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Massive outbreaks of visible demonic activity are very scarce throughout human history. You have the rebellion of 1/3 of the angels at the beginning of time – but no humans were around to witness God consigning them to the pit of imprisonment and torture. You have the possible demonic liaison with humankind that led to the wickedness of men at the time of Noah’s Flood (Gen. 6). Now as the seed of the serpent arrives on the scene to do battle with the serpent and his demonic forces of the kingdom of darkness, you have an outburst of violent, demonic activity.

In our times, despite all of the hype about demons and exorcisms, you really only see probably isolated psychopaths that would be such madmen that we would attribute their perversions to demonic control. You have the famous ones like Charles Manson and Jeffry Dahmer … the larger scale champions of evil like Hitler … but for the most part Satan today likes to disguise his emissaries and make them appear as close to children of the light as possible. In the Day of the Lord, the activity of demonic forces will once again be more widespread and evident.

Hendriksen: After taming a wild sea, Jesus now tames a wild man

Both seem untamable

Alan Carr: As we move through this chapter, we are going to discover that Jesus is not just the Master of the Deep. He is also the Master of the Demonic; the Master of Disease and the Master of Death. He will demonstrate His power over all situations, problems, difficulties and dangers.


– EVIL – the destructive power and depravity of wicked, demonic forces

– EXORCISM – the superior power and dominion of the Compassionate Savior

– EVANGELISM – the effective power and privilege of obedient proclamation vs. blind rejection



A. (:1) Arrival at the Appointed Destination = Country of the Gerasenes

“And they came to the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gerasenes.”

Concept of Divine Appointments

Good that we know the details of the journey; otherwise it looks like just an uneventful crossing of the sea; very dramatic miracle performed by Jesus that demonstrated His authority over the forces of nature; they were exhausted when they got into the boat and started the journey; think how exhausted they must have been after the dramatic events of the terrifying storm; good that Jesus had gotten some sleep in the boat

Deffinbaugh: If, indeed, it was late at night, the scene must have been an eerie one, with the nerves of the disciples already worn thin by the terrifying experience of the storm.

Destination all along was the “country of the Gerasenes”

Constable: Mark and Luke called this area “the country of the Gerasenes,” but Matthew called it the country of the Gadarenes. Gergesa (also referred to as Gersa and Kersa) was a small village about midway on the eastern shore of the lake. Gadara was a larger town six miles southeast of the lake’s southern end. This incident apparently happened somewhere near both towns on the southeast coast of the lake.

B. (:2-3a) Accosted by Unclean Man With Unclean Spirit

“And when He had come out of the boat, immediately a man from the tombs with an unclean spirit met Him, and he had his dwelling among the tombs.”

No break for Jesus; no time to rest up and relax; constantly under ministry pressure

New situations; new challenges

Why would Jesus care about the welfare of this madman? Everybody else stayed as far away from him as they could – Jesus just took a dangerous journey across the Sea of Galilee to meet with him – the Compassion of the Savior – came to seek and to save the lost

James Edwards: Jesus meets a man with an unclean spirit living among unclean tombs surrounded by people employed in unclean occupations, all in unclean Gentile territory.

Constable: Matthew wrote that there were two men, but Mark and Luke mentioned only the more prominent of the two. Mark stressed this man’s great physical strength that had progressively increased, evidently due to the demons’ increasing hold on him. Now nothing could restrain him. The poor man was miserable in his condition.

Scott Grant: Mark depicts the man in a way that is reminiscent of the storm. Both the storm and the man, by all appearances, cannot be controlled.

MacArthur: He would be classified as a man who lived in the tombs as a madman. He is a maniac. He is deranged, he is irrational, he’s dangerous. He is a sub-human, anti-social, sociopathic and intensely evil. He’s a monster. He’s a monster. . . In fact, he’s such a threat that Matthew 8:28 says, “No one would pass that way because he was so…and the word is…violent..violent.”

C. (:3b-4) Evidence of Demonic Power = Could Not Be Restrained by Human Forces

“And no one was able to bind him anymore, even with a chain; 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.”

Didn’t have mental hospitals; had to deal with the threat the best they could; no thought given to restoration to health of the poor demon-possessed man; just an emphasis on how society could isolate itself and protect itself from such a threat

Contrast Samson – strongest man – bound by his enemies; took divine power to cast off the shackles

Remember parable about Jesus coming to first bind the strong man (Satan) and then have dominion over him – kingdom of God vs. kingdom of Satan

D. (:5) Evidence of Demonic Activity = Bizarre and Destructive Behavior

“And constantly night and day, among the tombs and in the mountains,

he was crying out and gashing himself with stones.”

