Scriptures

Mark 5

Introduction

‘They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an impure spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, 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. 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? In God’s name, don’t torture me!’ For Jesus, had said to him, ‘Come out of this man, you impure spirit!’ 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. 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 impure 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. 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. 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. 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 own people 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. Mark 5:1-20

Jesus and His disciples went to the eastern shore of Galilee. a place called Gerasenes, this must have been a Gentile area as there were many pigs around and we know that the Jews saw pigs as unclean animals. And its here Jesus is met by a man with an impure spirit.

There are many views today concerning demonic possession, some argue that it still exists whilst others don’t. It’s generally supposed that no such thing as demon-possession exists on earth today and if that supposition is correct, it would simply mean that the power of Jesus Christ in destroying the works of the devil, which was His purpose in coming into this world, 1 John 3:8, was effective and that Satan’s demonic followers are not able to work the havoc upon human personality in this age, as formerly.

The multiplication of such disorders in the times of Christ should, in such a view, have been expected as the demons recognised the holy Saviour and His purpose of destroying them.

Mark stressed the unnatural strength of this caveman, using two entire verses to stress it, but Matthew supplied the significant fact that his wildness had closed the area to human traffic, and Luke the equally significant fact that he was naked. Such a person had no doubt cast a terror over the entire village. Zechariah 13:1-2.

Night and day, he would cut himself, which shows us how much self-harm this demon was causing him. The demon possessed seem always to have been able to recognise Christ and the man’s worshipping Jesus is a reference to his falling down before Him and, in view of the man’s behaviour after he was healed, it must also have included, on the man’s part, if not the demon’s, an adoration of the Lord spiritually.

The effect of his possession was that of splitting the personality, making it impossible, in each instance, to distinguish between what was done by the demon and what was done by the man.

He asks Jesus a question but in doing so, revealed He knew Jesus and His power and authority. This name of God,

‘Most High’

is very ancient, appearing in connection with Melchizedek, Genesis 14:18, Balaam, Numbers 24:16, and in the Song of Moses, Deuteronomy 32:8. The Hebrews didn’t invent or evolve monotheism, that being the original view of the Father, even prior to Abraham.

The request of the demon seems here to have been predicated upon God’s prior promise that the demonic world would be vanquished at some time certain in the future, hence his invoking God’s name in the request. A glimpse of God’s ultimate plan of destroying evil surfaces here in the demonic knowledge that such a destruction is in store for them and that an appointed time for it has already been determined. Acts 17:31 / Zechariah 13:1+2.

There is no evidence that the impure spirit had the power to resist Jesus’ word. By the demon’s request to enter the swine, that evil being confessed the necessity of his obeying Christ’s command. Christ asked, ‘the man’ his name, not because the Lord didn’t know it, but because He sought to bring the man back to a sense of his own identity, an identity the demon had taken as shown in the reply.

‘My name is Legion; for we are many’

Notice ‘My’ is singular and ‘we’ is plural. This is further indication of the separation which the demon had inflicted upon the man. A legion was four or five thousand men and, although no truth may be certain in such a reply from such a source, it’s at least in harmony with the idea of multiple possessions in some cases, Mary Magdalene being another example, Mark 16:9.

Notice again in Mark 5:10 the confusion with the words, ‘he’ and ‘them’. It’s as if he cannot make up his mind where he is one or a Legion! It has been suggested that the speaker was the leading demon speaking for all the rest, but the view is precarious. Of course, we don’t have the exact words of the petition, only Mark’s account which gives it indefinitely.

But one thing is clear, the demons were fearful of having to depart the dwelling they had seized in the poor man before the Lord, and they pleaded not to be sent away.

Notice again in Mark 5:11-12, ‘he’ begged the Lord in Mark 5:10, but its ‘they’ who do the pleading here, making it sure that the demons were the ones pleading.

Of all the lower creation, only the serpent and swine are revealed in Scripture as possessed of an evil spirit. The serpent is a symbol of intellectual cunning and the pigs of gross uncleanness, suggesting that in both categories there is great temptation to the human family.

Notice that Christ didn’t destroy the pigs, the demons did. Christ’s permission of such a thing is no more than God’s permission of all-natural disorders like earthquakes, volcanoes, floods, droughts, and tornadoes, etc., which kill millions of people, not pigs alone and yet all thoughtful persons find no difficulty reconciling this with God’s love and justice.

The pigs roamed the countryside with the result of a great multitude of people who gathered around the Lord, His disciples, and the man from whom the legion of demons was cast out and notice the contrast in the man.

He was naked, bleeding, furtive, dwelling in tombs, constantly crying out, etc. but notice the change, he is now clothed and in his right mind, sitting at the feet of Jesus! This shows what Christianity does, it really can transform lives.

