Among the Gravestones

Read: MARK 5:1-20

[1] They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. [2] When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an impure spirit came from the tombs to meet him. [3] This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. [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. [5] Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones. [6] When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. [7] He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In God’s name don’t torture me!” [8] For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you impure spirit!” [9] Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” “My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” [10] And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area. [11] A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. [12]The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.” [13] He gave them permission, and the impure spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned. [14] Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. [15] When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. [16] Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man-and told about the pigs as well. [17] Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region. [18]As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. [19] Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” [20] So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.



In this passage, Jesus finds himself among human wreckage: a man that others have given up on. The demon-possessed man is so damaged that he has become an outcast, sent away to live “in the tombs” (3). According to pious Jews, graveyards were places of contamination. You couldn’t get much more ritually “unclean” than this, because this man was also living in non-Jewish territory, among pigs. Yet this is precisely where Jesus goes. The demon-possessed man has been overtaken by not one, but many tormenting spirits (9). Their aim is not only to possess him, but also to destroy everything that is human about him, and they have largely succeeded (5). Mark wants to show his readers what it means for the kingdom of God to break into the world. The demons react with terror and submission (7); and for the locals, Jesus’ power is too much – they are afraid and they want their old safe lives back (15,17). But for the demon-possessed man there is deep liberation as he grabs his second chance at life, and in turn he shows gratitude, obedience and devotion. How might you have reacted?



In Mere Christianity, CS Lewis writes: “Give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it.”



Jesus, may I never send You away from any area of my life. Help me to allow You to challenge every part of me.


Syndicated via Scripture Union. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Terry Schneider