Even though I should be prepping and marking, I miss doing bible studies and could use something to anchor me. So I’m procrastinating by reading the bible… which is a weird way to procrastinate but whatever. It is what it is. Anyway, there’s a story in Mark 5:1-20 about a man with evil spirits that Jesus heals. I’ve been gnawing on it for awhile and would like to write what I’ve learned down here. Maybe it will bless you as much as it has me.
So here’s the story.
There’s this guy who’s been plagued with many demons. He runs around burial caves screaming, cutting himself and being a general terror. The people would try to control him by chaining him down but the demons made him unnaturally strong. He could just break the chains and start running again. From what I understand, he’s basically a hopeless cause.
In the gospel of Mark, we learn that Jesus travelled over by boat to this town and almost immediately after getting out of the boat, he met the man. Jesus starts calling out the demons. They beg for mercy and ask to be sent to this herd of pigs. Jesus allows them to go into the pigs. And it was a huge herd, like two thousand pigs, and they all jump off the cliff and die. The men who saw this happen, told the town what happened. The town comes to see the man who is now demon-free and he’s sitting there in his right mind and calm. They ask Jesus to leave. He follows their wishes and leaves without making a fuss. The man he helped asks if he can come with Jesus, Jesus says no. Tell your friends and family how kind God has been to you. He agrees and people are amazed.
Okay. So here’s what I know:
- The story is told in three out of the four gospels. Here in Mark, again in Luke 8:26-29 and in Matthew 8:28-34. Mark and Luke’s account are very similar. Matthew’s is slightly different in the sense that he said that there were two men who were demonically-challenged. But all three confirm basic details that: 1. At least one man was set free; 2. The demons asked to go to the pigs; 3. The pigs commit suicide off a cliff and; 4. The people of the town ask Jesus to leave and he does.
- The fact that there are three accounts, each one witnessing to each other’s story, tells me it’s true. Apart from the fact we may be skeptical of a miracle occurring, the story would stand up in court because we have a large number of witnesses. Not just the gospel writers but the man who was freed, the men looking after the pigs, and Jesus’s disciples. So I can basically rest in the reality that this story is true.
- The pigs were a major source of income for the town. They had a huge herd.
What I want to Know?
- Why did the demons request to go into the pigs, especially if they just planned on jumping off a cliff? What was the point?
- If Jesus is sovereign and knew that the demons were going to kill the pigs and that he would be rejected by the town, why did he even come to the territory of Gerasa?
- Why did he tell the man to stay and tell his story in his hometown? Isn’t the whole point to follow Jesus?
Here’s what I learned:
- At first I thought demons needed a host to live off of and that’s why they begged to go into the herd of pigs.. Clearly they don’t need a host though because they killed the whole herd right after and were free to find a new person to torment after that. So they don’t need a host to live off of to do their jobs. I believe they requested to go into the pigs as one last effort to destroy something/anything before they left. I imagine Jesus knew this was going to happen because he’s sovereign and can’t be fooled but he allowed it. He allowed the economy of a town to fall.
- But then why? If he knew all this bad stuff was going to happen, why come anyway? Seems like a lot of trouble. People didn’t even thank him for what he did. They rejected him. The only reason I can come up for why Jesus would even come to this town is because he came for the man. He would risk his reputation and his safety for one person.
- In the book of Isaiah, there was a passage that always confused me: “For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your place. Because you are precious and honored in My sight, and because I love you, I will give up men in exchange or you and nations in place of your life.” It was the part where it says he would give up Egypt, Cush and Seba. And exchange one person for another. That doesn’t seem like a fair kind of love. It seems really reckless. But I think it does a couple things: a) It could possibly foreshadow how Jesus is going to be the exchange for our sins on the cross, and b) The story about the man Jesus freed kind of confirms that passage in Isaiah. God cares more about people than he does about the economy or the nations that drive it. Which sounds so counter-intuitive and not very patriotic but his intentions are very clear here. We are more precious to him than money. That should be a “duh” moment but it never really hit me till now. It made me see God and Jesus as far more passionate in their pursuit for their chosen than I imagined. And He would risk being rejected and watching a town’s economy fall, just to go after one person.
- Maybe when bad things happen, it’s just demons getting mad that they can’t do what they want when they want and wreak havoc on their way out. It’s not that Jesus is rejoicing in the loss, nor is he uncompassionate in it but maybe, just maybe, he’s going after someone in a reckless pursuit of love.
- Also, I don’t know the answer to the last question of why Jesus said stay where you are but here’s an article that touches on it: https://bible.org/seriespage/16-healing-demoniac-gadaran