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Jesus Shows Mercy on the Man with an Unclean Spirit

The Gospel of Mark  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  47:05
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Introduction:
If you have your Bibles let me invite you to open with me to the gospel of Mark chapter 5.
We will begin reading in in verse 1 and will read all the way down to verse 20 here in just a moment.
Last week we learned that Jesus, after having spent all day teaching the crowds on the west side of the Sea of Galilee...
led his disciples into a night time voyage across the Sea of Galilee.
Mark 4:35–36 ESV
35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him.
So without going home to pack anything… without any preparations… Jesus leads the 12 along with other disciples in other boats across the sea into the middle of the night.
Along the way they are ravaged by what seems to be the worst storm these experienced fishermen had every seen.
Waves were crashing into them, Water began filling the boat, and the disciples believed that they were perishing.
Until, Jesus stood up, and rebuked the winds and the waves.
At the authority and power of Jesus’ words…, calm came upon the sea of Galilee.
verse 41 tells us the response of the disciples
Mark 4:41 ESV
41 And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
This is the experience that the disciples were coming from.
This is the question that was burning on their minds as their beaten and battered boat runs a shore the region of the Gerasenes…
“who then is this that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
This region was a part of what was called the Decapolis.... or the 10 cities.
The 10 cities were gentile cities.
This was gentile country they were about to enter....
It was a region, not predominately influenced by the Jews, but predominantly influenced by hellenization.
That means it was predominantly idol worshipping country.
It was pagan, full of false gods, and mythical rituals, and all the things that typical God-fearing Jews would avoid at all costs.
Yet here is Jesus, leading his disciples through the storm-tossed night, just to land on Gentile soil.
and things get interesting immediately upon their arrival.
lets begin reading in verse 1. We will read the whole big story and then pray for understanding.
Mark 5:1–20 ESV
1 They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. 2 And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit. 3 He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, 4 for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. 5 Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones. 6 And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him. 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.” 8 For he was saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” 9 And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” 10 And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. 11 Now a great herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, 12 and they begged him, saying, “Send us to the pigs; let us enter them.” 13 So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the pigs; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the sea. 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. 15 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. 16 And those who had seen it described to them what had happened to the demon-possessed man and to the pigs. 17 And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their region. 18 As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. 19 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.” 20 And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled.
Lets Pray
Like the rest of the gospel of Mark… this passage seeks to answer that question that the disciples are contemplating…, “who is this Jesus?” “Who then is this that even the wind and sea obey him?”
Immediately upon their arrival… there came someone unexpected… who knew exactly who Jesus was…
Mark 5:2 ESV
2 And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit.
First let me comment on the timing of this...
Mark is intentional to say… Jesus stepped out of the boat and immediately this demon possessed man comes from out of the graveyard and approaches Jesus.
Jesus’ foot hits the ground… and this demon possessed man comes running.
And its not just any demon possessed man…
he apparently is a famously demon possessed man known for his violence across the whole Decapolis.
Mark 5:2–5 ESV
