After the ordeal that the disciples faced in the lake, Jesus brought them to the other side, to a place that they perhaps had never visited ever before in their lives. That day they were about to witness three completely different but equally astonishing miracles in the lives of ordinary people like them. Ordinary by the standard of this world but by Jesus’ standard these three were children of God.
The first stop was in the region Gerasenes, which was also known as Decapolis (a region comprising of ten cities). This was predominately a Gentile region that knew little about the God of Heaven and Earth and probably never heard about the Messianic king. However, the suffering of mankind identifies with no one religion. Jesus came to this town, not for the crowds but for just one single soul. Before this encounter, the disciples would have thought that Jesus had only come for the Jewish community but they would soon learn that Jesus had come to connect every soul with His Father regardless of their religion.
As soon as they got out of the boat at the shores of the region of Gerasenes, a demon-possessed man, who was living in a graveyard, came before Jesus. The sight of this man must have scared the disciples more than the squall of the previous night, he had broken the chains that bound him and surely would have had quite a few scars and open wounds, as a result on his wrists and ankles. Since no one was able to control this man, he was abandoned by his townsmen and his own family to live among the tombs on the outskirts of the city.
When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In God’s name don’t torture me!”Mark 5:6-7
It’s funny how this demon-possessed man who was living among the dead was able to comprehend what the living could not. He knew who Jesus was and immediately fell on his knees in front of Him acknowledging His authority. He was pleading for his life as he thought that Jesus had come to send him to eternal damnation. That’s how satan fools us by belittling the grace of God. The thought of our God coming to our rescue by making the journey across the chasm starts to seem absurd to us. Jesus literally made the overnight journey across a great chasm to reach this soul but satan had that poor man thinking otherwise.
Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”Mark 5:9
“My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.”
Legion in roman could mean an army of two thousand to six thousand men. Since this was a region governed by the Romans, their units of measurements were perhaps being used to describe the torment that the man was facing. He begged Jesus not to banish him from the region and the demons inside of him saw an opportunity for self-preservation and asked to be transported from the body of a man to a herd of pigs. Jesus granted them their request and the legion of pigs after being possessed by the demons, drowned themselves in the lake.
Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their regionMark 5:17
On hearing about this, the townsfolk came and were afraid of Jesus when they saw the formerly demon-possessed man sitting calmly and in control of his body and mind. They had their own request as they begged Jesus to leave their region. Fear of the unknown is common even today and the folks of the region of Decapolis had come across something that they could not explain. They neither had the scriptures nor the prophets to tell them about the messiah that had come to their city. They only saw the destruction that Jesus had caused and that He was able to control even the demons and their instant reaction was fear. On reading this incident some of us might ask why Jesus did not banish the demons altogether, why was there this wastage of property. Some might mistakenly call this kosher on Jesus’ part and think that it served the ranchers right for breeding unclean animals such as those pigs. But Jesus’s priority was the man who had his life restored to him that day without destroying any other souls nearby.
Jesus seemingly made the journey to this region only for this man and granted his request to not be cast out from his hometown. Even when he wanted to tag along with Jesus and His band of misfit disciples, Jesus did not separate him from his townsfolk. The city would not hear anything from Jesus but this formerly demon-possessed man now became the carrier of the good news and one of the first missionaries for Christ. He had new life in his veins and was now a living testimony to his townsmen (the same people who banished him to the grave) about the wondrous power of God to bring anyone from the land of the dead back with the living, literally in this case.
Jesus got into His boat and crossed over to the other side into the Jewish territory and was at once swarmed by the crowd of hopefuls.
Then one of the synagogue leaders, named Jairus, came, and when he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet. He pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.”Mark 5:22-23
Jairus’ reaction on coming face to face with Jesus was identical to the one the demon-possessed man had. While Legion was asking for relief for himself, this father was begging for the life of his daughter. Jairus, the synagogue leader had no qualms about falling at the feet of the one who was considered to be the number one enemy among his colleagues. Even he may have been on the other side or at least on the fence about Jesus before this incident, but when it came to saving his daughter, he had no scruples in approaching Jesus. Jesus immediately agreed to go with Jairus to his home.