But as one man’s life is transformed, the crowd seem to be scared, why were they scared? Possibly because they didn’t want Jesus’ kind of power in their midst. Possibly because they thought Jesus was going to wipe out every pig in the region which would mean a loss of property and revenue.

At first, it may seem incredible that the people of the town didn’t want Jesus to stay. But think about what they had just lost, 2000 pigs. Some people owned them, some folks were planning to make money slaughtering, processing and selling them.

He had hurt the town’s economy. They evidently loved material possessions more than they loved Jesus, because of that, they missed out on the supreme privilege. They asked Him to leave.

Do we ever invite the Lord to leave our lives because we love material things more than we love Him?

Whatever the reason, it’s clear they were so blinded by their physical loss, they ask Jesus to leave the area. Jesus listened to them and left and would never set foot in the area again, how sad to see Jesus being rejected once again, despite doing a wonderful thing, not only for the men who was possessed but for those who lived in the area.

One can appreciate the feelings of the man whose life had been so distraught by the powers of darkness, and whose feelings of love and gratitude toward Jesus caused him to desire constant fellowship with the Lord. Those who have tasted the blessing of the Lord desire to be ever in His company and partakers of His companionship.

On some occasions, Jesus prohibited the beneficiaries of His miracles to speak of them, Mark 1:40-45 but here it was commanded, why? Simply because this was a Gentile area, He was on the east side of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus didn’t want to be crowded by spectators in the Capernaum area, west of the Sea, but in this wicked town, He was in no danger of becoming too popular.

The people in this place needed someone to report the miracle. It’s of the greatest significance that Jesus here referred to Himself as ‘the Lord’ who had done for the man ‘great things’ and ‘had mercy upon’ him. Attempts to get rid of Jesus in all ages have generally been as futile and ineffective as were those of the village of the Gerasenes.

‘Decapolis’ means ‘the ten cities’ which lay in the area, nine of them east of lake Galilee and it must have been a very effective witness indeed which was provided by that previous terror of the tombs who went up and down the area extolling the power and mercy of Jesus, whom he also, no doubt, identified as

‘Lord’

No wonder it is said that

‘all the people were amazed.’

‘When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake. Then one of the synagogue leaders, named Jairus, came, and when he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet. He pleaded earnestly with him, ‘My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.’ So, Jesus went with him.’ Mark 5:21-24

Jesus and His disciples went on to the western shore of Galilee and the view would have been amazing and the pulpit was the boat, which wasn’t far from the city of Capernaum. As we’ve already looked at Capernaum was Jesus’ home town. Matthew 4:13 tells us that He had left Nazareth, and was now dwelling at Capernaum, thus fulfilling the prophecy with regard to Zebulun and Naphthalin, Luke 4:16-31.

Matthew 9:1 calls Capernaum His own city. Christ ennobled Bethlehem by His birth, Nazareth by His education, Jerusalem by His death, and Capernaum by making it His home town.

Jairus was a ruler of the Jewish synagogue in Capernaum, a prominent and respected leader of the people. His willingness to fall upon his knees before the Son of God emphasises the heartbreak which was crushing his soul.

Think about his situation for a moment

here is a man who sits in the synagogue and hears all the plans and plots to kill this same Jesus, but he comes to Jesus because he obviously believes who Jesus claims to be and can do.

There can be no doubt that many of his peers despised him for humbling himself before the Lord, but what a blessing he is going to receive.

The phrase,

‘my little daughter’

suggests that this was not only his only daughter, but his only child. Notice Mark says she is

‘dying’,

Matthew quoted Jairus as saying,

‘she is even now dead’ Matthew 9:18

and Luke recorded that

‘she was dying’, Luke 8:42

A useful timeline would be this, when the father left the child, she was at her latest gasp, and he didn’t know whether to regard her now as dead or alive and, because he didn’t receive any certain knowledge of her death, he was perplexed whether to speak of her as departed or not, expressing himself one moment in one language, and at the next in another. Jesus agrees to go with him, but it seems a large crowd had got in Jesus’ way.

‘A large crowd followed and pressed around him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, ‘If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” Immediately her bleeding stopped, and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, ‘Who touched my clothes?’ ‘You see the people crowding against you,’ his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.’ Mark 5:24-34

A synagogue official named Jairus requested Jesus to come and heal his daughter who was dying. As Jesus was journeying to his house, a desperate woman in the multitude touched the Lord. She had been bleeding for 12 years, had gone to many doctors, and spent all of her money, but had only worsened. She thought that by touching Jesus she could be healed.

Sure enough, when she touched Jesus’ coat, she could sense that the flow of blood immediately dried up and she was well.

