Mark 5:1-20


One of the major evidences within the book of Mark that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, is His power over the unseen forces of this world - the host of demons.


Mark 1:22-28

Jesus casts out a demon in the synagogue

Mark 1:32-34

Jesus cast out many demons

Mark 1:39

Jesus was casting out the demons

Mark 3:11

The unclean spirits would cry out, “You are the Son of God.”

Mark 3:14-15

The twelve given authority to cast out demons

Mark 3:22

Accused of casting out demons by power of Satan


Why this emphasis upon the casting out of demons?  If Jesus is the One who will remove the curse of sin and overthrow the forces of Satan, then He must be able to break the power of the supernatural world.


The initial confrontation between Jesus and Satan took place in the wilderness (Mark 1:13).  Satan tempted Jesus.  Although the result of this temptation is not stated in Mark’s account, it is evident that Jesus overcame that temptation.  But throughout the following chapters, it becomes evident that the power of Jesus goes far beyond just being able to resist the temptations of Satan.  It is not what Satan can do to Jesus, but what Jesus can do to Satan.


            The one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning.  The Son of Man appeared for this purpose, that He might destroy the works of the devil. (1 John 3:8).


The reason that Christ came to earth was so that He might destroy the works of the devil. The works of Satan began in the garden of Eden.  They began when Satan tempted Adam and the woman and the human race plunged into sin.  Jesus came to remove sin from man.  He came to purchase men from their slavery to sin.  He came to destroy the works of Satan.  And in the casting out of demons, He was giving samples of this principle.


This chapter will contain three miracles.  It will show the power of Jesus over three areas.


Jesus deals with...











            They came to the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gerasenes. (Mark 5:1).


The city of Gerasa was one of the cities of the Decapolis - one of the ten cities which made up a loose federation to the east of the Sea of Galilee.  The problem is that Gerasa was located 35 southeast of the Sea of Galilee on the Jabbok River while this passage makes it clear that the events took place by the edge of the Sea.


On the other hand, there is a much smaller town located on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee named Gergesa (Gergesa).  Origen, one of the early church fathers, stated that this was the site of this miracle.  It contains both the steep cliffs and the caves mentioned in the passage.


The previous chapter ends with Jesus stilling the storm.  This chapter begins as their boat lands on the eastern shore.


The coming of Jesus to this area would result in the lot of one man being made better and in the lot of many men being made worse.





            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.

            Constantly, night and day, he was screaming among the tombs and in the mountains, and gashing himself with stones. (Mark 5:2-5).


Matthew’s account indicates that there were two demon-possessed men (Matthew 8:28).


As Jesus and his storm-drenched disciples depart from the boat, they are confronted with a terrifying spectacle.  It is “a man from the tombs with an unclean spirit.”  Notice the chiastic description of this man:


Who had his dwelling among the tombs



and no one was able to bind him



even with a chain


he had often been bound with shackles and chains


no one was strong enough to subdue him


He was screaming among the tombs...



In chapter 3, Jesus had spoken of Satan as a strong man who must be bound in order to “rob his house.”  The actions of Jesus in casting out demons had been paramount to binding Satan.  Now as we come to chapter 5, we find that attempts had been made to bind this man, but they had all been unsuccessful.  People could not bind him with chains or fetters.  But Jesus will bind the demons that haunt him with a word.


This would be a good opportunity to review what the Bible has to say about the subject of demons:


(1)        Demons are real.  They are described under a number of different terms.


(a)        Demons.


(b)        Unclean spirits.


(2)        They were especially evident during the ministry of Jesus.


(3)        They seek to indwell mankind.

Many people like to make a distinction between being oppressed, obsessed, possessed, and influenced by demons; but the Bible never makes such distinction.


(4)        The Bible does not tell us of the origin of the demons, though some have seen in Revelation 12:4-9 an allusion to their career.


(5)        There seem to be many of them.


(6)        They are under the leadership of Satan.


(7)        Christ is superior to Satan and any of his demons.


It is interesting to note that of all the instances of demon-possession recorded in the New Testament, not one of them took place within Jerusalem.  It seems as though most cases took place in rural settings.  Why is this?  Perhaps it is because Satan adapts himself to the sophistication of the level of society in which he is working.


Demon activity of this sort seems to be more frequent in the less sophisticated societies where pagan religions are honored.  In more sophisticated settings, Satan usually uses other methods.





            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!”

            For He had been saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!”

            And He was asking him, “What is your name?”  And he said to Him, “My name is Legion; for we are many.”

            And he began to implore Him earnestly not to send them out of the country. (Mark 5:6-10).


As we read through this passage, we are left with no doubt as to who is in charge. Even though Jesus may have been numerically out-numbered, He will demonstrate power and authority over the demons.


The demons begin by asking a question:  “What business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?  The implication is that, since Jesus is so very different from the demons, that He should ignore them.


Satan often uses that message.  He tells the Christian, “What does the world have to do with you.”  And as a result, the Christian abandons the world to Satan.  He says to the Christian, “What does the public school system have to do with you?”  And soon the public school system is teaching only Satan’s lies.  He says, “What does the government have to do with you?” And soon, the government is becoming atheistic in nature.


The people of Gergesa did not know who Jesus was.  The multitude which Jesus had left back on the seashore had not recognized Him as the Son of God.  Even the disciples were asking themselves, “Who is this, that the wind and the sea obey Him?”  But the demons knew beyond question the true identity of Jesus.  James 2:19 says that the demons believe in God.  And they believe in Jesus, too.


There is a lesson here.  It is that you can believe all kinds of facts about Jesus and it won’t do you one bit of good.  You are not saved by believing facts about Jesus (although it is true that you cannot be saved without believing certain facts about Him).  You are saved as you trust in Him and acknowledge Him as your Savior and as your Lord.


