Now we're turning to Mark's gospel chapter 5, and we of course have been travelling some time now in Mark's account of the life and ministry and gospel of our Lord Jesus. We are presently beginning to read at verse 1 of chapter 5 through to verse 20 - this famous story of the deliverance of the demoniac of Gadara.
Verse 1 then of Mark 5: "And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes. And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains: Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones. But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him, And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not. For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit. And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many. And he besought him much that he would not send them away out of the country. Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding. And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them. And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea. And they that fed the swine fled, and told it in the city, and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that was done. And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid. And they that saw it told them how it befell to him that was possessed with the devil, and also concerning the swine. And they began to pray him to depart out of their coasts. And when he was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil prayed him that he might be with him. Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee. And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel".
The title for our message this morning is simply: 'Satan To Jesus Must Bow'. Now in chapter 4 verse 35 we began a section of Mark's gospel that flows through to chapter 5:43, that describes very graphically to us the power of the Servant of the Lord, the Lord Jesus Christ. Contained in between chapter 4:35 and chapter 5:43 are four of the greatest miracles that were ever performed in the life of our Lord. The first we looked at a couple of weeks ago, in verse 35 of chapter 4 to verse 41, the calming of the storm. That demonstrated the power of the Lord's Servant, Jesus Christ, over the forces of nature. This morning we're looking at chapter 5:1-20, that demonstrates the power of the Servant of the Lord over the forces of demons - if you like, the world of spirits. Then we're going to see later on in verses 25 of chapter 5 through to verse 34, this miracle where Jesus healed an incurable disease, and that shows us the power that the Lord Jesus has over physical illness. Then finally we will see, in chapter 5:35-43, the power that the Servant of the Lord has over the realm of death itself.
Now in each of these cases in these four great miracles, Christ is presented to us as the Servant of Jehovah who has power to overcome all hostile forces against God and man. To put it very practically to us today: what Mark is showing us, and consequently the Holy Spirit is showing us, is that man's extremity is God's opportunity. God in Christ just loves to minister to us in our deepest need when we cannot help ourselves. Isn't that wonderful? You wouldn't think it was wonderful to look at some of you! But it is! We have a storm that seamen couldn't overcome. We have a demoniac that no one could tame. We have a disease that no physician could cure, and we have a tragedy that no parent could avert. Yet the Servant of Jehovah shows Himself as sufficient, absolutely sufficient, for every circumstance.
Now, as we look at the demoniac of Gadara here this morning, we see three forces: the force of Satan, the force of society, and the force of the Saviour. All these three forces are still with us, very active in our world today. So let's deal with them one at a time: first of all the force of Satan. Verse 1 tells us that after the storm, they further travelled 'unto the other side of Galilee, into the country of the Gadarenes', or Gerasenes as some would render it. Now this was a locality midway along the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee, and it was mostly inhabited by Gentiles. This demoniac may well have been a Gentile, the farmers herding the swine may well have been Gentiles, because they farmed swine. It was probably the dead of night by the time that the Lord Jesus and His boatload arrived at the other side, and you can imagine that that would have made the scene much more eerie - for, there at the dead of night, we read in verse 2: 'Immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit'.
Now of course, if you're familiar with the Gospels, you will be aware that Matthew, when he records this instance in Matthew 8:28, speaks of two demon-possessed men - but Mark only speaks of the one. The likelihood is that this one that Mark records is probably the more prominent of the two. Whether that is because he was more vocal than the other one, or more demonised, we do not know - but, of course, they're not contradicting one another, but adding to one another. He was possessed, Mark tells us, by an unclean spirit. Now that refers specifically to the demon that was possessing him, he was demon-possessed.
