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Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible
Mark 5

 

 

Verses 1-20

Mark 5:1. And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes. And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit.

Our Lord crossed the Sea of Galilee on purpose to rescue this poor man from the power of the unclean spirit that possessed him. He knew that there were many who needed him on the Galilean side of the lake, and he could foresee the storm that would threaten to sink the little ship; yet he calmly said to his disciples (see chapter 4:Verse 35), “Let us pass over unto the other side.” As soon as the great Physician landed, a dreadful apparition appeared. “Out of the tombs”, an uncanny place, rushed a man, howling and yelling like some wild beast; or worse still, under the influence of Satan, who had taken possession of him.

Mark 5:3. Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains; 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.

See how the world deals with furiously guilty men. It tries to fetter them, or else to tame them; to keep them in check by fear of punishment, or else to subdue them to a gentleness of morality: poor work this! Christ neither binds nor tames; he changes and renews. Oh, that everywhere his aid were sought, and not so much reliance placed on the fetters of law, or the power of morals!

Mark 5:5. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones.

It must have been dreadful for travelers to pass that way at night, or to meet with this terrible madman at any hour of the day. But how terrible must have been the poor creature’s own condition! We get just a glimpse of it from the words, “always in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying and cutting himself with stones.” See what Satan does with those who are in his power.

Mark 5:6. But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him,

The devil does not like doing it; but if it will serve his purpose, he will pretend to be a worshipper of Christ. He comes here sometimes; he goes to all sorts of places of worship, and makes men turn worshippers who have no worship in their hearts; for there is no end to the depth of his cunning, and many are they that have served the devil best when they have pretended to worship Christ.

Mark 5:7. 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.

Using the lips of this poor man, Satan spoke in him and through him. He is afraid of Christ. This dog of hell knows his Master, and crouches at his feet. He beseeches the “Son of the Most High God” not to torment him before his time.

Mark 5:8. For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit.

Christ never wastes words over the devil. He speaks to him very shortly and very sharply. It would be well sometimes if we could be more laconic when we are dealing with evil. It does not deserve our words as it did not observe Christ’s words. Jesus said to the devil, “Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit.”

Mark 5:9-10. And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many. And he besought him much that he would not send them away out of the country.

The devil can pray; he did so in this case. It is not because a man is fluent in prayer that we are sure of his salvation. It is not because a man prays with such fervor that his knees knock together, that we may conclude that he is a saint. It may be that he is trembling through fear of God’s judgment. Satan besought Christ much.

Mark 5:11. Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding. And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them.

Satan would rather vex swine than do no mischief at all. He is so fond of evil that he would work it upon animals if he cannot work it upon men. What unanimity there is amongst the evil spirits! “All the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them.”

Mark 5:13. And forthwith Jesus gave them leave.

The devil cannot enter even a pig without Christ’s leave. So he cannot tempt you, my friend, without our Lord’s permission. You may rest assured that even this great monster of evil is under Christ’s control. He cannot molest you till Jesus gives him leave. There is a chain around the roaring lion, and he can only go just as far as the Lord allows him.

Mark 5:13-14. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a deep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea. And they that fed the swine fled,

At which we do not at all wonder. Who would not flee when they thus saw the power of Christ?

Mark 5:14-15. And told it in the city, and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that was done. 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.

You would have thought that it would have been said, “They marvelled, and they praised Christ for this great and wonderful deed.” No, “They were afraid.” If you see another converted, do not be afraid; but rather have hope that you may be saved yourself. What a beautiful sight these people saw: “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.”! That thought ought to have made them rejoice instead of being afraid. There are still people who are afraid of what will happen when they see those whom Christ has blessed spiritually as he had healed this man.

Mark 5:16-17. 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.

If Jesus should come to you tonight, do not ask him to go away. Open wide the door of your heart, and entreat the Lord to come in, and dwell there for ever and ever. This narrative teaches us that the Lord Jesus Christ will go away if he is asked to do so; he will not remain where his room is preferred to his company.

Mark 5:18-20. And when he was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil prayed him that he might be with him. 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 with thee. And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel.

He was told to publish what great things the Lord had done for him. He went and published what great things Jesus had done for him. Did he make any mistake? Oh, no! It is but another name for the same Person: for Jesus is the Lord; and when you speak of him as divine, and talk of him in terms fit only for God, you do but speak rightly; for so he deserveth to be praised. “And all men did marvel.” So our Lord left them all wondering. Leaving this one messenger to bear testimony to him, he went his way elsewhere, to carry blessings to many others on the other side of the sea. The man appears to have gone through the wide district that bore the name Decapolis, and his testimony to the power of Christ was so convincing that, when the Saviour revisited that part of the country, he had a very different reception from that which he received on this occasion. (see chapters 7:31-37, 8:1-10).


