Bible Commentaries
Mark 5

Hawker's Poor Man's CommentaryPoor Man's Commentary

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Verses 1-5


The LORD JESUS healeth the Man possessed with a Legion: he cures the Woman with the Bloody Issue, and raiseth the Daughter of Jairus.

AND they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes. (2) And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, (3) Who had his dwelling among the tombs: and no man could bind him, no, not with chains: (4) Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him. (5) And always night and day he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones.

Notice hath been already taken of the country where this event took place. Matthew 8:28 . It will be unnecessary on that part to enlarge, but rather hasten to the consideration of the interesting case here recorded. Our LORD himself by the Evangelist, hath caused the several distressing circumstances of this poor demoniac to be related so particularly, as they refer to the sufferings of his body, that after mediating on the awful consequences of the fall, on that ground it will be profitable to attend to the more calamitous effects wrought by it on the soul. And here the description falls far short, of what it really is. Every man by nature, while in an unconverted state, is under the full sway and influence of an unclean spirit, as far as relates to himself. And was it not for restraining grace, of which the sinner is wholly unconscious, what tremendous evils, in ten thousand times ten thousand instances, would take place. We are by nature, and by the conquest Satan hath made over our nature, in bondage to sin with all its dreadful consequences. The flesh with its lusts, the world with its deceits, Satan with his devices, all govern with absolute sway. And add to these, we are justly exposed to the law of GOD, which we have all broken; the justice of GOD which every moment threatens punishment, the accusations of our own con science, the fear of death, judgment, and eternity. This is the state and condition, of every son and daughter of Adam, by the fall.

Moreover, as it is said of this poor creature, he had his dwelling among the tombs; no fetters could bind him, nor any man tame him; but he was always, night and day, in solitary places, crying, and cutting himself with stones; so is it with the unawakened, unregenerate sinner. Dead sinners, dead in trespasses and sins, dwell only with sinners, dead like themselves. The law of GOD loseth all its authority upon them. They acknowledge not its power; and as the law, however strong, cannot bind them, so neither can persuasions of men, or threats of GOD, have any influence upon them; but they are night and day, hastening on their own. destruction, by a course of mad conduct, inevitably leading to it, except the grace of GOD interpose. Pause Reader! over the awful picture; and as you con template it, say, is it now your case; or was it once so? If you are now in grade, you will know that you was once unconscious of grace. And if you are, not in grace, no doubt but that you are equally un conscious, of the bondage of sin and Satan, you are now in.

Verses 6-8

(6) But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him, (7) And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not. (8) For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit.

Before we prosecute this poor creature's history, I must beg the Reader to stop, and remark with me, the sovereignty of CHRIST owned by the devils themselves. Reader! it is worthy your closest observation, in how many instances, during our LORD's ministry upon earth, this was done. Mark 1:23-24 ; Luke 4:41 ; Mark 1:34 . One might have been led to hope, that such a testimony, evidently constrained as it was by Almighty power, would have stopped the presumptuous reasoning of those, who call themselves Christians, but by a strange misnomer; and yet own not the GODHEAD of our Al mighty LORD. But the cause is explained. See Isaiah 6:9-10 . And the awful consequence in another scripture, as blended with the sin. Acts 13:41 .

But to return to the case of this man possessed with an evil spirit. As soon as he saw JESUS afar off, he ran and worshipped him. What was there in the appearance of the LORD Jesus, to have induced this effect? Our LORD, to every eye of common sense, appeared only as a poor Jew, consorting with the poorest of the people. And yet this man, whom no fetters could bind, nor reasoning tame, on the first sight of him, ran and worshipped him. And observe the loud cries, and earnest supplications of the devils, to be spared front torment, while as loudly confessing CHRIST's GODHEAD and oneness with the FATHER. Reader! behold from hence with what horror devils tremble at the person of CHRIST, while bowing before him! And Reader! do observe further, how will any and every poor sinner, who hath long been led captive by Satan at his will, when he first sees CHRIST, or hears of CHRIST, and taught who CHRIST is, by the HOLY GHOST, in spite of sin, and Satan, flee to JESUS, and seek deliverance by him, from all his sorrows?

I pray the Reader not to overlook what the devil said, What have I to do with thee JESUS! thou SON of the most high GOD? Devils wish not to have to do with him; but JESUS in our nature hath much to do with them; for his province it is to destroy them. Indeed, the SON of GOD was manifested to destroy the works of the devil. 1 John 3:8 . Well might they therefore dread his sovereign presence. But before this cry for forbearance, the word of the LORD had gone forth, for the destruction of Satan's empire over this poor man. JESUS had said, come out of the man, thou unclean spirit. Reader! do not overlook the LORD's mercy, and the LORD's power. Oh! that every poor sinner, whom GOD the FATHER hath given to his SON, and whose redemption CHRIST hath purchased with his blood, may be led by GOD the HOLY GHOST, as this poor captive was, to flee to JESUS, sure as he is, of a spiritual deliverance.