Now let me ask you before we go on any further: do you believe in a personal devil? Most people in the world do not. Many people who profess faith in Christ cannot, their reason won't allow them. I don't believe it is unreasonable, but they do. Do you believe in a personal devil? Do you believe in demons? Do you believe that there is such a thing today as the phenomenon of demon-possession? One commentator I read on this passage said that it doesn't really matter whether this man was possessed or not, he believed he was possessed, and Jesus delivered him from that belief. Well, I'm sorry, it does matter whether he was demon-possessed or not, for three reasons: one, Jesus believed he was demon-possessed, that's why He delivered him. So if this man was only insane, Jesus Christ, the claimed Son of God, was also insane for He believed it as well. Secondly the trustworthiness of Scripture is at stake if this man wasn't demon-possessed, because the Bible tells us he was. But perhaps relevant to the question I asked you a moment ago: whether or not this man was demon-possessed affects whether or not we believe it is possible for someone to be demon-possessed in the day and age in which we live.
Now some try and explain away this miraculous instance by saying that this man was insane, that's all. I think that people in his own day and generation believed that about him, that he was just the madman of Gadara. One reason why I think that is because the Talmud, which was a Jewish book of rules that often commented upon God's law, gave four characteristics of madness. Here they were: walking abroad at night time, spending nights on a grave, tearing ones clothes and destroying what one has been given by others. So you can see right away how they could have assumed that all that was wrong with this man was a mental illness - but those who have experienced demon-possession today, particularly those on the mission field, testify that there is a difficulty in diagnosing the difference between demon-possession and mental illness.
Now, though this man's behaviour conformed to what was commonly understood in his day as insanity, there was something else going on in his mind and heart. Now here's a lesson that I don't want us to miss: whilst we must be careful to never ever label a mental illness as possession - never, ever to do that - we must equally acknowledge the possibility, indeed the probability, that our society puts the label of 'mental illness' on what may in fact be a classic case of demon-possession. The reason they do that is that they simply don't believe it's a possibility. So we must beware, we must beware of two opposite errors about the devil: one, the error of disbelieving in him; and the other error we must beware of is an excessive, unhealthy interest in him. C. S. Lewis put it well when he said: 'They', that is the demons themselves, 'are equally pleased by both errors, and hail a materialist and a magician with the same delight'.
I think we in the West, as we are more materialistic, we are more inclined to believe too little about the devil - is that so? It's like the desert dweller who didn't believe in rain because he'd never seen it. Just because we may never have seen an instance like this does not mean that it doesn't exist. We must beware of an unbelief in regard to the personality of the devil and his minions, the demons, because as one has well said: 'Unbelief in the devil has often proved to be the first step in unbelief in God'. I think it's obvious that the devil exists, and demons, because his grubby fingerprints of an unclean spirit are all around us.
This man had an unclean spirit - an unclean spirit characterised itself with moral filthiness, and often caused much harm to the person who was possessed. I ask you the question: is it only incidental that with the rise of paganism, occultism, Satanism, over the last number of years in our world, that there has also been a rise of drug abuse, pornography, obscenity, homosexuality? It is not coincidental, it is a sign that Satan and his principalities and powers have a controlling influence in our day and generation, just as they did with this man.
Now we're not told how these demons entered this man, most likely he opened himself to some Satanic or sinful influence. We need to be warned, particularly the young people among us this morning, that Satan easily gets a foothold in our lives when we yield ourselves to sinful practices. We are told what Satan did to this man very graphically. Verse 3 tells us he 'had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, not even with chains'. Verse 5 tells us: 'Night and day', always, 'he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones'. Now Jesus taught us in John 10 and verse 10 that the devil is a thief who has come to steal, to kill, and to destroy life. The devil's ultimate purpose has always been to further distort and destroy the image of God in man. If you yield yourself to this thief, murderer, supplanter Satan, he will take everything from you!
Now young people, I want you to listen, because I know that some of you are dabbling in sinful practices and you think there's no harm in it. If you let him in, he will fleece you, he will destroy you, he will distort the image of God in you! This man lost his home, he lost his family, the companionship of a wife and children. He lost his identity - when Christ was speaking to him, the demon, demons, were speaking back and called themselves 'Legion'. Incidentally a legion was a battalion of over 6000 Roman soldiers. Now we cannot equate to say that there were 6000 demons in this man, but there were certainly many. This man also lost his decency, he's running around naked. He's lost his self-control, he's like a wild animal. His unearthly shrieking cuts through the night air. He has lost peace in his mind and in his heart. He has lost his purpose for living.
