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Bible Commentaries

Simeon's Horae Homileticae

Mark 5

Verses 16-18


Mark 5:16-18. And they that saw it told them how it befell to him that was possessed with the devil, and also concerning the swine. And they began to pray him to depart out of their coasts. And when he was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil, prayed him that he might be with him.

THE miracles of our blessed Lord were certainly intended in the first instance to attest the truth of his divine mission; in which view he himself frequently appeals to them. But they were also intended to shadow forth the benefits which he was to confer on the souls of men. In both these points of view the miracle before us is deserving of the most attentive consideration. True it is that infidels have attempted to reduce this miracle to a mere curing of a man of an epilepsy or falling sickness. But it is evident that devils were expelled from him by the power of our Lord, since it was by them that the herd of swine were impelled to rush into the sea. A single man, or two men (for St. Matthew tells us there were two [Note: Matthew 8:28.], though St. Mark notices only one, as being by far the greater monument of our Lord’s power,) could not drive twenty swine into the sea, and much less two thousand, of which number this herd consisted [Note: ver. 13.]: and this destruction of the swine consequent upon the expulsion of the devils from the poor demoniac, shewed how great a deliverance had been effected for him, and how entirely all the hosts of hell were subject to the controul of our blessed Lord.

To enter into these events aright, we should consider them,


As they occurred on that occasion—

We notice,


The miracle wrought—

[Satan at that time had great power over the bodies of men: and a whole “legion” of devils had at that time occupied that poor unhappy man, whom they endued with a strength wholly supernatural; insomuch that no chains or fetters could confine him [Note: ver. 3–5.]. But at the command of Jesus they came forth and left their captive at perfect liberty. Fearing that Jesus would send them instantly into the abyss of hell, which is, and for ever will be, their appropriate abode, the devils requested permission to enter into the herd of swine; and, having gained permission, they instigated the whole herd to rush down into the sea, where they were all destroyed. Probably the devils hoped by this to incense the owners of the swine against the Lord Jesus; and in this they succeeded altogether according to their wish.]


The effects produced—

[The effect upon the Gadarenes, to whom the herd belonged, was, to make them all, even the whole city [Note: Matthew 8:34.], anxious, that our Lord should leave both the place and neighbourhood. One would have supposed indeed that the mercy vouchsafed to the demoniac should rather make the Gadarenes anxious to retain our Lord, that they might obtain similar mercies at his hands: but a concern for their temporal interests swallowed up every other consideration, and united them all in one request, that Jesus “would depart out of their coasts.”

But how different was the effect upon the man whom Jesus had delivered! He followed Jesus to the ship, and entreated that he might be permitted to wait upon him as a constant follower and attendant. And, when Jesus, for wise and gracious reasons, forbade that, and told him rather to go home to his friends and relatives, and tell them what mercy God had vouchsafed unto him, he went home, and with fidelity and gratitude proclaimed to all around him the benefits he had received from his adorable Benefactor [Note: ver. 20.].]

But, not to dwell on the events which then took place, I wish you more particularly to view them,


As renewed yet daily before our eyes—

Of these things we may be well assured:


Satan has still most dreadful power over men—

[He no longer, I apprehend, possesses, as he once did, the bodies of men: but he has not one whit less power than he had over their souls. See to what an extent the whole race of mankind are subjected to his controul. All men without exception are risen up in rebellion against God. Nor will they submit to any restraint either from reason or conscience. Every one follows his own will and his own way, even to the great injury of all around him, and to the certain destruction of his own soul. Tell men of their fearful responsibility to God, and of the terrors that await them in the eternal world, and “they make light of all,” and say, like the devils in this poor demoniac, “What have we to do with these things?” or as Pharaoh, “Who is the Lord, that we should serve him? We know not the Lord, neither will we obey his voice.” Not even this poor demoniac acted a more insane part than the generality around us: he wounded and destroyed his body: but these, in all that they do, wound and destroy their immortal souls: so true is that declaration of Solomon, “The heart of the sons of men is full of evil; madness is in their heart, while they live; and after that they go to the dead [Note: Ecclesiastes 9:3.].” And all this is by the instigation of the devil, who is “the God of this world,” and “worketh in all the children of disobedience [Note: 2 Corinthians 4:4.Ephesians 2:2; Ephesians 2:2.].”]


