These are my notes from a sermon series I did through the gospel of Mark. It has not been proofed for spelling or grammatical errors. I present it to you as-is.
Salvation is not about going from bad to good, but from dead to alive. Today, we are going to encounter a man who went from spiritually dead to spiritually alive. This man illustrates the total depravity of man. The total depravity of man refers to the truth that every person is completely corrupted by sin.
- For you, this corruption began at your conception. You were born with a sinful nature that you inherited from Adam and Eve.
- That sinful nature has corrupted you mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. You are born into this world totally depraved.
- Everything about you has been contaminated with sin. You see it in the way you think about God, about yourself, and about others.
- You see it in how you treat yourself and how you treat others.
- The sinful nature is why you lie, deceive, gossip, and lust. The sinful nature is why people steal, murder, commit adultery, and abuse people.
- The sinful nature is why people don’t trust God or believe in God.
- The sinful nature is why you don’t do the things you should and the things you should not do, you do.
- Every mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual deformity is a result of the sinful nature that everyone has.
- The sinful nature does not mean you will sin all you can, but it does mean you will rebel against God at some level.
Jesus came to confront this sinful nature and the kingdom of darkness who use it to their advantage. You cannot fix your sinful nature, only Jesus can do that. The Bible is clear, Jesus came to seek and save those who were lost. He came to save us from our sin, our sinful nature. We cannot save or repair ourselves. Only Jesus can do that. When His divinity meets our depravity, it is a beautiful collision.
We get a wonderful glimpse of this collision in Mark 5 when Jesus encounters a demon possessed man whose depravity has taken him to the worse place possible. Let’s take a look.
Mark 5:1-20, So they arrived at the other side of the lake, in the region of the Gerasenes. 2 When Jesus climbed out of the boat, a man possessed by an evil spirit came out from the tombs to meet him. 3 This man lived in the burial caves and could no longer be restrained, even with a chain. 4 Whenever he was put into chains and shackles—as he often was—he snapped the chains from his wrists and smashed the shackles. No one was strong enough to subdue him. 5 Day and night he wandered among the burial caves and in the hills, howling and cutting himself with sharp stones.
6 When Jesus was still some distance away, the man saw him, ran to meet him, and bowed low before him. 7 With a shriek, he screamed, “Why are you interfering with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In the name of God, I beg you, don’t torture me!” 8 For Jesus had already said to the spirit, “Come out of the man, you evil spirit.”
9 Then Jesus demanded, “What is your name?” And he replied, “My name is Legion, because there are many of us inside this man.” 10 Then the evil spirits begged him again and again not to send them to some distant place.
11 There happened to be a large herd of pigs feeding on the hillside nearby. 12 “Send us into those pigs,” the spirits begged. “Let us enter them.” 13 So Jesus gave them permission. The evil spirits came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the entire herd of about 2,000 pigs plunged down the steep hillside into the lake and drowned in the water.
14 The herdsmen fled to the nearby town and the surrounding countryside, spreading the news as they ran. People rushed out to see what had happened. 15 A crowd soon gathered around Jesus, and they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons. He was sitting there fully clothed and perfectly sane, and they were all afraid. 16 Then those who had seen what happened told the others about the demon-possessed man and the pigs. 17 And the crowd began pleading with Jesus to go away and leave them alone.
18 As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon possessed begged to go with him. 19 But Jesus said, “No, go home to your family, and tell them everything the Lord has done for you and how merciful he has been.” 20 So the man started off to visit the Ten Towns of that region and began to proclaim the great things Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed at what he told them. (NLT)
This event is a great illustration of Jesus coming to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10). 1 John 3:8 says, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.” This miraculous encounter with Jesus is one small illustration of Jesus destroying the devil’s work in one man’s life.
Today, we are going to focus on the demon possessed man and next time we will focus on Jesus and what Jesus does for this man.
The need for Jesus (1-5)
First of all, let’s take a look at the need for Jesus. This man is a perfect illustration of the truth that no one is outside of God’s reach. No matter how desperate, dangerous, and depraved they may be Jesus can reach them, transform them, and reform them. Let’s take a look at the condition of this man. Let’s focus on verses 1-5.
Just so you know, Matthew mentions two-possessed men (Matt. 8:28), while Luke (8:27) and Mark focus on one. What do we see here?
We need Jesus because of the kingdom of darkness
The first thing we see is a person controlled by an evil spirit. We are told in verse 2 that he is “possessed by an evil spirit.”
We do not know how he got into this condition. Demon possession is a mysterious but very real condition. What is demon possession?
- Demon possession is an extreme form of control, where one or more evil spirits control a person’s mind, body, and voice. It is spiritual and supernatural in nature. It goes beyond scientific, psychological, or medical explanation.
- Whenever the Bible mentions demon possession, it does so to demonstrate the greater power of God (cf. Eph. 1:21).
- Let me be clear, just because someone acts strangely, has some form of mental illness, emotional illness, or tries to hurt themselves is not necessarily a sign of demon possession. Because of the sinful nature we all inherited from Adam and Eve people will suffer all types of illnesses apart from demons. The sinful nature corrupts our bodies, minds, and emotions and for some that can be severe. In this case of the man in Mark 5, this is demon possession.
