Unclean. Out of control. A mad man. Living in the tombs. Shackled. Bound. Smashing the restraints. Crying out. Cutting himself.
These are some of the words to describe the man who was tormented by demons, a man who lived in an area to the east of the Sea of Galilee, the region of the Gerasenes. But I’d like to suggest to you some other words to describe his condition.
Lonely. Hurting. Living in hell on earth.
This tormented man needed help. No one in the towns nearby could control him, and they were terrified of him. They isolated him in the tombs, hoping he would be content living among the dead. But he was trapped. He needed help. He could not free himself. He needed someone to change his life. The only person who could was just arriving in town.
1 Then they came to the other side of the sea, to the region of the Gerasenes. 2 As soon as He got out of the boat, a man with an unclean spirit came out of the tombs and met Him. 3 He lived in the tombs. No one was able to restrain him anymore — even with chains — 4 because he often had been bound with shackles and chains, but had snapped off the chains and smashed the shackles. No one was strong enough to subdue him. 5 And always, night and day, he was crying out among the tombs and in the mountains and cutting himself with stones.
6 When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and knelt down before Him. 7 And he cried out with a loud voice, “What do You have to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You before God, don’t torment me!” 8 For He had told him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!”
9 “What is your name?” He asked him. “My name is Legion,” he answered Him, “because we are many.” 10 And he kept begging Him not to send them out of the region.
11 Now a large herd of pigs was there, feeding on the hillside. 12 The demons begged Him, “Send us to the pigs, so we may enter them.” 13 And He gave them permission. Then the unclean spirits came out and entered the pigs, and the herd of about 2000 rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned there. 14 The men who tended them ran off and reported it in the town and the countryside, and people went to see what had happened. (Mark 5:1-14)
Jesus was the only hope for this man. Jesus (his name literally means, “The Lord saves”) was the only person who could save this man’s life. The man was trapped in a life of self-destructive behaviors, tormented by evil spirits. Jesus is not only Savior, He is also Sovereign, the Son of the Most High God. Savior and Sovereign. Personal and powerful. Jesus is full of compassion, mercy and love for the man, and Jesus has the power and authority to heal him and to set him free from the tormenting demons.
Jesus speaks a word, and the man is set free. The legion of demons entered a herd of 2000 pigs, and the pigs immediately ran down the hill and plunged themselves into the depths of the sea.
Jesus calls us as Christ-followers to a ministry of helping the hurting. When we see people who are isolated, tormented, hurting, crying out, cutting themselves, or participating in a host of other self-destructive behaviors, we should not turn our backs on them. We should reach out to them with love, compassion and mercy. We must help them see that Jesus can set them free.
Notice what happens next:
15 They came to Jesus and saw the man who had been demon-possessed by the legion, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. 16 The eyewitnesses described to them what had happened to the demon-possessed man and told about the pigs. 17 Then they began to beg Him to leave their region.
18 As He was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed kept begging Him to be with Him. 19 But He would not let him; instead, He told him, “Go back home to your own people, and report to them how much the Lord has done for you and how He has had mercy on you.” 20 So he went out and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and they were all amazed. (Mark 5:15-20)
Did you catch that?! The man who was previously tormented has been transformed! He is sitting there, dressed, and in his right mind. And what was the response of the townspeople? They were afraid. It was a shocked fear. These people were affected economically by this event (they lost 2000 pigs) and they were affected spiritually by this event, and they pleaded with Jesus to leave their region. This reminds me that not everyone will be happy when Jesus changes someone’s life.
The man’s life was dramatically changed. He wanted to go on the road with Jesus and the disciples. It’s almost like someone who was saved at a Billy Graham Crusade said, “Dr. Graham, I’d like to travel with you now.” But Jesus had different plans for this man. Jesus sent him to the people of his region to tell them the amazing things that God had done in his life, how the Lord had shown him mercy.
These two phrases (v19) lead us to two powerful questions that we can ask people in daily life:
- “What is God doing in your life?”
- “Can I tell you what God is doing in my life?”
When the man told them about the transformation, the people were amazed. And people are amazed today when you tell them all that the Lord has done in your life.
So if you know how amazing the Lord is, and how He can change the life of anyone, let me encourage you to: reach out to the hurting with love and compassion, listen to their answers as you ask them powerful questions about Jesus, and share the good news of Jesus with everyone who will listen.
And just like in the the region of the Gerasenes, the results will be the same in your region: the people will be amazed.