The Healing of a Demon-possessed Man (5:1-20)
(Matthew 8:28-34; Luke 8:26-39)
1 Jesus and His disciples again went across the lake—that is, the Sea of Galilee—to the region of the Gerasenes.32 Matthew, in his account of this event, mentions two demon-possessed men (Matthew 8:28), but Mark writes only about one of them (see Mark 4:40-41 and comment).
2-8 Here again the demon recognized Jesus (see Mark 1:23-24). “What do you want with me?” the demon said (verse 7). In some Bible versions, this is translated: “What do you have to do with me.” The demon certainly did not want to have anything to do with Jesus! The demon begged Jesus not to torture him; that is, the demon begged Jesus not to drive him out of the man.
Let us remember that it is not enough only to recognize Jesus; the demons also know and confess that Jesus is the Son of God. Not only must we know Him; we must also love and obey Him (see James 2:18-19 and comment).
9-10 The demon’s name was Legion, which is a Latin33 word meaning a troop of six thousand men. The man had not one demon, but many demons! The demon begged Jesus not to send him and his fellow demons out of the area. According to Luke’s account of this event, the demons asked not to be sent into the Abyss (Luke 8:31). The “abyss” was the place where evil spirits were imprisoned (Revelation 9:1-2; 20:2-3). The demons knew that Jesus would punish them; therefore, they asked that their punishment not be severe. The worst punishment demons can receive is to be sent to the Abyss, where there are no bodies for them to live in.
11-12 Because demons cannot easily live outside a living body, they asked to be allowed to enter a herd of pigs that was nearby.
13 When the demons entered the pigs, the pigs became wild and rushed down a steep bank and into the lake. The owner of the pigs suffered great loss. But two things are clear from this event. First, one man is more valuable in the sight of God than many pigs. A herd of two thousand pigs was lost, but at the same time a demon-possessed man was made completely well. Second, from this event we can see Jesus’ great power. He not only had the power to heal; He also had the power to destroy.
14-15 When the people of the town came to see what had happened and saw Jesus, together with the demon-possessed man sitting in his right mind, they were afraid. They had come into the presence of God and experienced His awesome power. Unbelieving men are always afraid when they come into God’s presence.
16-17 The townspeople then began to ask Jesus to leave. They didn’t want to have any more of their animals destroyed. They put more value on pigs than they did on Jesus, the Son of God.
18-20 Jesus at once proceeded to leave that region. Jesus does not stay where He is not wanted.
The man who had been healed wanted to go with Jesus, but Jesus sent him home to witness to his family and neighbors in the Decapolis34 (verse 20). Most Christians are not called to leave their homes and travel to far places. Most Christians are called to serve Jesus and witness to Him in their own towns. The first place we should witness to Christ is in our own homes.
A Dead Girl and a Sick Woman (5:21-43)
(Matthew 9:18-26; Luke 8:40-56)
21-24 After healing the demon-possessed man, Jesus left that place as the villagers had asked (verse 17), and crossed back over the lake. Jesus did not stay in a place where He was not welcome. A synagogue ruler, that is, a Jewish elder, named Jairus came to Jesus and asked Him to come at once to heal his daughter. “My little daughter is dying,” he said.35
25-29 On the way to Jairus’ house, a woman who had been bleeding for twelve years followed Jesus in the crowd. Any woman with such a disease was considered unclean by the Jews (Leviticus 15:25). Therefore, she came up behind him (verse 27). “Just by touching His clothes, I will be healed,” she thought (see Mark 6:56; Acts 5:15; 19:12). And as she touched His cloak, she was healed at once. For twelve years doctors had tried to heal her, but could not; she had paid them all the money she had. Now, after touching Jesus’ clothes, she was completely healed. The healing power wasn’t in Jesus’ clothes; it was in Him. Mark writes: At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him (verse 30). The woman was healed not by the contact with Jesus’ clothes, as if by magic; rather, she was healed by Jesus’ power working through her faith (verse 34). Many people crowd around Jesus but receive no blessing or benefit. Only those who accept Jesus as Lord and put their faith in Him in a personal way can be healed and saved.
30-31 The disciples were amazed when Jesus asked who had touched Him. The whole crowd of people were pressing against Him and touching Him.
32-34 But Jesus kept looking for the person who had touched Him. He wanted the woman to come forward, so that she and others would understand that it was by His power and her faith in Him that she had been cured. Faith alone, without Jesus, is blind faith. On the other hand, without our faith Jesus cannot help us. Both Jesus’ power and our faith working together are necessary for us to be healed and saved.
35-36 The woman with the bleeding had caused a delay. In the meantime, Jairus’ daughter had died. But Jesus said to Jairus: “… just believe.36 You came to me in faith; don’t stop believing now. Continue to believe.”
37-39 At Jairus’ house there was a great commotion going on. Just as singers are hired for a wedding, so in Jesus’ time mourners were hired when someone in the family died or was about to die. A rich man like Jairus could afford to hire many mourners. These mourners had probably been called before Jairus had gone to find Jesus.
But Jesus said to them, “The child is not dead but asleep.” Jesus had already saved the child from death. The child had indeed died (Luke 8:53). Luke, in his account of this event, says that her spirit returned (Luke 8:55); this means that she had been dead.
40 But the mourners laughed when Jesus said that the girl was not dead. They were false mourners—one moment crying, the next moment laughing. They didn’t want the child to live; if she lived there would be no more need for mourners. They would be out of a job. They would get no more pay.
41-42 After the mourners had been put out, Jesus raised the girl to life. Jesus had power over demons, over sickness, even over the wind (Mark 4:39). Now we see that He had power also over death. Those who die are still in the hands of Jesus. Jesus’ voice can reach them. For believers, death is like sleep (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14). And perhaps from this story we can understand how Jesus cares for the little children and babies who die before they have a chance to believe.
Peter surely learned from watching Jesus at this time. Later he, too, raised a woman, Tabitha, from the dead (Acts 9:36-43). Jesus said: “… anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these” (John 14:12).
43 Jesus gave strict orders not to let anyone know about His raising this girl from the dead.37 In the first place, there was no point in telling the unbelieving crowd of mourners outside the house, because they would only mock and say the child had never been dead to begin with. Secondly, He did not want to become famous as a miracle worker, or else people wouldn’t concentrate on His preaching. His main purpose was to teach people about the kingdom of God and to show them the way of salvation (see Matthew 12:17-19; Mark 1:34 and comments).
There was a third reason why Jesus did not want news of this miracle to spread everywhere. If it did, people would begin to think He was the Messiah, and would try to make Him their king (see Mark 8:30 and comment). But He had not come to be an earthly king; He had come to suffer and die. His kingdom was a spiritual kingdom.