Mark 5:1-20 Unclean Cultures.
When storms come, as it did for Jesus and his disciples, it is not always an indication of the need to turn back from our given purpose. Jesus intent was to take the gospel of the kingdom as far as the curse is found. It is by trusting and looking to Jesus in the midst of the storm that we find courage and rest for the journey forward. Things on the other side of the sea were no different than they had been up to this point – it was the spiritual world of evil spirits who knew right away exactly who Jesus was. The man who came forward to Jesus from the tombs lived a solitary life, and we read that he was possessed by an evil spirit who was actually many, so that the man was placed in shackles and chains, but even these could not keep him restrained (vv. 1-4). He lived a very self-destructive life (v. 5).
How ironic then that the words coming out of the man’s mouth were a plea to not be tormented, but it was the evil spirit speaking and not the man. The evil spirits had free course in the man’s life, free to torment the man, so that he engaged in self-destructive behaviour. We also learn here that the evil spirits simply cannot refrain from making a true confession of who Jesus is and worshipping him, which is a sobering thought since many are able to do this with absolutely no spiritual renovation of the soul (vv. 6-7). Jesus commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man, that is a Legion of many – which was their name (vv. 8-9). Not satisfied with not tormenting some poor creature, they asked to be sent into a herd of swine, about 2000, showing to the people their unclean culture (vv. 10-13).
The people of that culture had normalized unclean self-destructive demonic behaviour, but when one of their own whom they tried to keep chained up was found to be clothed and of a sound mind, they demanded that Jesus leave them alone (vv. 14-17). History is riddled with countries and cultures who loved darkness and hated the pure light of truth. Whole cultures would rather live in bondage than confess God’s sovereignty and worship him. The man who was healed knew this, and being now of sound mind and body, he wanted to follow Jesus, but Jesus gave him a mission, like he does with all whom he delivers, to be a living testimony to what the Lord had done for him – the worst of the worst. So this man became a preacher, and those who knew him had living proof of the power of God in the gospel (vv. 18-20).