This father suffered along with his daughter as her suffering was his suffering. The four men who carried their friend to Jesus would have suffered along with their friend if they decided to go through those lengths to get their meeting with Jesus. Our prayer requests should not be superficial but we must share in the sufferings of our fellow believers to truly understand their pain. When we pray to God for our own children, our own flesh and blood, our prayers are honest and from the heart. Similarly, our prayers for others must be offered from our hearts with the same compassion.
The crowds would never leave Jesus’ side and especially now, when He was about to perform one of His miracles, they would have pressed around Him even more than usual. While Jesus and His disciples were making their way through the crowds, a woman touched Jesus’ robe with great expectations. She had been suffering for the last twelve years with continuous bleeding and Mark even mentions that she had suffered a lot under the care of several doctors. Due to her condition, this woman could not have also visited the house of God for well over a decade. Imagine her state of mind as she would not have felt herself to be worthy to come before Jesus now with her request. She was perhaps embarrassed by her disease or about her relationship with God during her disease, and could not come openly before Jesus with her request like Jairus the respected synagogue leader could. But when she got her chance, she quietly approached Jesus only to touch His clothes to receive some sort of healing. Her faith had led her to believe that she did not need long prayers of priests or any more prescriptions of physicians, but only a single touch from the Messiah would heal her sickness.
At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”Mark 5:30
Jesus knew who had touched Him and why. But He knew that the woman would remain silent even after receiving her healing from above. That is the level of subjugation that she had suffered from the people around her that she could not even boldly speak out and thank the Lord for her healing. That is the case for most people living as secret believers as even though they pray and have felt His works in their lives, they simply cannot boldly stand for His name. But Jesus calls her out and wanted her to testify about her healing.
He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”Mark 5:34
By calling her ‘daughter’, Jesus not only freed her from her physical suffering but also gave her the right to be called the child of God. She had the assurance of salvation as Jesus restored her broken relationship with God by providing her with both physical and spiritual healing. The healing of one daughter is followed by the death of another.
With immense faith, Jairus had come before Jesus and perhaps had to fend off opposition from his colleagues as well. However, whatever faith he had gained (by witnessing the instant healing of the woman who had been suffering for twelve years), would have all now evaporated when he heard the news of his daughter’s death.
Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”Mark 5:36
Some versions translate this verse as, Jesus, ignoring what the messengers were saying, asked Jairus to hold on to his faith. Sometimes we have to ignore what the world around us tries to tell us. If we go by logic and reason, then we can never truly enjoy the grace of God. There is no logic in what God does for us. He gave His only begotten Son to die for us, sinners who do not appreciate or even acknowledge the gravity of His sacrifice.
Taking only Peter, James and John with Him, Jesus went to Jairus’ house and found that the mourning party had already gathered. People never gather for a prayer meeting or a Bible study but to mourn someone, people assemble like vultures over a carcass. No sooner than Jesus informed them that the child that they were mourning was not dead but was alive, the mourners instantly switched gears and burst out in laughter at the absurdity of Jesus’ statement. He did not allow the faithless people in the room and taking only His disciples and the father and mother of the child, he prayed at her side. Like He did with the winds and the waters, His simple command to get up was enough to restore this girl back to life.
Jesus restored three lives in a single day. All three of them were from different walks of life. A demon-possessed man who had lost his mind, a sick woman who had lost all hope and a young girl who had lost her life were all brought back amongst the living that day. The man was banished from his own people and forced to live among the dead. The woman who was bleeding for twelve years would have been banished from the temple of the Lord (according to Jewish laws, unclean women were not granted entry into the place of worship). On the other hand, the little girl who was the daughter of a synagogue leader, for her the temple would have been her second home for the last twelve years but still only Jesus could bring her back to the land of the living. The mission of Jesus was always misinterpreted by the people around him but it was individuals such as these three that He impacted the most as He continues to restore broken lives and connect all of us with our Creator.
- Why did the possessed man think that Jesus was about to torture him?
- Why did Jesus allow concession for the demons that ended in a legon of pigs drowning to their death?
- Why did Jesus out the woman and her healing?
- What were the similarties in the lives of the three souls that were restored by Jesus that day?