2 And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit. 3 He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, 4 for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. 5 Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones.
There had been so much conflict with this man possessed by an evil spirit that people had tried previously to arrest him.
Apparently the community had tried to chain him but that didn’t work.
They tried to shackle him but that didn’t work.
No one had strength to subdue him…
The greek word for “subdue” is used elsewhere for the taming and containment of wild animals.
This man is being portrayed as an unpredictable and dangerous wild animal of a man due to the demonic influence over him.
The man approaching Jesus was deemed dangerous by even his own pagan society.
He was dangerous to those around him, and he was dangerous even to himself.
The text teaches that the demons were tormenting this man so severely that he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones...
He is dangerous…, but not only that… he would have been utterly detestable especially to Jesus’ Jewish followers.
He was coming out of the grave yard because he was apparently living “among the tombs”
now remember that tombs, were not just burial plots where bodies were buried under ground.
Jesus was buried in a tomb… but it was more like a cave with a big rock pushed over top…
This man is not just sleeping in a cemetery… It’s likely that he is finding shelter in the tombs with the dead bodies.
He is sleeping and living among the dead.
This would be creepy enough in today’s world, but it was more than just creepy to the Jews of the first century.
Jewish law taught that anything concerning the “dead” was considered unclean.
If you came in contact with a dead body you were deemed ceremonially unclean for 7 days…,
This meant you had to stay away from people and away from the place of worship.
In fact, Jews added to the law and they began to teach if you came into contact with any object that had come into contact with a dead body you were deemed ceremonially unclean for 7 days.
There were several things according to Jewish law and tradition that could make you ceremonially unclean.... and temporarily ostracized from the community.
This man coming out from the tombs checks multiple boxes of uncleaness.
- He is unclean because of his contact with the dead bodies.
- He is unclean because he is a Gentile person. (Jews had a disdain for Gentiles as godless, spiritually unclean people)
- He is unclean because he has a demon, an unclean spirit.
- And we find out later in the story that he is living in a particular region where the locals are raising swine or pigs by the thousands.
The pig was a nasty animal, considered unclean by the Jews.
According to Old Testament law, Jews were not allowed to eat pork, but, over time they added laws teaching that you couldn’t even get near or touch a pig, but here this demon possessed man is living in a region of pig herders.
Everything about this man made him utterly detestable to Jewish society…
Everything about this man made him an outcast .
Again, imagine the reaction of the disciples as this man comes running. They would have been repulsed and likely frightened at his approach.
What a site this must have been…
A bloody, deranged, crying out, violent man coming running out of the grave yard toward Jesus and toward his followers.
These soaking wet, exhausted disciples, had just had near death experience and now they are immediately confronted with a big, scary, dangerous, detestable demon possessed man coming out from among the tombs.
The whole scene is striking...., but what struck me most this week as I meditated upon these verses is the timing of the man’s arrival.
Mark says, “as soon as Jesus got out of the boat” this man came straight for Jesus.
And as we will learn here in a moment, Jesus heals this man and the community essentially forces Jesus out of the region after this single encounter...
Jesus and his followers will have to get back on the boat and head back home.
THE WHOLE TRIP to the eastern side of the sea through the night and through the storm.... climaxed with Jesus’ meeting with this one man.
It all appears to be very intentional.
When you step back and look at the story in context, you realize that this was the divine appointment Jesus was intending.
When you step back and look at the story in context, you realize that Jesus had his eyes set on this individual whom the rest of the world tried to ignore.
This was the plan.
Jesus pursued this dangerous, detestable, and demonic man…, for his deliverance.
I just want to pause there and take note of this constant pattern of Jesus.

