Mark 5:1-20 Easy-to-Read Version
Jesus Frees a Man From Evil Spirits
Jesus and his followers went across the lake to the area where the Gerasene people lived. When Jesus got out of the boat, a man came to him from the caves where the dead are buried. This man had an evil spirit living inside him. He lived in the burial caves. No one could keep him tied up, even with chains. Many times people had put chains on his hands and feet, but he broke the chains. No one was strong enough to control him. Day and night he stayed around the burial caves and on the hills. He would scream and cut himself with rocks.
While Jesus was still far away, the man saw him. He ran to Jesus and bowed down before him. As Jesus was saying, “You evil spirit, come out of this man,” the man shouted loudly, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you in God’s name not to punish me!”
Then Jesus asked the man, “What is your name?”
The man answered, “My name is Legion, because there are many spirits inside me.” The spirits inside the man begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of that area.
A large herd of pigs was eating on a hill near there. The evil spirits begged Jesus, “Send us to the pigs. Let us go into them.” So Jesus allowed them to do this. The evil spirits left the man and went into the pigs. Then the herd of pigs ran down the hill and into the lake. They were all drowned. There were about 2000 pigs in that herd.
The men who had the work of caring for the pigs ran away. They ran to the town and to the farms and told everyone what happened. The people went out to see. They came to Jesus, and they saw the man who had the many evil spirits. He was sitting down and was wearing clothes. He was in his right mind again. When they saw this, they were afraid. Those who had seen what Jesus did told the others what happened to the man who had the demons living in him. And they also told about the pigs. Then the people began to beg Jesus to leave their area.
Jesus was preparing to leave in the boat. The man who was now free from the demons begged to go with him. But Jesus did not allow the man to go. He said, “Go home to your family and friends. Tell them about all that the Lord did for you. Tell them how the Lord was good to you.”
So the man left and told the people in the Ten Towns about the great things Jesus did for him. Everyone was amazed.
Jesus, a Jew, and His disciples, were on the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee, where the Gergesenes, lived. This land was peopled by Gentiles. For a Jew to go there would have made a Jew unclean. Once there they were met with a man, shamefully naked and clearly demon possessed. This man was herculean in strength and could not be bound in chains; his name was, Legion, which referred to a Roman contingent of six thousand men; he was cast out of the community to live in a nearby cemetery, another unclean place for a Jew.
Despite the uncomfortable presence of this naked, possessed, unclean, frightening man, Jesus told these demons to come out. But they didn’t. The demons inside Legion recognized Jesus as the Son of God and begged for mercy; asking to remain in the area, they suggested to Jesus that He hurl them into a nearby herd of pigs.
Jesus did just that; the pigs then ran off a cliff and drowned. This sounds harsh. Why would Jesus do as the evil demons requested? Certainly He didn’t have to answer to them or cater to their requests! Why did the pigs hurl themselves over the cliff and thus kill themselves?
Did Jesus arrange this, or, did Jesus let go and let the story unfold? Sometimes with You, Lord, we get what we ask for; Jesus needed to release this man from these evil spirits; the spirits didn’t want to die, but, to remain nearby, as close as say … a herd of pigs.
What the demons didn’t consider was the region itself. On the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee are many steep slopes. Evil spirits thrown forcefully into simple pigs could have caused the animals to go mad, it certainly had done that to Legion; these simple animals ran screaming with fear from whatever had taken over their little bodies. As they ran for their lives amid two thousand other demon-possessed pigs, it is doubtful they had room to swim amid the panic, the stampede, and the plunge. They were simply at the wrong place at the wrong time. Bless their hearts.
I have researched this and pigs can swim. Thought I’d share this cute video.
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Dear Lord, I thank You for this story of redemption. No matter how evil, derelict, hopeless, helpless, and friendless, You will be there. God, You save lives no matter what it takes, no matter where You have to go to save a lost soul, no matter whether you’re wanted, despised, or told to leave, You are there for anyone who calls on Your name.
In our society, as in other times in history, mental illness is misunderstood; not knowing how to approach such individuals could have deadly consequences.
This man, Legion, was released from the mental shackles of his mind. Nothing about him was the same. God, You are amazing in Your Tender Mercy, Grace, Love, and Compassion on those most of us would walk away from.
Let us all share, like this man, what You have done for us. In telling our own stories, we give You the Glory, Lord. In recounting how You released us from ourselves, we give witness to Your Almighty Power. In helping another lost soul find his way to You, we embody Your love for ALL of Your children.
Thank You, Lord, for coming into my life; You are my Savior, my Supreme Counselor, my Friend. Amen
This is one of my favorite songs.
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