2019-11-10 – Mark 5.1-20 – “Send Us To The Pigs”
2019-11-10 – Mark 5.1-20 – “Send Us To The Pigs”
Good morning everyone. It is so nice to be able to spend some time with you all in fellowship with the Lord. Thank you and God bless you for being with us today.
Thank you all again for those that contributed to the Business Meeting and luncheon last week. It was a joy to experience fellowship with you all and consider with you the quarter year past and what’s ahead for our church.
Before we get started today, I want to recognize the fact that tomorrow is Veterans Day, where we recognize our past and present military. I hope you have the opportunity to get out and consider the freedoms we enjoy as a result the efforts and sacrifices of our military citizens of this great nation. In that regard, if you have served in military service or as an emergency responder, would you please rise. [applause] And if you are or were a family member of one of those, we applaud you as well. We also have a few current military members to recognize, Dan Mitchell, Stephen Higdon, Quentin Manual. Are there any others?
Please turn in your Bibles to Mark 5.1, pew Bibles pg. 891 in God’s Inspired, Infallible and Living Word, but let us first start with Prayer.
To give you a little background to what we are going to discuss today, you should know that Jesus was in the first year of His three year ministry. He had been performing many miracles, He chose His twelve apostles, and as we learned last week in this book of Mark, He was showing them and us effectively, that He really is the Christ, the Messiah Savior that the Jews were waiting for. Last week we went over how after Jesus was teaching from the boat to the masses of people on the Sea of Galilee. Afterwards they went to cross over to the other side of the sea when they were caught up in a huge storm. Jesus then calmed the seas and the apostles conveyed their fear not of the sea, but now of Jesus Himself, saying “Who then is this? Even the wind and the sea obey him!” They realized that this man Jesus, was not only fully man, but also fully God at the same time. He was and is still in control of even creation itself. That is a thought and reality that all of us should come to in our faith walk. Jesus wasn’t just a good man. Jesus wasn’t just a most excellent prophet. Jesus was and is God in the flesh.
That takes us to chapter 5 now of this great Gospel book of Mark.
Mark 5 Demons Driven Out by Jesus
5 They came to the other side of the sea, to the region of the Gerasenes.
2 As soon as he got out of the boat, a man with an unclean spirit came out of the tombs and met him. 3 He lived in the tombs, and no one was able to restrain him anymore—not even with a chain— 4 because he often had been bound with shackles and chains, but had torn the chains apart and smashed the shackles.
No one was strong enough to subdue him. 5 Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains, he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones.
6 When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and knelt down before him. 7 And he cried out with a loud voice, “What do you have to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you before God, don’t torment me!” 8 For he had told him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!”
9 “What is your name?” he asked him. “My name is Legion,” he answered him, “because we are many.” 10 And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the region.
11 A large herd of pigs was there, feeding on the hillside. 12 The demons begged him, “Send us to the pigs, so that we may enter them.” 13 So he gave them permission, and the unclean spirits came out and entered the pigs. The herd of about two thousand rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned there.
This small piece of His-Story is so much more significant than even what it initially conveys to the everyday casual Bible reader. It seems like it is just a brief instance that Jesus has the ability to exercise and demonstrate His amazing powers, even over that of the demon possessed. But just like so many other incidents in our Bible, especially those related to Jesus Christ, there are so many other deeper implications of these scripture verses. I have the privilege, in preparing theses sermon messages to dig a little deeper than the casual readers, and to that I am most blessed in doing so. I can start you out with a few questions that you might even ask yourself about this event.
- Why did Jesus go there in the first place?
- Who are these demons?
- Why would the demons ask to be sent into the pigs?
- Why did the pigs kill themselves?
- What does this have to do with me?
We will go through these questions one at a time then summarize.
So why did Jesus go to this place? As I read in the introduction, Jesus was making Himself known throughout the area of Galilee. So many people came to see and learn from Him that He chose to teach from a boat while the crowd was on shore so He could be most effective at reaching the masses. He gave the effort all He had until it was getting dark and then Jesus told the disciples to finally go over to the other side of the sea. While they were sailing, they ran into a horrible storm that we talked about last Sunday, while Jesus was fast asleep. That is until the disciples woke Him up in fear of their lives. Jesus calmed the storm and they subsequently landed the boat on this region of the Gerasenes.
I will argue though that they didn’t just accidently land on this spot where the crazy demon possessed man was living. Instead I will suggest it was a divine purpose that took Jesus to that area. 1) to heal the man and show Jesus’s divinity and power, but also 2) to spread the Gospel through the healed man’s testimony. We will talk about that more later.
The man that met them was possessed by a “legion” of demons. A legion is a military term meaning thousands. So thousands of demons had possessed this man for quite some time. If you read also the other accounts of this event as written in Matthew 8:28 and Luke 8:26, you will see this man was such a problem that they tried to chain him up, but he broke out of those chains and was running round naked amongst the tombs of the dead. He was also cutting himself with sharp rocks and howling uncontrollably. The towns’ folk were rightfully afraid of him and they avoided that area as much as possible. He was truly a crazed demon possessed lunatic and a menace to society.
The legion of demons inside the man immediately recognized Jesus from afar and they had the man run and kneel down before him. Verse seven says “he cried out with a loud voice, “What do you have to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?”” Demons, as you should know are fallen angels. There are a couple events in the Bible that talk about demons or fallen angels. One from before creation when Satan tried to take God’s thrown. God threw Satan out of heaven with one-third of the angels. Some of those fallen-angels (Jude 1:6) are locked “in darkness, bound with everlasting chains” for their sin. Others I believe, are free to roam and still follow Satan as their leader and do battle with the holy angels in an attempt to thwart God’s plan and hinder God’s people (Daniel 10:13). I will never claim that I have it all figured out, but I know demons do exist and they have influence on our world. But God is in control.
