Studying Mark's Gospel: Beyond All Hope

Lesson 7: Beyond All Hope (Mark 5:1-20)

LAST WEEK IN REVIEW

Lesson 6 covered two important topics. First was the conclusion of the sample parables Mark chose to include in his Gospel. Jesus gave the parable of spiritual growth (the patient farmer) as well as the growth of the kingdom of God (the mustard bush’s unusual growth). We discussed the importance of these parables and what they spoke to us about our own spiritual growth in the Lord, as well as how the process of bearing fruit is actually God’s work in us, not what we can achieve; our responsibility is to cultivate and fertilize ourselves so the growth in Him continues on. He will “grow” His kingdom, yet He graciously uses us to minister to others by sowing seeds in their lives. Then we can enjoy watching them grow in Christ and bear fruit themselves.

 

The second part of Lesson 6 involved the episode on the Sea of Galilee. The same storm that freaked the disciples rocked Jesus to sleep! He demonstrated clearly to them by His muzzling of the storm (which they knew God alone could do) who He really was. We saw that our faith will also be tested and confronted at times in our walk with Christ, perhaps in the very things we see as our strengths, just as these experienced fishermen were tested in the very area they were strongest, and failed miserably. When we reach the point they did, feeling that He doesn’t even care, Jesus is there for us in each storm. We can know He will see us through, and we can grow as a result of our experiences that are as unpleasant as much or more as pleasant ones! 

 

The events of Mark 4 and Mark 5 tie together,[i] for they demonstrate how Christ handled four different conditions that seemed beyond all hope: His hopeless disciples in view of a life threatening storm; a hopeless man long tormented by evil; a hopeless woman who took desperate steps of faith; and a hopeless father who took a chance and came to Jesus for help. This week we will focus on the hopeless man long afflicted by evil, and see what we can learn through this passage that speaks to us today.

 

DAY ONE: A Hopeless Wildman

Please carefully read Mark 5:1-5 and answer the following questions.

 

1.  The way Mark described the storm in chapter 4 made it appear to be a satanic attack on Jesus and His followers. It was now probably late at night or early the next morning, with all of them exhausted. Yet what immediately confronted them (v. 1, 2)?

 

NOTE: Knowing some facts about this location helps us understand this story. This vicinity was primarily a non-Jewish, Gentile area that during the inter-testament days embraced the Greek culture. Thus these people were most likely Gentiles, which would have been interesting to Mark’s Roman readers. This story reflects as well the danger of rejecting of God to embrace the more degrading elements of culture.[ii]

 

2.  What was the result of people’s attempts to do something about him (v. 3, 4)?

 

3.  Some versions translate the latter part of verse 4 as “no one was strong enough to control him.” Multiple negative Greek words are used in verse 3 to show how impossible it was for anyone to keep him under control, and the tense of verse 4 means that this man was uncontrollable, roaming around at will.[iii] What else do we learn about this man in verse 5?

 

4.  Imagine the scene: “he was always shrieking and screaming and beating and bruising and cutting himself” (amp), running wild around the tombs, continually shrieking wildly in an unearthly scream, impossible to be understood.[iv] The verb for cutting himself occurs here only in the New Testament, and means to cut down. We’d say cut up, gash, hack to pieces. Perhaps he was scarred all over with gashes from his moments of wild frenzy in the tombs and on the mountains.[v] Satan’s minions had turned this human being into a psychotic superhuman wild man, and no doubt the demons enjoyed tormenting and driving him toward self-destruction.  As Warren Wiersbe well said, “Never underestimate the destructive power of Satan. He is our enemy and would destroy all of us if he could.”[vi] How do the following passages describe Satan’s goal with this man and all those he attacks?

 

John 10:10; 1 Peter 5:8-9

Ephesians 2:1-3; 2 Timothy 2:25-26

 

Scripture Memory:  This week we will be memorizing Mark 5:19. Review the passage several times throughout the day each day this week, and by the end of the week, you should have it memorized completely.

 

“Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you.” Mark 5:19b, nkjv

 

DAY TWO:  A Worshipping Demon?

 

Please carefully read Mark 5:6-9 and answer the following questions.

 

1.  What did this man do as soon as he saw Jesus (v. 6)?

 

2.  It is unlikely that the demon force in the man actually worshipped Jesus; while the Greek word can be translated worship, it primarily refers to doing homage to someone because of their position. How does the demonic force in this man cry out to Jesus to demonstrate this (v. 7)? What does James 2:19 add to this?


3.  Why was the demon force reacting like this (v. 8)? What did Jesus ask of the demoniac, and what was the response (v. 9)?