But Jesus still exercises the same sovereign power over him—

[Truly the word of the Lord is yet quick and powerful, nor can all the powers of hell withstand it. We see the effect, as visibly as ever the Gadarenes did, of the word going forth in the ministration of the Gospel. Are there not even here present some who have “passed, as it were, from death unto life [Note: 1 John 3:14.],” and have “been translated from the power of darkness into the kingdom of God’s dear Son [Note: Colossians 1:13.]?” The Prodigal Son shews us what a change takes place in the soul when once it is enabled to recover itself out of the snare of the devil [Note: 2 Timothy 2:26.], and to assert its liberty. And if in him we behold all the madness of a life passed under the influence of the devil, and all the blessedness of a life consecrated to the service of the Most High, then may we behold the same in many, I trust, amongst ourselves, who have, by the preached Gospel, “been turned from darkness unto light, and from the power of Satan unto God [Note: Acts 26:18.].”]


But still is there the same enmity against the Saviour in the hearts of ungodly men—

[When the power of divine grace is seen in the deliverance of sinners from the bonds of Satan, we should naturally suppose that all who behold the change should rejoice in it, and desire to become partakers of the same benefits. But the very reverse of this is found true in every place: and, as in the instance before us, an opposition to the Saviour is raised, and persons of every description unite in a desire to expel him from their coasts. In this, Herod and Pontius Pilate will unite [Note: Luke 23:12.]: in this will both Jews and Gentiles concur [Note: Acts 4:27.]: in this will “devout women” be found in league with “lewd fellows of the baser sort [Note: Acts 13:50; Acts 16:39; Acts 17:5.]:” the desire of all ranks and orders of ungodly men are in perfect harmony on this subject; they all with one voice exclaim, “Depart from us, we desire not the knowledge of thy ways [Note: Job 21:14.].”]


Still however on the part of those who have experienced his saving benefits is there the same desire to glorify his name—

[To commune with the Saviour, to enjoy his presence, to fulfil his will, and to obtain richer communications of his grace, are the leading desires of all who have been delivered by him from the power of the devil. Whatever be their situation in life, they will be “as lights in a dark world [Note: Matthew 5:14.Philippians 2:15; Philippians 2:15.],” and will so “make their light to shine before men, that all who behold them shall glorify the name of Jesus [Note: Matthew 5:16.].”They feel themselves bound to stand up as witnesses for him, that he is that “stronger man, who alone can bind the strong man armed [Note: Luke 11:22.],” and deliver from his bonds the vassals whom “he had led captive at his will.” From a sense of gratitude to his heavenly Benefactor, he will, like this liberated maniac, commend him to all around him, saying with the Psalmist, “Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will tell you what he hath done for my soul [Note: ver. 20. with Psalms 66:16.].”]


Those who have never yet been dispossessed of the devil—

[It is humiliating to reflect on the state of our fallen world, of which “Satan is the god,” and we all without exception are his subjects. To all who live in sin of any kind it may be said, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye do [Note: John 8:42.].” “What have we to do with thee?” was the one voice of all the devils in the man that was possessed by them: and all of them cried, “Torment us not.” And is not a similar apprehension expressed by men at this day, when the Lord Jesus Christ is, as it were, introduced amongst them, “Speak not to us of him; do not make us melancholy?” Does not the whole tenour of men’s lives shew, “whose they are, and whom they serve?” It is not necessary that men should rush headlong into all manner of iniquity. Sin, whether of a more heinous or more specious kind, equally shews under whose influence they live [Note: 1 John 3:8; 1 John 3:10.], and that they need to “be turned from idols to serve the living God.” Satisfy not then yourselves, my brethren, with some good feelings and some general acknowledgments. The devils acknowledged Jesus as the “Son of the living God; and they deprecated his wrath; and yet were they devils still. You must go much further than this if you would be partakers of Christ’s kingdom and glory. You must be made “new creatures in Christ Jesus,” and must evince the reality of this change by a corresponding and visible deportment.]


Those who have been made monuments of Christ’s power and grace—

[See what unbounded mercy has been vouchsafed unto you. See in the fate of that entire herd of swine what is the final destiny of all the vassals of sin and Satan. O bless your God for his distinguishing grace. And now, whilst you confess your obligations, arise to the duties imposed upon you. To that liberated man the Lord Jesus said, “Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee.” And this he says to every one of you. Not that you are to do this in a way of boasting and self-complacency: God forbid: but you must do it in order to commend the Saviour to all around you, and, if possible, to bring them also to a participation of his saving benefits. And be attentive also to the whole of your life and conversation, that you may “adorn the doctrine” which you profess, and constrain all to glorify Him who has done such great things for you.]

Verses 25-29


Mark 5:25-29. A certain woman which had an issue of blood twelve years, and had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse, when she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment. For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole. And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague.