Hendriksen: Habitually, at intervals during the night and day, this man’s ear-splitting screams are echoing eerily from cavern to cavern near the rocky shore, striking terror into the hearts of any traveler who might dare to come within hearing distance.



A. (:6-9) Identification and Quantification of the Demonic Threat – Orthodox Theology

“And seeing Jesus from a distance, he ran up and bowed down before Him; and crying out with a loud voice, he said, ‘What do I have to do with You, 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.’”

MacArthur: So I say, they’re orthodox even in their eschatology. They knew that it wasn’t the time. This was the time of Messiah’s death and Messiah’s resurrection. This is not the time of His reign and His Kingdom and their judgment. What’s going on?

James Edwards: “Most High God” is an epithet emphasizing the transcendence and exaltation of Israel’s God over pagan gods and goddesses and rival powers.

Van Parunak: He does not do this [ask demon to identify himself] in order to use the name in exorcism: neither in 1:24 nor (in the event) here does he use the name. Rather, he is forcing the demon to acknowledge that “it” is really “they.” . . . The term “legion” describes a division of the Roman army, with 6000 men, but may be used just in the sense of a large number. There appear to be at least 2000, since they are able to possess that many swine. . . . 2000 is a HUGE herd; usually a herd of swine had fewer than 200! Emphasizes just how large is the host of demons that the Lord overcame.

Constable: The way the man related to Jesus shows that the demons within him recognized Jesus as someone superior to them. The demons controlled the man’s physical movements and his words. They addressed Jesus as “Son of the Most High God”—recognizing His deity (Gen. 14:18-24; Num. 24:16; Isa. 14:14; Dan. 3:26; 4:2; cf. Mark 1:23-24). “Most High God” is a title used in the Old Testament, mainly by non-Israelites, to denote the God of Israel. The fact that the man knelt before Jesus likewise shows that the demons regarded Jesus as their superior. The demons feared that Jesus would send them to their eternal judgment immediately, something only God could do (Rev. 20:1-3; cf. Matt. 8:29; Luke 8:31). The tormentor appealed (“I implore You”) for deliverance from “torment.” Ironically, he appealed to Jesus for mercy in God’s name (“by God”). He probably did this because he knew that Jesus was subject to His Father.

Hendriksen: The meaning here [of 6000] is undoubtedly figurative: a very large number. It is also possible that the term “Legion” conjured up the vision of an army of occupation, cruelty, and destruction.

B. (:10-13) Exorcism and Diversion of the Demonic Threat

“And he began to entreat Him earnestly not to send them out of the country. Now there a big herd of swine feeding there on the mountain. And the demons entreated Him, saying, ‘Send us into the swine so that we may enter them.’ And He 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.”

Hendriksen: If we are accustomed to associate the good angels with places in which order, beauty, and fullness of life prevail, does it not seem natural, in harmony with Scripture (Matt. 12:43) to link evil angels with regions where disorder, desolation, desertion, and death dominate?

Better that they afflict animals than humans – this is a distinction that is being obliterated today

This passage condemns our modern materialism and exposes the wrong priorities of organizations like PETA that have lost the crucial distinction between the elevated value of humans over animals – cf. commercials that beseech you to give your $$ to Compassion for the saving of a child vs. images of an emaciated dog that somehow deserves your same donation; a matter of priority; Jesus did not come to earth to save the mistreated animals

James Edwards: In the eyes of Jesus, the rescue and restoration of one person is more important than vast capital assets. Compared to the redemption of a human being, the loss of the swineherds, considerable though it is, does not rate mentioning.



A. (:14-17) Response of the Hard-Hearted Gerasenes – Chased Jesus Away

1. (:14a) Report of the Herdsmen

“And their herdsmen ran away and reported it in the city and out in the country.”

2. (:14b-16) Research (Investigation) Into the Miraculous Healing

a. (:14b) Curious Inquiry

“And the people came to see what it was that had happened.”

b. (:15a) Careful Verification of the Healing Miracle

“And they came to Jesus and observed the man who had been demon-possessed”

– “sitting down,” Jesus Changed Him

Condition of peace and rest

– “clothed” Jesus Clothed Him

Condition of modesty and righteousness

– “and in his right mind,” Jesus Calmed Him

Controlled now by his dependence upon the Savior

“For we have not receive a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind”

Note the parallel to the calming of the storm in the previous passage

“the very man who had had the “legion”;”

There could be no mistake – this was the same individual – but now he was radically transformed

c. (:15b) Cowardly Fear

“and they became frightened.”

d. (:16) Collaborative Reiteration by Eye Witness Accounts

“And those who had seen it described to them how it had happened to the demon-possessed man, and all about the swine.”

