JESUS HEALS A DEMON-POSSESSED MAN
Key Verse: 5:9
“Then Jesus asked him, ‘What is your name? My name is Legion, he replied, for we are many.’”
Today, Jesus heals a demon-possessed man at the cost of 2,000 pigs. Jesus asked the demon-possessed man, “What is your name?” because he wanted to restore this man’s lost identity at any cost. He valued one man’s life more than anything in the world. Eventually, he sacrificed his own life to set us from the bondage of Satan. Jesus is asking us today, “What is your name?” Let’s answer, “I am the child of God created in his image to obey his will.” Let’s thank God for restoring our image in him and giving us mission to share the word of God with others. I pray that God may use us as his witnesses of love and grace. May God fill us with the Holy Spirit through this message!
PART I. “WHAT IS YOUR NAME?” (1-10)
In the previous passage, Jesus calmed the storm and demonstrated his ownership over creation. His disciples learned Jesus’ authority and grew in faith. Now we learn why Jesus crossed the stormy Sea of Galilee during the night and came to the region of the Gerasenes. This area is known as the Decapolis, the ten cities. It was largely a Gentile area where the Roman Army was stationed to maintain the order and peace in the conquered land. Jesus came to this region to meet a man without his name, a strong man. Who was he?
Look at verse 2. “When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an evil spirit came from the tombs to meet him.” The disciples expected a quiet vacation as soon as they got out of the boat after spending a rough time in the stormy sea. Instead, they met a crazy man from the tombs and they heard cries of animal sounds. They were scared in the early morning. Mark commented that this man was possessed by an evil spirit. How did the evil spirit affect this man? Verse 3 says, “This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him any more, not even with a chain.” We see this man’s pathetic condition. He lived in the tombs. Who lives in the tombs? Tombs are the place where dead people rest. Normal people live in houses or apartments with their families. But this man lived among the tombs in dark isolation. He was a social outcast. He failed to make any relationships with other people. We don’t know what caused him to be possessed by the evil spirit. Maybe he was disobedient to his parents or school teachers. Maybe he was rebellious against authorities when they tried to restrict his human freedom. Maybe he committed many sins enjoying secret pornography, taking drugs, and alcohols. Maybe he began to skip school and was involved in gang activities. Slowly, he became a trouble maker to his family and community. First, his family tried to endure his troubled life. His parents told him, “Don’t play video games too much and study hard and get A.” But he did not listen and became rebellious. Finally, they gave up on him by saying, “He is a hopeless man.” Then the school psychologist prescribed drugs for treatment. But he became more violent. The local police arrested him when he violated the law and put him into the jail. Then he became angry to all people around him. He thought that they bothered him too much. So he left his family and community and escaped to the tombs. He found a home in the tombs.
How did the community try to treat his demon possession problem? Look at verse 4. “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.” They tried to control his behavioral problems with chains and irons. Here the Greek word for “subdue” is “damazo” which means “to tame a wild animal.” People tried to tame this man like a wild animal because he lived like a wild animal. In spite of irons and chains he was uncontrollable. No one was strong enough to subdue him. He became like Incredible Hulk. He became a strong man even the local police could not control. FBI special agents could not control him. As a result, he became a permanent resident in the Decapolis memorial cemetery. But was he really free in the tombs? Look at verse 5. “Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.” Though he escaped from his family, school teachers, and local authorities, he could not escape from himself. When he was alone, the mosquitoes bothered him in the night and he could not sleep. He was angry at all people who treated him badly. Finally, he was angry at himself. He said repeatedly, “I hate myself. I don’t like myself. Someone, help me.” But he had no family, no friends, and no fellowship. Nobody responded to his cry. He was cut off from society and people and lived in loneliness and total isolation. In self-contempt, he tortured his body by cutting himself. When he broke all the relationships, the demons entered him one by one and found residence in his life. There are many kinds of demons like lustful demon, anger demon, hatred demon, complaining demon, worry demon, critical demon, and unthankful demon. They formed the forces of demonic power in him as he said, “we are many”. They caused him to torture himself with sharp stones. The work of the demons is to destroy our relationship with God and others. The demons cause men to have tomb fellowship instead of Bible fellowship. One year ago we saw the work of demons through the gunman in Virginia Tech who killed 31 people without mercy. One student said, “I saw demons in him. He was not a human being.”
