A changed man tells of Jesus’ mercy

Few Bible stories tell of such a dramatic change in direction as the man of Mark 5:1-20. Jesus, accompanied by his disciples, having sailed through the night, arrive in the Gentile countryside of the Gerasenes, on the eastern shore of the sea of Galilee. Having landed, they were immediately met by a man from the city who had demons. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he had not lived in a house but among the tombs (Luke 8:27). Mark 5:3-6 tells us that no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones. And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him.

This man was about to experience the very thing he had most likely given up all hope of; deliverance from the extremely destructive effects of demonic power in his life. 1 John 3:8 tells us that the reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. And this man, who had taken on the name of Legion, was about to experience the absolute and uncontested power of Jesus Christ over demonic authorities.

Close to the landing place was a nearby town’s graveyard with a herd of 2000 pigs grazing on a sloping grass paddock. Now, pigs are not tranquil grazers. Pigs are scavengers who forage for food of any kind by digging holes. They’re noisy carnivore bullies who rustle and tussle with each other  without polite manners. Everything about this scene was out of sorts by our modern way of thinking. From the group of dishevelled Jewish sailors in a Gentile region, the loud and violent demon possessed man, to the loud and smelly pigs. The whole scene reeked of disorder. Then, in steps the Son of God, bringing order into chaos!

Jesus speaks with Legion, and the demons, knowing that Jesus was about to cast them out, request to be sent into the nearby heard of pigs, which Jesus did. To everyone’s surprise, the entire herd of pigs’ stampede into the sea of Galilee. Understandably, the herdsmen fled and told it in the city and in the country… (Mark 5:14), …they told everything, especially what had happened to the demon-possessed men (Matthew 8:33). Unwittingly, these herdsmen became evangelists simply by spreading the news near and far of what Jesus had done. They didn’t get creative with a different method for each hearing, they simply retold the facts, especially of the deliverance of the man. Job well done men!

The result was they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid (Mark 5:14-15). Verse 17 says, they began to beg Jesus to depart from their region. These people didn’t simply want Jesus to be silent, or to stop doing miracles, they wanted Jesus out of their lives. As Jesus was getting into the boat to depart, the delivered man asked to travel with Him. But Jesus instructed him to 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 (Mark 5:19).

As followers of Jesus, we testify about Jesus’ mercy and what He has done!   It’s that simple.

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