Summary: In the face of the demonic Jesus transforms lives.
“He’s Amazing! Even Little Piggy Went Swimming!”
When our sons were little I had a routine I often went through when they were barefoot. Starting with the big toe I would recite the “This little piggy went to market, this little piggy stayed home, this little piggy had roast beef, this little piggy had none. And this little piggy went ‘Wee, wee, wee all the way home.” That, of course, was the cue to mercilessly tickle the bottom of their foot. I never understood the verse but it didn’t stop us from having some fun.
I can’t help but wonder if Jesus, or the townspeople, made up this little ditty as the herd of pigs went “Wee, wee, wee” all the way into water. Whether or not they did, Jesus did not take hold of a toe; rather He took hold of a life. The prelude for this amazing story is Chapter 4 where the disciples cross into Gentile territory so they can rest. But before they arrive they experience a storm of nature at sea. Now, in Chapter 5, Mark points to a storm inside an individual. Mark wrote his Gospel with a Gentile audience in mind and these incidents were chosen to help prove that Jesus was the Messiah, the Lord. So let’s enter into the the action by viewing this passage as a three act play.
The first act, verses 1-5, is entitled THE EXISTENCE OF DEMONIC INFLUENCE. Onto the stage comes a wild man, who had been wild for a long time. Everyone knew he was filled with an unclean and evil spirit; he was subject to demonic influence. He was so wild that he lived among the tombs – the place of the dead – and wore no clothes. The sight and sounds of him were so disturbing that no one could really stand to be near him. They could not help him and he could not help himself. He was a man against himself. His humanity was gravely distorted.
The Bible has no qualms about the existence of the demonic. The biblical writers understood that since Jesus became flesh and lived as a human, the devil also desired to get into flesh – so he seeks to influence people’s minds, hearts, and wills. And most of us have no problem with this view - at least for those times and those days. But where is the relevance for today? Where does this touch our lives? Does demonic influence exist today?
The answer is an unequivocal “Yes!” We are all too familiar with distorted humanity. At its core demonic influence produces A FEELING OF BEING POSSESSED AND INFLUENCED by superhuman powers. They impact us physically, spiritually, psychologically, emotionally, and attitudinally. They torment and disturb the divine likeness in which we were created. The apostle Paul wrote that we battle against “the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” These FORCES AND POWERS SEPARATE US FROM GOD.
C. S. Lewis came to this realization prior to his conversion to Christ. He thought he was a happy, reasonably good pagan, but the Spirit of God shoed him something different: “For the first time I examined myself with a seriously practical purpose. And there I found what appalled me: a zoo of lusts, a bedlam of ambitions, a nursery of fears, a harem of fondled hatreds. My name was Legion.” Dr. Lloyd Ogilvie, in a sermon on this passage, asked some penetrating questions. (1) Are you ever haunted by the memory of previous failures or mistakes? Does your mind ever drift back to memories which hurt or cause remorse? Do you ever have feelings of self-incrimination? Do you ever feel that you should punish yourself for not having done something, or for having done something? Do people’s reactions or attitudes to you ever throw you into an anxiety reaction about your capabilities or adequacy? Do the rejections of people ever confirm your own feelings of doubt about yourself? Have you ever felt like resigning from the human race, that people and groups would be better off without you? Do you ever feel alienated from yourself? Do you ever experience longings, desires, appetites, ambitions, conflicting loyalties, fantasies, illusions of grandeur – the desire to be someone else? Does life seem to pull you in a multiplicity of directions so you lose touch with yourself?
As Dr. Ogilive then points out, we are all troubled by Legion’s symptoms to some degree. There are numberless appetites, desires, frustrations, fears, angers, hatreds, loyalties, dreams, and aspirations in us that we cannot understand. We want to be loving, but are often envious and spiteful. We want to be caring, but are carless. We want to serve Christ, but have other priorities. We are fragmented, not whole. It’s Paul in Romans 7 again – what we want to do, we don’t do and what we don’t want to do, we do. All of this is the influence of evil.