A lifestyle of lawlessness and disobedience, whatever the cause, invites the work of evil spirits into one’s heart. Ephesians 2:1-2 says, “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.” We must obey God. Then God protects us from evil spirits. The Bible tells us to put on the armor of God (Eph 6:11). Jesus taught us to pray every day, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Mt 6:13). We must know that evil spirits are real and we must ask God’s deliverance every day. Today we live in the post modern generation. People do not like authorities like parental, school, or governmental for the sake of unrestricted human freedom. As a result, everything is relative. In this environment demons find opportunity to deceive people. Now demonic powers are sweeping America. Demonic powers split families apart and violence fills our schools and immorality threatens our national identity as a Christian nation. People suffer under demonic powers. It is time for us to return to God and claim our nation back to God through Jesus.
Though there was no hope for this man, Jesus came to heal this man by crossing the stormy Sea of Galilee by saying, “Let us go over to the other side.” (4:35) Perhaps, Jesus heard this man’s cry in the tombs and came to save him. When Jesus saw this man, he knew that his one and only problem was demon possession. Jesus did not try to chain him. Instead, Jesus said, “Come out of this man, you evil spirit!” (8) Jesus did not blame the man or his parents. Jesus rebuked the evil spirit. Jesus gave him the command of his word which is active like a double edged sword. The evil spirit could not ignore it. The man ran to Jesus and fell on his knees in front of him. Though no one else was strong enough to subdue him, Jesus subdued him with a word. Jesus is the stronger man (Mk 3:27). Jesus came to rob the strong man’s house because he was stronger than Satan. 1 John 4:4 says, “...the one who is in you (Jesus) is greater than the one who is in the world (Satan).” Soon Jesus will throw Satan into hell to stay there forever (Rev 20:10).
The evil spirit was exposed and subdued. However, it did not come out immediately. Rather, it shouted through the man’s voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won’t torture me!’” (7) The demons knew exactly who Jesus was. They knew they could not overpower Jesus. So they tried by clever means to escape. They claimed demon’s rights, saying, “Leave us alone! Do not torture us!” They tried to get Jesus to make a binding oath not to torture them. Here we learn that there is a split personality between the personality of the man and the demons who possessed him. He used the pronoun “my name” and then “we are many.” Two desires existed within this man. One student was eager to study the word of God but at the same time he did not want to study the Bible. Apostle Paul said in Romans 7:21, “So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me.” He also struggled to do good overcoming his desire to do evil. We must be filled with the Spirit of God. King Saul was a good king when he was filled with the Spirit of God. But when he was filled with the evil spirit due to his disobedience to God, he became a crazy king who tried to kill David, his faithful general. It is important for us to be filled with the Spirit of God in our spiritual life.
How did Jesus help this man? Jesus spoke to the man. Look at verse 9a. “Then Jesus asked him, ‘What is your name?’” Jesus commanded the evil spirit, “Come out of this man’ with stern voice but he asked this man with gentle voice, “What is your name?” Why did he ask this? Jesus wanted to make a personal relationship with this man. So Jesus asked his name. In doing so, Jesus revealed his respect for this man as a human being. Jesus did not see him as a wild animal, as others did. Of course, the man looked scary and dirty because he did not take a bath for several months. But Jesus saw the image of God in him. So Jesus wanted to drive out the evil spirits and fill this man with the Holy Spirit. To establish this relationship, Jesus wanted to win his trust. When we meet a new friend, we first ask his or her name by saying, “Hello! My name is David. What’s yours?” Jesus wanted to restore the true identity and personality of this man. In the Bible a name is not just a label, but the representation of one’s being, his identity and personality. In Genesis 17:5 God changed Abram’s name to Abraham to give him a new identity. God also changed Jacob’s name to Israel in Genesis 32:28 to give him a new identity. Thus, when Jesus asked, “What is your name?” he is asking the man’s true identity. This man must have had a name such as “John” or “Tom.” However, his answer was, “Legion, for we are many.” This shows that his identity had been lost. The demons had taken over his being with their own evil persona. By asking, “What is your name?” Jesus was calling him back to his God-given identity and personality. This was the key to his spiritual healing and to a wonderful new life in God. When we have our identity in God and build up our personality in God we can be healthy and truly happy. Jesus came into this world to find what was lost. Jesus said in Luke 19:10, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” Now, Jesus was ready to heal this man from his lost personality. 2 Cor. 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” If we are in Jesus, we are a new creation. God restored his image in us through Jesus Christ.
