Demons do all they can to keep people from following Christ. They hate God. They are in constant war with him. But in Mark 5 we discover in remarkable fashion that demons are all talk. When standing face to face with Christ even the Devil cowers.
MARK - THE GOSPEL OF ACTION
“WHEN PIGS ARE PREFERRED”
(Beginning of tape missing) Our three kids. What an experience. And all in the name of Christmas, huh? My wife called me at the study this morning. I was there and she called me and was as frantic as could be. She said, “The water heater is broken and our entire family room is flooded.” And so, she is home, I imagine, mopping up. Out of everyone here, I’m the happiest to be here this morning. I’m glad to be here. Hope you are too.
I want to turn your attention to Mark, chapter 5. Mark, chapter 5, where we continue a study on the sovereignty of Christ and, especially, His sovereignty as seen over the demon world. He is going to confront one of the most terrifying men in that part of the country. This is one of the most terrifying experiences I have ever read in the New Testament. And yet, Jesus Christ handles this problem, this situation with all of the calm of a sovereign Christ.
And I want you to look at chapter 5, verse 1. “And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes.” - or to the city of Gadara. Now, you need to remember that they have just made that trip that we studied last week. We were in Mark, chapter 4, and they had the storm. Do you remember? And Jesus Christ stilled the storm. Well, they are still in the night. They have now come over to the other side. This is exactly what happened next. Now, I don’t know how well you take interruptions. I don’t take them very well. In fact, my wife and I think that life is probably made more of interruptions than planned events. Well, the disciples and Jesus Christ are about to have another interruption. You remember now, they’ve come away for a retreat. They’ve come away for some rest and a little relaxation. They’ve left the busy crowds and they’ve gotten into the boat. And they come over to the other side and they step on shore, not for a time of rest, look what happens next.
Verse 2, “And when He was come out of the ship, immediately there met Him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit.” - or a man demon possessed or demonized, as the New Testament refers to him. Now, there is no doubt that any of you would agree that the demon world is a terrifying reality. But there is no passage in scripture that, I think, elucidates that point more clearly than Mark, chapter 5. And I want to give you, if you have notes, three things revealed to us about demons. The first thing is that they have superhuman strength. Look at verse 3, this man - “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,” - or stocks - “and the chains had been” - snapped, literally - “by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him.” The word “tame” is the same word referred to as the taming of a wild animal. It was impossible. And, I imagine, in that day, he was known as “The Madman of Gadara.” As I went back, in my imagination, to that town, there isn’t a doubt in my mind that children would wake crying as they would hear the screams of that man echoing from cavern to cavern. You see, Gadara, the coastline there, is a place filled with caves. Caves dot that land site. And what it is, literally, are tombs. They are tombs. They bury the dead there. It’s a place of death. And whenever, if you lived in the city of Gadara, and you wanted to go down to the seashore, you would by-pass this area because it’s a graveyard. But even more than that, there was the madman there and everyone knew of him. There were blacksmiths that would hold chains up that they had just forged and think, “Surely these chains will hold the madman.” There would be rope makers who would bind ropes and make them just a little stronger and say, “Surely, these ropes will hold the madman.” And then they would gather parties of men on occasion, implied in this passage, and they would go and they would capture this man, who ran naked, wild hair and beard, screaming at the top of his voice. The text says, day and night, verse 5, “And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs,” - screaming, or - “crying, and cutting himself with stones.” What a ghastly picture. And they would, literally, attack this man. They would hold him down. They’d bind him with chains. He would snap them aside, as if they were twigs. The demons, in that man, gave superhuman strength to his flesh.
Secondly, they were persistently cruel. Demons were persistently cruel. You ought to jot it, or underline, the word “always,” in verse 5, “always, night and day”. That is continuously, no rest, no peace to this individual who was demon possessed. And they were so cruel.
Thirdly, they had destructive tendencies. It says in the last part of verse 5, that he was always “cutting himself with stones.” He was lacerating his body with stones. Perhaps, it was akin to demon worship. You remember when the prophet took on all of the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel? Do you remember what happened? Those prophets began to cut themselves with stones and sharp instruments. That was part of the demon worship. And it seems that these demons, who had inhabited this man, actually used him as a living sacrifice. They were always using him, as if he were being sacrificed continually to the demon world. And so, from head to toe: gashes, open sores. How cruel. What an awesome picture and terrible picture this is for us.
And so, if we could take just a moment and put this VCR on pause and step back and take a look at the picture, the disciples have gotten off the boat, Jesus has gotten off, and almost as if; Mark says “immediately,” when His foot hits the shore, they hear a scream. And there, up on the hillside, they can see just through the dim light, they can see running toward them, this “Madman of Gadara,” that they had probably heard of. And I want you to visualize, there’s Jesus standing on the seashore. Maybe His hands are behind His back. He’s watching the man rush toward Him. But, I also see twelve men, running the other way. I can just see Peter knocking James and John down to get into the boat. They are trying to get out of there. They have heard of this guy, “The Madman of Gadara.” They’re ready to leave.
