Mark 5:1-20: Jesus, Legion, and the Pigs. From Demoniac to Missionary

What is a demon? More than likely, it’s a fallen angel, part of Satan’s evil team. It can also be referred to as an unclean spirit — as opposed to the Holy Spirit who is pure. Satan’s goal is to steal, kill and destroy. Jesus came so that we could have abundant life (John 10:10). Today’s passage is the epic story of Jesus and the demoniac called Legion. Oh, yeah, and the pigs. Let’s dig in…

Mark 5:1-20: Jesus Heals a Demon-Possessed Man

So they arrived at the other side of the lake, in the region of the Gerasenes (Gaderenes). When Jesus climbed out of the boat, a man possessed by an evil (unclean) spirit came out from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the burial caves and could no longer be restrained, even with a chain. Whenever he was put into chains and shackles—as he often was—he snapped the chains from his wrists and smashed the shackles. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Day and night he wandered among the burial caves and in the hills, howling and cutting himself with sharp stones.

When Jesus was still some distance away, the man saw him, ran to meet him, and bowed low before him. With a shriek, he screamed, “Why are you interfering with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In the name of God, I beg you, don’t torture me!” For Jesus had already said to the spirit, “Come out of the man, you evil spirit.”

Then Jesus demanded, “What is your name?”

And he replied, “My name is Legion, because there are many of us inside this man.” 10 Then the evil spirits begged him again and again not to send them to some distant place.

11 There happened to be a large herd of pigs feeding on the hillside nearby. 12 “Send us into those pigs,” the spirits begged. “Let us enter them.”

13 So Jesus gave them permission. The evil spirits came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the entire herd of about 2,000 pigs plunged down the steep hillside into the lake and drowned in the water.

14 The herdsmen fled to the nearby town and the surrounding countryside, spreading the news as they ran. People rushed out to see what had happened. 15 A crowd soon gathered around Jesus, and they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons. He was sitting there fully clothed and perfectly sane, and they were all afraid. 16 Then those who had seen what happened told the others about the demon-possessed man and the pigs. 17 And the crowd began pleading with Jesus to go away and leave them alone.

18 As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon possessed begged to go with him. 19 But Jesus said, “No, go home to your family, and tell them everything the Lord has done for you and how merciful he has been.” 20 So the man started off to visit the Ten Towns (Decapolis-Greek) of that region and began to proclaim the great things Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed at what he told them.

Mark 5:1-20 NLT

There’s a lot to unpack here…

The evil spirits came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the entire herd of about 2,000 pigs plunged down the steep hillside into the lake and drowned in the water.
The evil spirits came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the entire herd of about 2,000 pigs plunged down the steep hillside into the lake and drowned in the water. Mark 5:13 NLT Image by Good News Productions International from (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)
  • This area was near the 10 Towns or in Greek, the Decapolis — “deca” = 10, “polis” = city. From these we get our words decade and metropolitan. More than likely, the demon-possessed man was a Gentile.
  • Another factor that points to this is the herd of pigs. Jews would never be raising pigs. They were considered unclean at that time. It wasn’t until after Jesus had ascended and Peter was shown that they could now eat all foods with the Gentiles (Acts 11).
  • This poor guy was ostracized from his home and society. Demons feel at home near death, hence, he stayed in the area of the tombs.
  • He kept screaming uncontrollably and cutting himself. We actually have an Old Testament example of cutting in 1 Kings. Back when Elijah faced the 450 prophets of Baal, they cut themselves because the fake god wouldn’t — or couldn’t — show itself.
  • The demoniac was also ridiculously strong and kept breaking the chains that people tried to use to restrain him.
  • When the demoniac first encounters Jesus, he worships Him! He recognized Jesus as a higher authority. He knew WHO He was — the Son of God! Obviously, these demons don’t have a ticket to Heaven just because they recognize Jesus as God’s Son. Of course not! I’ll let that sink in.
  • Legion — they were many. A Roman legion is from 4-6,000 soldiers. Or you can just call them a mob or gang.
  • Unclean spirits don’t like to be disembodied. Thus, they wanted to be inside the pigs.
  • A demon’s agenda is to cause trouble and these did!
  • After the man was healed, he all of a sudden was dressed and looked normal. He wanted to go with Jesus, but Jesus sent him home — somewhere he couldn’t go before — to tell his story. He would be one of the first missionaries to the Gentiles. There also is the Samaritan Woman.
  • When the Gentiles saw what happened to the pigs, they didn’t want to have anything to do with Jesus. They didn’t know who Jesus was. Nor did they expect a Messiah. The Greeks had their own fake gods to worship. Now, add to that the loss of around 2000 pigs– someone’s livelihood — and you have an upset crowd.

How to Prevent Demon Possession

The only way to protect yourself from demon possession is to have the Holy Spirit in your heart. When you have the Holy Spirit — part of the Triune God — the Trinity — in your heart, nothing evil can enter it. Not that Satan and his demons won’t try, but you’ve got the Best Armor and Weapon available to you FREE! Also, stay sober and alert!

Peter wrote…

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.

1 Peter 5:8 NLT

If Jesus could clean and heal this man, there is no person — you included — that He can’t save!

If you’re not sure if you’re saved or not, if you truly want to be born again and have the assurance of salvation, receive the Holy Spirit, feel His Shalom — a peace that surpasses all understanding, and get a 1-way, non-stop ticket to Heaven after you die, or that you won’t be left behind at the Rapture, which can happen at any moment, this is what you have to do…

Believe. Repent. Be Baptized. Receive the Holy Spirit.

  • Believe — have Faith — that Jesus is the Christ and He died taking your sins away forever and that He rose from the dead 3 days later.
  • Repent of your sins — stop sinning! Do a complete 180-degree turn in your life and surrender your life to Him. When you ask Jesus to forgive you He will. ALL your sins will be wiped clean — past, present, and future! And All means ALL!
  • Be Baptized by water baptism — show the world and yourself that you have died to your old life and are born again in Christ.
  • Receive the gift of Holy Spirit in your heart.

Invite Jesus into Your Heart and Receive the Gift of Grace, Joy, Peace, and the Confident Hope of Eternal Life…

Born Again

Chain Breaker

Soli Deo Gloria! To God Alone Be the Glory!

Top image by Good News Productions International from (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)