 

NOTE: The demon’s response implies a vast demonic force within this man. The size of a Roman legion numbered 4,000 to 6,000 men, but here it should be understood that there were a lot of demons inhabiting him, not necessarily that many.[vii]

 

4.  Who knows how long this man was been driven and tortured by this demonic force, and the demonic “spokesman” had the nerve to plead with Jesus not to torture them! There are mixed views about the role of demon possession today, and whether these people were merely having neurological problems or some mental illness that Jesus cured. Yet demons are real. They are the forces of Satan, helping to carry out his plan for the destruction of man. Jesus clearly taught in the Gospels that demons can possess those who don’t believe (for example, Matthew 12:45, Luke 11:24-26). A teaching popular in the 1980s and 90s, and I suppose today still, was that believers too can be demon possessed, so one’s problems can conveniently be blamed on everything from the demon of acne to the demon of Zingers! This is not true. However, it is true that Satan through his demonic forces can tempt, oppress, and oppose the believer. If you don’t believe that, as someone once said, try opposing him for a while! But Christ has authority over us, and His Spirit is within us, who gives us protection from such demon possession. We may possibly actually judge these fallen angels at the return of Christ (1 Corinthians 6:3)![viii] 

 

Read at least some of the following passages and record what else you learn from them about the limitations of Satan and his minions, and the security of the born-again believer from being possessed by demon forces.


Daniel 10:10-14; Ephesians 6:10-13

1 Corinthians 2:12; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 2 Corinthians 4:1-4

1 Peter 5:8-9

1 John 2:29; 1 John 3:9; 1 John 4:4; 1 John 5:1-4, 1 John 5:18

 

Scripture Memory:  Try to fill in the missing words in the blanks below, by memory if at all possible, and then review the passage several times today.

 

“Go __________________ to your friends, and tell them what _________________ things the Lord has ________________ for you, and how He has had compassion on you.”  Mark 5:19b, nkjv

 

DAY THREE: A Begging Demon

 

Please carefully read Mark Mark 5:10-13 and answer the following questions.

 

1.  What did the demon “spokesman” next do (v. 10)?

  

NOTE: The nkjv says the demon implored Jesus, which means begging. Interestingly we’ll see this term used repeatedly in different ways in Mark 5. The tense of the word means they begged Jesus again and again, as translated in the niv and nlt. 

 

2.  What happened to be nearby, and what did the demons beg Jesus to do (vs. 11, 12)?

 

3.   Many people, including this author, have made the mistake of wondering why good Jewish people were raising pigs since they were unclean animals (Leviticus 11:7-8; Deuteronomy 14:8). However, we have to remember that this side of the lake was Gentile territory, or perhaps these were Hellenized Jews who embraced the idea of Greek culture and de-emphasized allegiance to Jewish laws and practices.[ix] What did Jesus give them permission to do, and what happened to Porky and the gang (v. 13)?

 

4.  We may miss something important in this as well if we don’t think carefully. In the last chapter, the sea was personified as though it was an evil monster seeking to destroy Jesus. Interestingly we saw that upon the demons entering the pigs, Jesus had foreseen something they hadn’t: their destruction! The pigs ran violently toward the sea. The Greek terms fascinatingly indicate that these pigs and the demons disappeared one by one into the sea, and as the old kjv put it, were choked, taken by the throat and strangled, drowning one after another; in effect this also meant “choking” those demons, implying they were destroyed as well.[x]

 

This was one temporary defeat of Satan and his plans. Yet we today benefit from a far greater victory Jesus won. How do the following passages describe this?

 

Romans 8:31-39

Colossians 2:13-15

Hebrews 7:27; Hebrews 9:12, Hebrews 9:24-26; Hebrews 10:12-13

 

Scripture Memory:  Try to fill in the missing words in the blanks below, by memory if at all possible, and then review the passage several times today.

 

“Go __________________ to your _________________________, and tell them what _________________ things the Lord has ________________ for you, and how He has had ___________________________ on you.”  Mark 5:19b, nkjv

 

DAY FOUR: A Foolish People

 

Please carefully read Mark 5:14-17 and answer the following questions.

 

1.  No doubt the disciples’ mouths gaped wide open at this, but so did those of others unnoticed until now, the swine herdsmen! What did they do after this (v. 14)?

 

2.  What amazing sight awaited the townspeople as they came running (v. 15, 16)?

 

3.  “A crowd soon gathered around Jesus, but they were frightened when they saw the man who had been demon possessed, for he was sitting there fully clothed and perfectly sane (vs. 15, nlt).” What an awesome, incredible thing had happened... yet what was the foolish reaction of the people of the area (v. 17)?

