“This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain.” -Mark 5:3
Mark records the amazing journey of Jesus and his disciples. Much of their journey and ministry together took place around the Sea of Galilee. They would move throughout the villages in this area teaching and sharing the message that God’s kingdom was present and open to all the people of the world. This is the good news. As they moved throughout the villages, Jesus and his disciples would often encounter people who needed help. There were many requests, most often for feeding or healing. Jesus would respond with mercy.
On one occasion, Jesus and his disciples were entering the region of the Gerasenes. When they stepped out of the boat they were met by a demon-possessed man. This man lived apart from his community, sleeping in and around the tombs. Mark goes into great detail about this man and his struggles. He must have truly been a problem because Mark records that the people had tried to bind this man in chains, but he was too strong. He would break free and no one or nothing was able to hold him.
When Jesus and his disciples arrived on the shore they were confronted by this man and people from the community. The man ran towards Jesus and asked, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?” (Mark 5:7) This question makes it clear that the demon-possessed man understood who Jesus was. The first part of the story tells us that the demon-possessed man was too strong for anyone, but the second part of the story makes it clear that Jesus is the one with greater authority and power. Mark tells us that Jesus is able to heal the man and remove the demon named Legion that had caused him so much pain and suffering. Jesus tells the man who is now, “dressed and in his right mind” to “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.” (Mark 5:19)
The people did not know how to handle this man who was possessed. They forced him out of their community, they tried to bind him. He was truly a member of the community in trouble. Thankfully, Jesus arrived and was able to help. The man found healing and restoration to his community.
Mark records this encounter for two important reasons. First, Mark wants to remind us that where our strength fails, God’s strength is capable. In Jesus, the power of God was present to bring healing and restoration to this man. Secondly, Mark is teaching us that one of the most important ways to love our neighbors is by bringing them to Jesus, the source of mercy and healing. When we lift our neighbors in prayer and bring their name before the Most High God we connect them to a source of power and strength that is far beyond us. There are so many people around us who are in pain and need healing. Let us take time today to pray for them and connect them to one who brings good news to those who come into his presence.
Rev. Keith King, Pastor of Worship