Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes.The Saviour and the Maniac
Of all the encounters of Jesus with men, surely none is more striking than His meeting with the maniac whose home was among the tombs. Jesus had just left the boat, and stepped upon the shore, when from out one of the caves that served for a burying-place among the limestone hills there rushed towards Him a creature that seemed not so much like a human being as like an evil spirit incarnate. Perhaps the unhappy man had been watching the boat coming across the lake; and with the swift bounds of a maniac, he made straight for the Master as He disembarked. It was always so with Jesus. No sooner did He touch the land than He was met by human want and misery.
How very touching is the contrast between these two men—the Saviour and the maniac; immortal symbol of the world, wild and gloomy, hopeless, and homeless, rushing on to offer its instinctive and unconscious homage to the Jesus whom it needs. There stands the Master, with His quiet, fearless bearing, with His sorrowful face and His beautiful eyes; and there, at His feet, is the demoniac, wild and fierce and naked, with the strength of a demon in his right arm and the awful light of madness in his eye. Not only all the day, but all the night, when other men were sleeping, the lonely hills where he made his home would ring with his unearthly cries, and he would gash himself with stones until the blood would spurt. So powerful was he that he could burst the heavy chains with which he had been bound, and so terrible was he that the bravest were afraid to pass that way.
I. No one would pass but Jesus. He was not afraid. Such were the ways He loved to pass. He loved to set the fallen upon their feet, to restore again the ruins of human nature; and to heal this wild misery which rushed towards Him from the hills, and then threw itself impulsively at His feet, was just to do the work which His Father had given Him to do. A brave heart might well have quailed before such an onset, and fled perhaps in terror; but Jesus stood and, looking upon him, loved him. We listen with bated breath to hear what He will say to this poor, unhappy, and dangerous man. Jesus is always simple, serenely and sublimely simple. He does not begin by preaching any gospel, He simply asks the man his name. And we may well believe that the maniac's manner would be instantly transformed. Here was a voice which sounded as perhaps no human voice before or since has sounded—the quiet, gentle, affectionate tone must have gone home with healing to the recesses of that shattered mind; and here were the words of One who spoke to him as a man speaks to his friend. Other men had repeatedly come to bind him with their cruel chains; who could this be who came with no chain, but who bound him all the more firmly by the gentle bonds of love?
Is it any wonder that in the quiet, authoritative presence of Jesus the maniac is transformed? He, who before was naked, now is clothed. He, who before rushed with wild frenzy about the desolate hills, now sits quietly at the feet of Jesus. He, who before was possessed by devils, is now possessed by the spirit of Jesus.
II. Why did Jesus refuse the man's request? Partly for the world's sake and partly for the man's own. 'Go,' said Jesus, 'to thy house, to thine own people, and tell them all that the Lord, in pity, hath done for thee.' The saved man has to be, in his turn, a saviour, or at least a preacher. Anything that he knows about Jesus, those who are dear to him should know too. 'Go to thine own people and tell them.' Upon the man who has been redeemed, who has passed from insanity to soundness of mind, from lonely misery to fullness of joy, lies the obligation to tell the story to those whom he can influence, first to those of his own household, and then to those beyond it; for if a man has been healed by the shores of the sea of Galilee, then Decapolis has a right to know about it too. Life upon the mountains and among the tombs is no more possible for such an one: he must go with his message among the men who need it The new power which Jesus has brought into his life is not only for himself but for them. Inspiration has to be translated into action, knowledge and power into service. The work for which he was redeemed will not be done if he sits at Jesus' feet So, for the world's sake, Jesus says, 'Go'.
But no less for the man's sake. He has to learn that the power which redeemed him can keep him, whether the bodily presence of Jesus is near him or not Perhaps, like many men, he was anxiously dependent upon a visible support to his faith; and the gracious Jesus, who loved him better than he knew, deliberately sent him away, that he might learn the true meaning of spiritual religion. 'Go and tell what the Lord hath done.' The Lord was the Lord of all the earth, and everywhere He might be found. When Jesus entered into His boat, and was lost to sight across the lake, the power which He represented did not vanish with Him; and Jesus wished to bring home to this redeemed but anxious soul, that the Divine resources were always at the disposal of the man who trusted them—alike upon the sea and land, upon the valleys and the hills, in the crowded city and on the waste and desolate place where no man is. God and His power and His love are everywhere.
—J. E. McFadyen, The City With Foundations, p. 33.
References.—V. 19.—H. J. Wilmot-Buxton, God's Heroes, p. 217. H. Ward Beecher, Sermons (4th Series), p. 30. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. iii. No. 109. V. 22-24.—Archbishop Trench, Notes on the Miracles of Our Lord, p. 149. V. 22-24, 35-43.—John Laidlaw, The Miracles of Our Lord, p. 338. W. M. Taylor, The Miracles of Our Saviour, p. 230. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—St. Mark I.-VIII. p. 194. V. 25.—J. Halsey, The Spirit of Truth, p. 183. V. 26-27.—M. Guy Pearse, Jesus Christ and the People, p. 158. J. M. Neale, Sermons Preached in a Religious House, vol. i. p. 104. V. 25-28.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—St. Mark I.-VIII. p. 199. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xiv. No. 827. V. 25-34.—Archbishop Trench, Notes on the Miracles of Our Lord, p. 157. J. Laidlaw, The Miracles of Our Lord, p. 229. W. M. Taylor, The Miracles of Our Saviour, p. 243. V. 26.—J. Service, Sermons, p. 73. V. 28.—C. Brown, God and Man, p. 236. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxiii. No. 1382. V. 28-34.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—St. Mark I.-VIII. p. 213.
