Devotional #14 (12/31/12). New Year’s Resolutions with Jesus saving a demon possessed man.
Intro: Today is New Year’s Eve which usually makes people think what they did with the year that is almost over and what they want to do and change with the coming year. Some people make “New Year’s Resolutions” where they promise to change: maybe to go on a diet or stop being rude to our brother or sister, or to get a new job. In today’s reading we’ll read about a man who had a lot of demons possessing him and he had tried everything to get rid of them. He was constantly making “New Year’s Resolutions” but couldn’t control the demons. It took God coming in and changing the situation. We also need to pay attention to how the other people react who know the demon possessed man. Do they welcome the change or are they scared of it?
This Week’s Reading: Mark 5:1-20.
vv. 1-4. At the end of Mark 4 Jesus and His disciples were traveling across the Sea of Galilee when Jesus saved them from the storm. Now we see that they land the boat and go into the area of Gadarenes, which was centered around 6 miles (10 kilometers) south-east of the Sea (Source 1). A man with demons who had been kicked out of town, handcuffed and lived in a graveyard runs up to Jesus. Let’s stop here. Why do demons want to inhabit a human body? The same reason a violent man wants a gun, he needs a tool to perform wickedness. These demons needed a vessel. We’re created in the image of God so doing harm in a body is spitting in God’s face.
v. 5. Remember in the “Intro” above I said that this man was always trying to get rid of the demons? Most people agree that is why he was scratching and cutting himself. He was trying to get rid of them. But he couldn’t do anything on his own, only Jesus has that power.
vv. 6-10. The demons were in control of this man but isn’t it interesting that they don’t have control over themselves when it comes to Jesus? In verse 6 they run to Jesus and worship Him. They recognize that Jesus is God and are afraid so they beg for Jesus not to torment them. They are afraid of being killed (see verses 7 & 10). Jesus asks the demons name and they say “Legion” which means “many” or a lot of demons.
vv. 11-13. By the mention of “swine” (pigs) here we know that these people were mostly Gentiles since Hebrews don’t eat pork. A Gentile is any other race other than Hebrew. The demons would rather be sent into pigs then die but they can’t do it until Jesus gives them permission. When He does the demons drive all 2,000 pigs off the cliffs.
vv. 14-16. All the demons going into pigs and running off cliffs and drowning was a crazy thing to see! No wonder the shepherds ran off and told the rest of the city. So everyone comes out to see the guy who had been in the graveyard screaming day and night for years. Imagine the people who had grown up hearing all the ghost stories about this very real guy and now they see him totally normal. Notice in verse 15 they were scared. Let’s see how scared they were in verse 17.
v. 17. The people are so scared that they ask Jesus to leave. I think more than anything they were afraid of what Jesus had done. As David Guzik says, “according to their superstitions, the demons should have had the upper hand over Jesus – but they didn’t at all. They had a hard time accepting this” (Source 2). They haven’t seen power like this, they probably had heard of Jesus but never knew what the One, true God was capable of.
vv. 18-20. It is very important that when the people asked Jesus to leave He did! Sadly they were more comfortable with a crazy man who Satan was using then they were with the Creator of the Universe, God in human form. We should pay attention because we do the same thing. We get scared when Jesus heals us or does something we’ve never seen but instead of thanking Him we ask Him to leave. But notice that the man who Jesus healed begs Him to go with Him. What does Jesus say? We have to understand what the “Decapolis” was to fully understand. The Decapolis was a group of ten Greek cities (Source 2). So Jesus was actually sending this man to a Gentile community to tell them about what He had done!
Summary: Isn’t it awesome that Jesus went on this trip just to meet and heal one man? As Matthew 18:12-14 says Jesus is like a shepherd who would leave 99 sheep just to save 1. This man had tried to get rid of the demons on his own but never could. We can make as many “New Year’s Resolutions” as we want but do we ever keep them for very long? I would suggest that if you want to see change then give it over to God. Sometimes He will come in and help you without being asked but other times He’s just waiting for the invitation. Are you missing out by sending away Jesus like the people in the town did?
Can I make a New Year’s Resolution suggestion? Try and read the Bible every day. I started at the beginning, in Genesis 1:1 on January 1st last year. I didn’t read every single day and I didn’t read the whole thing but it was so good. It doesn’t matter how much you read but if you apply it to your life you’ll see it will change you for the better!! Happy New Years!