 

4.  They begged (our word again) Jesus to get out of there! Was it because of some superstitious Greek view of dangerous wonder-working magicians?[xi] Maybe, but it seems more likely that these people rejected Jesus because His work with the man and the demons was a threat to them, both economically and to their not wanting to face the cost of discipleship.[xii] Some people foolishly want to hang onto their loads of garbage rather than dying to themselves and instead living for the only one who can exchange our trash for His glorious righteousness. What is the cost we must be willing to pay as His followers according to the following passages?

 

Matthew 10:38-39; Matthew 16:24-25

Luke 9:57-62

Romans 12:1-3


Scripture Memory:  Try to fill in the missing words in the blanks below, by memory if at all possible, and then review the passage several times today.

 

“Go __________________ to your _________________________, and _____________ them what _________________ things the _________________ has ________________ for you, and ________________ He has had ___________________________ on you.”  Mark 5:19b, nkjv

 

DAY FIVE: A Begging Man

 

Please carefully read Mark 5:18-20 and answer the following questions.

 

1.  Jesus respected their wishes. He stood at their heart’s door and knocked, but they turned Him away, so they would later reap what they sowed in foolishness. As Jesus made ready to leave, what touching thing happened (v. 18)?

 

2.  What did Jesus say to his request (v. 19)?


3. The way that these terms are recorded in Greek implies that this man wanted to accompany Jesus and become one of His disciples.[xiii] Yet Jesus had a mission for him to go back home and proclaim all the things that God did for him, especially in showing him His compassion, or mercy that is demonstrated, usually toward someone in a difficult situation; “to be pitied, obtain mercy, implying not merely a feeling for the misfortunes of others involving sympathy (oiktirmós [3628], pity), but also an active desire to remove those miseries.”[xiv] The people of the area cared much less about the man’s welfare than they did about their morning bacon! Yet Jesus had compassion and moved to bring this man back to sanity, and better yet to salvation. What are some wonderful things the following passages remind us of God’s mercy and compassion toward us?

 

Psalms 78:38-39; Psalms 145:8-9
Isaiah 49:14-16

Lamentations 3:22-23

Micah 7:18-19

 

4.  How did the man demonstrate obedience to what Jesus asked him to do, and what were the results (v. 20)?

 

Scripture Memory: Can you write out this week’s passage by memory here below? Give it a try, and keep reviewing the passage several times throughout the day.

 

Mark 5:19b:

 

 

DAY SIX: Following Christ

 

1.  Jesus ministered once again in a hopeless situation to a hopeless and rejected man. In fact, Jesus Himself was rejected by the people of the area for reaching out to this wretched man! Here this man was at one moment “Satan’s prize exhibit” of what he can do to destroy a life,[xv] and the next restored, sane, saved, and serving Jesus! This isn’t too far really from our own experiences though; certainly most of us we weren’t tormented by multiple demons, but we were equally lost, without hope and purpose. Take a few minutes to think about how Jesus reached out to you in your hopeless state, and record some thoughts about how you’ve now found yourself:

 

Restored from sin to a place of spiritual sanity:

 

Saved by His amazing grace:

 

Serving and following Him in view of the great mercy He has shown:

 

2.  Sadly, some believers have a lack of compassion and joy in what Jesus does for others, especially when it costs them something. “But more than anything else, the drowning of the 2,000 swine was a vivid object lesson to this Christ-rejecting crowd that, to Satan, a pig is as good as a man! In fact, Satan will make a man into a pig! The Lord was warning the citizens against the powers of sin and Satan.”[xvi] Do you get a little irritated and impatient, looking repeatedly at your watch, when the service goes a little long so an altar call can be conducted to reach out to those who need Jesus’ touch? How about when you get mailed requests for help in supporting a child or helping the suffering or getting God’s Word out to those who don’t have it, or whatever it is that is needed in Jesus’ name? Is having a couple less visits to the Mega Bucks coffee store this month too much to ask of you so someone elsewhere in the world can live for another month? Are you too busy just to sit down a minute to write a check or to even pray for the suffering ones who need Jesus’ touch? Is that big game really worth so much to you that you would turn down a chance to reach out to a neighbor, or participate in a crusade or church outreach project? Perhaps you have seen yourself become too much like old Solomon that we studied in the recent past, who in Ecclesiastes had developed a big case of “I” trouble, and this is keeping you from taking up your cross today, denying yourself, and following Jesus. 