Truth #1 Jesus Moves with Mercy Toward the Dangerous and the Detestable

Jesus’ mamma likely would have told Jesus not to go to this part of town....
In the name of wisdom, and religious cleanliness… the pharisees would have instructed their disciples to avoid this man..
But what we see Jesus doing consistently in the Gospel of Mark… is not moving away from the brokenness of the world… but toward the detestable, the dangerous, the unclean, the hopeless, the helpless people of the world.
In Mark 1:41, Jesus, moved with compassion, reaches out his hand and touches the leper to cleanse him.
In Mark 2:14 Jesus calls out to the tax collector and invites him to follow
In Mark 2:16 Jesus accepts the invitation to eat with the worsts of sinners in town.
and now Jesus leaves the crowds on the west side of the Sea of Galilee to meet with one gentile, demon possessed, man living among the dead bodies and the pigs… so that he might deliver him from evil and set him free to worship the one true God.
That Jesus is the same Jesus yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
Be encouraged.. if you are in this room and you feel too dirty, too sinful, too unclean, for any sort of relationship with God.
Perhaps its the sexual sin you have engaged in.
Perhaps its the pornography you watched this week.
Perhaps its the drugs or the alcohol or the divorce or the depression.
Maybe its the abuse you have endured.
Or maybe its the many many failures in work, and life, and relationships and ministry.
Whatever the case may be I want you to see Jesus in this story, intentionally leaving the 99 to seek out the 1.
I want you to see Jesus crossing the sea to pursue this man who has been enslaved by evil.
And I want you to know that this man’s story is simply a physical historical representation of what Jesus does when he pursues relationship with you....
Ephesians 2:1–5 ESV
1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—
Ephesians 2:12–13 ESV
12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
Praise God that Jesus moves with mercy toward the dangerous and the detestable…
The demon possessed man in Mark 5 should stand as a testimony to us that there is literally no one is beyond the reach of God’s mercy.
And that should be challenging for any of us who wrongly believe that following Jesus is about staying safe, and clean, and distant from those who are unclean.
Jesus pursues the dangerous and the detestable.... and so should we.
Jesus has crossed the sea for this encounter… and the text seems to get you ready for a clash between this uncontrollable evil force and the Jesus who tames even the winds and the rain.
Mark 5:6–13 ESV
6 And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him. 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.” 8 For he was saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” 9 And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” 10 And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. 11 Now a great herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, 12 and they begged him, saying, “Send us to the pigs; let us enter them.” 13 So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the pigs; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the sea.
I want you to notice the difference in demeanor between Jesus and the demons in this encounter.
Jesus is calm and collected.
He asks the man for his name..
This man has a name.
We must not forget that there is a shell of a real man here that has been ransacked by demonic forces.
This was a soul. He has a past. At some point in his life he was a kid with parents, and an identity a part from this demon possession… but something happened along the way.
We don’t know his story.
We don’t know if there was trauma or suffering or addiction in his life, or if his worship of pagan idols simply opened the door to this kind of demonic oppression and possession…
But Jesus looks at this man and asks for his name...
But its not the man who answers… Its the demons.
They speak with a collective voice, “my name is Legion because we are many”
The word legion was a technical term for a war battalion of 5,600 Roman soldiers.
The word conveys both aggression, and sheer numbers.
I cannot fathom the degree of suffering that this man was undergoing.
A legion of demons are destroying this man from the inside out mentally, emotionally, and physically.
They are many in number and they are obviously a strong force to be reckoned with....
This legion of demons likely were used to striking fear into everyone and anyone they came in contact with… but not this time
In this meeting.... its the demons that are trembling in fear.
They immediately recognize who Jesus is, and what Jesus intends to do to all demonic forces...
Just listen to the language.
Mark 5:7 ESV
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.”
Mark 5:12 ESV
12 and they begged him, saying, “Send us to the pigs; let us enter them.”
The demons acknowledge who Jesus is… he is the Son of the Most High God.
They also acknowledge what Jesus has the power to do, and what Jesus has a plan to do for eternity.
They cry out, “do not torment me.”
There seems to be an awareness in the spiritual world even now, that evil is on the wrong side of the coming battle.
There seems to be an awareness, that Jesus will in the end throw all evil spirits into an eternal torment.
This day is yet to come. Revelation tells of a day in the end where Jesus will cast all demonic forces into a place of torment forever.
So they are pleading with Jesus that that time not come just yet.
They beg Jesus just to allow them to leave their human host and fill the pigs which were apparently near by.
The whole point of the exchange is to display who is in charge here.
There is no contest between Jesus and the demonic forces of this world.
And all this brings us to truth #2

Truth #2 Jesus Overpowers the Powerful

Just as Jesus exerted total power and authority over the wind and waves… Jesus now exerts his power and authority over a legion of demons.
They flee from his presence into the nearby herd of pigs, and the pigs then frantically flee over the cliff into the water and to their own destruction.
Mark is making very clear for the reader that there is no force in the physical world or the spiritual world over which Jesus is not the rightful king.
There is no power that rivals his power.
There is no threat to his plans, whether it be one demon or thousands of demons.... they all flee from his presence…, and plead for his mercy.
There should be a certain humble confidence we walk with as Christians.
There should be a certain peace that we have in our Lord and Savior.
He is totally able to do has he pleases in every situation.
In our evangelism, in our discipleship, in our ministry to the lost, in our praying…
there should be a certain confidence that the Jesus we serve is Jesus the Son of the Most High God and he is always totally capable of overpowering the seemingly powerful evil in and around us.
Jesus sends the legion of demons away and when the dust settles their stands a man whose life is forever changed.
Mark 5:14–15 ESV
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. 15 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.
Total transformation.
The town’s people come to see what had happened.
And they see the very man that they used to fear… the man whom they could not bind with chains…, the man who lived among the tombs...
And he is sitting with Jesus cleaned up, dressed, smiling, talking, and enjoying the company of Jesus.
It is a beautiful picture of spiritual life being breathed into someone who had been totally spiritually dead.
Not only does Jesus deliver this man… but Jesus has a plan for this man.
The townspeople are afraid of Jesus and they cast Jesus out of their region… which we will talk more about in a minute...
but as Jesus leaves look at what he charges the man with.
Mark 5:18–20 ESV
18 As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. 19 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.” 20 And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled.

