This question is addressed to the legion of demons who are tormenting the man in the graveyard, and it is asked in the presence of the disciples. Why would Jesus care about the name?
The events in Mark 5:1-20 is the same night as the events in Mark 4:35-41. Jesus had taught all day long. At the end of the day, he was exhausted. He said, “Let us go over to the other side.” They got in the boat, probably at dusk or sometime late in the day, and face the harrowing experience with the storm. Now the storm and the journey are over. It is sometime in the middle of the night or early morning when they land on the shore of the Gerasenes.
- Demons exist despite our modern prejudices. Today we deny both demons and God because we cling to naturalism.
- The Bible claims fallen angels (demons) exist and God has limited their authority.
- Picture a scary movie landscape and you have the setting for this story.
The scene is told with military imagery and language.
- The word “legion” (Mark 5:9) is the technical name for a Roman military company consisting of several thousand troops.
- The term “send” (Mark 5:10) is a military command to dispatch.
- The term “herd “(Mark 5:13) is not the one typically used for pigs but the term that indicated a band of military recruits
- The term “rush” (Mark 5:13) is used to describe troops rushing into battle.
5:1They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. 2And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit. 3He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, 4for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. 5Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones. 6And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him. – Mark 5:1-6
- What was this man’s life like before this night?
- He had an unclean spirit, or a demon.
- He remains nameless and isolated.
- He lived among the dead instead of the living.
- There was at least one other demonized soul who lived there, but they had no meaningful contact with each other.
- The people of the town had last approached this man with chains which he tore apart.
- He could not stop himself from being violent to himself and others.
- The demoniac is a graphic picture of rebellion to God
5:6And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him. 7And crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” 8For he was saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” 9And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” 10And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. 11Now a great herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, 12and they begged him, saying, “Send us to the pigs; let us enter them.” 13So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the pigs; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the sea. 14The herdsmen fled and told it in the city and in the country. And people came to see what it was that had happened. 15And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. 16And those who had seen it described to them what had happened to the demon-possessed man and to the pigs. 17And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their region. 18As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. 19And he did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” 20And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled. – Mark 5:6-20
- Mark did not record this events in chronological order. Mark 5:8 tells us Jesus spoke first. The man’s response in Mark 5:7 is a cry of desperation.
- The scene is told with military language to make us consider who the real enemy is. The real enemy is the evil within.
- “What is your name” is asking what is your identity. When it becomes clear to you who you are, by what name will you be known? What father is going to give you a name that you will bear throughout the days of your life?
- Legion is an enemy too numerous to count. Yet this legion falls at Jesus’ feet and is banished by his word.
- Jesus gave them permission to enter the pigs so that the community would have visible, tangible evidence that they were gone.
- Jesus told them man to stay so that he could be a witness.
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