1. Physically she has suffered from a debilitating haemorrhage for 12 years, as long as the daughter of Jairus has been alive, and all the doctors have been unable to help her, she was physically exhausted.

No doubt the doctors tried all they knew, which by our standards wasn’t very much, but they had done their best. They had probably recommended such medication as

‘locust eggs’, ‘powdered eggs of grasshoppers’ or ‘the finger-nail of a man who had been hanged’.

All of which were expensive medicines in those days! Indeed, she had spent all the money she possessed, and Mark doesn’t speak very flatteringly of the doctors when he says,

‘instead of getting better she grew worse’.

2. That wasn’t the only effect of her illness, according to Jewish Law, this illness rendered her unclean, so that she was banned from entering the temple or the synagogue. She was cut off from her religion and the support it should have given her.

3. And it didn’t stop there, there would have been a domestic consequence, maybe she was now divorced, Deuteronomy 24, at some point in those twelve years she would have lost her husband and according to Jewish Law, her husband had the right to divorce her and considering the fact that if he had continued to live with her, he would also have contracted uncleanness and the consequences of it, I have no doubt this is what had happened.

4. Think about the social consequences, she had lost all her friends and relatives, because they also wouldn’t dare to associate with her lest they became unclean. According to Leviticus 15, anything with which the woman came into contact with was unclean, and anyone who had contact with her also became unclean. Indeed, they wouldn’t sit on a chair which she had sat on.

Think about this woman for a moment, she’s a widow, a woman with an incurable disease

1. She was unclean.

2. This would give her husband the right to divorce her.

3. She was penniless. Spent all she had on doctors looking for a cure. Locust eggs were given; the nail of a dead thief was another remedy but these all cost lots of money.

4. Ex-communicated from her religion.

5. Ex-communicated from society.

Put all this together and you see the terrible consequences of her sickness, we can understand how desperate she was. There was no one to help her, it seemed no one cared, nobody wanted to know her, she was a ‘nobody’.

She’s a nobody at this moment in time but when she heard that Jesus was back in Capernaum, this appeared to her, to be her only hope of a cure and she is determined to reach him. Mark 5:27 in the Greek says,

‘if she could get to ‘The Jesus’.

As Jesus was a common name, she knew ‘the Jesus’ she was seeking, the Jesus who had the power to cure her. I don’t think that she expected to be able to have a conversation or a consultation with the great Teacher, but she told herself,

‘If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.’

Now, like all male Jews, the outer garment of Jesus, something like a shawl, had tassels of Blue on its corners. They were there to serve to remind the wearer to keep the Law, and they were regarded as holy. Not surprisingly, this poor woman thought that, with such a holy person as the Teacher, they would be especially holy, if only she could manage to reach Him.

Of course, the problem she faced was immense! Weak and frail and fragile as she was, what chance of reaching Him did she stand, when faced with such a crowd of pushing, jostling, excited, noisy healthy people, milling around Jesus?

But she persisted and somehow managed to reach Jesus and she touched Him, and immediately she was healed. She not only knew it, but she felt it and so did Jesus.

Now, she would then have quietly gone away, but Jesus stopped and said,

‘who touched me?’

Not surprisingly His disciples were astonished!

‘Master, you see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’

Well, I believe that Jesus already knew who touched Him, and He was giving this poor woman the opportunity of coming forward and declaring herself! In any case, Jesus knew the difference between the touch of the jostling crowd and the touch of faith, and He said,

‘somebody touched me.’

Do you see what has happened?

The ‘nobody’ has become a ‘somebody’! Luke records this story in Luke 8:43-48. She’s gone from being a nobody, ‘who’ to a ‘someone’, to a ‘daughter’.

And the woman came forward and told Him everything. No doubt she was apprehensive as she had broken the Law by deliberately touching Jesus and furthermore, in Jewish society of that time, you didn’t touch such people as Priests or any religious leader! They were looked upon as holy men, and they liked it that way!

She probably expected a rebuke from Jesus, but, there was no rebuke, there was the compassion about which Jesus knew that the heart of that woman was beating fast. She was afraid of the consequences and she may even have feared that Jairus, the ruler, would speak sharply to her for having touched the Teacher.

But Jesus looked at her and gently spoke some of the tender words of His ministry record,

‘Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering!’

Notice again what Jesus called her, ‘daughter’! She came to Jesus a ‘nobody’, for whom nobody cared. She heard Jesus refer to her as a ‘somebody’, but her status has now changed and now she hears Jesus call her ‘daughter’, she is everybody.

This is the change that occurs when we come into faith to Jesus. This poor woman had been cut off from the Jewish faith, but she was received into the faith of heaven. She was rejected by her family, but was received into the family of the Son of God. she was excluded from the fellowship of human society but was received into the fellowship of those who believe. She was reconciled back into society and her religion.