We need to waken up today as God's people to the force that Satan is in our world today. We ought never to underestimate the destructive power of Satan and his demons. Our enemy would destroy all of us if he could - do you believe that? Peter said: 'He is a roaring lion, going about seeking whom he may devour'. He's also at work, the Bible says, in the life of unbelievers, making them children of disobedience Ephesians 2 tells us. Now I know that this demoniac, and both of these men as Matthew tells us, are extreme examples of what Satan can do - but they ought to reveal to us the danger of dabbling with dead things, with sinful things, with Satanic things. It ought to cause believers in Christ to resist the devil, that he will flee from us - have nothing to do with him!
Harry Ironside made this telling comment: 'We cannot but reflect on the possibilities of evil when we realise that one man could hold more evil spirits than 2000 unclean hogs' - think about that. The force of Satan today is the same as it ever was. The second force we encounter is the force of society, and it is found in verse 4. He had been often bound, this man, with fetters and chains: 'and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him'. Now I know I'm speaking generally, but generally speaking all that society does with problem people that they can't cure by an operation or by a tablet, is to isolate them, to put them under a guard - whether it even be lock and key - if necessary, bind them physically. The problem with this man was: he displayed a demonic Herculean strength that some may be aware of, which takes over people who are oppressed, particularly possessed, by the devil. But the lesson here is that the world's ingenuity was no match for the enemy of souls. He broke out of their puny chains and cords.
Isn't it ironic that that's exactly the same way our society behaves towards the things of the devil, particularly sin - they think they're in control, don't they? 'I'm in control of my life. I'm in control of my habits. I make choices, and I can do that for myself', and society believes the same. They don't realise that they lie in the lap of the wicked one, the devil is in control. Even attempts to tame this man had failed. With all its wonderful scientific and technological advances and achievements, our society is the same today as it ever was in this demoniac's day: it can't cope with the problems caused by sin and Satan. It doesn't know what to do with them. You only need to listen to the radio this week, and some of the terrible instances that were taking place across our city even - the police don't have an answer, the judiciary don't have an answer, social workers - though they may do a very worthy work, as the last two people I mentioned - have no answer. Politics has failed and will fail. The lie has been given to evolution, that we've been taught since we were knee-high at school: man is not getting better, man is getting worse! Society doesn't know what to do with him!
All that is compounded by the fact that the society in the demoniac's day rejected the Saviour just as the society we live in does today. Verse 17 very graphically shows that to us: 'They began to pray', to implore, 'him to depart out of their coasts'. I don't know whether people say this to you, but sometimes they say to me when I'm seeking to witness to them: 'Look, if you could show me a miracle, I would believe. Show me a miracle, and I will believe, I will trust in your Christ!'. Now experience proves that no matter how many times people say that, they don't believe, and they wouldn't believe even if they saw a miracle - why? Because people generally speaking are not so much worried about what is true, they're worried about what they love and cherish in their lives. Did you get that? No matter what most people say, they are not concerned about what the truth is, they are concerned about their way of life and what they love and cherish.
The Bible says men love pleasure rather than God, that means that if you come to someone and say: 'Look, I can give you a better world, personally for you a better life, and I can give you a better life that actually will affect other people's lives and create a better world around at least your environment and those whom you touch, but there is a cost to it. It will disturb your comfort, it might even affect your livelihood somewhat' - what will they say? Most of the time they'll say: 'Just leave things the way they are, don't disturb me'. Now that might be depressing, but that's the truth. People will say: 'Don't even disturb me with what the truth is, I am quite happy in my own little world, with my own little gods'.
'Room for pleasure, room for business,
But for Christ the Crucified,
Not a place that He can enter,
In the heart for which He died'.
