All of the signs and wonders performed by our Lord Jesus in His earthly ministry point to His work of redemption accomplished in His death and resurrection on behalf of His people. In Mark 5:1-20, Jesus demonstrates His overthrow of Satan by casting out the legion of demons from the man who had been demon possessed. There are several details in this passage that show us Christ has begun to destroy the works of the devil in His first coming.
After rescuing His disciples from the waters of death in the previous chapter, Jesus desires to give another indicator that His Heavenly Kingdom has invaded into the world, by intentionally landing their boat on the other side of the sea, in the country of the Gerasenes. Jesus comes where no man dared to come–to rescue a man possessed by demons, whom no one else could rescue. This demoniac is a picture of the dominion and oppression that Satan has had over humanity since the fall of Adam and Eve:
- This man is “from the tombs” (v. 2), “who dwelt among the tombs” (v. 3), living “all night and day among the tombs” (v. 5), showing that he lived under the reign of death (Rom. 5:14).
- This man was unable to be bound by anyone (v. 3). “No one had the strength to subdue him,” showing how Satan “the strong man” (Mark 3:27) could only be bound by a Stronger Man!
- This man was continually “beating himself with stones” (v. 5), showing the self-destructive nature of sin.
- This man’s name was “Legion” because he contained a legion of demons (v. 9). At the time of Caesar Augustus, a legion was 6,000 soldiers. “It expresses the totality of lesser spirits subject to one spirit” (BDAG). “Legion” embodied the demonic kingdom.
By the Word of His power, Christ casts out the demonic legion from this man (v. 13), demonstrating that the Stronger Man has come! He alone has the power to bind the strong man, Satan (Mark 3:27), which He began doing when He overcame the devil in the wilderness temptation. No wonder Jesus began to proclaim at that time, “the Kingdom of God is hand!” (Mark 1:12-15). As Jesus had begun to dethrone the Serpent, He began ushering in His New Creation Kingdom of Redemption. The casting out of demons was proof that His Kingdom had arrived (Matt. 12:28)! And it was ultimately at the Cross that “the Ruler of this World” was cast out (John 12:31). That is where Jesus completed His binding work of Satan, so that he could no longer accuse His brothers nor deceive the nations He had come to save! (Rev. 12:9-11; 20:2-3).
The Gospel of Mark is mainly about the progressive revealing of “the Son of God” (Mark 1:1). But besides the first verse of the Book, it is only demons who recognize that Jesus is the Son of God, first in 3:11, then here in 5:7, until the Roman Centurion professes “Truly, this One was the Son of God!” at His sacrificial death (Mark 15:39). Son of God is a Name connected to Jesus’ Messianic Kingship (Ps. 2:2, 6-7, 12). But Mark wants to show that the Messianic King must first suffer, before He is exalted to the right hand of the Father. Thus the full revelation of who Jesus is as Son of God does not come until the Cross, in the Gospel of Mark.
This glorious miracle of Christ rescuing this former demoniac from the enslaving reign of Satan, is really a microcosm of Christ’s destruction of the works of the devil through His death, resurrection from the tomb, and ascension (Heb. 2:14-15, 1 John 3:8, Eph. 1:20-21). Moreover, if you have put your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, this passage is beautiful picture of the fact that God the Father has rescued YOU from the authority of darkness, and transferred you into the Kingdom of His Beloved Son, in whom we have redemption–which is the forgiveness of sins (Col. 1:13-14). Sin can no longer reign over you, in terms if it’s guilt, nor it’s enslaving power (Room. 5:17, 21; 6:9, 12, 14).
My beloved brothers and sisters, this man who had the legion of demons cast out of him, is a picture of you, in Christ: he was found “sitting there, clothed and with a sound mind” (Mark 5:15). That word for “sound mind” is found in 2 Timothy 1:7 where we read that God has not given to you a spirit of fear, but rather He has given to you the Spirit of power and love–and a sound mind! Christ has given you His mind of wisdom, discernment, sound judgment, self-control, and the ability to now “go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” (Mark 5:19).
Read more about this theme of Christ overthrowing Satan in Chapter 6 (“The Kingdom of God”) of The Unfolding Book.