“My name is Legion, for we are many.” – Mark 5:9, ESV
Legion. Remember this story in the bible?
Jesus comes to the country of the Gerasenes and encounters a demon-possessed man whose personal story is that of an insane man. In this passage, we find out that the man has lived amongst tombs, has been bound by chains, and has even been found and seen crying out and cutting himself.
Let’s look into this passage a little deeper:
Let us start with the tomb. The tomb represents and symbolizes death. Only dead things are cast into and subjected to a tomb. We find in the Gospel how Jesus’s dead body was taken to the tomb after he was crucified on the cross. You will find the definition of a tomb being described as a large vault, typically an underground one, for burying the dead.
So if a tomb is meant for the dead, why was this man found living amongst it?
Have you ever experienced living among dead things in your life? We too can trace our past back to the times when we lived among the tombs, and around dead things, dead relationships, and dead-end jobs. What was our reaction to these dead things? And did we even realize that we were living among them?
Going a little deeper into the text, it says the man,
“Had often been bound with shackles and chains,” – Mark 5:4, ESV
Shackles and chains. Have you ever felt like you were bound by shackles and chains? I know I have before. That feeling that life has you pinned up, and bound back to the point where you feel as if you can’t break free. It is the shackles and chains in life that keep us bound to the dead things in our lives. It is these shackles and chains that keep us from seeing the true and magnificent power and glory of God.
But the description of the man’s life does not end here, the bible continues on to say,
“Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones.” – Mark 5:5, ESV
Night and day, this man was seen in the tombs and on the mountains crying out and cutting himself. I find in quite interesting how this man performed these two very specific acts both in the tombs and on the mountains. Sometimes the biggest shame in our life is found and experienced both in the tomb and on the mountain. In the tomb, where we hide and escape from our lives, and on the mountain, where our fears are both manifest and realized.
You see, this man was crying out aloud both in the tombs and on the mountains, but no one could help him. Everyone heard him, but nobody could help him. Have you ever been heard, but not helped?
It was this man’s great anguish to suffer in silence and to suffer out loud, but no one could really and truly understand this man’s great anguish until Jesus entered the scene.
This man’s story was a cry for help, a lost cause, until Jesus entered the story. You see, it is when Jesus entered the scene that this man’s life turned around.
“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.'” – Mark 5:7, ESV
Legion. The word legion by definition means a vast host, multitude, or number of people or things. When the demon (s) that had possessed the man spoke to Jesus, they first acknowledged who Jesus was. If you notice in the first few lines of this conversation, the demon(s) addressed Jesus as the Son of the Most High.
Now why would a pack of demons first come and address Jesus by reciting to him who he knew he already was? It is because when we first analyze, understand, and address the one who we call Jesus, it is then that we realize who we are and where we stand. By the demons recognizing who Jesus was and addressing him as the Son of the Most High, they knew their place in relation to Jesus, and saw this as an opportunity to beg for mercy.
What a plot twist! The demon(s) ask Jesus for mercy, saying to Jesus, “do not torment me.” The demon named Legion that had been tormenting the man we read about in scripture, for as long as the bible gives credit to, is now asking Jesus, the Son of God, to not torment him/them.
What a scenario.
Jesus casts out the demon named Legion, and gives them permission to enter a heard of two thousand pigs, who then dive into the sea and commit suicide.
What’s even crazier is the perplexity of this story after Jesus casts out the demons from the man. The onlookers of this whole event and the villagers of the region ask Jesus to leave. In fact it says,
“And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their region.” – Mark 5:17, ESV
They were afraid. The villagers and the onlookers of this event, the ones who had witnessed this demon-possessed man crying out and cutting himself, living amongst the dead things, these were the people who saw the miracle, but they begged Jesus to go.
Why would they ask Jesus to leave?
Was it because the news of Jesus casting out demons scared them? Or was it because the man they had just witnessed carrying about in demonic oppression was now seen in his right mind?
Yes, it is these types of situations that scare people the most. It is the witnessing of God’s power in unspeakable ways, and the news of a miracle in an unfamiliar series of events, that can cause great outrage and division among people who do not understand God’s glory.
The life-changing, radical power that Jesus possesses is real. Not only is it real, it is evident. So evident, that onlookers and watchers of God’s glory will ask the very presence of God that caused the miracle to happen, to leave. Simply because they do not understand the miracle-working power of Jesus.
But the man in this story – he understood the miracle. And he knew Jesus, more intimately than he had ever known him before.
That is what the experience of encountering Jesus is like. It is a life-altering, life-changing experience – a miracle. One that may leave others afraid after watching the work that God has done.
This man whom the bible speaks of went back to his country and told everyone about Jesus. Can the same be said for us?
What do we do when we encounter Jesus?
Do we quiet ourselves and keep the miracle to ourselves, or do we proclaim it to the whole world, hoping that others will experience the same miracle-working power of Jesus?
Grace and peace fam.