Freed From Death’s Grip
The man possessed by demons in Mark 5 was utterly alone. He was alienated from his community and, in a very real sense, alienated from himself. He defined isolation. He was greatly in need of help.
We may think we are nothing like this man. After all, we go about clothed. We are able to reason. No one has tied us up. We are not possessed by demons. Yet this man serves as a sobering illustration of our spiritual condition. The Bible says that, by nature, we are all ruled by dark and sinister forces and are dead in our trespasses (Ephesians 2:1-3). Outside of Christ, we may as well be living among the tombs. Outside of Christ, we are the living dead.
This reality is what makes an encounter with Christ so dramatic. For each of us, salvation is an encounter between life and death, light and dark, the power of Christ and the power of evil. The gospel does not just give purpose to life. The gospel is life itself.
This reality is also what makes our transformation in Christ so painful. We should not pretend that surrendering to Christ is easy. When this man possessed by demons encountered Jesus, he seemed to know that Christ was the one who could set him free—but at the same time, he was afraid of what that change would mean. Sinclair Ferguson says, “No man yields to Jesus easily by nature. Tragically, like [this man], men often hold on to their bondage in evil rather than yield to the pain of transformation by Christ’s power and grace.” It is painful to give up our little gods, painful to leave our dark captivity and emerge blinking into the light. But Jesus will allow no other gods before Him, for He will not allow any of His people to remain enslaved.
Only Jesus can cast out evil permanently. That is what this man experienced (Mark 5:15, 18-20), and that is what our lost friends and neighbors ultimately want. They don’t just need a religion or system to make them better people. When they’re honest, they know the problem lies primarily within them, not around them. Then they wonder, “Is there a power strong enough to conquer the evil within me?” There certainly is, and His name is Jesus—the one who went through His death in order to rescue us from ours!
Today, let God remind you of what you are apart from Christ: alienated, lonely, lost. And then ask Him to assure you of what you are in Christ: an ever-living recipient of His eternal mercy. By nature you are a sinner, and in Christ you are saved. The more you grasp this, the more humble and joyful you will be.
How is God calling me to think differently?
How is God reordering my heart’s affections — what I love?
What is God calling me to do as I go about my day today?
Jesus Heals a Man with a Demon
1They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes.1 2And when Jesus2 had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit. 3He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, 4for 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. 5Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones. 6And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him. 7And crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” 8For he was saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” 9And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” 10And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. 11Now a great herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, 12and they begged him, saying, “Send us to the pigs; let us enter them.” 13So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the pigs; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the sea.
14The herdsmen fled and told it in the city and in the country. And people came to see what it was that had happened. 15And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed3 man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. 16And those who had seen it described to them what had happened to the demon-possessed man and to the pigs. 17And they began to beg Jesus4 to depart from their region. 18As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. 19And he did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” 20And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled.
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