In rare and agonizing detail, Mark describes the condition of a demon-possessed Gentile. According to the Jews, the man is already unclean because he is a Gentile, but living among the tombs at the demons’ behest makes him more so. No one can constrain him, not even himself. When anyone tries to bind him, the demons break him free only to further abuse him. Mark reveals that before the man encounters Jesus, “night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones” (v. 5). His bondage, isolation, and grief are complete. Mark’s description gives insight into the goal of Satan and his demons: to attack the image of God by turning men and women against God and each other while ruthlessly hurting them in any possible way. But the demons have no power before Jesus. In what appears to be an act of self-interest, they force the man to kneel and beg Jesus not to torture them, as they have some inkling at least of his divinity. Jesus orders the demons to come out of the man, and he asks the man for his name. The demons’ disquieting reply, “Legion, for we are many” (v. 9), reveals that many demons have possessed the man—a Roman legion was composed of up to 6000 men. As unnerving as this sounds, it is of no consequence to Jesus, who has complete control over his enemies. When they beg him to send them to a herd of pigs, which are also unclean, he does so. At last the man is free, “clothed and in his right mind” (v. 15). Some commentators believe that the demons’ request to stay in the country (v. 10) shows that demons are associated with or even somehow attached to specific places (see Luke 11:24–26; Dan. 10:13). While this may be true, it remains the case that ultimately God is the one who constrains them and retains utter control over them and their activity. Theology for Life—Demons are a real and present threat to creation, but Christians can rest in the fact that Christ is the Victor over whom Satan and his demons have no power. He will answer and deliver his children when they call to him for help. For more on demons see: Luke 9:37–43 1 Tim. 4:1

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