“They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit. He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, for 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. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones.” - Mark 5:1-5
After a tumultuous night at sea, Jesus and his disciples landed in the country of the Gerasenes. Their experience during the storm had taught the twelve a powerful lesson: Jesus had authority over the wind and the waves. With just three spoken words, he had calmed a raging tempest. His command, “Peace! Be still!”, was not just for the weather but for the overwhelmed disciples as well (Mark 4:39). The same men who had been terrified of the squall came to fear the one who demonstrated complete authority over the forces of nature. Throughout his Gospel, Mark will continue to expose misplaced fear and reveal how the presence of Jesus transforms it.
No one in the land of the Gerasenes inspired fear quite like the demoniac who came out to meet Jesus. Mark paints a vivid portrait of a man who lived among graves, was possessed by an unclean spirit, and could not be bound or subdued even by shackles and chains. This poor wretch did not sleep but cried out and cut himself throughout every day and night. Once again, we see the theme of ceremonial uncleanliness. A good, law-abiding Jew would never approach the tombs, let alone live among them. This man’s physical surroundings rendered him unclean, as did his possessed spirit.
What were the people to do with such a man? They could not cure him. They could not restrain him. The only option seemed to be to stay as far away from him, and the area he inhabited, as possible. Thankfully, as we shall see, Jesus had a different perspective. Where others saw a deranged, dangerous, and unclean man, he saw an isolated, tormented child of God in desperate need of healing.
In this narrative, the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan collide. While Jesus comes to heal, save, and restore, Satan comes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). We can see Satan’s work, not only in the appearance and destructive nature of the demoniac, but also in his self-mutilation. This wretched man was being held captive in a stronghold of evil. The demons were well aware of the spiritual battle raging between the two kingdoms. They also knew that Jesus had authority even over them. The possessed man, the disciples, and the people in the surrounding towns would soon learn about the authority of Jesus as well.
What about you? Do you recognize the ongoing war between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan? Do you remember who has the true authority? While the temporal battle rages on, the ultimate victory is already secured. Jesus conquered sin, death, and all the forces of evil through his death and resurrection. You are invited to recognize the battle, look to the one who has already won, and then claim that victory for yourself.
Reflect and Respond:
How would the Lord like to expand your vision so that you can see beyond the battles of this world and recognize the true war? It is not between races, religions, or even political parties. It is between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan. We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
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