All Christians have to be witnesses, to be living testimonies, that they have become connected with the eternal fountains, and are no longer in need of supply from inferior streams.
I. What a marvellous picture this is! But there is a counter side, shall we say a corroborative side, strongly and perfectly confirming the woman's own feeling. You have it in the very next verse; that is to say, Mark 5:30, 'And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that virtue had gone out of Him'. There you have the double picture: the woman knew she had received something, and Jesus that He had given something; with that double testimony who shall stand up and deny it in either of its aspects? This mystery of intercommunication is going on all the day, the outgoing of faith, the incoming of healing. That is the gracious mystery, and in that mystery we ought to live and grow and become quite strong. Ministers surely know when virtue has gone out of them. There are sermons that cost nothing; there are discourses that are delivered from the lips; there is a fluent ignorance. There are sermons that tear the soul as they come out of it—the upper side of that marvellous demoniacal possession. It may be quite possible for persons to preach and to lose nothing, but if they lose nothing they gain nothing. That is the solemn and all but tragical mystery. Jesus Christ gave Himself; He turned His own soul into wisdom, parable, gospel invitation, and feast of mercy. What wonder that He lived but a little time when the drain or the strain upon Him was so exhausting?
II. What a wonderful testimony we find in the first Epistle of John, chapter one, and the opening of the chapter, 'That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life... that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you.' Had they no personally original remarks to make? None. How did they preach? By telling what they knew; not by telling what somebody else knew. That is preaching, preaching that cannot be put down; not preaching in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but in the power of the Spirit and the demonstration of the omnipotent grace of the Cross.
III. Have we touched the Saviour? If so, why not say so? why not be personal witnesses to a Divine experience? If we only have what the books have given us, all that we have can be taken away from our hearts; but if the Spirit itself bear witness with our spirits that we are the children of God, then our religion, if I may so say, is treasured where moth and rust do not corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.
This also is the true strength. If we have our salvation only in our memory we may lose it at any moment. Salvation is not a recollection only, it is a present experience, it is the joy of the morning, it is the crown of the noonday. This is true joy—what we ourselves have felt and known and seen and handled
—Joseph Parker, City Temple Pulpit, vol. Iv. p. 203.
References.—V. 30, 31.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxviii. No. 1640. V. 32.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—St. Mark I.-VIII. p. 215. V. 33.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. ix. No. 514. V. 35-43.—Ibid. vol. xliii. No. 2507. V. 36.—'Plain Sermons' by contributors to the Tracts for the Times, vol. i. p. 99. S. Martin, Sermons, p. 191. J. J. Tayler, Christian Aspects of Faith and Duty, p. 169. VI. 1-13.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—St. Mark I.-VIII. p. 228. VI. 2.—N. Dwight Hillis, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lv. 1899, p. 74. V1. 2, 3.—J. Clifford, The Dawn of Manhood, p. 20. VI. 2-4.—H. Scott Holland, Church Times, vol. lvii. 1907, p. 53; see also Christian World Pulpit, vol. lxxi. 1907, P. 17.
And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit,
Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains:
Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him.
And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones.
But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him,
And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not.
For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit.
And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many.
And he besought him much that he would not send them away out of the country.
Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding.
And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them.
And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea.
And they that fed the swine fled, and told it in the city, and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that was done.
And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid.
And they that saw it told them how it befell to him that was possessed with the devil, and also concerning the swine.
And they began to pray him to depart out of their coasts.
And when he was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil prayed him that he might be with him.
Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.
And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel.
And when Jesus was passed over again by ship unto the other side, much people gathered unto him: and he was nigh unto the sea.
And, behold, there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw him, he fell at his feet,
And besought him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live.
And Jesus went with him; and much people followed him, and thronged him.
And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years,
And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse,
When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment.
For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole.
And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague.
And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes?
And his disciples said unto him, Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?
And he looked round about to see her that had done this thing.
But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth.
And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.
While he yet spake, there came from the ruler of the synagogue's house certain which said, Thy daughter is dead: why troublest thou the Master any further?
As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe.
And he suffered no man to follow him, save Peter, and James, and John the brother of James.
And he cometh to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and seeth the tumult, and them that wept and wailed greatly.
And when he was come in, he saith unto them, Why make ye this ado, and weep? the damsel is not dead, but sleepeth.
And they laughed him to scorn. But when he had put them all out, he taketh the father and the mother of the damsel, and them that were with him, and entereth in where the damsel was lying.
And he took the damsel by the hand, and said unto her, Talitha cumi; which is, being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, arise.
And straightway the damsel arose, and walked; for she was of the age of twelve years. And they were astonished with a great astonishment.
And he charged them straitly that no man should know it; and commanded that something should be given her to eat.