More Thoughts: Mark 5:1-20

This week’s sermon focused on Mark 5:1-20, the Gerasene demoniac. If you have not listened to it, it is available here.  Matthew 8:28-34 and Luke 8:26-39 also cover this event, with slightly different details. While the details may not match exactly, we can be certain that Jesus really did cast many demons out of a particular man.

Where It Happened

Mark (along with Luke) mentions the region of the Gerasenes, which was a part of the Decapolis (ten cities). Matthew calls it the region of the Gadarenes. Both Gerasa and Gadara were cities in the Decapolis, although Gerasa was 30 miles inland. While some scholars will assume that Mark was incorrect with his location, Henry Turlington notes that a village named “Khersa” is found to have been located near to the shore and was subject to Gadara, which means that both accounts can be factually true. We know that after his demons had been cast out, the man told people throughout the Decapolis.

How Many Men

Matthew’s account gives two demon-possessed men instead of one. Does this mean that someone had their facts wrong? I’m of the opinion that two possessed men were present, but that one was much more violent. This is the one that Peter was telling Mark about. This one, dressed and in his right mind, was the one who begged Jesus to allow him to follow Him. This simply stood out more to Peter. Remember that we are reading the accounts of two eyewitnesses. No two people who see the same thing will tell it in exactly the same way, even if they are both telling the truth.

How Many Pigs

Mark records that the pigs were a “herd of about two thousand.” Matthew and Luke do not give this detail. Some would argue that Mark is prone to exaggeration, such as in 1:33 when he claims that “the whole city was gathered at the door,” for Jesus to heal them after casting out a demon in the synagogue. This likely was figurative. The two thousand pigs may have been Peter’s best guess of how many, or he could have heard one of the owners claim it was that many. This is not important to the story. What is important is that Jesus allowed these demons to enter the pigs, freeing the man from the demons that were tormenting him. As a result, Jesus had the witness there of the former demoniac and also those who had observed what Jesus had done. This helped to spread his fame throughout the Decapolis, even if the people there had rejected him. We can also spread the fame of Jesus in a land that has rejected Him. In fact, we must.