THE CASE OF A MAN NAMED LEGION | Mark 5:1-20
This text sits in the middle of several hopeless situations. Just prior to the events we just read, Jesus and His disciples were sailing the Sea of Galilee when a tremendous storm overwhelmed their boat. The disciples were certain that they were going to die, Mark 4:38. Those men were seasoned fishermen, but they were helpless to solve their problem. In their minds, they were in a hopeless situation. While that storm far exceeded their own abilities, it posed no problem for the Master of the Sea. He calmed the storm and He calmed His men.
In this chapter, Jesus moves into a new set of impossible situations. He encounters a man possessed by thousands of demons. This poor, demon possessed man is in a desperate situation, he is unable help himself, and the people around him are powerless to help him as well. After this incident, Jesus will deal with a diseased woman and a dead girl. All four of these situations were hopeless from a human perspective. Yet, in each of these cases, Jesus proved that He was the Master of them all.
If that demon possessed man were alive today, he would be sent to live in a mental institution. That diseased woman would be sent to terminal care ward. The dead girl would be sent to the cemetery. This passage teaches us that whether He is faced with demons, disease, or death, Jesus is able to handle whatever comes His way.
This case really is hopeless. Everyone around him have done everything they possibly could to help him, but no one could reach him. He lived his life in isolation, desperation, and devastation. His only companions were the dead bodies in the cemetery and the demons that dwelt within him. When Jesus Christ walked into this hopeless case, He changed everything.
As we watch the Lord Jesus work in this hopeless case, we need to keep in mind that He can move in our lives with the same power. He can break the chains that bind us and He can set us free! I would like for us to examine The Case of a Man Named Legion. Notice the facts of this hopeless case with me today.
v. 1-5 LET’S TALK ABOUT A SAVAGE MAN
v. 2 His Problem – This passage opens, with a description of a man who is firmly held in Satan’s grasp. The devil is his master, and this man is in a state of utter hopelessness and absolute helplessness.
We are told that he has “an unclean spirit”! Then, we find out that he is not just the home to one foul spirit, but he is possessed by “a legion” of demons, v. 9. A legion in the Roman army could be anywhere from 2,000 to 6,000 men. This man was the host for thousands of evil spirits. In v. 13, we are told that when the demons were forced to leave this man’s body, they entered into a herd of swine that numbered around 2,000! This poor, pitiful individual was totally under the control of the devil!
I would just remind you that this man’s situation is no different from that of every lost soul in the world today, Eph. 2:1-3; John 8:44.
This man was in a pitiful shape, and so are the lost. They are all in a state of defilement.
v. 3-4 His Pain – Two words describe this man’s condition. Those words are “tombs” and “chains.” Those words reveal the truth that this man had his dwelling among the dead. The demons that controlled him drove him away from the living and he spent his life in the cemetery.
We are told in verse 4 that the people around him tried their best to restrain him. They would catch him and bind him with “fetters and chains”. “Fetters” would have been attached to his feet. “Chains” would have bound his hands, his arms and his torso. But, these manmade devices could not hold him.
When we look at this poor soul, it isn’t hard to make the leap from his condition to the condition of the lost around us. They are trapped in the same state of pitiful depravity. The sin that possesses the heart of the lost sinner drives him to spend his days and waste his years with the dead. Those who are lost in sin have no desire to be around the living. Death and the works of deadness are all they care about!
The lost hate things that pertain to life. They hate things that pertain to light. They hate everything that has to do with God and His work in the world. They shun the light. They shun the things of God. They shun those who know God, preferring rather to live their lives in the relentless, merciless grip of death and darkness.
Let me add that a professing believer needs to examine his or her heart when they begin to desire the works of darkness. You need to look at your spiritual condition when you find reasons for avoiding the light!
When you can’t sit through a preaching service, you have a spiritual problem!
When you find reasons to avoid the house of God, you have a spiritual problem!
When you find yourself longing for the ways of the world, you have a spiritual problem!
You are beginning to revert back to the ways of death and darkness.
v. 5 His Powerlessness – Can you imagine the terror this man caused?
We do not know why this man cut himself. Perhaps it was an effort to find relief from his demons. Perhaps the demons forced him to do it, causing him to walk a path of self-destruction.
We do not know why he shrieked, screamed and cried in those tombs. Perhaps he did these things because he was desperate to be free. Perhaps he did them because he was compelled to do them.
We don’t why he did the things he did, but his actions reveal that he is in a desperate situation and he needs help!
