In Mark 5 Jesus had just finished teaching in a seaside town and dismissed the crowd. Now he set his sights on a town called Gadara on the other side of the water. I believe that as soon as Christ set sail for that town, all of hell shuddered.
There was a mass of tombs near the outskirts of Gadara. And living among those tombs was a man possessed by 2,000 unclean spirits. We cannot begin to imagine the torment this demon-possessed man endured. Scripture says he wailed and cried all night long, ripped off his clothing and cut himself with stones. Simply put, he lived as a wild beast, and no one could help him. Satan had made this tormented man his property.
Yet as Satan saw Jesus on his way to Gadara, he must have trembled. He knew that when Christ encountered him he would not allow the man to continue in that kind of hellish torment.
In the Spirit, Jesus heard the cry of the possessed man.
In Gadara there would be no waiting crowds. There would be no mass healings, no teaching of parables. Christ’s mission was to reach one person, the Gadarene demoniac. Mark’s Gospel paints a dramatic scene:
“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…the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him…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” (Mark 5:2-7).
Why did the man say this? It is because evil spirits are tormented when they encounter Christ. They know they will be chained up and bound for eternity!
Jesus responded directly to the demons tormenting: “Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit” (Mark 5:8). It was then the 2,000 unclean spirits (who called themselves “Legion: for we are many”) left the demoniac. Immediately they entered into a herd of swine, which ran wildly down the mountainside and leaped into the sea and drowned (see 5:9,11-13).
What a different scene it was now. The demon-possessed man, who had been tormented so mercilessly night and day, sat calmly before Jesus in his right mind. Then we read something astonishing: “He that had been possessed with the devil prayed him [Jesus] that he might be with him” (5:18). This man pleaded to go with Jesus on his mission journeys. He wanted to be with the Messiah who did this powerful kind of deliverance!
What a marvelous miracle Jesus had wrought. It is a story clearly meant to teach us about the Lord’s authority over every power of darkness, no matter how daunting. Yet there is also much more in this story for us. I believe there is an important message embedded here meant to strengthen Christ’s church today.
Right now we face a similar demonic oppression, as an entire generation has been flooded by legions of unclean spirits.
In Revelation, the Bible speaks of a flood of evil being released out of hell and onto the earth. This is going to happen in the last days, when the devil knows his time is short.
I believe we’re seeing the beginnings of this right now. Both Christians and nonbelievers are asking, “What has happened to our nation? There is no sense of right or wrong. Society has run wild, with every man his own god.” Even news commentators shake their heads at the rapid disintegration of any sense of morality.
Beloved, it is all the work of the powers of hell. Satan and his hordes are doing all they can do to enslave many in darkness. We live in an age that declares, “Anything goes!” And the enemy is using that mindset to take possession of multitudes.
As the church of Jesus Christ we must be aware that we’re witnessing Satan’s last-ditch stand against God’s people. For years in New York City it has been party time around the clock, with no limits. Yet all of this pleasure madness ends in an anguished cry. Eventually the highs become lows that cannot be lifted. The alcohol, pot and cocaine become a monkey on the back screaming for more, more, more until it possesses the entire mind, soul and body.
When the man of Gadara cut his flesh, he was being prompted by evil spirits to destroy himself. So it is with this generation. In the deep hours of the morning in New York, you begin to hear wails coming up from the city streets. These are the cries of tormented souls whom the devil has enslaved and possessed. In any hospital emergency ward on a Friday or Saturday night you can see the result of Satan’s work: horrid sights of self-destruction from drugs and alcohol, attempted suicides gone awry.
Yet these cries aren’t just being heard in urban areas like New York. In the past decade a plague has swept Middle America, including rural areas. Crystal meth labs have sprung up across the nation, their cheap drug enslaving new legions of addicts. Satan has now found new devices to possess and torment on a massive scale.
