The Maniac of Gadara:
Freed from Demons
And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes. And when he [Jesus] was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains: Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones. (Mark 5:1-5)
Jesus visited a place called Gadara in Decapolis. This was a territory where the cultures of Greek and Roman coexisted with the local Jewish inhabitants. Their idolatrous influence led to a very immoral lifestyle.
We already learned that Jesus went to Samaria to meet an immoral woman and changed her life. Now Jesus has come to a place where Gentiles live. They are pagans with no knowledge of God. They practiced wickedness with no fear of God. Jews were forbidden to go to this unclean territory. Imagine a father and son on their fishing boat out on the Sea of Galilee. The loving father instructs his son that they are to follow the true God in Heaven who created them. Perhaps he might warn his son, “We are not to be involved with the evil of this world. Do not go to the land of filthiness and Satanic influences. Stay away from the Gadarenes”.
Notice the description we find of this man possessed by an unclean spirit. He lived among the tombs with the dead; he could not be subdued by chains or controlled. He made loud noises crying out and cutting himself.
In this story, we learn that this man was possessed by an unclean spirit that led him to a place of the dead. It is interesting to note that in present-day religions, there is much preoccupation with the dead, and places of the dead.
One of the highest deities in Hinduism is lord Shiva. This is the god who is believed to be the destroyer of life. The statue of Shiva is located in Nepal at Pashupatinath, Kathmandu. This is where the dead bodies are cremated along the Bagmati River. The priests who live there cover their naked bodies with ashes from the deceased.
I remember meeting a former Buddhist monk who spent a couple long seasons of fasting and meditation. I was intrigued that one time he spent two and a half months meditating at a burial ground where the dead are taken. The practice of yoga, popularized by both Hinduism and Buddhism, is even performed by enthusiastic adherents in graveyards for a deeper spiritual experience!
What is the goal of religion? For many, it is to find release from sin or to become pure. Perhaps some desire to find acceptance with God, peace of mind, or hope for their future. I remember talking with another Buddhist monk. I asked him why he meditated and followed his religion with such devotion. He stated that he wanted to get his mind pure. Sadly, he admitted that he did not believe that this goal was achievable during his lifetime.
Our conscience tells us that we are not okay in our present condition. We know we have done wrong. The Bible tells us our sin separates us from God. How do we find freedom from sin and evil influences?
But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him, And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not. For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit. And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many. And he besought him much that he would not send them away out of the country. Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding.
And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them. And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea. And they that fed the swine fled, and told it in the city, and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that was done. (Mark 5:6-14)
What is the response of the man possessed with devils? He runs to worships Jesus! The unclean spirit recognized who Jesus was. James 2:19 says, “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” Satan and his evil spirits know the position and power of Jesus. They know that he created them and will judge them. One day, they will be cast into the lake of fire. In our story above, these unclean spirits are begging not to be cast out of the country. So Jesus cast them out of the man and into the pigs nearby. The pigs immediately ran violently over the cliff.
We must recognize the influence of evil spirits. They bring spiritual bondage and fear to people. They want us to be thinking about death and participate in activities that destroy our life. Notice even many lyrics of popular music today with the subject matter promoting death and destruction through drugs, alcohol, and sexual perversion.
And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid.
And they that saw it told them how it befell to him that was possessed with the devil, and also concerning the swine. And they began to pray him to depart out of their coasts. And when he was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil prayed him that he might be with him. Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee. (Mark 5: 15-19)
Jesus purposely had travelled with his disciples to meet only this one bad man! Notice the changes He made in his life. Jesus conquered evil and demonstrated the miraculous power of God! This is what true conversion is. We must remember that Jesus, who is God, is the life-Giver. He is the light of life, Resurrection and the life, the way, truth, and the life, and giver of eternal life! He gives life instead of death, and offers purity instead of filthiness.
Notice the changes we see Jesus made in the life of this man who previously was controlled by an evil spirit. He was sitting instead of being out of control. He now had a peaceful spirit because of the power of the Holy Spirit that took possession of him. He was clothed instead of naked. He now was no longer impure and immoral, but made clean by the Holy God. He was in his right mind instead of being lunatic and emotionally unstable. He had a different mentality and desired to be with Jesus.
Jesus sent him home to tell his family and neighbors what great things he had done! He showed his faith in Christ by obeying Jesus words. He returned to Decapolis to declare the goodness and compassion of God. He was not ashamed to publically confess his faith in Jesus Christ.
The local people were angry because they lost money. Yet, they were not interested in a man getting his mind and life restored! They had the wrong priorities. Jesus told his followers, “For what shall it profit a man if he should gain the whole world and lose his own soul” (Mark 8:36).
When we meet Jesus, he makes changes in our body, mind, and soul. We have a renewed mind and thoughts. We have new desires and want to spend time with God, read the Bible, and tell others about him. We want to honor him with our body and possessions. We want to obey truth because we love God. These are the results when Christ subdues the enemy of our soul and frees us from the bondage to Satan. He takes us from being spiritually dead in our sin and gives us real life! “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (II Timothy 1:7).
What characterizes your life? Is it anger, fear, death, or suicidal thoughts? You can experience peace with God and peace from God even in a world of chaos. You may have rest for your soul, a renewed mind, and purpose when you meet Jesus personally by faith in him. Our purpose is to glorify God. But first you must experience his freedom from sin. Will you call on him to deliver you and include you in the family of God?