3. (:17) Rejection of the Divine Miracle Worker

“And they began to entreat Him to depart from their region.”

Saw the facts of the situation … but did not digest them correctly; wrong moral and spiritual and theological grid – they saw their precious herd of swine disappearing over the cliff and with them their hopes of financial prosperity – obviously had no concern for the welfare of the one who had been demon possessed

Van Parunak: Fear of the Lord must always lead in one of two directions: surrendering ourselves to his lordship, or (as here) wanting to dissociate ourselves from him as completely as possible.

Constable: Perhaps the people “implored” Jesus “to leave their” area, because they reasoned that if He dealt so severely with evil—He would eventually destroy them, too. Rather than turning to Him in worship, they turned from Him to the darkness they preferred (cf. John 1:11; 3:19). Mark’s account implies that what happened to the pigs disturbed the local population, suggesting that economic loss played a part in their request.

Deffinbaugh: As these people began to piece together the previous events, not only of the destruction of the pigs, but also the deliverance of Legion, they began to sense that there was One far more awesome, much more to be feared, than Legion. They had dealt with Legion (I suspect) by forcing him from their presence. Now they would deal with this One greater than he by doing likewise. It is ironic that while the demons didn’t want to leave the country, the dwellers of that land didn’t want the Messiah to stay. Here is one of the few times that a miracle drove people away, rather than to draw them to Jesus. It would seem that these people had no Messianic expectations, and therefore wanted nothing to do with One Who had such awesome power, a power over which they had no control.

B. (:18-20) Response of the Healed Gerasene Man – Evangelizing the Region –

From Madman to Missionary

1. (:18) Desire to Accompany Jesus

“And as He was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed was entreating Him that he might accompany Him.”

Didn’t stay very long in this region – back into the boat

The loneliness of Rejection

2. (:19) Directed to Go Home and Give Testimony

“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.’”

This was no small deed – what great things

Attributes His motivation to his compassion and mercy – His lovingkindness

3. (:20) Dedicated to Proclaiming the Gospel

“And he went away and began to proclaim in Decapolis what great things Jesus had done for him;”

How long did it take to prepare this man for missionary responsibilities?

Just go and tell your story

Constable: The “Decapolis” was a league of 10 Greek cities, all but one of which stood on the east side of the lake. One of these towns was Gergesa. The others were Damascus, Kanatha, Scythopolis, Hippos, Raphana, Pella, Dion, Philadelphia, and Gadara.

Scott Grant: Jesus’ dangerous mission to the other side of the sea turns out to be for the sake of only one person. But that person evangelizes the region. When Jesus returned to the region, the residents received him enthusiastically (Mark 6:53-56). Apparently, the man preached effectively. The parables of Mark 4 are played out in the life of this man in Mark 5. He’s like the good soil in the parable of the sower and the parable of the seed, bearing fruit thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold, canceling out the hard-heartedness of his fellow residents. Instead of putting the lamp under a basket or a bed, he puts it on the lamp stand. He listens carefully to Jesus, in line with the parable of the measure. He’s the first “bird of the air”—the first Gentile—to nest under the shade of Jesus’ mustard plant.

MacArthur: Did his ministry have an effect? Look at chapter 7 for a minute. “A little while later, Jesus goes back into Gentile region of Tyre through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee in the region of Decapolis.” Jesus makes a visit to the Decapolis region. “And they brought to Him one who is deaf and…” Wait a minute, why would they bring somebody to Him who was deaf? He didn’t minister in that area. He had only been there one time, the encounter with this maniac.

4. (:20b) Developing Interest in Jesus

“and everyone marveled.

Not necessarily saving faith – but it did get their attention

Who is this Jesus that even the demons obey him??


Peace, perfect peace, in this dark world of sin?

The blood of Jesus whispers peace within.

Who is this man that even the wind and the seas obey Him?

Who is this man that even the demons obey Him?

Deffinbaugh: there is in demon possession a counterpart to the filling (or control) of the Holy Spirit. Just as demons desire to possess persons through whom they can exhibit their personalities, so the Spirit of God indwells man, imparting new life, and progressively gaining control so that the character of God is exhibited, but not in such a way as to hinder our individuality and identity. May the Spirit of God be so evident in us that men may see God in our lives.