It says though, that when he approaches Jesus, perhaps he didn’t recognize Him from afar off, and he rushes up to Him, and I don’t know when he recognized who He was but instead of jumping on Him and tearing at Him, he falls prostrate. Look at the text, “But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and” - when he got to Him, in fact he - “worshipped Him” - or he fell down. Verse 7, “And cried with a loud voice, and said, ‘What have I to do with Thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God?” Let me give you a couple of things, in your notes, that it reveals something in his reaction about the demon world, as well, because we see the supremacy of Christ. First of all, they recognize deity. They said, “What have I to do with Thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God?” This is a phrase used in the Old Testament, time and time again. It was a title that referred to the awesome majesty of God. These demons recognized, in the person of Jesus Christ, nothing less than deity. You know, when I see men today, denying the deity of Jesus Christ, I think they are more foolish than the demons themselves because they knew exactly who He was.
Secondly, they tremble at His power. Look at the last part of verse 7, “I adjure Thee” - I beg Thee - “by God”. In other words, he was, in effect, trying to put Jesus under an oath. He was, literally, saying, “Swear by God, You won’t torment me.” Now, if he had been able to do that and Jesus would have said, “I swear by God,” Jesus would have sinned. So, perhaps, this is a demonic trick to try to get Jesus to commit sin. But he says, “Swear” - “by God, that Thou torment me not.” Now, we would have to take a guess at, perhaps, the torment. Perhaps, verse 10, gives us an indication, “And he besought Him much that He would not send them away out of the country.” The demon world knows of coming judgment. They know that there will come a day when the Son of God will commit them to the abyss forever.
Now, it also, and I don’t have room in your notes for this, but it also shows us that demons do not know the future, nor can they read the mind of man. If they could have, they would have known that Jesus was coming, not to send them to the abyss but, to establish His kingdom. Perhaps, they were not aware of that. They also didn’t know whether or not Jesus Christ was going to send them to the abyss then rather than later. So they didn’t know, they were limited in their knowledge. As I said, this passage reveals an awful lot about the demon world.
Thirdly, the demons are bound by the will of Christ. They are bound by the will of Christ. “I” - beg - “‘Thee by God, that Thou torment me not.’ For He said unto him, ‘Come out of the man’”. You see, Jesus had already said, “Come out.” Now, they didn’t come out immediately. It’s interesting that He will deal with demoniacs, time and time again, and He may say a word and they will flee, here He says a word and they argue with Him, even though He is the Christ. So they beg Him instead, to send them, verse 10, into swine. Look at verse 11, “Now there was there nigh” - or near - “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” - immediately - “Jesus gave them leave.” - or Jesus Christ, literally, said one word, your translation may read it, it says, “Go,” one word, “Go.” And all of those demons left that man “and entered into the swine”. Look at what happens, “and the herd ran violently down a steep place” - or off a cliff - “into the sea”. Mark uses four different verbs, there were five verbs. He’s giving a snapshot picture. The aorist tense is used so everything is happening fast. He says, “Go.” The demons leave. They enter the swine. The swine rush off the cliff. And then, Mark changes the tense to imperfect, which slows down as if the camera is now in slow motion. And you see a ghastly scene. Two thousand pigs, drowning to death, in slow motion. What a picture.
Now, when I read this passage, I asked the question that, maybe, you would ask. Come on, Lord, that’s cruel. Two thousand pigs, you know, off a cliff. Why? Why didn’t He just commit them to the abyss? Why didn’t He just say, “Go and go to the place that I’ve reserved for punishment.” Well let me suggest to you and you could, perhaps, jot them down in the bottom of your notes, three reasons that may clear up the problem. Number one, I believe that Jesus was giving proof, to all who were observing, that deliverance had indeed taken place. And especially to this man. He gave wonderful assurance to this man, as he saw those pigs rushing off the cliff, there was no doubt, he was delivered. And when the city would come out, there was no doubt that he, in fact, had been delivered of all of the demons. So, it was a visual story, at best, that deliverance had been given.
Number two, it was a vivid object lesson to the city. Now, notice this, it was a vivid object lesson to the city that, to Satan, a pig is as good as a man. Now, isn’t it interesting that the demons do not want to be disembodied? We don’t have time for all of that but they do not want to be in a disembodied state. And if they can’t have a man, they’ll take a pig. It doesn’t matter. They will be just as happy, just as content, just as fulfilled, as a demon can be, to dwell inside a pig. What a picture this gave that town of the demon world. And to all of those who would follow anyone but Christ, they are as insignificant to Satan and the demons as any pig. It doesn’t matter to him. Oh, it is only to Jesus Christ that you are really worth anything. When He comes to indwell you, you are a precious object to Him. But, when you follow, as if it were, Satan, you are totally insignificant, except that his way may be had.
