A word for the heart

with Alan Bailey

Mark 5:1-20 - The Gospel of Mark

Bible study


Welcome to this Bible Study. Read what I have written slowly. If you have a Bible look up the reference verses given, and allow the Holy Spirit to minister to your soul through them.

Mark 5:1-20

We are seeing in this book of Mark how the ministry of Jesus touched every area of life. All kinds of needs were being met because the power of Jesus was at work. Always, it was for people’s good and for the glory of God that miracles and wonders occurred. There was no showmanship whatever. The will and purpose of God the Father was being worked out. Again we see the power of God over the world of evil in today’s passage.


Verse 1 They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes.

Jesus and the disciples went by boat to a more remote part of the lake. There was a landing place there and nearby a steep cliff going down to the water. The people living in the area were not all Jewish, as Jews would not keep pigs.
Probably the man Jesus met there was not a Jew either.

Verse 2 When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an evil spirit came from the tombs to meet Him.

A meeting like this is hardly coincidental. God is at work bringing the man in need into contact with the one who can help him. The Bible shows that evil spirits exist and experience has confirmed this over many years. They may be unseen, but much of what they do can be seen. There was an unusual amount of activity among them during the time Jesus was on earth.

Verses 3-5 This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him any more, not even with a chain. 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. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.

The state of this man was tragic. His personality was invaded by evil entities who affected his behaviour in a serious way. Obviously he had little control over himself and was forced to do bizarre things employing superhuman strength. As he could not relate to normal people, he made his home in a cemetery. In his frenzy he harmed himself, calling out in vain.

Verses 6-8 When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of Him. He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won’t torture me!” For Jesus was saying to him, “Come out of this man, you evil spirit!”

Some people want to pass off this man’s condition as simply insanity. But that something supernatural was happening here is seen by the fact that the possessed man knew who Jesus was. This was good and evil coming face to face. This whole incident shows the marks of a larger dimension of life than we are used to. Asking Jesus not to torture him arose most likely because of the inner conflict with which he lived.

Verses 9 & 10 Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” My name is Legion,” he replied. “for we are many.” And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area.

In this conversation, it is hard to separate the words of the man who called himself Legion and the spirits who influenced him. What he says here is more the language of the demons who don’t want to leave.

Verses 11-13 A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.” He gave them permission and the evil 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.

Apparently, the evil spirits know that they are subject to Christ. He has authority over them and they must obey. It appears that the spirits want bodies to possess. The reason for this is a mystery to us. Just what confusion they caused by invading the pigs we can only imagine. Why people kept so many we can only guess. They were probably jointly owned by a number of families. Just what happened to the spirits we are not told.

Verses 14 & 15 Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. 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.

What had happened was causing a stir. The carers of the pigs were startled to say the least and ran to tell the owners. When they arrived on the scene they were amazed to see this man who had been so impossible to tame, completely changed. Instantly, they felt that something very unusual had happened and they were gripped with fear.

Verses 16 & 17 Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man – and told about the pigs as well. Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.

There may have been some sympathy for the man who now was normal, but apparently these people felt threatened by the presence of one so powerful as Jesus. They could only wish Him to leave so that their lives might go back to normal.

Verses 18-20 As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with Him. Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how He has had mercy on you.” So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.

In contrast to the rest of the people, the rescued man wanted to be with Jesus. Jesus’ instructions to him were unlike other similar occasions when Jesus told healed people not to spread abroad what had happened. In places where there was a concentration of people, crowds could get out of hand. Here, among the Gerasenes, this would not happen, especially as Jesus was going away. Undoubtedly, this man had much to tell. He would show just what a difference an encounter with Jesus had made in his life. In our day, the magazines would compete to get his story.


Everyone who has met with Jesus and experienced His saving power has a story to tell. Those of us who have been forgiven and given a new start in life have something worthwhile to tell others. Yes, we too know that Jesus is Lord, that there is no power that can overcome Him. And, that all He does is good. Can you tell others what He has done for you?

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