- Also, not all demon possessed people act like this man. Some demon possessed people can act very intelligent, very sane, and sound very right. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 11:14, “Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no wonder that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness” (vs. 14-15, NLT). Demon possessed men and women can often appear very normal and righteous.
Instead of being angry at this man, Jesus had compassion for him. Jesus saw beyond the terrible wreckage of a demented and dangerous individual. He saw, way down beneath all of the conflict and confusion, a lost and desperate man.
We need Jesus because of rejection
The second thing we see about this man is that he is rejected. According to verse 3, “this man lived in the burial caves.” He lives in a cemetery. Because of his contact with the dead and things of the dead this man would be classified as unclean by the Jews and therefore unwanted at the synagogue. He would not be welcomed at church because of where he lives.
The Gentiles of that day had strong beliefs about cemeteries and tombs being haunted. This is that place that students would dare each other to go up to the tombs and touch the grave where the crazy man lived. But the bottom line is that this demon-possessed man was more comfortable among the dead than among the living. Because of where he lived and how he acted he was rejected by the community.
We need Jesus because of our violence
Another thing we see about this man is that he was violent. Mark tells us at the end of verse 3 that he, “could no longer be restrained, even with a chain. 4 Whenever he was put into chains and shackles—as he often was—he snapped the chains from his wrists and smashed the shackles. No one was strong enough to subdue him.”
- When Matthew comments about this man in Matthew 8:28 he says that he was “so violent that no one could go through that area” (NLT).
- The problem with this man was that he was so violent and aggressive that he would attack those who He saw walking through or near the cemetery. Because of this, from time to time, a group of people would gather chains and march up to the cemetery subdue him, put the chains on him, but he would eventually “snap the chains from his writs and smash the shackles” from his ankles. We are told this occurred “often.”
- Because of the demon possession, he had supernatural strength. In the Bible you find other cases of where people who are controlled by an evil spirit have supernatural strength (Acts 19:16).
Because he was so violent people tried to chain him in order to protect themselves and him, but nothing would work. So, most of the time they simply left him alone.
The further a person tries to live away from God the more angry they become. They get angry at God, angry at themselves, angry at the world, angry their circumstances and they begin to lash out at others. It is very difficult to have peace when you are away from the prince of peace.
We need Jesus because of our loneliness
Another thing I see about this man is his loneliness. Verse 5 says, “Day and night he wandered among the burial caves and in the hills….” The only other person in his life was another man who was demon possessed. He was isolated from human contact. He had no friends, cut off from family and community. That’s exactly where the devil wants you. He wants you living the opposite of how God designed you to live. God made you to need others in your life. God made you for community. These demons had completely separated this man from anyone significant in his life.
Because of his behavior and actions he has pushed everyone away. Those who loved him, he has pushed away. Those who cared about him and tried to help him, he has pushed away. That is exactly what the devil wants you to do. He doesn’t want you to have relationships or fellowship with anyone who might help you to know Jesus or to live for God. The devil wants to steal, kill, and destroy anything that God might bring into your life, including healthy relationships.
We need Jesus because of our self-destruction
This man was controlled by an evil spirit, he was rejected, lived in loneliness, treated others with violence, and was self-destructive. At the end of verse 5, Mark tells us that this man was “howling and cutting himself with sharp stones.” He lived and acted like a wild animal. Howled like a wolf. He cut himself repeatedly. I cannot imagine what this man must have looked like and smelled like. Very little clothes. Covered in dirt. Unkept hair. Unkept beard. Wild look in his eyes. Almost not human like.
If there was ever a man who was beyond all help, this was the guy. Everything about him said, “hopeless” or “useless.” By all appearance, this man was a lost cause, except for Jesus. Jesus saw someone worth saving, rescuing, and delivering.
- Where there was shame, Jesus would bring dignity.
- Where there was anger, Jesus would bring peace.
- Where there was loneliness, Jesus would bring acceptance.
- Where there hopelessness, Jesus would bring hope.
This man didn’t know it, but his life was about to change.
My guess is that none of us know anyone as bad off as this guy was. I mean, do you know anyone as bad off as this? Are you as bad off as this guy? No. If Jesus can reach him and help him and deliver him He can do the same for you.
You may know someone who is in bad shape. They have made a wreck of their lives. No matter how horrible their lives are or how crazy they seem to be we should never give up on anyone, because no one is outside of God’s reach. Even though this man was self-destructive, he was about to go from being self-destructive to a kingdom builder. He is about to go from bringing fear to bringing faith.
This man serves as an illustration of how far the sinful nature and the kingdom of darkness can take a person. This man was dead in his sins. Spiritually speaking, he was the walking dead. He was consumed by his sin and by a legion of demons. His depravity is on full display for all to see. He cannot save himself. Others cannot rescue Him. It will take a divine encounter from Jesus Christ to bring this man out from among the darkness into the light. It would take a miracle.
Salvation is not about going from bad to good, but from dead to alive. In light of what we have just learned about this demon possessed man I want you to listen carefully to Ephesians 2.
Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. 2 You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. 3 All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.
4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, 5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) 6 For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. 7 So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.
8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. (NLT)