 

These things are not shared to condemn or to make you feel bad—in fact they are just some of my occasional personal reflections in the mirror! What are some things that you think you could do to build up your compassion again for the lost and hurting around you? How can your group be praying for you in this? Please share some thoughts here and truly support each other in prayer as you seek to get back to your calling to live for Him.

 

3. There is another group too who can take courage from this lesson: Those who suffer in some way, maybe even unknown to others around you, in which you feel little or no hope. Yet we saw in this situation a deeply troubled and demonically driven person whose sufferings were not too big for Jesus to come and touch, and to bring new life and meaning. You may have good days and awful days, but still you can be confident that this same Jesus is there for you every day, no matter what, even if you are forsaken and abandoned as a hopeless case like this poor man. How has this spoken to your heart this week? Is there anything you would like to share about what’s been going on in your life so those in your group who do care about you, regardless of what your feelings or thoughts tell you, can be there for you and show you the compassion of Jesus to you? For the rest, what are some other things that specifically helped you this week?

 

Scripture Memory:  Hopefully you now can write out this week’s passage completely by memory. Do so now, and keep on reviewing it so you will be ready to share it with others in your group time.

 

Mark 5:19b:



[i] Walter W. Wessell, Mark.  In Frank E. Gaebelein ed., The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 8 (Grand Rapids:  Regency Reference Library, 1984), p. 657.

 

[ii] See Walter W. Wessell, Mark., p. 659; James A, Brooks, Mark. In David S. Dockery, The New American Commentary V. 23 (Nashville:  Broadman Press, 1991), p. 89, 90; and Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary (Downer’s Grove:  InterVarsity Press, 1993), p. 147.

 

[iii] Unless elsewhere noted, all Greek word/phrase translations are based on the following:  A.T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament (Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.  In Oak Harbor:  Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1932, 1933, 1997;  James Strong, The Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible:  Showing Every Word of the Text of the Common English Version of the Canonical Books, and Every Occurrence of Each Word in Regular Order, Electronic Edition (Ontario:  Woodside Bible Fellowship; in Bellingham:  Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1996) Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Studies in the New Testament:  For the English Reader (Grand Rapids:  Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, Co; in Bellingham:  Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1984, 1997); and Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary:  New Testament, Electronic Edition (Chattanooga:  AMG Publishers, in Bellingham:  Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1992, 1993, 2000).

 

[iv] John MacArthur, The MacArthur Bible Commentary (Nashville:  Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2005), p. 1211.

 

[v] A.T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament (Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.  In Oak Harbor:  Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1932, 1933, 1997).

 

[vi] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary Vol. 1 (Wheaton:  Victor Books/SP Publications, Inc., 1989), p. 125.

 

[vii] James A, Brooks, Mark, p. 90.

 

[viii] This information is based on James M. Boice, Foundations of the Christian Faith (Downer’s Grove:  InterVarsity Press, 1975, 1979, 1981. 1986), pp. 364, 365; William Evans, The Great Doctrines of the Bible (Chicago:  Moody Press, 1912, 1939, 1945, 1974), pp. 317-319; and Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology:  An Introduction to Biblical Knowledge (Grand Rapids:  Zondervan, 1994, 2000), pp. 704-705.

 

[ix] John D. Grossmick, Mark.  In John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck eds., The Bible Knowledge Commentary, New Testament (Wheaton:  Victor Books/SP Publications, 1983), p. 123.

 

[x] John D. Grossmick, Mark, p. 123; Craig A. Evans ed., The Bible Knowledge Background Commentary (Colorado Springs:  Cook Communications Ministries, 2003), p. 183;  A.T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament; James Strong, The Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible:  Showing Every Word of the Text of the Common English Version of the Canonical Books, and Every Occurrence of Each Word in Regular Order, Electronic Edition; and Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Studies in the New Testament:  For the English Reader. 

 

[xi] Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary, pp. 147, 148.

 

[xii] James A, Brooks, Mark, p. 91.

 

[xiii] Joel F. Williams, Mark.  In Darrell L. Bock ed., The Bible Knowledge Key Word Study:  The Gospels (Colorado Springs:  Cook Communications Ministries, 2002), p. 130.

 

[xiv] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary:  New Testament, Electronic Edition.

 

[xv] John Phillips, Exploring the Gospel of Mark (Grand Rapids:  Kregel Publications, 2004), p. 113.

 

[xvi] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary Vol. 1, p. 126.

 

© 2005 by Harvest Christian Fellowship. All rights reserved. Written by Thomas Klock for Men’s Bible Fellowship, 2005-2006.

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