Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee. And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel. — Mark 5:19-20
During the last year of my high school days, I was in a backslidden state and was not a good example to my peers. One of my very close school friends was killed, and the Lord convicted me while I was at the funeral. Not once had I told her about Jesus and His power to save. Shortly after her funeral, I prayed and God wonderfully restored my salvation. However, I felt terrible that I had failed the Lord while I was in school.
Before too long, I received a draft notice, and in a few months I was overseas in the Vietnam war zone. It seemed that the Lord was giving me another chance to be a witness for Him.
Serving God in the military was a challenge, but He was with me. At different times, I saw two soldier friends saved as we prayed together. Several of the men in my unit had made a bet that within six months of being overseas, I would be drinking and swearing along with the rest of them. I did not know this until the end of my term, when some of the men came and told me they had lost the bet. Years later, another young man phoned me to say that after he left the service, he was contemplating suicide, but then he thought of my testimony. It caused him to find help at a church, where he prayed through to salvation, and he is now a minister. How thankful I am for a second chance to prove that the Lord can keep us in difficult circumstances and help us to be witnesses for Him!
The Gadarene Demoniac had surely brought great sorrow, pain, and embarrassment to his family and friends, and he must have felt extreme gratitude when the Lord delivered him from demon possession. When Jesus was rejected and ordered to leave by the Gadarenes, He needed someone to carry on the work there. He commissioned this new believer and gave him an opportunity to return to his own people and show them God’s great power.
This man wanted to stay with Jesus, but he was told to go where he could witness most effectively. God may also put us in a place that is not particularly where we would choose; however, let us be ready to answer Christ’s call, no matter where He leads us. A soul may be waiting to hear your witness!
The story of the Gadarene demoniac is told in Matthew 8:28-34 and Luke 8:26-36, as well as today’s text in Mark 5. Mark stated in verse 1 that this event took place in the country of the Gadarenes. The city of Gadara was about eight miles southeast of the Sea of Galilee. Today, a high ridge in the Lower Golan Heights rises above the harbor of Gadara.
Tombs of that time were carved out of the limestone, and the Jewish people believed these tombs to be unclean. This miracle took place at night, or at least late in the evening (Mark 4:35), when evil spirits were thought by many people to exercise the greatest power. The setting vividly portrayed the conflict between evil powers and the power of God.
There are many Biblical accounts of an evil spirit being cast out, but this is the only place where Jesus asked for the name of the demon. The name that was given was “Legion,” because it was not just one demon, but many. In the Roman military, a legion included three to six thousand troops. This man was hosting a large number of demons, probably even more than the two thousand pigs in Mark 5:13. Mark described the wretched condition of the possessed man in detail, and he was hopelessly possessed. He had reached the bottom of what life had to offer and was cut off from society. Yet, there was hope for the man in Jesus.
The legion of demons recognized Jesus and knew that He had come to destroy evil. The power of Christ is stronger than any power of evil. After the demons left, the man was at peace and in his right mind.
Verses 14-17 tell of the opposition by the local people to the miracle that Jesus performed. This may have been because of the economic loss of the large herd of swine, or because of the superstitions of some of the people.
In predominantly Jewish areas, the proclaiming of Jesus’ Messiahship was often misunderstood, and on many occasions Jesus instructed the people to tell no one of His miracles. This area of Decapolis (ten cities that were east and southeast of the Sea of Galilee) was a non-Jewish area where the people might have perceived Him as a magician. Jesus encouraged the man that was delivered from the legion of demons to spread the word about what Jesus had done. This would correct the people’s misunderstanding of the great miracle Jesus had performed, and would also prepare the way for the Gospel, which would be preached in this area at a later time. It is significant that Damascus was also a City of Decapolis, where a few years later there would be a church strong enough to draw the Pharisee Saul to attack it.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
IV. The authentication of the Son of God
B. His power over the Satanic realm (5:1-20)
1. Christ’s power demonstrated (5:1-13)
2. Christ’s person rejected (5:14-17)
3. Christ’s continuing witness (5:18-20)
We might prefer to stay in our comfort zones, but God has called us to be His witnesses to the lost. They may be as close as our next-door neighbors.