Series 18


by Francis Dixon

(Scripture Portions: Matthew 8:28-34; Mark 5:1-20; Luke 8:26-39)

In the miracles recorded in the four Gospels we have illustrations of the power of our Lord Jesus Christ to deal with every kind of situation and a demonstration of the fact that He is Lord over nature (Mark 4:35-41; John 2:1-11), over death (Luke 7:11-17) and over disease (Mark 1:40-45); and in this study we see Him as Lord over the Devil and demons. In this terrible yet wonderful story we shall look at Mark’s account of the incident, and see what He did, how He spoke and how others reacted towards Him.


In verses 1-5 Mark graphically describes the poor man who was possessed by “an evil spirit” (verse 2), and whose life was a misery. He lived, or existed, among the tombs (verse 3), and no-one could bind him (verse 3). He was a desperate character (verse 4), he was uncontrollable and was a public danger; he was his own enemy (verse 5), and Luke 8:27 tells us that he was naked. This is the man Jesus saw – but can He do anything for a man like this? George Whitefield used to say, “Jesus will take in the Devil’s castaways.” Lady Huntingdon objected to this expression, until one of Whitefield’s converts told her of his redemption from the lowest strata of degraded society. Thank God, no case is too hard for Him! There is no sin from which the Saviour cannot deliver – look up Matthew 19:26; Luke 18:27; 19:10; Romans 5:20; Hebrews 7:25; Jude 24-25.


We get this in verses 6-7. Directly the man saw Jesus “he ran and fell on his knees in front of him”; he acknowledged Him to be the “Son of the Most High God” and the One who alone had power to “torture” him. Of course, it was the evil spirit in the man who was speaking, and here is a very solemn thing: though men today will often deny the deity of our Lord, the devils know that He is God – look up and compare Mark 1:23-25 and Luke 4:33-35 with James 2:19. Surely, as we see Him in these gospel records we see the attributes of deity. Who else could cast out devils and deliver tormented souls? He is in very truth the Son of God!


We get this in verse 8, and note the quiet majesty of our Lord. The man before us was clearly demon-possessed. There were many such cases in our Lord’s day, and it can occur today, for the Devil is very subtle and alters his tactics according to the situations in which, and in the people in whom, he is working – look up 2 Corinthians 11:14; 1 Peter 5:8. All through the Bible it is recognised that evil spirits took possession of men’s bodies – see 1 Samuel 16:14; 1 Kings 22:21-23. Sometimes men invited the evil spirits to possess them, and then they were described as familiar spirits – look up Leviticus 19:31(KJV); 20:6-27(KJV). What a warning we have here against every form of Spiritism, for this is communication with, and sometimes possession by, demons – unclean spirits who impersonate the dead – look up 2 Kings 21:6; 23:24; Isaiah 8:19-20!


We get this in verses 9-14, and in particular verse 13 – “Jesus gave them permission.” The final decision was with Him because He was Lord over the demons. When we read these verses we have to ask, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Genesis 18:14). What is your problem, your difficulty, your besetting sin? Surely the Lord has the authority and the power to help and deliver you? – look up and compare Matthew 28:18 with Luke 1:37. We easily doubt and become subject to our unbelieving hearts (Hebrews 3:12), but look up Matthew 19:26!


We get this at the end of verse 14, and in verse 15. It was a miracle, of course – and in this incident we have a picture of the man before and after.

    Possessed by Demons

    1. 1. “Demon-possessed” (Luke 8:27).
    2. 2. “In the tombs” (Mark 5:3).
    3. 3. “Chained hand and foot” (Mark 5:4)
    4. 4. “No man could tame him” (Mark 5:4).
    5. 5. “Crying” (Mark 5:5).
    6. 6. “Cutting himself” (Mark 5:5)
    7. 7. “No clothes” (Luke 8:27).

    Liberated by Christ

    1. 1. “Demons had gone out” (Luke 8:35).
    2. 2. “At the feet of Jesus” (Luke 8:35).
    3. 3. “Sitting” (Mark 5:15).
    4. 4. “In his right mind” (Luke 8:35).
    5. 5. “Begged…him” (Mark 5:18).
    6. 6. “Go home to your family” (Mark 5:19).
    7. 7. “Dressed” (Luke 8:35).

Relatively speaking, all this has happened in the experience of every sinner, for every converted man and woman has been saved and mightily transformed by the power of the Lord Jesus Christ – look up 2 Corinthians 5:17. Is that true of you?


In this story we have an indication of the depravity and the folly of the human heart, for when our loving Saviour was present only to dispense blessing to the people, how did they react? – verses 16-17 tell us. They simply wanted Him to go away – compare Matthew 27:22. Someone has said that they cared more for the pigs than they did for the Saviour. It is often true that people think far more of their sin, their pleasures, their ambitions and a great many other things than they do of the Lord Jesus – but look up Mark 8:36-37. John 5:40 was one of the most tragic statements that Jesus ever made. Is it true of you? If so, what folly!


We get this in verses 18-19. It was natural for the man to want to be with the Lord, but His plan was that he should go back and demonstrate to his loved ones the wonderful work of grace that had been accomplished in him. Look again at verse 19. Have we obeyed this injunction? If the Lord has done such great things for us, does not the love of Christ constrain us to live for Him and to spread abroad His fame? – look up 2 Corinthians 5:14.