We often relate ourselves to the main characters in the Bible, such as Noah, Abraham, Moses, Elijah, Daniel, etc. But we will be missing a great blessing if we fail to reflect through the Gentiles and sinners who met Jesus. Today, we will be looking at the man from the tombs with an unclean spirit.
1. Jesus got out of the boat
This chapter begins with Jesus crossing over the sea and getting out of the boat. In Jesus’ ministry, we can observe a clear purpose and reason for wherever He goes. There is a work of redemption that needs to be done. Likewise in this place, Jesus comes off the boat and there comes a man from the tombs who had an unclean spirit.
2. Man who had his dwelling among the tombs
Just as Jesus meets with this man from the tombs with an unclean spirit (demons), He is meeting us today. This man is me, for the world we live in is no different from the tombs, filled with spiritual zombies, those without the Spirit of God (Revelation 3:1). If we do not have the Holy Spirit of God in us, we are no different from this man with unclean spirits.
As a result of having an unclean spirit, we do the things that we do not want and should not do, we go to places where we should not be, and speak the things that we do not want to say. Living in the midst of tombs is signifying a life surrounded by death and hopelessness. Where are we today? What spirit do we have, the Holy Spirit or the unclean spirit?
3. Bound with shackles and chains (Mark 5:3-4)
The shackles and chains that were used to bind this man, represent the laws of this world, morals and ethics, and human strength. Such bindings, however, cannot subdue our sinfulness. We say we won’t lose our temper or lie but before we know it, we have lost our tempers and lied and gossiped about others. Nothing can tie down and bind up our sinfulness. Not guilty feelings, warnings, punishment and promises seem to overcome the power of sinfulness. We know we cannot overcome on our own the sinfulness that is deep in us, we repeatedly put the chains and shackles on ourselves again and again (Romans 8:2-3). That is why Jesus had to come in the flesh because our flesh is too weak and cannot overcome sin. He came to save us who are going through the endless cycle of binding ourselves and failing (Galatians 5:1; Colossians 2:14-17; Ephesians 2:22).
Through Jesus, we can triumph over sin. Sin prevails in us because we do not really have the Word and the Holy Spirit in us! For when we become a dwelling place of the Holy Spirit, sin will naturally go away. In other words, Jesus’ love and grace and the power of His Word is the solution, not the shackles and chains (Colossians 2:18-22).
4. Gashing himself (Mark 5:5-7)
When the unclean spirit remains in us, when we breed sin in us, it will harm us, spirit, soul and body. Not only us but our families, and the church too. This is gashing oneself. It is agonizing especially for those who know the word, but yet keep sinfulness, the 2 opposites in one’s life.
The evil spirit recognises Jesus as soon as He appears and said ‘What have you to do with us? Leave us.’ The question is whether we would have the unclean spirit leave or for Jesus to leave. Many will choose darkness to hide there when the light appears. But those who are wise will come to the light and expose themselves to the Lord, asking for help. Then God will cleanse, make us His house and stay there.
There are also other ways, shackles and chains people are bound by. Some are bound by their own righteousness, others by their own standards, ego, pride, morals and ethics, which keeps us from coming to the Lord (Colossians 2:22-23). There are Christians who have been going to church for many years but will not study the Word of God. It cannot make sense as the bible says that God is the Word. And how do we love and know God without knowing His Word?
When Jesus came, this man is freed from the bindings of shackles and chains, from gashing himself, and the torment of evil spirits. This is what Jesus will do for us when we let Him into us too!
5. The unclean spirit (Legion) went into a large herd of swine (Matthew 7:6; Luke 15:15-16).
Swine represents those who do not recognize the treasure, the Word of God.
6. The man clothed and in his right mind
We are the man from the tombs with an unclean spirit, but when Jesus comes into our lives, the evil spirit is cast away and we are now clothed and in our right minds. Where we used to follow the urges of sin, we now can control them. Yet it is not I but Christ in me!
Luke 8:27 described this man as not having put on any clothing for a long time. How long had he been naked? And are we naked today? When Adam sinned and rejected God’s word, His glory and spirit, he found himself naked and ashamed. He tried covering himself with leaves. Eventually, God had to sacrifice an animal to cover him, foreshadowing Jesus’ death on the cross so that our shame can be covered. We may try to hide our shame, and our nakedness with different things (even church work) but God says they are like spider webs which cannot cover us (Isaiah 59:5-6). Only Jesus’ blood can atone and cover us.
Romans 4:5-8 says we have to come to Jesus first. Being clothed with Christ (Galatians 3:27; Revelation 19:8) will lead to righteous acts naturally (James 2:22). May Zion Church be filled with true workers of God, who are not being forced to work, but having been clothed by the love and forgiveness of Jesus, gladly work, to serve Him and each other willingly.
Major redemption work has taken place (Mark 5:16-19) – demons have been cast out and the man is now in his right mind. But what was the reaction of the people? They asked Jesus to leave, because of the great economic loss they had suffered from the loss of the herd of 2,000 swine. Is that why we do not want Jesus to come into our lives – because of financial loss, relationship loss, health loss, etc? The longer we are in sin, the greater the loss will be. In order to get rid of sin, we have to face the loss.
When the man was healed, he asked to stay with Jesus. But Jesus gave him a task instead – to go and tell everyone what had happened to him. The demon possessed man is now an evangelist, a disciple of Jesus Christ. We too have been called to be disciples and to do His work. Today, our task is to testify to the world that Jesus is alive, because we have been saved and set free!