Monday, January 9, 2017

The Maniac of Gadera

Mark 5:1-20

“And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes.” (Mark 5:1)

On the eastern side of the sea of Galilee there was a city known as Gadera, which controlled a fairly large area around it.  One of the small towns they controlled was called Gergessa.  Local people such as Matthew were familiar with the smaller towns, while those from other areas such as Mark and Luke were only familiar with the larger town, such as Gadera.    All three passages refer to the same area. 
“And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains: Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him.  And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones.” (Mark 5:2-5)

Today, the man who met Jesus would be considered insane.  He had allowed Satan to influence his mind to such a point he was not in full control of his thinking, often doing things that injured his body, cuttint himself with stones,  Rage caused such a surge of adrenalin he was not conscious of pain, with the result he was able to break chains and restraints that held other men readily.  Those who work with the insane are aware of how far they may be willing to go to get their way.  Their best efforts to confine  or institutionalize him had failed. 

“But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him,  And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not.  For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit.” (Mark 5:6-8)

Even the most insane still retain some capacity to control their own mind and think.  The maniac saw Jesus and the demons controlling him recognized his power. Aware that he could easily cast them out, the demons convinced the man to ask Jesus to go away and leave them alone so they did not hurt him on the way out, because Jesus told them to leave him.  Their leaving would produce symptoms similar to the withdrawal symptoms a drug addict of alcoholic feels.    Many choose to remain under  control rather than endure the pain of withdrawal. 

“And he asked him, What is thy name?

And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many.  And he besought him much that he would not send them away out of the country.  Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding.  And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them.” (Mark 5:9-12)

Jesus asked the name of the demons, and they said their name was legion because there were so many different ones.  An important fact about demonic ot spirit control is found in Luke 24:39, when Jesus said, “…a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.”  Because they lack a physical body, spirits have very limited power in the physical world.  Satanic spirits seek some living thing which will allow them to control its mind in order to accomplish their evil purposes. 

The Jews were not supposed to eat hogs, but they had begun raising them to sell to the Romans to feed the army.  The demons asked permission to go into a nearby herd of hogs, as they would still have a physical body at their disposal. 

“And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea.” (Mark 5:13)

 Jesus gave them permission to go into the pigs if they could.  The hogs chose to drown themselves rather than to allow the demons to control them.  Many people do not understand the demons cannot take over a person’s mind unless he allows them to.  Unfortunately, once they start getting control, it becomes increasingly difficult to force them out. 

“And they that fed the swine fled, and told it in the city, and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that was done.  And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid.” (Mark 5:14-15)

The herders were unable to stop the hogs from drowning themselves in the sea.  They were terrified by their abnormal behavior and went running to the owners to tell them what happened.  When they returned with the owners, they were shocked to find the insane man acting normal, fully clothed and carrying on conversations with Jesus and the disciples. 

“And they that saw it told them how it befell to him that was possessed with the devil, and also concerning the swine.  And they began to pray him to depart out of their coasts.” (Mark 5:16-17)

The owners and political leaders were more concerned with their lost revenue than they were with the impact on the victims, and demanded that Jesus leave the city.  It is a not uncommon attitude.   Rather than arguing with them Jesus simply left, following the advice he gave in Matthew 10:14-15 and Mark 6:11. “And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.   Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.”  He did not waste his time trying to reach people who made it clear they were not interested.    They had made their choice. 

“And when he was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil prayed him that he might be with him.  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 5:18-20)

The man who had been healed wanted to go with Jesus, but Jesus told him to stay there and tell the people what God had done for him.  He had a major impact on the area even though the leaders had rejected Christ.   A local man who follows Christ often has a bigger impact than a famous preacher, or in this case, the Lord himself, simply because people can see the change in him.  

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