Confronting Legion: Mark 5:13
“1) They came to the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gerasenes. 2) When He got out of the boat, immediately a man from the tombs with an unclean spirit met Him, 3) and he had his dwelling among the tombs. And no one was able to bind him anymore, even with a chain; 4) because he had often been bound with shackles and chains, and the chains had been torn apart by him and the shackles broken in pieces, and no one was strong enough to subdue him. 5) Constantly, night and day, he was screaming among the tombs and in the mountains, and gashing himself with stones. 6) Seeing Jesus from a distance, he ran up and bowed down before Him; 7) and shouting with a loud voice, he *said, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God, do not torment me!” 8) For He had been saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” 9) And He was asking him, “What is your name?” And he *said to Him, “My name is Legion; for we are many.” 10) And he began to implore Him earnestly not to send them out of the country. 11) Now there was a large herd of swine feeding nearby on the mountain. 12) The demons implored Him, saying, “Send us into the swine so that we may enter them.” 13) Jesus gave them permission. And coming out, the unclean spirits entered the swine; and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea, about two thousand of them; and they were drowned in the sea.” Mark‬ ‭5‬:‭1‬-‭13‬
This text is pregnant with insight into the spiritual realm. As Jesus and His disciples came to the other side of the sea, they landed in the country of the Gerasenes. This was the gate of the region known as “Decapolis.” (See Mark 5:20)
Immediately, they were met by a man who was possessed with many unclean spirits. It was almost like Satan had planted him there as a gate keeper to the region of Decapolis. His job was to run interference with anyone trying to bring the good news of the gospel to his region. (See 2 Corinthians 4:3-4)
It will take a few sections to squeeze the insights out of this text. For today, I simply want to look at some common characteristics that accompany people who are demonized.
In the New Testament, there appears to be two kinds of demon possession. First, there were those who “used” or channeled demonic spirits and had paranormal powers. This could be illustrated by Simon the magician. (See Acts 8:9-24) Second, there were those who were “abused” by the demonic spirits. This can be illustrated by the man with legions in this text in Mark 5:1-20.
Though not a complete list, today I want to look at some common characteristics of those abused by demonic spirits. These points come directly from the description of the man possessed by legions in this text in Mark.
First, they often have a preoccupation with death. He was living in the tombs. Demons often isolate captive people by default because demonized people soon start to display various degrees of social abnormalities, vices, fixations, vulgarities or perversions.
Second, they can have abnormal physical strength. He was not able to be restrained by shackles or chains. He would break them to pieces. No one was strong enough to subdue him. He was bent toward violence. (See also Acts 19:15-17)
Third, he was emotionally and mentally tormented. He would cry out night and day among the tombs and in the mountains. He was being abused by the unclean spirits. Mental anguish can be severe and tragic.
Forth, he practiced self mutilation. He would cut and gash himself with stones. The end goal can be suicide. (John 10:10 is very descriptive.)
Fifth, he was possessed by many spirits. In Mark 5:9, the dominant spirit confessed to Jesus, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” This condition is common among demonized people. (See Matthew 12:43-45)
Sixth, he recognized Jesus. Verse 6 says; “And seeing Jesus from a distance, he ran up and bowed down before Him.” Demon spirits always recognize Jesus and His authority.
Seventh, according to verse 8, the unclean spirits were resisting the command of Jesus to come out of him. The timing of this story happened before the work of Jesus on the cross which added some theological drama to the story.
Eighth, unclean spirits have names, a purpose or mission, their own persona and can speak through people with their own voice. (See Mark 5:6-12) This is often referred to as a “demonic manifestation.”
Ninth, the demonic spirits were able to go into the swine. It appears that some animals can serve as hosts to demonic spirits. This point is a mystery, but tragically some animals are frequently associated with ritualistic ceremonies.
Finally, the man was totally set free by Jesus from all demonic activity. Verse 15 says; “They came to Jesus and observed the man who had been demon-possessed sitting down, clothed and in his right mind, the very man who had had the “legion”; and they became frightened.” Jesus Christ came to break every yoke and set captives free. He is both Savior and Deliver.
This serves as a brief synopsis of the subject of demon possession. If you want a deeper biblical study on this subject, please attend a Freedom Quest Workshop or order a workbook from our GoServ Global office. The Bible has much to say about this subject and spiritual warfare is a reality. The good news is that Jesus Christ is still in the business of saving people and setting them free from darkness, oppression and bondage.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global