Power to Help

They came to the other side of the sea, to the region of the Gerasenes. As soon as He got out of the boat, a man with an unclean spirit came out of the tombs and met Him. He lived in the tombs. No one was able to restrain him any more—even with chains—because he often had been bound with shackles and chains, but had snapped off the chains and smashed the shackles. No one was strong enough to subdue him. And always, night and day, he was crying out among the tombs and in the mountains and cutting himself with stones.

When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and knelt down before Him. And he cried out with a loud voice, “What do You have to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You before God, don’t torment me!” For He had told him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!”

“What is your name?” He asked him.

“My name is Legion,” he answered Him, “because we are many.” And he kept begging Him not to send them out of the region.

Now a large herd of pigs was there, feeding on the hillside. The demons begged Him, “Send us to the pigs, so we may enter them.” And He gave them permission. Then the unclean spirits came out and entered the pigs, and the herd of about 2,000 rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned there. The men who tended them ran off and reported it in the town and the countryside, and people went to see what had happened. (Mark 5:1-14)

Jesus’ first recorded words were not addressed to the possessed man, but to what was inside of him. He told the “evil spirit” to depart before he ever asked it for a name.

The evil spirit’s answer is worded oddly. “My” name is Legion for “we” are many. Rather than the single spirit which began the passage, the remainder of the account describes “demons” in the plural. Did Jesus and the author of the gospel make a mistake at the beginning that they corrected as they went along?

Indeed not. The poor man was not possessed by an unruly mob of demons, but rather by an organized group. In the Roman army, a legion was strictly organized, with a commander and subcommanders. The demon speaking to Jesus was their commander, the leader of the evil congregation.

Jesus easily and quickly healed a man from perhaps thousands of demons. Therefore, we can be confident that Jesus can easily free us from whatever evil may have us in its grasp, if we only ask him.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm a deacon at Quartz Hill Community Church. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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