Verses 1-43

Mark 5:1. And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes.

They had had a very eventful passage across that small but stormy sea, and Christ had proved himself to be the Lord High Admiral of the seas; but now that he steps ashore they are to see his power quite as distinctly displayed as upon the stormy wave.

Mark 5:2-3. And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains:

Those ancient graveyards were in remote places, for the people were too wise to bury their dead inside their cities. Very often, the tombs were hewn in caverns in the sides of hills and rocks, and here the dead were laid. Of course, every man who touched a tomb was thereby ceremonially defiled, so that the tombs were fit places for an unclean person possessed by an unclean spirit. What a ghastly dwelling-place! What a grim abode for the man, and yet most fitting, for he was dangerous to all who passed by, — a raving lunatic, who could not be restrained by any bonds or chains that could be put upon him!

Mark 5:4-5. 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. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones.

Poor creature! His howlings must have made night hideous indeed. Those who passed that way were startled by his unearthly cries, he was a terror to the whole district, persons could not bear to live anywhere near the places where he resorted. “Night and day” he was a misery to himself and a terror to all around him, — sad type of some whom we know, to our sorrow, who have gone madly into sin. It certainly is madness, whatever else it may be; and when madness and badness go together, what a terror such a man becomes!

Mark 5:6. But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him, —

There is a wondrous attraction in the person of our Divine Lord and Master. Though he was a long way off, yet a gracious magnetic influence proceeded from him by which he drew this poor object of pity to him: “When he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him.”

Mark 5:7. 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.

Who was speaking then? The man himself, or the devil within him? It is very hard to tell; the man and the devil were two personalities, but they were so effectually blended into one that it is scarcely possible to tell when it was the man speaking, and when it was the devil. So, when sin enters into a man, it gets so completely into his very nature that, sometimes, we feel it must be the evil spirit speaking in the man, and yet it is not easy to be quite sure that it is so, and we cannot free the man himself from the guilt of his words and actions.

Mark 5:8. For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit.

Whenever Christ speaks to the devil, his message is a very short and very sharp one. The Lord treats him like the dog that he is: “Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit.” Christ has no compliment for devils; and it is a pity that some of his servants have such soft words when they are dealing with unbelief, which is but a devil, or one of the devil’s imps.

Mark 5:9. And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many.

The devil is obliged to tell his name when Christ treats him like a catechized child, and he is compelled to crouch before Christ like a whipped cur at his master’s feet.

Mark 5:10. And he besought him much that he would not send them away out of the country.

Satan clings to this world, and to any place where he has had a signal triumph, as he had among those tombs and those rocky ravines.

Mark 5:11-12. Now there was nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding. And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them.

Such is the malice of these evil spirits, that they would rather do mischief among swine than nowhere. But notice their unanimity; with all the faults that can be laid at the door of demons, you cannot find them divided and quarrelling. They are unanimous in evil, and it is a shame that those who are the followers of Christ should often be divided, whereas the kingdom of Satan is not divided against itself. Let us learn from our great enemy at least this one lesson.

Mark 5:13. 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;)

It was strange that there should be so many swine in the country where lived God’s people Israel, and as they had no right to be there, and were there contrary to Jewish law, it was well that they should be destroyed.

Mark 5:13-15. And were choked in the sea. 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. 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.

Ah, me! How variously different people look upon the same thing! If you and I, who are Christ’s disciples, had gone there, and seen this poor lunatic fully restored, we should have been filled with holy joy, and we would have composed new hymns of praise in honour of the great Physician who had cured him. But these people, in their alienation of heart from the Lord Jesus Christ, “were afraid.” They feared and trembled in the presence of almighty mercy; omnipotent love awoke no joy in their hearts, but the spirit of bondage was upon them.

Mark 5:16. And they that saw it told them how it befell to him that was possessed with the devil, and also concerning the swine.

You may be sure that they dwelt upon the latter part of the story, for the loss of the swine touched them more than the healing of the demoniac.

Mark 5:17. And they began to pray him to depart out of their coasts.

O dear friends, let none of us ever get into such a state of mind and heart as to pray Christ to go away from us! Yet we have known people act in such a dreadful way as that; a person troubled in conscience has said, “I will never go and hear that preacher again; I cannot sleep at nights after listening to him. I will never read such and such a book again, it disturbs me so that I cannot enjoy myself.” This is, in effect, to pray Christ to depart out of your coasts. What! is salvation worth so little that you have no care to possess it? Is Christ himself so small a blessing that you even tremble lest he should change your nature, and save you? I think there were more lunatics than one on that Gadarene shore, the people were all as mad at heart as that one poor man was mad in brain.

