Thoughts for the Day

Monday, 29th January 2024: A healing that spreads the Good News!

Mark 5 Miracle Gentiles Good News Jesus Healing

Reading : Verses from Mark, Chapter 5

Map of Decapolis

They came to the other side of the lake, to the country of the Gerasenes. And when he had stepped out of the boat, immediately a man out of the tombs with an unclean spirit met him. He lived among the tombs; and no one could restrain him any more, even with a chain; for he had often been restrained with shackles and chains, but the chains he wrenched apart, and the shackles he broke in pieces; and no one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always howling and bruising himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and bowed down before him; and he shouted at the top of his voice, ‘What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.’ For he had said to him, ‘Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!’ Then Jesus asked him, ‘What is your name?’ He replied, ‘My name is Legion; for we are many.’ He begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. Now there on the hillside a great herd of swine was feeding; and the unclean spirits begged him, ‘Send us into the swine; let us enter them.’ So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the lake, and were drowned in the lake.

The swineherds ran off and told it in the city and in the country. Then people came to see what it was that had happened. They came to Jesus and saw the demoniac sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, the very man who had had the legion; and they were afraid. Those who had seen what had happened to the demoniac and to the swine reported it. Then they began to beg Jesus to leave their neighbourhood. As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed by demons begged him that he might be with him. But Jesus refused, and said to him, ‘Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and what mercy he has shown you.’ And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed.

(Lectionary, New Revised Standard Version)


Like many preachers I have avoided this passage, but there is much to be said, not least to say the most important point comes in the last sentence. Jesus has travelled across the Sea of Galilee at night to the Decapolis on the eastern shore. These ten cities are almost completely settled by Greeks, though to some extent overseen by Rome. In one of the caves along this shore a man whom Mark says was inhabited by demons, lives. He is kept chained up because he is so strong but keeps breaking out. But if we notice the way he slips in and out of the singular and the plural: "do not torment me" and then later "we are many", we might think this is some kind of madness, today. As for the pigs, well isn't it more likely that the man's 'demonic' yells and screams frightened them into running?

Importantly we should notice that when the man is cured the people of the area cannot wait to get rid of Jesus. They are less bothered by the demoniac than by the power that Jesus has displayed. He is seen as disturbing their peace, by offering them a power greater than they can comprehend. Sometimes people turn away from Jesus, not because they don't believe, but because he can disturb their life too much!

Lastly, if we feel upset that Jesus doesn't accept the man's offer to follow him, we should notice that Jesus confers on him a greater job. He is to spread the Good News that Jesus brings among the gentile cities of the Decapolis.


Lord Jesus Christ,
help us always to welcome
You into our life.
May we see Your presence
as a positive thing,
even when our routine
or our plans are disturbed.
Help us to accept that
Your way is always the best.

Follow Up Thoughts

For more about the Decapolis, see this article:

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