PART II GO AND TELL WHAT THE LORD HAS DONE FOR YOU (11-20).
How did Jesus react to the demand of the demons to go into the pigs? Look at verse 11. Jesus gave them permission. They came out of the man and went into the pigs. The joy of pigs is eating. But they lost their appetite when the demons entered into them. Then the pigs rushed down the steep bank into the lake and drowned. It was mass suicide. In this event Jesus taught the value of one man in the sight of God. In modern terms, the pigs were worth over one million dollars. To Jesus, one person is worth more than a million dollars, even more than all the world (Mk 8:36). Jesus lived by this truth. Our Purdue conference theme is “God so loved the world.” God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. It is amazing grace that God sacrificed his one and only Son to save us from the power of sin and Satan. Later, Jesus shed his own blood to pay the price of sin in his own body so that we can be free from the wrath of God. Saving one soul requires a lot of sacrifice like time, money, and eventually our life. Those tending the pigs ran off and reported what had happened to people in the town and countryside (14). Many people came to see what was going on. They saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind (15). He was no longer a crazy demoniac in the tombs. He was wearing decent clothes not cut-off jeans with a lot of holes. His hair was cut and combed, his face clean-shaven, his teeth brushed. His wounds had all been healed. He knew who he was and what he was doing. He looked handsome and talented and promising. It was a tremendous miracle of healing. It was a spiritual blessing for that whole region. It was a transformation of this trouble-maker. Peace came to the town and they no longer heard the growling animal sounds in the tombs. They should have celebrated the homecoming of their favorite son.
However, when people saw this, they were afraid (15). They were not happy for the man-now healed. It is possible that they focused on the drowned pigs and the loss of income instead of a restored life. They worried that the price of sausage might go up like the gas price today. They began to worry about their chickens and cattle if Jesus stayed longer. They were blinded by materialism. Then the crowd did a strange thing. They pleaded with Jesus to leave their region. What a mistake! They failed to discern the time of God’s spiritual blessing. This happens to materialistic people. Jesus does not stay where he is not welcomed. He got into the boat to leave. Then the man begged to go with him. This man knew that Jesus was his good shepherd. He wanted to stay with Jesus to be his disciple. He tasted the grace of Jesus and wanted to give his life to serve Jesus. What did Jesus do? Jesus did not let him. Look at verse 19. Instead, Jesus told him, “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” Why did Jesus do this? Jesus wanted to help this man restore his relationships. Jesus had restored this man’s identity and personality. He had peace. Now he could restore his relationships with others. So Jesus sent him back to his family members. No doubt, his parents had shed many tears over him. His siblings had been heartbroken. Jesus wanted to show them the work of God in him. Jesus wanted to heal their hearts and restore their family. Jesus sent him back where he failed before. Since this man was a Gentile and his preaching activity was confined to the Decapolis where Jesus was not welcomed, it made sense that Jesus appointed him to become a regional director of the Gentile territory. UBF mission strategy is to raise up native leaders because their changes lives can be good testimony to people around them. Jesus wanted to spread the gospel through this man. This man had a clear personal life testimony how Jesus had mercy on him. All local people knew what kind of crazy man he was. He would become a living testimony of the power of Jesus. Jesus believed they would accept the man’s testimony and it would open their eyes to see God’s love for them all. Look at verse 21. The man went away from Jesus and told in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed. There are people in my life who seem to be lost. I cannot communicate with them like my youngest son. I have written them off as too much trouble or lost cause. But they are dear to Jesus and are worthy of his healing because Jesus gave his life for them on the cross. I repent of my materialistic thinking and human thinking and come to Jesus for his mercy and forgiveness.
Today we hear Jesus’ words, “What is your name?” Some people have lost their own identity under the influence of postmodernism. Some have yielded to the expectation of others. Some have become the playground of demons due to their sinful desires. Jesus asks, “What is your name?” to form a love relationship with us. Jesus restores our true identity and personality.
God has called us to serve campus mission. Many young people are suffering from evil spirits. They engage in bizarre behavior. They may even seem dangerous. We must have faith in Jesus’ power to drive out evil spirits. We must pray and teach the word of Jesus. Most of all, we must learn Jesus’ compassion. May the Lord help us to live by the Spirit of God! Let’s read the key verse 9.