This Sunday, we continue our studies in Mark, this week we consider Mark 5.1-20, the story of the demon-possessed man (called "Legion") living in Gergesa. Here is a map that will show you where this happened. You will notice it is diagonally across the Sea of Galilee from Capernaum, Jesus' adopted hometown.
Speaking of maps, there are a couple more here and here. These highlight the area called The Decapolis ("Ten Cities"), which is where this story happened, and it is where the man formerly known as Legion was commissioned to spread the Gospel by Jesus.
The name "Legion" is not the man's name. When Jesus asked his name, the man responded, "My name is Legion; for we are many." Legion was the name of a Roman military group (we would say battalion or company)--the basic unit of the Roman army. A legion consisted of thousands of soldiers, cavalry, and support personnel.
Notice the "symptoms" Legion exhibited: he was isolated, his life was out of control, he was not at peace, he was self-destructive, and he was fragmented. Does this sound like anyone you know? Does this sound like YOU? If there was hope for Legion, there is hope for you. When did his demons leave him? When he came to Jesus. Where was he inexplicably drawn (like a moth to a flame)? To Jesus. I think his healing was not so much the absence of the demons as it was the presence of Jesus.
The man was conflicted about Jesus. He was drawn to Jesus urgently, but he was also afraid of Jesus. I think he was afraid of Jesus for the same reason that the people in the city were: Jesus brought change. This man mirrors our attitudes: we know we need help; we know we need change; we know we need Jesus in our lives; but we avoid him. We are often [usually] content to live with our pain and struggles than to risk change by going to Jesus.
What do we see in this story?
We see the human condition.
We see the healing power of Jesus.
We see the power of a changed life.
We see the purpose of God: to advance his kingdom.
How do I deal with my demons?
I must come to Jesus just as I am.
I must come to Jesus with all that I am.
I must come to Jesus in surrender.
Spend time meditating on the words of Jesus in Revelation 3.20: "Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me.
When considering this story, the poem Crazy Bill: The Gerasene Demoniac Revisited by Tim Melton is very much worth reading.
Read this story in Mark 5. Think about what it means. Think about where you find yourself in this story.
The worship bulletin for Sunday is here.