Let me give you a third reason that I think, that it was an act of judgment. It was an act of judgment. You need to understand, it was unlawful to have pigs. It was unlawful to have swine. What were these people doing? They were dealing in the black market. Evidently, Gadara was supplying all of those Jewish towns and all of those Jewish rebels with pork. Now, all it was to them was an early slaughter because I’m sure they got them out of the water and then cut them up and cured them and everything else. But what this was, I think, was an act of judgment. Jesus Christ was saying, “Hey, what’s going on here? Two thousand swine? You’re not even supposed to have them. You’re watching all those barbecued ribs out there, BLT’s, and all of that. You’re not even supposed to be eating it. You’re not supposed to have it.” And so, that helped me understand as I considered it an act of judgment on this city. Actually, all Jesus Christ did was clean up their act. He got rid of things that they weren’t supposed to have. Two thousand swine.
Now, I want you to notice, thirdly, in your notes, the saving work of Christ as a transforming experience. Look at the text, this is wonderful, notice verse 14, “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” - or with demons - “and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid.” The wonderful thing about this is when Jesus asked the man, “What is thy name?” - or “What is your name?” I think that Jesus was trying to awaken in him the sense of personality because he was so overcome with another force, demons. And he said, interestingly, “My name is” - and that’s when I think the demons took over and they said, “My name is Legion”. Now this was an occupied territory and there were legions of Roman soldiers. And a legion was 6,000 soldiers. Now, there is a debate if it were, literally, 6,000 demons or simply an idiom for “there are many of us.” We don’t know but we do know there were 2,000 swine that went rushing off that cliff. And so, those swine responded and Jesus then exorcised the man. And then, you notice, that he is clothed and he is sitting, probably the first time in a long time that he ever wore clothes. And he is seated. That means he is content for the first time in a long time. And he is in his right mind. And notice what the city, how they responded. They were afraid. Drop back down to verse 18, “And when He was come into the ship,” - Jesus is ready to leave - “he that had been possessed with the devil prayed” - or begged - “Him that he might be with Him. Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, ‘Go home to thy friends,’” - or to they kinsmen, thy folks - “and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.” You know, isn’t it wonderful that here is a man who was “The Madman of Gadara.” Everyone feared him. Mothers would draw their children close at night because the children were frightened, as they heard the screams echoing from cavern to cavern. Here is the crazy man, who people were afraid of, now transformed. And Jesus Christ uses him now as one of His evangelists. What a transforming experience.
You know, there are a lot of changes taking place in America today. One of the fastest changes taking place is that in the business world. It is that with all of the computerization and all of the machinery. It’s amazing what’s happening! I love to see all of the changes with transportation, cars, airplanes. To think that my grandfather saw all of that taking place in just his lifetime. Amazing changes that have taken place that we have observed. I read, recently, where Andrew Jackson wrote in his diary, he said, “We’ve finally arrived in Washington and we’re very much fatigued because we’ve been traveling for two days and have actually covered 70 miles.” Think of the changes that have happened in the last hundred years. But, you know, when we read the story of an individual like this, there is no greater change than the change that comes when Jesus Christ invades your life and my life. When we allow Him to take up residency, when we invite Him in, the transformation is incredible.
Now, he begged Jesus to allow him to go with Him. But I want you to notice that Jesus says, two words that are very key, and underline them, “Go home”. “Go home”. You know, what’s fascinating is that this city would echo in chorus, “Jesus leave. Leave.” And finally, He left because He will never stay where He’s not wanted. But, when He left, He, in fact, gave them, instead, a missionary, an evangelist. But, you know what He says? He tells him to first, “Go home”. Now that’s not very intriguing. In fact, it would be hard to be impressive by going home, wouldn’t it? They know your nickname. They know your reputation. “Oh, we remember you.” He’s telling him to “Go home”. But, you know what, ladies and gentlemen, I really believe that your testimony and my testimony must invade our homes. You know, some of you have been saved since you have left home. You have lost relatives. You may have people who were best of friends to you and you have since gotten saved, you’ve been reborn, and, perhaps, they don’t even know. But, they’ll listen to your voice. It’s interesting that Jesus Christ didn’t take time to go to his home. He knew that his testimony would be enough and so He sent him home. You know, I think one of the burdens that ought to be in our hearts is the burden for relatives, for family, for close friends back home. Maybe a card this season, maybe a letter, maybe a phone call might be just what Jesus Christ will use to bring that individual to Himself. You know, I want us to take this message ourselves, “Go home.” It might be a teacher, it might be a principal, it might be a coworker, it might be a father, a mother, a son, a daughter, a relative who need to hear the message if we will only go home.