Multitudes today live in tombs of self-destruction, being harassed and tormented by evil spirits. Millions of hearts are crying in torment right now. And they’re￼saying the same words as the man of Gadara: “What have (we) to do with you, Jesus, Son of the most high God?” (see Mark 5:7).
As surely as Jesus heard the demoniac’s wailing, so he hears the cries of Satan’s victims today. Our compassionate Lord still responds to every such cry. And multitudes in this generation are going to be delivered by his power.
I believe Jesus was giving us an illustrated sermon on how to respond to the cries that emanate from tombs of torment today.
On every mission journey with Jesus, the disciples were in training. After all, these were the men Christ designated to be the pillars of his church. Dozens of others followed Christ as well, at a close distance. So as Jesus took the disciples with him across the sea, other small vessels probably followed.
Keep in mind, the disciples and the other followers were all witnesses to the encounter at Gadara. It was as if Jesus were saying to every generation to follow: “If you follow me, you will face legions of evil, seducing spirits. And the evil that Satan unleashes on this world is going to wax worse and worse. With this demon-possessed man I am going to show you how to minister to those who are bound and tormented by the devil. You will be my vessels of delivering power.”
We don’t know how these witnesses reacted when they saw that pitiful, tormented man. But we do know how Jesus did. I believe he had a tear in his eye. How his heart must have gone out to this man so tormented beyond imagining. And how enraged he must have been to see this example of Satan’s cruel harassment.
As the times worsen, we are going to witness an unspeakable outbreak of wickedness surpassing that of Sodom and Gomorrah. Already multitudes have been swept up in delusions by Satan’s powerful allure of sensuality. This deception is only going to increase in the coming days. It will seem to many in the church that the Holy Spirit has lifted every restraint holding back the fury of hell.
But in this hour of growing hopelessness and lawlessness, God is going to do something wonderful in his church. Here is what I see the Lord doing in the coming days.
1. God is going to remind his people they have the power to cast out evil spirits.
Many Christians have allowed Satan to go unchallenged in their lives and homes. They’ve permitted him to harass them mentally and emotionally. Yet, beloved, we have the same Jesus living in us who cast out a legion of demons from the man in the tombs. The miraculous deliverance in Gadara is Christ’s message to us today, saying:
“Do not fear Satan and his powers of darkness. Don’t be convinced he is the victor. I’ve shown you my authority over every power of darkness. Now I’m calling you to stand up and speak my word. Take the authority I have given you. Make the devil flee!”
Indeed, in Luke 9:1-2 Jesus gave his disciples all power and authority over Satan’s demonic hordes: “Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.” Nowhere in Scripture is it written that this authority or power has been rescinded. In other words, Jesus calls us to use his authority, to deliver bound-up captives and set the devil to flight.
The time has come for Christ’s church to get back to this ministry commission from him: “Heal the sick and cast out devils.” Cries of despair are coming from all parts of the world. And the Spirit is stirring God’s people to respond. Right now I see Jesus putting a holy fight back into his church. It is a timely work and much needed as I foresee Holy Ghost churches soon overflowing with fearful, hopeless people seeking help. They’re going to need deliverance that only Jesus can provide.
Right now, I hear the Spirit telling God’s people to get back to using our gifts. We are not to be afraid to pray for healings and deliverances. Let every pastor, elder and lay person move forward responsibly in faith. According to Jesus, we are to expect these evil spirits to flee at his command!
2. At Gadara, Jesus was showing us how to confront the powers of darkness fearlessly, with his authority.
Jesus did not condemn the man at Gadara. He did not ask the man how he became so bound. There was no rebuke, not even a question. Instead, Christ worked a marvelous miracle of deliverance for the tormented man. He showed the world how God has authority over every power of darkness.
In these dark times, Christ is saying to us, “Go and do likewise.” As we hear his commission, let us rise up and go, doing the work of deliverance needed by so many. Then the multitudes bound up in Satan’s grasp will see how deep God’s love is for them, as he works powerfully on their behalf. Amen!