THE GADARENE DEMONIAC
Mark 5:1-20 is the most detailed account given in the gospels of demoniacal possession. Lest anyone think that Mark picked up this story from hearsay, the story of the demoniac in the city of Gadara is well documented in Matthew 8:28-34 and Luke 8:26-39. To remove any questions about the historical trustworthiness of this miracle, it is repeated three times in the gospels. Three inspired writers, who gave an account of the life of Jesus to the world, said this event really happened, and one of these writers was a well known doctor. Luke was Paul's personal physician who attended to him till Nero beheaded him in Rome. Luke was well acquainted with all forms of sickness in the first century, and he said this man was possessed by a demon, an evil spirit. Jesus cast out many demons from people. He cast seven demons out of Mary Magdalene, but the most notable and sensational healing of a demoniac was that of this man from Gadara, a city located across from Galilee on the east side of the Jordan river.
Jesus was not the only one who cast out demons. The disciples of Jesus who were first sent out to the nation of Israel came back rejoicing and telling Jesus they could cast out demons. The apostles cast out demons, and some of the early Christians cast out demons. The power to cast out a demon was a special gift, probably one of the charizmatic gifts that could be received only by the laying on of the apostles' hands(Acts 8:18). When Jesus gave the great commission to the apostles and said baptized believers will be saved and unbelievers will be condemned, He encouraged them by saying, “And these signs will follow those who believe: In my name they will cast out demons, speak in new tongues, pick up serpents with their hands, drink deadly poison with no harm, and they will lay hands on the sick and they will recover”(Mark 16:17,18). Jesus distinguished here between demon possession and sickness. Christians are bound to believe in demon possession in the first century. Bible believers believe there was such an evil as demon possession. How long it lasted is a disputed question. Those who do not believe the Bible explain demon possession as an ancient superstitious falsehood. They would have us believe that it was nothing more than mental disorders, mental sickness, epilepsy and insanity. It takes a lot of nerve to call Jesus and the Bible writers liars.. Let me say that we are very ignorant of this whole subject. It is one of the mysteries of the kingdom of Christ. We are ignorant of the personality of Satan, the fallen angels, demon possession and the very existence of evil. Satan once inhabited a snake and deceived our first parents, and that put us all in the grave.
Perhaps it would be best to begin by asking, “What is a demon?” Thayer's recognized Greek dictionary says, “In the New Testament demon possessed persons are persons afflicted with especially severe diseases as paralysis, blindness, deafness, loss of speech, epilepsy etc., whose bodies in the opinion of the Jews demons had entered, and so held possession of them, as not only to afflict them with ills, but also to dethrone their reason and take its place themselves.” On the word demon, Thayer says, “It is s spirit being inferior to God, superior to men.” Now, the only beings known to the mind of man that are inferior to God but superior men are the angels. So it is necessarily implied that a demon is a fallen angel, also called evil spirits and devils. One of the preachers in our brotherhood who has written a commentary on the entire Bible says on the passage before us, “These devils are fallen angels and had been in the place of torment in Hades reserved unto the day of judgment. They had been enjoying a short relief from that torment by being in these human creatures.” There were actually two demon-possessed men who came to Christ that day, but one was worse than the other. I agree with the best thinkers in our brotherhood that demons are fallen angels, and they are represented in the Bible as the authors of evil to mankind: morally, physically and religiously,.
Now let us enter on the study of this remarkable miracle, and we do so not with the hope understanding all the mystery of demon possession, but with the hope that we may gain from it some spiritual help and understand better how good God has been to the human race in the Christian age of the world.. One day Jesus crossed the Sea of Galilee to the East and came to a city called Gadara, one of ten Greek cities on the eastern side of the Jordan River, known as the Decapolis. No sooner did Jesus step out of the boat until He was confronted by a stark naked mad man, who had been demon- possessed for a long time. He didn't live in a house but in the mountains and in tombs where dead people had been buried. He was violent and dangerous and had both suicidal and homicidal tendencies. The poor man was a nuisance, a terror and a burden to the whole neighborhood. It wasn't safe to pass through this territory. However, there were those who loved this poor man and tried help him as best they knew how. I am sure his family and friends were deeply concerned about the safety of the man himself and others. For the protection of himself and others they often tied him with ropes and chains, but he was powerful, he was able to break the chains and secure his freedom. He would repeatedly injure himself, cutting himself with stones. and had absolutely no self control. .
According to Mark and Luke, one of the demoniacs came running to Jesus, and fell down and worshiped Him. He had never seen Jesus before
but he knew who He was. How strange that this mad man recognized Jesus and knew He was a divine being. He fell down before Jesus and said, “What have we to do with you, you Son of the Most High God? Have you come to torment us before the time? I implore you by God that you do not torment me.” This gives us insight into what happened to a demon-possessed person. The poor creature has two minds, his own mind and the mind of the demon. When he speaks it is hard to know who is speaking, the person or the demon. These demons knew Jesus was the divine Son of God; the poor man didn't know. The man was drawn to Christ by a sense of his own misery, but there was a strange power that ruled over him. There was another voice coming from, not his own, but so strangely blending with his being that it seemed to be his voice. We must remember that this man was not simply a maniac but a demoniac. A foreign intelligence had possession of this man's mind. We know this because the demons said, “Have you come to destroy us before the time?” That was the message of the demons, not that poor man. The time they referred to was Judgment when Satan and all fallen angels will be punished. They implored Jesus not to torment them right then, but they knew what would happen to them at the judgment. This poor man knew nothing about the judgment of the fallen angels at the end of the world. What a strange conversation! But we do learn something of what it was like to be a demon- possessed person. Someone else did the talking for you.