Truth #3 Jesus Invites the People He Saves to Participate in His Mission

The story doesn’t stop with this one man.
even though the herdsmen are pushing Jesus out of the region… Jesus has left a witness who will now travel throughout the entire Decapolis… the entire collection of 10 gentile cities.
This man went from self-destructing among the dead… to being employed by Jesus to proclaim the word that would bring people from spiritual death to spiritual life.
Yes Jesus came to the east side of the Sea of Galilee to save this one man, but Jesus intends to use this one man and his story to spread the good news of Jesus throughout 10 different Gentile cities.
This is how God works.
He saves us and then he sends us.
He takes us out of our purposelessness and he gives us eternal purpose.
Everyone of you who have a relationship with the Lord Jesus have a unique story of God’s sovereign mercy in your life.
Don’t waste it.
Don’t take a grand and glorious salvation from Jesus and then fail to extend the news of it to others.
This is how God works. He saves and then he invites us to participate in his work to save others.
We get to be the messengers of mercy.
We get to move with mercy toward the dangerous and detestable, just like Jesus moved toward us in mercy.
This man likely had a whole network of relationships who knew him before the demons overwhelmed him.
Can you imagine this man’s ability to reach people in the Decapolis that no one else could reach because of his unique story of meeting Jesus.
You are similarly unique. You have relationships with people in your spheres of influence that no one else in this church is suited to reach with the good news of Jesus Christ.... and If Jesus has saved you he intends to send you to those people and to move upon them with mercy and the message of mercy.
This is Jesus’ command for all of us...., “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”
Now I want to close with a warning from this text.
There are two types of response to Jesus present in this text.
the man set free from the demon wants to leave everything and follow Jesus no matter where Jesus goes.
When Jesus tells the man that he needs to stay and proclaim the good news.
The man does exactly that.
Mark 5:20 ESV
20 And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled.
But what about the onlookers who have witnessed this miracle?
Mark 5:16–17 ESV
16 And those who had seen it described to them what had happened to the demon-possessed man and to the pigs. 17 And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their region.
This is one detail that we can overlook…
When the demons fled and entered into the pigs, who then sprinted to their own destruction.... a huge financial asset was lost by the community.
Jesus had disrupted the status quo.
He had cost them something very valuable to them and their livelihood.
Rather then seeing Jesus as a deliverer worth following.
They saw him as a disrupter of their way of life.
The text seems to suggests that the townspeople almost would have rather had Jesus leave the demon possessed man up among the tombs. They valued their own physical and financial assets more than the one soul that had been changed....
And they rather Jesus just get out, then cause any more disruptions in the land.
Its a really sad moment....
But I am afraid its a really familiar moment…
How many of us identify more so with the onlookers here then with the man who has been set free by mercy.
How many of us are happy enough to see Jesus work miracles or bring good gifts as long as he doesn’t mess with my way of life.
As long as he doesn’t cost me anything.
As long as he doesn’t make me uncomfortable.
As we move through Mark we will see more and more…, that the Jesus of the Bible is a disruptor… He cannot be casually associated with by people who want to prioritize their own way of life and keep Jesus as a nice sidekick.
May we not be a people who would rather have our 2,000 pigs then walk with Jesus and see lives changed .
Conclusion

Truth #1 Jesus Moves with Mercy Toward the Dangerous and the Detestable

Truth #2 Jesus Overpowers the Powerful

Truth #3 Jesus Invites the People He Saves to Participate in His Mission

Takeaways:
Come to Jesus
If Jesus moves with mercy upon the man oppressed by a legion of angels…, won’t he move with mercy upon you if you come to him in faith?
Jesus came to live a perfect life…, and give his life as a sacrifice to pay the penalty for all your sins and all your shortcomings...., and he stands resurrected now inviting you to come and find mercy and rest.
Confront Your Idols
What would cause you to urge Jesus to leave?
What do you cling to so much that a true walk with Jesus might threaten?
Confront your idols this morning.
Pursue people, like Jesus pursued people
Jesus calls us to follow him, and to imitate him. Consider the way he pursued this man, and consider the people God has put in your life. May we be a church full of people who pursue people like Jesus pursued people.
Lets Pray
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