THE miracles of our Lord afford much useful instruction. They were not perhaps always intended as types; but they afford a just occasion for spiritual observations.
To improve the miracle now before us, we observe,


Sin has introduced many lamentable evils into the world—

[Sickness and pain and death are the effects of sin. If our first parents had not sinned, these things had never existed. The infirmities of the weaker sex are especially noticed in this view [Note: Genesis 3:16.]. Deplorable was the condition of the woman mentioned in the text: but incomparably worse effects have proceeded from sin: our souls are altogether diseased in every part. The prophet’s description of the Jews is applicable to us [Note: Isaiah 1:5-6.]. Our own confession is but too just a picture of our state [Note: “There is no health in us.”]; and, if we should die in this state, we must surely perish [Note: 1 Corinthians 6:9.].]


We are prone to rest in carnal methods of removing them—

[The woman had employed many physicians, and had spent her substance on them without any benefit. We blame her not for using all possible means of relief: but she had looked no higher than to the creature for help. This conduct incensed the Lord against good King Asa [Note: 2 Chronicles 16:12.]; and in every age it provokes the eyes of his glory. In spiritual things we generally act the same part. Under slight convictions of sin we rest in purposes of amendment. If guilt lie heavy on our souls, we flee to duties, and hope by them to compensate for past neglects [Note: Micah 6:6-7.]. Not but that it is right to use the means of salvation: but we should look through the means to the Saviour, and expect mercy, not for our diligence, but for his name’s sake [Note: Romans 9:31-32.]. Unless we do this our labour will end in disappointment.]


However desperate our disorders be, the Lord Jesus is able to heal them—

[The woman’s disease had baffled all the art of medicine; but she hoped to find relief from the Lord Jesus. Nor was she disappointed in her application to him: there went virtue out of him and healed her instantly. The same power will he exercise over the diseases of the soul. The most heinous sins may be purged away by his blood; the most inveterate lusts may be subdued by his Spirit [Note: 1 Corinthians 6:11.]. A whole cloud of witnesses have testified of this truth [Note: Manasseh, David, Solomon, Paul, &c. See 1 Timothy 1:16.]: nor are there wanting many living monuments of his power and grace.]


The more we honour Jesus by faith, the more will he bless and honour us—

[Greatly did this diseased person honour Jesus by her faith. She had heard of his unbounded power and benevolence towards others: she trusted that he would exercise them towards herself. Nor did she at all stagger through unbelief. Jesus therefore determined to bless and honour her. His inquiries were made, not for his own information, but to bring her into notice, and to propose her as a pattern for the encouragement of others. He not only conveyed, but expressly confirmed, her cure, and dismissed her with the endearing appellation of “daughter.” Thus will he testify his love to all who rely upon him. How gloriously did he reward the confidence of the Hebrew Youths [Note: Daniel 3:17; Daniel 3:25; Daniel 3:27.]! Nor shall any put their trust in him in vain. Their sins, however numerous, shall surely be forgiven [Note: Matthew 12:31.]: their difficulties, however great, shall surely be overcome [Note: Mark 11:22-23.].]


To those who are unconcerned about their spiritual maladies—

[We all are sensible that we are sinful creatures, and profess an intention to seek forgiveness: yet for the most part we defer this necessary work. If our bodies were disordered, we should apply to the physician; we should even spend our substance in procuring his aid, and this, with only an uncertain hope of obtaining relief. But we account the smallest labour too much for our souls: we will not apply in earnest to our Almighty Physician, notwithstanding we could not fail of success in our application, and should be sure to obtain healing “without money and without price.” What strange infatuation possesses impenitent sinners! What extreme folly is it to prefer the transient welfare of a perishable body, before the eternal welfare of an immortal soul! Let the conduct of this woman put such persons to shame, and let them instantly avail themselves of the Saviour’s presence.]


To those who desire to have their disorders healed—

[Man is ever prone to seek help in the creature first. The Jews of old did this to their own confusion [Note: Hosea 5:13.]: and God has declared, that all who do so shall fail of success [Note: Jeremiah 17:5-6.]. Let us then be convinced that the sinner’s help is in God alone, and that all others are “physicians of no value.” Let us never question the power or willingness of Christ to save. Let us make our way to him through all difficulties and obstructions. Let us stretch out our hands with humble boldness and confidence, nor doubt but that virtue shall proceed from him to heal our souls.]

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Bibliographical Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Mark 5". Simeon's Horae Homileticae. 1832.