The demons have identified Jesus.  Now He calls upon them to identify themselves.  And he said to Him, “My name is Legion; for we are many.”


There were 6000 men in a full Roman legion.  This does not necessarily mean that there exactly 6000 demons inside of this man, but it does mean that there were a lot of them.





            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.”

            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 5:11-13).


According to Jewish tradition, there were three doors to Gehenna:


(1)        The desert (Numbers 16:33).

(2)        The sea (Jonah 2:2).

(3)        Jerusalem (Isaiah 31:9).

The demons did not fear Jewish tradition, but they did fear Jesus.  They recognize His power over them and so they ask permission to enter into a nearby herd of pigs.  The implication is that, without His permission, they would have been powerless to accomplish this.  Do you see what this means?  They were bound!


You might be thinking, “They don’t look very bound.”  And Satan doesn’t look very bound.  But that is because he is out on bail.  Jesus bound Satan with every demon that was cast out and with every soul that came to faith and repentance.  He is still binding Satan today.


That does not mean that Satan is inactive.  1 Peter 5:8 tells us that he goes about as a roaring lion, seeking someone to gobble up.  But if we submit to the Lord and resist the devil, he will flee from us (James 4:7).




            Their herdsmen ran away and reported it in the city and in the country. And the people came to see what it was that had happened.

            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.

            Those who had seen it described to them how it had happened to the demon‑possessed man, and all about the swine. 17 And they began to implore Him to leave their region. (Mark 5:14-17).


Pigs were considered by the Jews to be an unclean animal.  The Jews were forbidden to eat pork and they had nothing to do with pigs.  But these people are not Jewish.  These people are from the cities of the Decapolis.  They are Gentiles.  Their culture is the culture of the Greeks.  And the pig was a holy animal to the Greeks.  The pig was to the Greeks what the lamb was to the Jew.  It was the animal of sacrifice.


The miracle that Jesus performed in the casting out of these demons was witnessed by three groups of people.


(1)        The herdsmen of the pigs.

(2)        The disciples.

(3)        The man who had been demon-possessed.


We are not told the reaction of the disciples.  I don’t think they had gotten over the miracle of the stilling of the storm.  But we DO read of the reaction of the herdsmen.  They ran back to report it to the people in the country and in the city. They told everyone.


This is a natural reaction to witnessing the power of God.  The reason more so-called Christians do not witness is because they have never really experienced the power of God in their lives.  They have nothing of which to witness.


The news brought out a crowd.  The crowd saw Jesus and the disciples and the formerly demon-possessed man.  And no pigs.  Their response was one of fear.  And because of their fear, they invited Jesus to leave.


This is not the kind of fear that is the beginning of wisdom.  This is not a fear that draws men closer to the Lord.  It is a fear which asks for a separation.  It is a fear stemming from unbelief and from superstition.  It is a sinful fear.


We have not been called to be superstitious.  We have been called to be confident before the Lord.  We need to replace fear with FAITH.


I think that there was a second reason that they had in asking Jesus to leave.  They didn’t want to lose any more pigs.  The loss of the pigs represented a significant dollar value and, if Jesus remained in the area, who knew what they might lose next?  It made no difference to them that a man had been healed.  It made no difference to them that One was in their midst that held that kind of power in His hands.  They had lost their pigs.  And they were more interested in pigs than in people.


Are there any pigs in your life?  I’m not talking about someone with a messy habit.  I’m talking about something in your life that is keeping you from Jesus.  Maybe you wouldn’t say it the same way these people did, but do you secretly wish that Jesus would go away and leave you and your pigs alone? 


What is it that you value more than people?  Whatever it is, you need to know that it is only a herd of pigs and that it is going to end up some day in the depths of the sea.  Ask the Lord to take your pigs, and He will give you something a lot more valuable in their place.





            As He was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon‑possessed was imploring Him that he might accompany Him.

            And He did not let him, but He said to him, “Go home to your people and report to them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He had mercy on you.”

            And he went away and began to proclaim in Decapolis what great things Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed. (Mark 5:18-20).


In contrast to the people of the area who were afraid of Jesus and who wanted Him to leave, there was one man who wanted to remain with Jesus and follow Him.  It was the man who had been healed.  Jesus refuses.  The man will not be permitted to accompany Jesus.  There is an interesting contrast.


The Demons

The Man who had been Healed

Requested permission to enter into the herd of pigs

Requested permission to follow Jesus

Request granted

Request denied


The request of the demons was granted while the request of the man was refused.  There is an interesting lesson here.  An answered prayer does not necessarily mean that you are in God’s will.  And an unanswered prayer is not necessarily as sign of God’s disfavor.


This man was given a commission.  He will serve Jesus, but he will do so without leaving his home.  He will be a witness of Jesus to his own people.


Here is the principle.  You need not leave your home to be a missionary. Jesus had called the Twelve to leave their homes and to follow Him.  But He told this man to stay home and spread the word.  He will have a significant ministry right where he is.


The principle is one of obedience.  When Jesus says, “Go!” then you go.  And when He says, “Stay!” you do that, too.


Can I tell you the rest of the story?  This man became a missionary to the entire Decapolis - this region with its ten major cities.  And the next time that Jesus came to this region, they did not act Him to leave.  In Mark 7:31 Jesus is going to return to the Decapolis.  And this time the people will be ready to listen.  A crowd of 4000 people will gather to hear Him preach.


We are like that man.  We have been cleansed from the impurity which once polluted us.  And now, we have been left behind.  Our job is to prepare the way so that, when Jesus comes this way again, people will be ready to meet Him.


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