Verse 9

(9) And he asked him, What is thy name? and he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many.

CHRIST's question could not have been for himself, but it seems to have been intended for the information of his disciples then with him, and for all his disciples to the end of time. The enemy we have to do with is truly a legion; multitudes of his soldiers in the lust of our flesh, and his dominion by them over the fallen nature he hath ruined, are at his command; which like a Roman legion, consisting as it did in the smallest computation of at least six thousand, are a formidable host for keeping in captivity that nature the devil first ruined. But, Reader! think herefrom, the greatness of his power, and the greatness of his mercy, which hath subdued all, and brought his people out. Oh! the grace and sovereignty in CHRIST JESUS!

Verses 10-14

(10) And he besought him much that he would not send them away out of the country. (11) Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding. (12) And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them. (13) And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand,) and were choked in the sea. (14) And they that fed the swine fled, and told it in the city, and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that was done.

Much hath been said by infidels, on those verses, by way of cavil but it hath only terminated to their own confusion and the LORD's glory. Many very blessed truths are taught the Church by it, and these if they were all, are sufficient to account for the LORD's per mission of the devils entering into the herd of swine. As first what a blessed evidence it afforded of CHRIST's GODHEAD. He who had power to dispossess devils from one part of his creation, had power no less to permit the possession of devils in another. Reader! think of this, and turn to those scriptures. Jeremiah 5:22 ; Luke 12:4-5 . Moreover, hereby the LORD confirmed the holiness of his law. The swine was unclean by the law; and by this permission, JESUS gave testimony to it. Leviticus 11:7 . No method, according to our view of things, could be more decisive to teach this, and enforce it also. And as the Jews were very lax in their obedience to the law, in our LORD's days, in the keeping those animals for others, if they partook not of their flesh themselves; by this act of JESUS the law was strikingly revived, to shew uncleanness; and perhaps yet more with an eye to himself, who came to fulfil the law, and do away the whole shadow of it by the substance, in the sacrifice of himself.

In relation to the devils being permitted to possess the swine, this was not to gratify them; but to answer CHRIST's purpose, Satan obtained leave to tempt Job. But we know the sequel. The trial ended to Job's joy, the LORD's glory, and Satan's confusion. See Job 1:8-12 . And who shall say, what blessed consequences followed, in the after circumstances of the Church, from this transaction both on Jew and Gentile, when CHRIST had finished redemption-work and was returned to glory; and GOD the HOLY GHOST came down? Reader! let you and I, learn not to be wise above what is written, but in all questionable cases; I mean, such as you and I cannot fully explain, or such as sceptics make so; let us resolve all into that soul-satisfying scripture, which forms at once both question and answer: Shall not the judge of ail the earth do right? Genesis 18:25 .

Verses 15-17

(15) And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid. (16) And they that saw it told them how it befell to him that was possessed with the devil, and also concerning the swine. (17) And they began to pray him to depart, out of their coasts.

I stay not so much to remark the terrible consternation, which this demonstration of CHRIST's power must have induced on all beholders. Such; but in an infinitely greater degree, will be the display of the LORD's sovereignty, at the last day. But I would rather call the attention of the Reader to the poor man, now no longer under demoniac influence, but sitting at the feet of JESUS, clothed, and in his, right mind. A beautiful representation of all the redeemed of the, LORD! For Reader! what is every truly converted child of GOD upon earth; yea, we may go further, and say what is every redeemed soul now in heaven, but once such as this man was, when under the dominion of sin and Satan? And now washed, sanctified, justified in the name of the LORD JESUS, and by the Spirit of our GOD. 1 Corinthians 6:11 . They of our brethren, now in heaven, gone before to glory and they who are redeemed from among men still upon earth, in grace, are alike sitting at the feet of JESUS, clothed with the robe of his righteousness, and wearing the garment of his salvation. Oh! the unspeakable felicity of such a recovered state!

But let not the Reader overlook the awful conduct of the Gadarenes; in desiring JESUS to depart out of their coast. Is it possible, that any individual, when he saw the wonderful mercy shown to this poor creature, could have wished the Great Author of such mercy to leave them? And yet Matthew in his relation of, this miracle saith, that the whole city joined in the request, that JESUS would go out of their coasts. Matthew 8:34 . As long as this poor creature was under the possession of this evil spirit, he was a terror to the whole country; But yet it seems, they preferred the devil's raging among them, to that of the LORD JESUS manifesting his grace and mercy. But Reader! while you and I pity the poor deluded Gadarenes, let us look around among our own countrymen, and we shall discover equally distressing sights for pity. What daily manifestations are made of our fellow-creatures, living under the same awful influence, on whom the voice of JESUS's Gospel hath no control? Multitudes like these Gadarenes do in effect, if not in words, say, to JESUS, Depart from us: for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways Yea, Reader! to come a little nearer home. Have not you and I, in, times past, said the same? Yea, is it not so now? Are we both sitting daily at the feet of JESUS, cloathed and in our right mind? Is it the language of your heart and mine, to JESUS? Do not LORD go away, neither suffer us to depart from thee, for thou hast the words of eternal life! These are solemn enquiries. Reader! do not dismiss them un answered!

