Study Guide

Gospel of Mark Chapter 5:1-20

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Chapter 5:1-20

Jesus Meets One Really Freaky Dude

  • After the storm, they all come safe and sound to the other side of the lake. Their destination is either "Gerasa" (NRSV) or "Gadara" (KJV). The different translations are the result of conflicting readings in the manuscripts. One problem with these locations is that both cities are not on the Sea of Galilee. Does Mark need a lesson in the geography of Palestine?
  • They come upon an ancient-day Michael Myers living in a cemetery. This guy's possessed by a demonic heavyweight, who breaks bonds, cries out night and day, and maltreats his own flesh with stones.
  • He bows down before Jesus, since he knows that Jesus is "Son of the Most High God" (NRSV), and begs Jesus not to go too hard on him. Like all demons, this one's pretty smart (remember 1:24; 3:11).
  • Jesus tells the demon to get out and demands to see his license and registration.
  • It turns out that a whole army of demons inhabits this poor guy. "Legion" is a Roman military term usually designating around 6,000 troops. Is Mark somewhat subversive here? It takes guts to suggest that the demonic world is organized like the Roman military.
  • Granting Legion's request, Jesus expels the demons into a herd of two-thousand pigs, which rush off a cliff into the sea and drown. That's visible proof of Jesus's mastery over the demonic world.
  • By the way, Jews don't herd pigs because pork isn't kosher. This means that for the first time in Mark, we are in predominantly non-Jewish territory (or the pigs could have been herded by non-practicing Jews).
  • Those tending the pigs report these events in the city and surrounding countryside.
  • Everyone comes and sees that Michael Myers has become a well-dressed model citizen.
  • When they hear of the exorcism and the pigs, they ask Jesus to get out of Dodge.
  • Jesus and his disciples get back on their boat, and the guy who was possessed asks to join them.
  • Jesus tells him to stay and tell his own people about the Lord's great mercy and miraculous deeds. He does, and many non-Jews are struck with the same awe for Jesus as the Jews on the other side of the lake (recall 1:27; 2:12).

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