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Summary: Jesus frees a man inhabited by thousands of demons. You may not be possessed by a demon - but what destructive habits possess you? Find freedom in Jesus!

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What habits do you have? Are there things you do the same way every time or things you just can’t do without? I don’t really have any of those. In fact, I’m often thankful that I’m free of patterns as I sip my daily mocha over the newspaper at my place at the table in my favorite slippers. Just kidding.

We all have things we do that we either don’t want to, or can’t break. Many people today suffer from addictions to alcohol, drugs, pornography, CSI Miami … Addictions are things to be taken seriously as they can do long term damage to you and others.

Today I’m going to talk about something that goes beyond habits – beyond addictions – to something so frightening that it really should freak us out – possession. What if you lost total control over your words, your actions- if something inside of you forced you to do things you would never do – and forced you away from all human contact? That’s what happens to a man that Jesus runs across in the 1st half of Mark 5.

1 They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes.

This is also known as Gadara and is on the southeast side of the Sea of Galilee. Gadara was part of what was known as the “decapolis” or “ten cities” and had largely independent governments and was mainly a gentile area. That becomes important later in the story.

Different from the other sides of the Sea, Gadara features large hills that run up steeply from the shore – covered with sparse vegetation and large cliffs. There are, however, some green areas just before the water – perfect for what we see in this story. When we visited the spot years ago I remember we saw an olive press in the area.

2 When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an evil spirit came from the tombs to meet him. 3 This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him any more, not even with a chain. 4 For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. 5 Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.

OK – not the sort of guy you’d like to meet on a dark night or on a bright day for that matter. (This story is also found in Matthew 8:28 and Luke 8:26) Matthew actually refers to two demon-possessed men – but Mark and Luke only one. This is probably because only one guy did the talking – Mr. Legion, we’ll call him.

In that area they used to cut little caves out of the rock – there are thousands of them near Jerusalem. Inside was just enough room for some coffins and a visitor – so someone could actually live there – as if anyone would want to.

But this guy was under the control of something totally evil and revolting. The man was possessed – demons lived inside of him, controlling his behavior, and his speech. I find it interesting that wherever Jesus went He prompted a huge response from demons. The demons gave the man superhuman strength – but no strength, whether human or demonic, can stand against the Words of Jesus.

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