These people saw a miracle, a miracle of miracles - what did they do? Come up the aisle, pray the sinner's prayer? No! They said: 'Jesus of Nazareth, get away from us!'. Frightening, isn't it? But it's obvious that our society today has the same reaction. It's staggering to me how many Bible commentators spend a great deal of time answering the criticisms of others toward the Lord Jesus for putting these demons into the pigs. It's remarkable, 'These poor pigs', that's what everybody's worried about! You go and read the books: 'Poor pigs' - and also the livelihood of the owners - 'How could the Lord Jesus do the like of this?'. This farmer would have lost the equivalent today, someone has said, of a quarter of a million dollars - I don't know whether that's true or not - but it was an extreme amount of money.
Now let me, just to deal with this for a moment, point out a couple of things that are very important in the big theme of what we're talking about here when we're thinking of the force of society. First of all: the Lord Jesus did not cause these pigs to run headlong into the sea, He permitted it, and there's a big difference. If you don't learn that difference in theology, you'll get into all sorts of strange twists and strange doctrines. It was Satan's destructive power that destroyed those pigs. He permitted them to go into the swine, He didn't force them headlong into the water. But here is the lesson, and perhaps this is what many of these writers and preachers balk at: there is a cost to sin! You see, you might say - and I heard even on the radio this morning - 'If there's two consenting adults, and they're not harming anybody else, what's wrong with it?'. This is what's wrong with it: apart from the fact that they're hurting the Holy God, they are harming other people! It is a myth that we are all an island, and do not touch or affect others.
There is a cost to sin, here it is pigs. Now, a second answer to these accusations is: some things are more important than a man's livelihood. You see, our society can't accept that: they don't want to pay a cost for sin, and they certainly don't want to lose their livelihood - not for religion anyway. When people's pockets are hit, see it over and over again through the scriptures, because of the conversion of deep-dyed sinners, what do they do? They curse God! You see it in Acts chapter 19, Demetrius the silversmith, who was making little idols of the goddess Diana. He had a great business going, and all of a sudden through the preaching of the apostle Paul there were conversions, and he was losing out of pocket - and he started a riot!
Then thirdly we need to see that what this shows us about these pigs is that the soul of a man was worth, to Jesus, all the pigs in the world. I know that's not very politically correct today, because we have to treat our animals better than we treat human beings in the age in which we live. I love animals - don't like cats - but I like most animals; but the fact of the matter is: do not let it be drummed into your head that a man is an animal. The soul of one man was more important than 2000 pigs, and this was a dramatic sermon to these farmers, to the demoniac himself, to the disciples: that the wages of sin is death - society doesn't want to hear that! They say: 'Be gone with your gospel! Be gone with your Jesus!'. Staggering, isn't it?
The force of Satan, the force of society, and finally the force of the Saviour - the force of the Saviour. Praise God, this is still with us, and Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever! Glory to His name! All may change, but Jesus never! Now picture this demonic, I think he must be the ugliest mutation of a human being that has ever been seen. You need to see him just now, you need to see what sin did to him, what Satan will do to you if you give him a foothold in your life. He is this gruesome looking beast, though he was a man - naked, a mass of bleeding lacerations, scabs, infections, covered in scar tissue, living in a mental delirium of pain. He is the most unlovable creature alive! Yet Jesus loved him, and Jesus pitied him.
Was it his fault that he was in this predicament? I imagine it was. Is it the drug addict's fault that he is in a predicament, and the prostitute's fault? Probably. Does it mean we ought not to love them? No. You see, that's what amazing grace is, that is real power - power to love the unlovable, even go through a storm for the unlovable, that's what Jesus did for this man! That's what He has done for us all: He has endured the billows and waves of God's wrath on the cross, because He loved the unlovable, because the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which is lost! More: He had power not just to love the unlovable, but power to change him - He had power over the demons.
Oh, I love it, verses 6 and 7, you look at it please, this demon or demons confessed that Jesus was the Son of the Most High God - now that is the title of Divinity. The demons knew that He was God, and then they not only knew that Christ was God and God's Son, but they knew there was a judgement day coming for them. They said: 'Do not torment me', verse 13, they asked for permission to go into the swine - and Jesus had authority to give that permission. James 2:19 says: 'Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble'. You know, these demons believed more than most people in our world believe today. They believed that Jesus was God the Son. They believed there was a judgement day coming. They believed that Christ had all authority over them.