Whether you are lost and bound in sin or whether you are saved and out of God’s will there is only one cure for your condition!
You do not need a pill.
You do not need a psychiatrist.
You do not need a priest.
You do not need a twelve step program.
You need Jesus
v. 6-13 LET’S TALK ABOUT A SAVING MAN
v. 6 His Compassion – Everyone in that region feared this man. Everyone avoided this man. Everyone, that is, but Jesus!
Jesus Christ did not avoid this man; He made a special trip across the sea and braved a storm simply because He wanted to deliver this one man from the grip of Satan, Mark 4:35.
This man wasn’t even a Jew! He was a Gentile and still the Lord reached out to him!
We see people and sometimes we think that some are a lost cause. We may wonder if they can or will be saved. Well, I can’t tell you for sure that they will be, but I can look around this very room and I see case after case of men and women that others had written off as a lost cause. You are here and saved today because the Savior had compassion on you!
He loved you in spite of your sins and He came to where you were to deliver you from the bondage that gripped your heart and life. He loved you enough to die for you on the cross, Rom. 5:6-8, and He loved you enough to come and set you free.
No one is beyond the compassionate touch of the Master!
Not Zaccheaus in his tree.
Not Saul of Tarsus with his agenda of hate and destruction.
Not the Ethiopian eunuch with his religious confusion.
And not even you with all the baggage you carry.
There is a compassionate Savior waiting to set you free!
Jesus sees people with a different set of eyes than we do! We see their sins, He sees what He can make of their lives!
We see a drunk, He sees a deacon!
We see a drug addict, He sees a preacher!
We see a harlot, He sees a choir member!
That is how lives are changed when they come to Jesus! He will take what you give Him and He will give you something much more precious in return!
Give Jesus your Jacob, the schemer; He’ll give you back an Israel, a prince with God.
Give Jesus your Simon, the cursing fisherman; He’ll give you back Simon Peter, a mighty preacher.
Give Jesus your Saul, persecutor of the church, He’ll give you back Paul, militant missionary apostle. Give Jesus your self, and you will be amazed at what He can do with you.
It is amazing what Jesus can do when a life is placed in His hands, 2 Cor. 5:17! That is the power of the new birth, John 3:3, 7.
v. 6-13 His Confrontation – This man, who ran from everyone else, ran to the Lord Jesus and fell at His feet. The demons that drove this man away from all human relationships drove him to the feet of Jesus.
They fell down in acknowledgement of His deity. They were bowing in subjection to the Lord of Lords!
The demons acknowledge the deity and authority of Jesus, v. 7, and they beg Him not to “torment” them. That is, they beg Him not to send them to Hell, Luke 8:31.
Jesus confronts the demons, ordering them to release their captive, v. 8.
The demons then request that they might be allowed to enter into a heard of swine that was feeding nearby, v. 11-12.
Jesus gives them permission and they leave the body of the man and enter the swine, v. 13.
When they do, the swine cannot tolerate the demons and kill themselves by running in to the sea, v. 13.
This is a strange passage, but it teaches us some important truths.
It teaches us that all spirits are subject to the Lord’s authority. They recognize His position and His authority, v. 7. They know they must have His permission to do the things they do, v. 10-13.
It often looks like the devil is walking off with the victory.
v. 13 His Command – Every human effort had failed to deliver this poor soul from his bondage. Everything that had been tried to help him regain a grip on his own sanity had proven useless. But, one word from Jesus and He was free!
One word from Him and death is swallowed up in life!
One word from Him and darkness is driven away by the light!
v. 14-20 LET’S TALK ABOUT A SALVATION MIRACLE
v. 14-16 This Man Was Changed – When the pigs ran down the mountain and killed themselves, the servants who were tending the herd went to town and told their masters what had happened. The townsfolk came to see for themselves. When they arrived, they heard all the details and they could see the evidence of a changed life right before their eyes.
V. 15 Jesus Changed Him – He is no longer running about, crying, and cutting himself. Now, he is calm and seated beside Jesus! What a change!
You cannot meet Jesus and remain the same. He changes all those who come to Him, John 3:3, 5; Gal. 6:15; Eph. 2:10!
V. 15 Jesus Clothed Him – No longer is this man naked, now he has clothes!
Jesus changed him from the inside out! What we need to notice here is that what Jesus does in the heart of a man is ALWAYS worked out on the outside of a man, Matt. 12:35!
V. 15 Jesus Calmed Him – We are told that he is in his right mind! Where there has been turmoil and agitation, there is now perfect peace! He has been changed spiritually, physically and mentally!