Mark 5:18. And when he was come into the ship, —

Christ will go from you if you want him to go. He forces himself upon no man; the grace of God does not violate the will of man, it acts in accordance with man’s nature, and achieves the divine purpose without disturbing the individuality of the man. So Christ went from Gadara: “And when he was come into the ship,” —

Mark 5:18. He that had been possessed with the devil prayed him that he might be with him.

Was not that a proper prayer? I think, dear friends, that not only nature, but the man’s new nature must have suggested this petition; he prayed Christ that he might be with him. In our day, it is very natural that, as soon as we are converted, we should wish to go home to heaven; but what is the reason why we should not do so? It is in order that we may bear witness for Christ here on earth, and gather in others unto him.

Mark 5:19. 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.

That is one of the chief points on which we ought always to speak, not only to tell of the greatness of the change which the grace of God has wrought in us, but especially to testify to the tenderness of God to us. Oh, how gently did he handle our broken bones! That good Physician of ours has a lion’s heart, but he has a lady’s hand; he does not spare us needful pain, but he never inflicts even a twinge that is unnecessary. And, oh! the pity of his heart toward us when he sees the sorrow which our sin has brought upon us.

Mark 5:20. And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis —

In the ten little cities that were in that region: “he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis” —

Mark 5:20. How great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel.

This is the kind of ready-made preacher whose service for his Lord is usually most effectual. The man who, though he has studied little on many points, yet knows by experience what the grace of God has done for him, and keeps to that one theme, and tells out the story with simple untrained eloquence, is the man who will do much for his Master, as we read here: “all men did marvel.” If he had plunged into deep doctrinal subjects, it may be that men would have ridiculed him; but inasmuch as he spoke of what he did know, and told of the greatness and graciousness of God, “all men did marvel.”

Mark 5:21-22. 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. And, behold, —

Wherever we see that word, “behold,” it is saying to us, “Mark well what is coming.” “Behold,” —

Mark 5:22-24. There cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw him, he fell at his feet, 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. And Jesus went with him; and much people followed him, and thronged him.

Mark 5:35-36. 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? As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe.

I can imagine that, if Jairus had not been a man of much faith, he would have looked at the Saviour with a meaning glance, as much as to say, “’ Only believe’? Couldst thou ask more of me when my child is dead? Yet thou biddest me, ‘Only believe.’” But, brethren, here is the very sphere of faith. Where there is no wading, there must be swimming; and where there is no hope in the creature, then we must throw ourselves upon the Creator. So, the child’s death made room for the father’s faith.

Mark 5:37; Mark 5:39. And he suffered no man to follow him, save Peter, and James, and John the brother of James. And he cometh to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and seeth the tumult, and them that wept and wailed greatly. And when he was come in, he saith unto them, Why make ye this ado, and weep? the damsel is not dead, but sleepeth.

She was dead, but not dead as far as Christ’s intention was concerned; she was not so dead as to remain dead. He meant soon to bring her back again to life, and therefore to him it was as if she were but sleeping.

Mark 5:40. And they laughed him to scorn.

What a wonderful picture this must have been, — The Lord of glory in the center of a ribald crew who laughed him to scorn! But it is not the man who is laughed at who is necessarily contemptible, it is often the laughers who are the most deserving of scorn. It was so here in Christ’s day, and it has often been so since.

Mark 5:40. But when he had put them all out,

They were not worthy to be answered in any other fashion.

Mark 5:40-42. He taketh the father and the mother of the damsel, and them that were with him, and entereth in where the damsel was lying. And he took the damsel by the hand, and said unto her, Talitha cumi; which is, being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, arise. And straightway the damsel arose, and walked; for she was of the age of twelve years. And they were astonished with a great astonishment.

How very often persons were “astonished” in Christ’s day! Sometimes it is put, “they marvelled;” at other times, “they were amazed,” or, “they wondered.” It would have been well if wonder had always turned to faith; but sometimes it corrupted into hate. God grant that our wonder at Christ may always be of that kind which crystallizes into love!

Mark 5:43. And he charged them straitly that no man should know it; and commanded that something should be given her to eat.

Life must be nourished; young life especially needs frequent food. If Christ has spiritually quickened your child, see that you feed the child with food convenient. If you have won a convert to Christ in the Sabbath-school, take care that the unadulterated milk of the Word is brought forth, that the new-born child may be fed and nourished till it comes unto the perfect stature of a man in Christ Jesus.

 


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Bibliography Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Mark 5:4". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/mark-5.html. 2011.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, June 25th, 2019
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
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