Lord, we see Your compassion in action even with Gentiles.
Read MARK 5:1–20
Jesus Restores a Demon-Possessed Man
5 They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes.[a] 2 When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an impure spirit came from the tombs to meet him. 3 This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. 4 For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. 5 Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.
6 When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. 7 He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In God’s name don’t torture me!” 8 For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you impure spirit!”
9 Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”
“My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” 10 And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area.
11 A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. 12 The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.” 13 He gave them permission, and the impure spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.
14 Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. 15 When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. 16 Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man—and told about the pigs as well. 17 Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.
18 As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. 19 Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” 20 So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis[b] how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.
a Mark 5:1 Some manuscripts Gadarenes; other manuscripts Gergesenes
b Mark 5:20 That is, the Ten Cities
New International Version (NIV)
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“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations” (Matt 28:19).
This chapter is a significant turning point in the Gospel. Leaving familiar surroundings, Jesus now crosses the Sea of Galilee with His crew into Gentile territory. Many Jews living in the first century wanted nothing to do with the Gentiles. Imagine for a moment the reaction of the disciples when Jesus tells them that they are going to a Gentile region comprising cities showcasing the power and culture of the Greco-Roman world. There are temples for various idols that offend Jews. In addition, the typical lifestyle of sexual promiscuity and diet of ritually unclean food (such as pork, as demonstrated by the presence of pigs in these verses) are an abomination to the Jews. For a Jew, no place could be further from the kingdom of God than a Gentile wasteland such as this. Yet, by leading His disciples to the other side, Jesus is teaching them some very important lessons: Gentiles need to hear the message of the Gospel; the power of the Gospel delivers and sets people free. Therefore, the disciples must be willing to cross boundaries –geographical, ethnic, and religious – in order to reach others.
Here, Jesus sets a Gentile free from demon possession – and the man then wants to follow Jesus. Instead of acquiescing, Jesus admonishes him to go back to his family and friends and tell them all that the Lord has done for him. This man does just that and becomes the first Gentile evangelist in Mark. His obedience in sharing the love and mercy of Jesus prepares the region of Decapolis to welcome Jesus in his subsequent visit there (Mark 7:31 – 8:13). What an amazing outcome can materialize if we are simply willing to cross boundaries to reach out to others!
What boundaries must we cross today to bring the gospel to those who need to hear it? Think about someone with whom you could share God’s love this week.
Lord, Your people are amazed at Your complete power over all the forces of the devil.