Sunday Sermon Notes: August 19, 2018

Title: Unconditional Surrender

Text: Mark 5:1-20

Parallel Texts: Matthew 8:28-33; Luke 8:26-39

Right after Jesus completed His teaching in parables, He and His disciples began to make their way across the Sea of Galilee, where they encountered a fierce storm that threatened to swamp their boat; Jesus calmed that storm. Their journey comes to its destination on the far shore, and immediately Jesus encounters a storm of a different sort, much more fierce and dangerous, for He encounters a storm of the soul in the form of a man tortured by unclean spirits. More often than not, this text is taught by getting into the details, how many soldiers in a legion, the man was naked, chains couldn’t bind him, he cut himself, how many pigs were there, everyone was afraid, the guy lived in the tombs…

I’d like to focus on the big picture instead.

If you haven’t read the passage, I’d suggest that you do so now; take your time and get the whole picture in your mind…

To really get the full impact of what is going on, you need to remember that Jesus just calmed the storm, and to keep in mind that in prophetic passages, the sea is often used to represent this world; always churning, tossing and tempestuous. The winds came, the waves tossed and Jesus spoke the Word and brought peace. Not only can He intervene in Nature with authority, He will bring calm to this world in due course. Then, after calming the storm, He arrives at the shore in a region inhabited primarily by gentiles, and a crazed and demon possessed man comes running.

Mark goes into great detail showing us just how far gone this fellow was, and how he was uncontrollable. He is dirty, naked and crazy. He lives near the unclean pigs and in the unclean tombs, oh yes, he pushes all of the Jewish buttons for “unclean” and is inhabited by unclean spirits!

You could almost say that this man represents the reasons for the tempest-tossed and always churning seas… as though this was representative of the spiritual causes of the condition of this world. Into all of this comes Jesus and His Kingdom Tour; we might expect a clash, right? A war, Armageddon, thunder, lightning, fireworks, armies of angels… all that apocalyptic stuff. And what to our wondering eyes should appear?

Surrender of all forces hostile to the Kingdom in Jesus’ presence.

We should reflect on this!

It turns out that the man was inhabited by many demons. How many, whether dozens, hundreds or thousands, I don’t know, the text says “many” and all of the numbers in the commentaries are speculative, but they were all surrendering to Christ, and they were driven into a herd of pigs and drowned. Of all creatures, pigs! Of course, the people in town were afraid, that seems a rational thing to me, for who could grasp the full picture of what was going on at that point? Isn’t it interesting that Jesus told the man, now restored, to go home and give his testimony?  Yes, that is another interesting piece to the puzzle.

When this story is viewed in its context, there is so much more than we usually hear about. The context is: 1) Kingdom Tour, Jesus announcing that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand and demonstrating certain aspects of it as we have already seen. 2) Jesus has just calmed the storm, showing He has command over both Nature and this world. Now, He confronts the storm within the human soul and His enemies immediately surrender, and the human soul is restored to wholeness… and sent out to share his testimony with others. This, dear reader, is a picture of redemption and the age to come; that age is the one in which you and I are living.

Our adversary is cunning and dangerous, and we must not take him lightly. Yet, we must also not over-estimate his strength, for greater is He who is in us that he who is in this world. I always like to add one more thing here: We are also the ones who are on the offensive while our enemy is on the defensive, desperately trying to hold on to what he has, in a cause he knows will fail.

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About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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6 Responses to Sunday Sermon Notes: August 19, 2018

  1. When I was reading this a couple weeks ago it occurred to me that Satan was trying to stop Jesus with that storm so he couldn’t get to this demons and have his way with them. Satan struck out both times. Satan wais like a “Dennis the Menace” daring a giant.

  2. photojaq says:

    Thanks for showing us that comparison of the violent sea with the violent man – both calmed by the presence and words of Jesus.

  3. DWMartens says:

    Three things come to mind as I consider this story:
    1) In Luke’s account the unclean spirits beg Jesus not to order them into the Abyss. Yet, when He permits them to go into the pigs, they end up in the lake which might be pictured as the Abyss, as if to say, you are going to the Abyss regardless of where you want to go.
    2) The man obeyed Jesus and told his story all over the region of the Decapolis. Later (maybe getting ahead of your commentary) in Mark 7:31-8:13, when Jesus goes to the Decapolis, the people come to Him in crowds and He feeds the 4000. The man freed of the unclean spirits had obeyed and prepared the people for Jesus’ later return to the region.
    3) Today, for the devotional at the assisted living home, I read from John 10 where Jesus says in verse 16, “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” In Jesus’ 2 trips to this mostly gentile region (and to Tyre just before His 2nd trip east of the lake) He was showing a bit of what He meant by sheep of another sheep pen.

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