Let me give you four things, by way of application, how to allow Christ to defeat Satan’s advances in our own lives. The sovereignty of Christ is an incredible thing, as it’s revealed over nature and now over demons. Four things that will help you and help me. Now, if you are a believer, you never have to fear possession because the Spirit of God resides in your personality and He will not make room for demon. However, the advances of Satan can so obsess you that your testimony is stymied. The temptation brought on by the demon world, perhaps, the world of flesh, whatever it might be can stop what God wants to do in your life. What can we do to make sure that the sovereignty of Christ is advanced by our testimony? Number one, be aware. II Corinthians, chapter 2, verse 11, the apostle Paul says, one of three times, “I don’t want you to be ignorant of” - something - “I don’t want you to be ignorant” - and one of the things that he said was - “I don’t want you to be ignorant of Satan’s devices.” The word is “methodia(?)” from method. “I don’t want you to be ignorant of Satan’s methods. Be aware! Know what’s going on. He is a roaring lion and he always comes in disguise, especially to those who are believers. He will disguise his device.”
Secondly, be prepared. Turn over to Ephesians, chapter 6, for just a second. Ephesians, chapter 6. Be prepared. We are given, in that classic passage of scripture, the armor that we are to wear as believers so that the cause of Christ might be advanced. And I want you to notice what he says in verse 10, Ephesians, chapter 6, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles” - the “methodia(?),” the methods, the snares, the schemes, the strategies - “of the devil.” You see, it is not enough, ladies and gentlemen, to be aware that he’s out there. It is not enough to be aware that there is temptation. You must go one step further and be prepared to take the attack. And He gives us the armor.
Jot into your notes, thirdly, you need to be disciplined. Look at verse 18, it is not enough to simply be prepared. He says, “Praying always” - or, literally, on every occasion - “with all prayer” - or with all kinds of prayer, that’s general - “and supplication” - that’s specific - “in the Spirit, and watching . . . with all perseverance” - the word “watch” means, literally, to “wake up,” wake up to the advance, to the dart, to the oncoming enemy. Yes, we need to be aware, we need to be prepared but let’s be disciplined in our prayer. Let’s be disciplined in that relationship with OUR God so that when the attack comes, we will be ready.
And then, finally, I want you to be encouraged. James, chapter 4, verse 7, says to, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” To “resist,” the word means, literally, to take a stand against. How do you take a stand against? By being aware, by being prepared, by being disciplined. When those things are in operation, we can be encouraged because by resisting, it’s a present tense which means continuously, every day, every moment, be standing against. We can be encouraged.
Now, go back, for just a second, to that passage we were looking at in Mark, chapter 5. And I want you to notice the reaction of the city that is very tragic. Mark, chapter 5, go back to verse 16, “And they that saw it told them” - or told the city - “how it befell to him that was possessed with the devil, and also concerning the swine.” Notice verse 17, “And they began to pray Him to depart”. The word means to, literally, beg over and over and over and over again. They began to beg Jesus, “Please, leave. Leave our city. Leave Gadara. Never come back.” Why? I think Jesus had made that city very uncomfortable because He had invaded their possessions, He had invaded their investments, He had invaded their religion, He had exposed them. “Leave.” And yet, how tragic because what they were, in effect, saying was, “Lord, it came time to choose. And we would rather have the swine than have the Savior. We would rather have sausage on our plate than the Son of God in our city. We would rather hear the grunt of hogs than see the goodness of God in Gadara.” In my study I came across a rather startling fact. If you were to go to Gadara today, there on the seacoast, you would find tombs, you would find the graveyards, and you would find the bones of men dead now for centuries. But you would also find a people, wild and savage, called Troglodytes, who are dwellers in tombs, the descendants of the people who said to Jesus one day, “Leave our city.” We have no record in scripture that Jesus Christ ever came back.
If you are without Jesus Christ, this morning, my friend, He’s landed on your coast. He’s come and He’s available. And it is a dangerous thing to tell Jesus Christ, “No.” It is an awful thing to have the Holy Spirit speaking to your personality, to your mind, to your heart and the convicting work of God to be there and you say, “No.”
And yet, for those of us who believe, what a challenge this demon possessed man, who has been liberated, “The Madman of Gadara,” who is now an evangelist, who is now a missionary. The text goes on to say that he, not only gave the gospel there, but he gave it in the Decapolis or in the ten cities. This guy was on fire! Man, you couldn’t stop him! He started at home and his ministry expanded to ten Greek cities. What a story! I wonder if we’ve started at home?