Jesus then said to the worst one, “What is your name?” He said, “My name is Legion.” Legion wasn't his real name. Legion is a military word for 6,000 Roman soldiers. He had a name like everyone else, but he couldn't tell Jesus what it was. The man had a double consciousness, his own and that of the demon. The demon was doing the talking for him. Luke the physician said that the poor man said, “Legion” because many demons had entered him. It was a correct answer from the demon because this man had been afflicted with many demons over the years. It would be interesting to know the past moral history of this man. The poor man could not even tell Jesus his real name.
When Jesus saw the misery of the man, He commanded the demons to come out of the men, but they immediately begged Him not to send them back into th abyss. The abyss is some location in Hades where Satan and his fallen angels are imprisoned until the day of judgment(Luke 8:31). The apostle Peter said that the angels who sinned and were cast out of heaven
were cast down to a place called Tartarus to await the Judgment.( 2 Peter 2:4). This must have been the place they begged not to be returned to. For reasons unknown some of those angels were permitted to enter human beings during the first century A.D. Their request was, “Don't send us back to our prison home.” There were 2,000 hogs feeding on the mountain nearby, and they requested to be allowed to enter them. Surprisingly, Christ granted their request and said, “Go,” and immediately they left these two men and entered into that herd of hogs. When the demons entered those hogs, they became demoniac hogs, lost their minds and ran violently down the steep mountain into the Sea of Galilee and were drowned. I know not why Christ allowed these hogs to be destroyed. We don't know if the owner of those hogs wee Jews. If they were this was an illicit herd of hogs, for Jews were not allowed to eat hogs. Jesus did not explain the reason; it remains an unrevealed matter.
The story ends with the town people of Gadara coming out in great numbers to see what had happened. What a sight they saw!. This man that had terrorized the neighborhood, who for years had been a dangerous maiac was sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and of sane mind. What a monumental miracle! The man begged to remain with Jesus, but Jesus said to healed man, “Return to your own house, and tell what great things God has done for you.” He went and told throughout the city of Gadara how Christ gave him back his mind. The shocking end of the story is that the people of Gadara, when they saw what Jesus had done, were afraid of Him and asked Him to leave their city He did as they requested and left that sinful city and its sinful people. You would have thought they would have invited Him into the city and bestowed great honors on Him. I am sure there were a lot people in Gadara who needed His help.
I close by considering the most often asked question about demon possession. Is there demon possession today.”. I agree with many great Bible scholars who do not believe that demon possession occurs on earth today. We can find no evidence that demons enter the bodies of people today as they did this man in Gadara. It is interesting that demon possession is not mentioned in the Old Testament, and this makes the treatment of the subject in the New Testament all the more significant. It certainly was prevalent in the first century A.D. This poses another question, “Why should this phenomenon coincide with Christ's appearance on earth? Why should demon activity flourish when Christianity was first established on earth?.
I cannot give a certain answer to the question, “Why did it exist then and not now? However, I would offer a few suggestions for you
consideration. One I consider worthy of thought is that when the miraculous gift God gave to Christians to cast out demons ceased, demon possession also ceased. In Mark 16:17 Jesus promised Christians the gift of casting out demons. Hence, it was one of the miraclous charizmatic gifts which were practiced only in the first century, which we call the miraculous period of the church. There were some twelve or thirteen supernatural gifts practced in every congregation of Christians(I Corinthians 12:7-11). No congregation has these twelve miraculous gifts today because they have ceased to exist. The claim that these miraculous gifts stll exist is a Satanic deception and should not be believed. .The casting out of demons was one of those gifts.
Coinciding with the end of all miraculous gifts, the suggestion has been made that God no longer allows demon-possession in the Christian age of the world. This is one of the great blessings of living in the Christian age of the world. Demon- possession was allowed in the short miraculous period of the Church, and it allowed Christ to demonstrate His power over the Devil. He came to destroy the power of the devil, and the casting out of demons by Christ, his apostles and miraculously gifted Christians showed the entire world that Christ was more powerful than Satan. In this way Christ has greatly destroyed the power of the devil in the world. It is not unreasonable to think that God allowed demon possession for a short time that Christ might demonstrate the great power that God had given Him. Let us all be thankful that God allows us to have a sound mind, that no foreign intelligence can overtake our minds against our will The Bible now says, “Resist the devil, and He will flee from you(James 4:7). That is the new teaching on demon possession. He cannot enter us against our will
However, although there is no evidence of demon possession as it was practiced in the first century, Satan can have such an influence in people lives that they can become very much like this demon- possessed man of Gadara. Satan has entered some people's lives by the influence of evil that he has introduced into the world. I see men like the Gadarene demoniac when I see drunkards with their brain cells destroyed, having delerium tremons. and imagine that elephants are walking on them. They can no longer think right. I see some miserable person who can drive up beside you on the freeway and put a bullet through your head.” He is worse than the Gadaren demoniac. What is the difference between the Gadarene maniac and a maniac who do such a horrible insane thing. I see people hooked hopelessly on drugs and dope, arrested for stealing, put in prison.
Mothers and fathers kill each other, and even kill their own children.We see our prisons full of violent and dangerous criminals–thieves, child molesters and murderers..We see homosexuals corrupting the institution of marriage. Satan no longer needs to enter people supernaturally. They invited him willingly into their lives by their own free choice. The Bible says, “Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.”