Verses 18-20

(18) And when he was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil prayed him that he might be with (19) Howbeit, Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy. friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee. (20) And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him and all men did marvel.

There is somewhat very affecting in this request of the poor man; and our LORD's refusal of his request merits our notice. What a wonderful change, grace had wrought upon him. He who but a few minutes before, was a terror to everybody, is now so heavenly com posed, that he desires never to leave JESUS. And is not this the case with every child of GOD, when savingly called from darkness to light; and from the power of sin and Satan to the living GOD? Surely, having once tasted that the LORD is gracious, we cannot but long to be absent from the body, and present with the LORD. But yet JESUS saith, this must not immediately be. Awakened sinners are to go home to their unawakened friends, and speak forth the praises of him who hath called them out of darkness into his marvellous light. They are to constitute a part of the LORD's Church upon earth, until the LORD's time shall come which he hath appointed to take them home to his Church above. JESUS must have a Church upon earth, as well as in heaven, as long as the earth remains. Neither can a redeemed soul live upon earth too long, while the LORD employs him to his glory and the Church's welfare. Reader! let this serve not merely to reconcile, but to make us happy in waiting all the days of our appointed time, until our change come. In the mean season, doing as JESUS commanded this poor man to do, if so be, like him, the LORD hath wrought a work of grace upon our hearts; tell our friends, yea tell all around, what great things the LORD hath done for us, and hath had compassion on us.

Verses 21-43

(21) And when Jesus was passed over again by ship unto the other side, much people gathered unto him: and he was nigh unto the sea. (22) And, behold, there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw him, he fell at his feet, (23) And besought him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee,, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live. (24) And Jesus went with him; and much people followed him, and thronged him. (25) And a certain woman which had an issue of blood twelve years, (26) And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse, (27) When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment. (28) For she said, If I may touch but his clothes I shall be whole. (29) And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague. (30) And Jesus immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes? (31) And his disciples said unto him, Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me? (32) And he looked round about to see her that had done this thing. (33) But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came, and fell down before him, and told him all the truth. (34) And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole: go in peace, and be whole of thy plague. (35) While he yet spake, there came from the ruler of the synagogue's house certain which said, Thy daughter is dead: why troublest thou the Master any further? (36) As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe. (37) And he suffered no man to follow him, save Peter, and James, and John the brother of James. (38) And he cometh to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and seeth the tumult, and them that wept and wailed greatly. (39) And when he was come in, he saith unto them, Why make ye this ado, and weep? the damsel is not dead, but sleepeth. (40) And they laughed him to scorn: but when he had put them all out, he taketh the father and the mother of the damsel, and them that were with him, and entereth in where the damsel was lying. (41) And he took the damsel by the hand, and said unto her, Talitha cumi; which is, being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, arise. (42) And straightway the damsel arose, and walked: for she was of the age of twelve years, and they were astonished with a great astonishment. (43) And he charged them straitly that no man should know it; and commanded that something should be given her to eat.

Both those interesting cases have been largely considered. Matthew 9:18-26 to which I therefore refer. See also Luke 8:41 , etc.

Verse 43


Oh! to what a desperate state is our whole nature reduced by the fall! Where Satan reigns, unrestrained by grace; see my soul, see in this man, (and while beholding look up and wonder at thy mercies) to what a length the human frame is capable of going in madness, while governed by devils! And what makes the subject yet more truly awful is, the consideration, that Satan's empire over our nature is a lawful empire for as Scripture truly saith, of whom a man is overcome of the same is he brought into bondage.

But oh! the mercy of that promise: Thus saith the LORD: ye have sold yourselves for nought, and ye shall be redeemed without money. Hear, my soul, hear what is said. Shall the prey be taken from the mighty or the lawful captive delivered ? But thus saith the LORD: even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible delivered: for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children. And see, as in this instance, one of CHRIST's little ones though long held captive by Satan, yet gloriously delivered by the LORD Jesus CHRIST. And where is he now, who when recovered by grace on earth, sat at the feet of Jesus; but sitting with Jesus on his throne and kingdom of glory, in heaven? Oh! my soul, go tell all thy friends of this wonder-working SAVIOR!

Behold also the power, and sovereignty, of thy LORD, over unclean spirits, and unclean beasts. See what efficacy flows from JESUS to the touch of faith in his divine person; yea, behold, how even the dead, JESUS raiseth. Never then call in question his power over all the uncleaness of thy nature, nor his grace to answer the desire of that faith, which he himself hath created. Thy deathness, and dying frames, Jesus can take away, and his command to arise must always be attended with power. He saith to thee, my soul, as to the ruler of the synagogue; be not afraid, only believe. LORD I believe; help thou mine unbelief.

Bibliographical Information
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Mark 5". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". 1828.