Grace in the Face of Evil (Mark 5:1-20)

Jesus ventured over to the east side of the Sea of Galilee, confronting the real evil that demonized a man. This was was set this man free from his long-time tormentors, and Jesus sent him out as the first Gentile messenger of Jesus’ message, and how God had mercy upon him.

What does this scene teach us about Jesus?

Gospel of Mark

Message title: Grace in the Face of Evil
Thirteenth week in the Gospel of Mark
Scriptures: Mark 5:1-20; Psalm 38:9-18; Ephesians 4:25-29; 1 Thessalonians 5:14
Preacher: Jeff Patterson
Date: 2/5/17

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Jesus ventured over to the east side of the Sea of Galilee, confronting the real evil that demonized a man. This was was set this man free from his long-time tormentors, and Jesus sent him out as the first Gentile messenger of Jesus’ message, and how God had mercy upon him.

Notice how in this situation Jesus goes straight to the root cause of this man’s troubles: he is demonized and possessed by a legion (thousands) army of unclean spirits. And Jesus sets him free through the power of His word and authority. He does not need to appeal to a higher power or speak some sort of incantation. He simply says, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!”

Pastor Jeff referenced a sermon by pastor Richard Baxter (1615-1691): “The Cure of Melancholy and Overmuch Sorrow.” In it he addresses a question: What are the best preservatives against melancholy and overmuch sorrow?

“Lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.”
—2 Corinthians 2:7

The title, of course, means it’s a sermon on depression, and Baxter says that according to the Bible, if you’re depressed, there could be at least four different bases for your depression, and the “medicine” of appropriate requirements:

  1. First of all, you could have a physiological basis for your depression. » What could be required is nutrition and medicine, or just rest, and the right kind and amount of physical activity when you are recharged.
  2. Secondly, there could be a moral basis for your depression which has to do with guilt and shame. » There the requirements are confession, forgiveness, and grace.
  3. Thirdly, you might have a mental or psychological basis for your depression. You might be extremely cast down, extremely discouraged, extremely weary and worn out emotionally, and in that case you need » love and support and talk and community.
  4. Fourthly, there may be an evil, demonic root to your depression, in which case you need » prayer and the Word of God.

In the message pastor Jeff quoted Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn:

“Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either — but right through every human heart — and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years. And even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained. And even in the best of all hearts, there remains … an un-uprooted small corner of evil.” (emphasis added; Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956) 

Scripture readings:

Mark 5:1-20 (ESV):

Jesus Heals a Man with a Demon

They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes.[1] And when Jesus[2] had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit. He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, for 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. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones. And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him. And 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.” For he was saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” 10 And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. 11 Now a great herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, 12 and they begged him, saying, “Send us to the pigs; let us enter them.” 13 So 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.

14 The herdsmen fled and told it in the city and in the country. And people came to see what it was that had happened. 15 And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed[3] man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. 16 And those who had seen it described to them what had happened to the demon-possessed man and to the pigs. 17 And they began to beg Jesus[4] to depart from their region. 18 As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. 19 And 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.” 20 And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled.

Footnotes:
  1. Mark 5:1 Some manuscripts Gergesenes; some Gadarenes
  2. Mark 5:2 Greek he; also verse 9
  3. Mark 5:15 Greek daimonizomai (demonized); also verses 16, 18; elsewhere rendered oppressed by demons
  4. Mark 5:17 Greek him

Psalm 38:9-18 (NLT):

You know what I long for, Lord;
    you hear my every sigh.
10 My heart beats wildly, my strength fails,
    and I am going blind.
11 My loved ones and friends stay away, fearing my disease.
    Even my own family stands at a distance.
12 Meanwhile, my enemies lay traps to kill me.
    Those who wish me harm make plans to ruin me.
    All day long they plan their treachery.

13 But I am deaf to all their threats.
    I am silent before them as one who cannot speak.
14 I choose to hear nothing,
    and I make no reply.
15 For I am waiting for you, O Lord.
    You must answer for me, O Lord my God.
16 I prayed, “Don’t let my enemies gloat over me
    or rejoice at my downfall.”

17 I am on the verge of collapse,
    facing constant pain.
18 But I confess my sins;
    I am deeply sorry for what I have done.

Ephesians 4:25-32 (NLT):

25 So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. 26 And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.”[1] Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 for anger gives a foothold to the devil.

28 If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need. 29 Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

30 And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own,[2] guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.

31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. 32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

Footnotes:

  1. 4:26 Ps 4:4.
  2. 4:30 Or has put his seal on you.

Audio for this teaching may be played above, and is included in the RENEW Church podcastsubscribe in iTunes here, or access the church podcast feed directly here.

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