And Jesus still changes people and many of those who have done the most good in the world started out as ‘nobodies’ but they learned through the Gospel of Christ that they really are a ‘somebody’ for whom God declares, that they realised that in the eyes of God they are ‘everybody’, the most important people on earth.

‘While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. ‘Your daughter is dead,’ they said. ‘Why bother the teacher anymore?’ Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, ‘Don’t be afraid; just believe.’ He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. He went in and said to them, ‘Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.’ But they laughed at him. After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, ‘Talitha koum!’ (which means ‘Little girl, I say to you, get up!’). Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat.’ Mark 5:35-43

Perhaps some of Jairus’ fellow-rulers of the synagogue had been embarrassed by one of themselves appealing to the humble Prophet of the poor and there seems to be a kind of calloused argument here to the effect that,

‘Look, she’s already dead, and we all know that this Teacher cannot raise the dead; why bother (with) him any further?’

Whether or not this was exactly what they had in mind, that was certainly the attitude of their class. It’s as though they had said, ‘we are already proceeding with the funeral,’ which from Mark 5:38 it is plain they were actually doing!

When Jesus said,

‘don’t be afraid’,

He means, don’t fear for your daughter’s life, don’t fear the scorn of your peers, don’t fear that our purpose has been upset by this delay in healing the woman. Jairus was instructed to retain his faith.

This marked a new milestone in Jesus’ ministry; already the abilities of these three had earned for them a closer relationship with the Lord. That relationship, however, wasn’t predicated merely upon ability, but upon the role each of these would have in the future spread of Christianity.

James would set the grand example by being the first of the apostles to die for the faith. Peter would preach the first sermon. John would be the last witness and write the fourth Gospel. Other instances in which these three were singled out for greater intimacy with Jesus were in the transfiguration and in the Garden of Gethsemane. The probable task assigned to the other apostles was that of controlling and dispersing the multitude.

We are surprised to find so quickly the presence of the ‘hired mourners’ who were raising such a tumult in the house of Jairus, which might be explained by supposing some further delay necessitated by the dispersal of the multitude, during which Jairus had returned home and initiated this phase of the funeral himself, but this is denied by the fact that Jairus evidently remained with Jesus.

This leaves open the possibility that advance preparations had been made to become effective on the daughter’s death, or the additional possibility suggested under Mark 5:35, namely, that Jairus’ peers were proceeding with the customary funeral activities, the latter being the view accepted here.

When Jesus says,

‘the child is not dead but asleep’

He certainly didn’t mean these words as a denial that the daughter’s death had actually occurred, but it was His customary language regarding death, John 11:11. In context, it also meant that He intended to raise her to life again. The attitude of the ‘professional mourners’ shows conclusively that the girl’s death had indeed occurred and had been proven.

The scorners were put out by Jesus, the spiritual implications of this being profound and perpetual. Their conduct here denies any other status to them except that of hired performers at a funeral. Scornful laughter is never the behaviour of broken-hearted friends and relatives. Jesus’ questioning of the noise they were raising also supports the same conclusion.

Mark here recorded the actual syllables that Jesus used in this calling of the little girl back to life. The words are Aramaic, supposed to have been the language Jesus used and from Peter who was present in that inner room, Mark remembered the very words that Christ used. The words,

‘little girl’

can also be translated as

‘little lamb’

which again shows the tenderness of Jesus’ voice to the young girl.

It is a strange coincidence that the age of this child corresponded exactly with the twelve years of sufferings endured by the woman, suggesting some connection here that is not apparent to us. All commentators are intrigued with it, but none has the solution.

It has been pointed out that there was no way to prevent public knowledge of a funeral in progress having been broken up by Jesus. From this, it is clear that Christ intended merely that Jairus and the other witnesses of it should make no announcement of it, thus leaving Jesus’ earlier statement that the child wasn’t dead to remain fixed, to some degree at least, in the popular mind concerning the incident.

That they indeed cooperated in this charge of Jesus is seen in the fact of there being no great clamour, nor any extraordinary efforts of the hierarchy to put Jesus to death.

Notice the theme that runs through the stories in this section of Mark.

Jesus can do what is humanly impossible

First, the storm

The disciples were desperate, but Jesus calmed it with a mere word.

Then the demoniac

Though many had tried, no one had been able to bind or subdue him. Jesus expelled the demons with a word and the man returned to normal.

Then the woman

No physician had been able to heal her though she had spent all her money in the effort. With one touch, she was completely cured.

Finally, the daughter of Jairus

When one dies, all attempts to cure the sickness end, because everyone knows you can’t raise the dead. Jesus did.

Four times in this part of Mark, Jesus entered situations that were humanly impossible and emerged victorious.

Go To Mark 6

 

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."

Genesis 1:26

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