Summary: The demoniac RAN to Jesus... but could he worship Him? Could a man so defiled and controled by demonic possession truly worship?
OPEN: In our office file cabinet there is a chunk of cement. It’s not very large. It’s painted on one side with what appears to be approximately 3 or 4 colors of spray paint. For all intents and purposes it looks like a piece of rubble. And that’s what it is – it is rubble from what was once the Berlin Wall (it was given to us as a gift from one of our missionaries to Germany).
The Berlin Wall once stood like a prison wall separating West Berlin (a free city with a bustling economy) from East Berlin: home to a weary and enslaved people. The Wall was built to keep the people in communist Germany from escaping to the freedom of the West. And it was lined with barbed wire. Dogs and armed guards, and gunboats patrolled the river.
On a clear day in September of 1988 a tourist on the West German side of the wall captured a daring escape from East Germany on videotape! Four people, dressed in black wetsuits, were first seen leaping from the top of the Berlin Wall. One of them, a woman, broke her ankle in the process. They scrambled down the riverbank, plunged into the river, and swam furiously toward freedom. Onlookers on the West German side could be heard cheering them on.
Suddenly, an East German patrol boat was seen slicing through the waves, trying to prevent the escape. Three of the swimmers made it to shore, falling into the outstretched arms of delighted West Germans and tourists. But the 4th escapee, the woman with the broken ankle, was having difficulty.
The patrol boat bore down on her but overshot its target. Reversing its engines, the boat circled and headed again for the floundering woman. Instinctively, several men on the West German side of the river, disdaining the gun-toting soldiers on the deck of the patrol boat, plunged into the river and drug the woman to safety. Their shouts of triumph were mixed with her gasps of exhausted exhilaration.
APPLY: That imagery clearly describes the picture I had in my mind as I read the story of the demoniac who “ran” to Jesus. He was escaping from the prison of his demon possession by running to the only source of freedom he could see.
LOOK again at Mark 5:6
“When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him.” (NIV)
The KJV says: “But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him.”
I. Now… I puzzled over over the difference I saw in these two versions.
There was an apparent contrast between how this verse was interpreted in the NIV and the KJV, and I asked myself: Why had the KJV said that this demoniac had WORSHIPPED Jesus… while NIV declared that the demon-possessed man merely fell on his knees in front of him?
Then I realized… the translators of the NIV hadn’t believed this man was capable of worshipping Jesus! This man was possessed by demons. He had no control of his life.
Mark 5:4-5 tell us “…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. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.”
Even after the demoniac “kneels” before Jesus, we’re told that the demons within him cried out:
"What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won’t torture me!" Mark 5:7
So… obviously, this man wouldn’t be capable of “worshipping Jesus”.
But, then I studied a little deeper in the text. I looked into the Greek words that were used in Mark 5:6 and found that there was a sound reason why the KJV said the demoniac had worshipped Jesus: The Greek word in the text is “proskuneo” - which was translated practically everywhere else in EVERY version (including the NIV) as “worshipped.”
So, this man obviously “worshipped” Jesus.
Did the demons tell him to do it?
No, the demons were horrified to find themselves face to face with the Son of God. They cried out: WHAT DO YOU WANT WITH US? SWEAR YOU WON’T HURT US!
The last thing these demons wanted was to face Jesus.
So, why had this man RUN to Jesus, falling down before Him to worship?
There was only one reason I could think of:
He WANTED OUT (just like those people escaping E. Berlin).
He was tired of living like this
He was tired of the madness
… tired of the pain
… tired of the shame
He wanted a normal life.
II. The impression I get from this story is that this man hadn’t always been demon possessed.