entire herd of about 2,000 pigs plunged down the steep hillside into the lake and drowned in the water. 14 The herdsmen fled to the nearby town and the surrounding countryside, spreading the news as they ran. People rushed out to see what had happened. 15 A crowd soon gathered around Jesus, and they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons. He was sitting there fully clothed and perfectly sane, and they were all afraid. 16 Then those who had seen what happened told the others about the demon-possessed man and the pigs. 17 And the crowd began pleading with Jesus to go away and leave them alone. 18 As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon possessed begged to go with him. 19 But Jesus said, “No, go home to your family, and tell them everything the Lord has done for you and how merciful he has been.” 20 So the man started off to visit the Ten Towns of that region and began to proclaim the great things Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed at what he told them.
The Greek verb daimonizomai comes from the noun daimonion, meaning “demon,” or “evil spirit.” The verb literally means to “be demonized” and refers to the activities of demons in harassing, oppressing, and even possessing people.
Though possession is not always in view when the NT mentions demonic activity, this is the case in Mark 5 where a man is described with a “Legion” of demons that Jesus cast into a herd of pigs. The loss of 2,000 pigs implies an incredibly high demon possession that explains the man’s bizarre behavior and astounding strength.
The word daimonion was used in the ancient world to refer to pagan gods and lesser deities (such as stars), but the NT reveals that they are actually Satan’s followers. The verb is used only in the Gospels to demonstrate both the reality of the unseen world of spirit beings and Jesus’ absolute power over demons, regardless of the evil they cause.
“Cutting himself” v5. Every word in the story emphasizes the man’s pathetic condition, as well as the purpose of demonic possession—to torment and destroy the divine likeness in which human beings are created. The goal of demons is to destroy the person created in the image of God. The man’s demonization is evident in his social isolation, superhuman strength, and self- destructive tendencies.
“My name is Legion” v9. indicated the strength of the demons. A Roman military legion consisted of about 6,000 soldiers. The name “Legion” thus serves to indicate a large number (because we are many), explains the supernatural strength of the man, and magnifies the fact that Jesus was the “more powerful” One (1:7) who could “enter a strong man’s house” and tie him up (Mark 3:27).
Despite the man’s horrible condition, Jesus’ coming provided him a glimmer of hope; he ran and knelt before Jesus, seeking help. Notice there was no struggle; Jesus was in charge and the evil spirit obeyed the ultimate Master.
Why Jesus allowed the demons to enter the swine is uncertain. Perhaps He was teaching an object lesson to the people of the region, who obviously were more concerned with the loss of property than rejoicing over the deliverance of their countryman (vv. 14–17). Clearly, Jesus valued people more than property.
Every believer should take the journey of understanding “the dark side”. Knowledge of our enemy certainly helps in the battle of life and rightly positions us for victory.