Matt Carter speaks on Mark 5:1-20
Series: Jesus, The Person Of Power
In the eighties there was a huge movement called, True Love Waits. It was a program designed to help young people save themselves sexually until marriage.
There were big rallies where people would teach about why you need to stay sexually pure until marriage. At the end of each night they would pass out commitment cards for kids to sign, committing to staying sexually pure.
Matt Chandler, a pastor in Dallas, preached a sermon years ago. He was telling a story about a night when he was at one of these rallies. He was in the audience and the speaker was teaching about purity and why you should sign the card and save yourself.
The speaker pulled out a rose and passed it around to everybody in the audience, a group of teenagers, while he continued to speak. He encouraged them all to touch the rose, to smell it, feel what it felt like. While he was preaching about purity, hundreds of the teenagers were passing it around, touching and smelling it.
At the end of his sermon was the big climax. He held up the rose. Obviously, it had been used and abused by about four hundred teenagers. The rose was limp and brown, the petals were falling off.
The point of his message was this: Your virginity is like the rose before it was passed around. The rose was beautiful, pure and perfect until it had been handled, touched and used. This is what your virginity looks like.
The big climax of the message was that we save ourselves sexually for marriage because no one wants a used, worn out, tattered rose.
When Matt heard that, he became violently angry. The message was so contrary to the message of the gospel.
I’ll never forget when he preached about the gospel and the message of Jesus. He taught Jesus actually came to save and make pure, the messed up and abused roses.
Chandler said, “Who wants used, tattered, messed up, worn out roses? Jesus does.”
”For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:10 (ESV)
This is the reason Jesus left heaven, His throne and His glory. He came to this earth, wrapped Himself in injured flesh so that He could seek, find and rescue messed up, tattered, worn out people.
The Demon Possessed Guy
Jesus was on the Sea of Galilee with His boys and He told them they were going to row the boat across the sea into a pagan, foreign country on the other side.
It was a place outside of the covenant land of Israel. Jesus stepped off the boat and He saw one of the most messed up human beings in Scripture. He walked up to the guy, healed and restored him completely, then got back on the boat and sailed back across the Sea of Galilee.
We first learn the guy was demon possessed. Then Jesus started talking to the demons.
And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” Mark 5:9 (ESV)
So we also learn that wasn’t just one demon, but several.
And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid (Mark 5:15).
Things We See About Jesus
There are a couple of things we see about Jesus through this story:
• Jesus uses His power not to oppress us, but to set us free.
The lesson of this story shows there is nobody that is too far-gone to be saved by Jesus Christ.
• The grace of God is greater than any human condition.
It’s greater than demon possession. It’s even greater than death.
Jesus Sets Us Free
Every word in Scripture is God ordained, it’s Holy Spirit inspired. The detail Mark goes into is to show us how far gone this guy was, what his condition was before he met Jesus.
He lived among the tombs... Mark 5:3 (ESV)
The first thing Mark tells us is he lived in a graveyard.
Any Jewish person that met somebody who lived in a graveyard would automatically consider him or her ceremonially unclean. The Jews wouldn’t touch unclean people.
The guy was so mentally unstable, the townspeople had kicked him out, forcing him to live in a graveyard.
...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. Mark 5:3-4 (ESV)
Not only was the guy insane, but he was also dangerous. He was so scary to the townspeople they even bound him up in chains.
Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones. Mark 5:5 (ESV)
Every night he was shrieking and cutting himself with stones.
The source of his issues was demon possession. Jesus walked up to the man and the demon started talking to Him. The demon called himself “Legion”, which could mean up to ten thousand demons. So here was a guy possessed with up to ten thousand demons. Jesus walks up to him and they know Him.
God is Greater
This guy was beyond repair. He was unsavable with no hope. He was mentally, physically, and spiritually gone.
Little did this man know he was about to encounter someone even the wind and waves obeyed. Who came to seek and save the lost. Who had ultimate power and came to use His power not to oppress people, but to set them free.
Let’s jump to the end of the story and see what happened to this stark raving mad, demon-possessed guy who lived in a graveyard and spent all night screaming and cutting himself with rocks. What did he look like after he encountered the man named Jesus?
And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. Mark 5:15 (ESV)
This is not just another story about Jesus healing someone.
Every miracle is amazing and awesome. Each story has a specific power to it.
But we need to get our minds around what Mark was saying here. He was saying this guy was not just another guy that Jesus healed, but he might be the worst guy ever.
If you were one of the people that lived in the town, every night hearing this man shrieking, seeing him cut himself, you would probably call up your buddies. You would grab some chains and try to tie him up. But as you walk away, the dude would bust the chains open. At this point you’d give up on the guy. Hide the kids. Walk away, give up, its over, he’s too far gone. That’s what we would do.
But that’s not what Jesus did.
What does this story teach us about God and how He relates to us? What does it teach us about how God views us and what He wants to do in us?
Our God loves the unlovable.
We have a God who is in the business of saving the unsavable. He goes after and pursues people that everybody else has cast aside.
We have a God who takes people with real, serious issues and engages them right in the middle of their issues and brings healing, wholeness and restoration to their circumstances.
We have a God that takes people bound in chains, oppressed by the enemy and isolated from the love of community. He meets them in their brokenness and removes their chains, He destroys the power of the enemy with the sound of His voice and He adopts people into His family.
We have a God that uses His ultimate power not to oppress us, but to set us free.
For those of you who struggle with thinking you’re too far-gone. The reason Jesus came to this earth is to heal people like you and me. There is no sin greater than the cross of Jesus Christ.
There are some of you who don’t think you are as bad as this guy was. You know you needed Jesus to save you when He found you, but you weren’t living in a graveyard, right?
If you’re here today and in Christ Jesus, this man’s story is your story.
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience... Ephesians 2:1-2 (ESV)
The prince of the power of the air is Satan. Before Jesus, Satan heavily influenced you.
“...among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. Ephesians 2:3 (ESV)
Not just some of us, but all of us formerly lived in a graveyard, being influenced by the power of Satan.
The word lived in this verse means to be bound continually. Every single one of us had this condition before we met Jesus. We were living in a graveyard, influenced by Satan and bound by the chains of our sin. But, just like this guy, you met somebody.
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved. Ephesians 2:4-5 (ESV)
If you’re in Christ Jesus today, this is your story. Your story is about a sinful, messed up, broken beyond all hope, unsavable person.
But Jesus pursued you and He physically, mentally, and spiritually made you whole and righteous.
Jesus took the unclean and made it clean.
Religious Jews had a phrase they used for people who lived in graveyards, who cut themselves with rocks. They called them unclean.
Up until this point in Scripture, until Jesus, every single time something unclean came in contact with something clean, the clean would become unclean.
Not in this story.
Finally, the unclean came in contact with the clean and the unclean became clean.
It’s called the gospel.
That is what Jesus did for us, who are in Him. He found us, in the foreign country and He made us clean. That is the offer He makes for every single one of us today.
Who wants tattered, used, worn out roses? Jesus does.