As we see in our verses today, demons have the ability to take possession of a physical body, but take comfort dear Christian, knowing that this cannot happen to a child of God, since the Holy Spirit resides in the heart of the believer (1Jon4)
This event here today you should know is very significant in that although Jesus and the Apostles run into demons on several different occurrences, there is no place else recorded in scripture where so many demons are engaged other than before creation and in Revelation. Jesus was showing the apostles His authority and His power in a big way. First, as we discussed last week, Jesus commanded even the storm and the sea, and now He is exorcizing a legion of demons. If there was any doubt in the minds of the apostles before, you would think these two events should have dispelled them. Jesus was and is truly God in the flesh.
So why would these demons ask to be sent into the pigs? And Why did the pigs kill themselves? First you should know that this is a Gentile area outside of the strong influence of the Jewish religious authority. Another way you know this is that they were raising pigs, and Jews don’t eat pig. These thousands of demons, knew their time was short, they recognized Jesus right away and threw themselves prostrate, through the man at Jesus’s feet. I have know idea what Jesus might have otherwise done with these demons, but I can guess based upon their request that going into pigs was better for them than the alternative. Maybe they thought they could still exist and negatively influence the world through the pigs. Maybe make people feel guilty by eating them, lol. I have seen rabid animals before and it is ugly-scary for sure, and I would bet a demon possessed swine would be ugly-scary as well and perhaps even deadly too.
I have no doubt that Jesus could have bound and destroyed all these demons in a moment if He wanted to. We know this because that is exactly what is laid out for us in the book of Revelation. Satan and all the demons are chained and bound for a thousand years it says. If he can do it in the future, then He could do it during this event as well. But God has a purpose for even these demons. If it were not for the demons and their negative influence, then we might never want to choose to believe in a Savior Messiah. Some things we will never fully understand this side of heaven, but I trust that God knows everything. So the demons ask, and Jesus gives them permission to enter the pigs. The pigs immediately rush down the hill and do a “Swine-dive” over the cliff into the water below. Scripture doesn’t tell us, but I would bet they had sale on bacon around about that time.
Funny story, I was in Saudi-Arabia, where Muslims, like the Jews consider it a big sin to eat pork so it is almost even unobtainable in that region. They consider it like the forbidden-meat, almost like an aphrodisiac if you will. Then comes a million American soldiers during Desert Storm. I was a supply sergeant over there and we would get our supplies in bulk by ship mostly. I once got ahold of a bunch of large frozen canned hams. It was like gold. People were coming to me from all over, both American and even Muslim to haggle and trade for those canned hams. I am surprised we didn’t create any international incidents. I think I probably could have gotten a new Mercedes 4x4 if I so desired. I felt like I was Klinger or Radar on the show Mash. But I digress J God is good.
So our last question to ask is What does this have to do with me? To address that let us read the conclusion of verses starting at verse 14:
14 The men who tended them ran off and reported it in the town and the countryside, and people went to see what had happened. 15 They came to Jesus and saw the man who had been demon-possessed, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. 16 Those who had seen it described to them what had happened to the demon-possessed man and told about the pigs. 17 Then they began to beg him to leave their region. 18 As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged him earnestly that he might remain with him. 19 Jesus did not let him but told him, “Go home to your own people, and report to them how much the Lord has done for you and how he has had mercy on you.” 20 So he went out and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and they were all amazed.
So the pig-herders ran off and reported the incident to everyone they could report it to. I would bet that many had already heard about Jesus the healer/miracle worker, and now they wanted to see with their own eyes how the insane man had been healed by Him. The man who formally ran around naked and howling was now dressed and sedate. I find it revealing that at the end of verse 15 it says now they were afraid. This is very similar to how the apostles felt after Jesus calmed the storm that we read last week. Afterwards, if you recall it says in verse 41, “They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this?” The people were terrified, the apostles were terrified and I will suggest that we should fear too, if we truly recognize that our Jesus is truly God in the flesh. That kind of power that Jesus demonstrated then was for them, and it is for us today as well.
So what does this have to do with me? Everything. Jesus went there purposefully to demonstrate His ultimate masterful and amazing power. He chose that area to show that He is truly God Incarnate. That He is everything that was prophesized about in the Old Testament, and He is truly Super-natural and divine. You would think that that demonstration of power would cause everyone to bow down and worship Him, however that is not what happened. Sin was set deep in that community that was full of Hellenist Greeks.
The Decapolis was a confederation of ten contiguous cities on what was then the edge of the Roman Empire in north eastern Palestine. By instructing this man to go back home into the Decapolis, he effectively became an evangelist, spreading the Gospel good news of Jesus Christ.
Most of Jesus’s time was spent between Galilee and Jerusalem, but He planted a seed that day, not by using an influential statesman. Instead he used a man that was known to be a lunatic. The same dynamic happened when Jesus previously visited the Samaritan women by the well when He first started His ministry. That broken Samaritan lady became the first evangelist, and as a result the people of Samaria saw and believed themselves. Now we don’t know the end results of the Decapolis evangelist, however later the Apostles were able to establish churches in those areas. And with the subsequent destruction of Jerusalem in 68 AD, many of the Israelites and Christians fled to that same area. God had a plan, indeed.
Jesus wants all His broken children (Including you and me) to serve as His ambassadors and evangelists. Before He ascended back into Heaven, as Jeremy read to us earlier, Jesus gave us the Greatest Commandment and the Great Commission. The WHY, and the HOW of now our purpose.
He said, as written in Matthew 22: 37“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
And the Great Commission as written in Matthew 28, He said: 18 “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Would Please Stand, God has a purpose for you Amen?
Hymn #525 - My Country, Tis of Thee