What was the result? Praise the Lord, verse 15: 'They come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid'. He is able to save to the uttermost all who come unto God by him, seeing He ever liveth - Jesus is stronger than Satan, and Satan to Jesus must bow! Ecclesiastes 8: 'Where the word of a king is, there is power: and who may say unto him, What doest thou?'.
Now here is an application as I close, twofold. One: there is no one, I repeat, there is no one who is too hard a case for Jesus Christ. Are there any 'Hallelujahs' in the building this morning? You're all asleep! Jeremiah 32:27 says: 'Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?'. Jesus told this demonic: 'Go and tell what great things' - Jesus of Nazareth has done for you? No! - 'the Lord'. Then later on we see he went and told the great things that Jesus had done, what's that saying? He is the Lord, Jehovah, the Son. You're praying for someone, aren't you? They're a hard case, but they're not too hard for Christ and His gospel to crack. No one is.
Here's a second application: whatever controlling force dominates you, you Christian, the Lord can break it and deliver you, whatever it is, whatever it is. You just have to believe it, but He can do it! Christians are bound by all sorts of fetters, you could even be oppressed of the devil as a Christian - not possessed now, but oppressed through fears and anxieties and all sorts of problems - but this man was delivered of all his fears, and all his demons. It's no surprise that he wanted to be with the Lord Jesus - would you not want to be? Verse 19 tells us that the Lord Jesus told him to go home. Kenneth Wuest translates the Greek: 'Go into your home, to your own', it's speaking of his own flesh and blood. Now, I haven't got time, but imagine what it was like for him to come to the front door, and the children greet him, and the wife! Verse 20 says that he didn't only go home to witness to his family, he went out and proclaimed - 'keruso' (sp?) is the word, to make a public declaration - to Decapolis, the ten cities, and he was probably known around that area as the madman of Gadara...now he's the preacher. They probably thought he was even madder!
He wanted to stay with Jesus, but Jesus told him to go home. A different command than He gave at other times, you remember He told people 'Don't tell what I have done to you' - now that was because that wasn't according to His plan in the Palestine area, but this was a Gentile area. Isn't it interesting that the Lord knows better than His people what is the best position for them to be in. You might want to do something, but the Lord doesn't want you to do it. Whatever you're doing or not doing for the Lord, there's two things you ought to do that this man did: you need to go home and tell them, and you need to go out and proclaim to them.
Some years ago an eye surgeon just fresh from college commenced his business. He had no friends, no money, no patients. He was very discouraged, until one day he saw a blind man. Looking into his eyes, he said to him: 'Why don't you have your eyesight restored?'. He said: 'How could I do that?'. He said: 'Come to my office in the morning'. An operation was performed and proved successful, and the patient said: 'I haven't got a penny in the world, I can't pay you'. 'Oh yes', said the doctor, 'You can pay me, and I expect you to do so. There is just one thing I want you to do, and it's very easy: tell everybody that you see and were blind, and tell them who it was that healed you'. Do you do that?
Let's bow our heads. Sorry for the late time, I only started at 5 or 10 past, that's my own fault - but let's not let the time distract us. Father, we just ask as we close this meeting in Your presence, that those who are oppressed by Satan and sin would find deliverance through the Saviour whose force is not diminished in the 21st century. We thank You that His blood will never lose its power. Even those who are possessed in our world can be delivered through the Master, those whom we love and long that they might be saved - none of them are too hard for Him. Even the things in our own lives that we feel we can never get victory over: He is able to deliver! May He deliver folk in this place this morning, for Satan to Jesus must bow. Amen.
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall Evangelical Church in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the twenty-seventh recording in his 'Studies In Mark' series, entitled "Satan To Jesus Must Bow" - Transcribed by Preach The Word.
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