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Bible Commentaries

Smith's Bible Commentary

Mark 5

Verses 1-43

Chapter 5

And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes ( Mark 5:1 ).

Now, that is on the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee. It is the area near the beginning of the Golan Heights and Gilead. The area when Moses was bringing the people toward the land for their conquest, they had passed over the other side of the Jordan and had gone up in the area through Moab, and up to the area of the Ammonites and all, which was this area to the east of the Sea of Galilee. And the tribe of Gad came to Moses and said, "Look, we are cattlemen and this is great grazing land and all. We would just as soon have our inheritance here," because they had defeated the Ammonite kings and all. And they said, "We would just as soon stay here and live. And we really don't care for an inheritance in the land." And half the tribe of Manasseh was with them.

So, of course, Joshua was upset at their request because he was afraid that their wanting to stay there might discourage the rest of the people from coming in and taking the land. And they said, "No, we'll send our troops to fight, but when it's all over, we'd like to come back and settle here. We like this land." And so, the tribe of Gad and half the tribe of Manasseh were given this area to settle. So the people came to be known as the Gadarenes, who were living on that side of the Jordan and the Sea of Galilee. And so, they came over to the area of the Gadarenes.

And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him [a very fierce man who was living there] out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains ( Mark 5:2-3 ):

When this demon power would take control of his life, he had super human strength. They could not even hold him with chains.

Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him ( Mark 5:4 ).

A tremendously pitiful sight, a man possessed by demon spirits.

And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones ( Mark 5:5 ).

And so Mark, here, paints for us a very vivid picture of a tormented soul.

But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him ( Mark 5:6 ),

But Jesus will have nothing to do with the worship of evil spirits.

And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not. For he [Jesus had] said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit. And he [Jesus] asked him [that is, the spirit in the man], What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many. And he besought him much that he would not send them away out of the country ( Mark 5:7-10 ).

Luke's gospel tells that they begged not to be sent to the abyss. We'll talk about that more when we get to Luke's gospel.

Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine [that were] feeding. And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them. And forthwith Jesus gave them leave [permission]. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine; and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (there were about two thousand,) and [they] were choked in the sea ( Mark 5:11-13 ).

Now, it would be wrong to assume that there were two thousand demons in the man. The swine probably, when the demons infested some of them, they probably began to be wild and the rest of them, like a herd of cattle and all, just sort of followed and went right down into the sea, as they began to just panic and go together.

Now, why would Jesus allow these demons the freedom of going into the swine? Well, you go back to the Mosaic law and you find that they weren't to keep swine; that was a forbidden meat under the law. This was an illegal venture raising swine. And so, this no doubt is the reason why the Lord allowed them that permission to go into the swine, and He got rid of an illegal industry as far as the Jews were concerned.

And they that fed the swine fled, and told it in the city, and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that was done. And they come to Jesus, and they see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, [and he was] sitting, and [he was] clothed, and in his right mind; and they were afraid ( Mark 5:14-15 ).

Here, this man that they couldn't bind with chain and fetters. Here, this man that was out there screaming, crying, cutting himself with rocks and could not be tamed, naked, tragic, horrible spectacle. And now he's seated there, clothed and in his right mind.

And they that saw it told them how it befell to him that was possessed with the devil, and also concerning the swine ( Mark 5:16 ).

The witnesses began to tell what had happened. And the people began to beg Jesus.

And they began to pray him to depart out of their coasts. And when he was come into the ship ( Mark 5:17-18 ),

They said, "Would you just mind leaving here?"

How inhuman humans can be! Rather than being grateful that this poor wretched man was helped and healed, they were just upset because they had just lost the swine. They were more interested in pigs than they were human beings. Their descendants are still around. People who really don't have a real concern for other's needs, for human beings; they could care less. Especially if it meant a loss of profit to them. And they prayed that He would leave them, the coast.

And when he was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil prayed him that he might be with him. Howbeit Jesus suffered him not [would not allow him to go], but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee. And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis [that is, the ten cities] how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel ( Mark 5:18-20 ).

This man became a living witness, going around and telling of the great things that Jesus had done.

And when Jesus was passed over again by ship unto the other side, much people gathered unto him; and he was nigh unto the sea. And, behold, there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jarius by name; and when he saw him, he fell at his feet, and besought him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live. So Jesus went with him; and much people followed him, and thronged him ( Mark 5:21-24 ).

So, coming now back to Capernaum, Jarius, one of the rulers of the synagogue there in Capernaum, came to Jesus, driven by desperation. Because at home, notice, "he besought Him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death." Probably the easiest way to get to the heart of a man is through his children. To see our children sick, to see them suffering, moves us more than almost anything else. And to see his little daughter dying, we are told that she was about twelve years old. We are also told in another gospel that she was their only little girl. And so, for twelve years she had brought sunshine, life and blessing into the home, as only little girls can do. But now the father's heart is breaking. It's obvious that his little girl is dying, nothing can be done. They have only one hope. He had probably been in a controversy the other day, that Sabbath day when Jesus was there in the synagogue and healed the man with the withered hand. And thought he argued over the violation of the Sabbath, he was in need, he was desperate, driven to come against prejudice to Jesus. Torn between wanting to be by his little daughter's side, but knowing that she had to have help quick. He left the mother with the little daughter, and he himself set out to find Jesus. And when he did, he found Jesus surrounded by a crowd, who were thronging Him. But his desperation pushed him through the crowd until he was standing face to face with Jesus, and he begged Him, "Please come. My little daughter is at the point of death. Just lay Your hand on her and she will be healed." He knew that Jesus could bring healing even to this condition of the point of death. "And Jesus went with him, and many people were following, and thronged Him." The pushing, shoving, rude crowd.

And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years, and had suffered many things of many physicians ( Mark 5:25-26 ).

They probably, all of them, had their own cure. And she tried them all.

And had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse, when she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched ( Mark 5:26-27 ),

The word touch in Greek is grasped or clasped onto.

his garment. For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole. And straitway [immediately] the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague ( Mark 5:27-29 ).

She had set a point of releasing her faith, "The moment I touch, I know I will be healed." Someone wanted to know what the difference between this and positive confession was. Positive confession would be if she continued to hemorrhage to say, "I am healed." That's Christian Science. Also, "I'm not sick, I'm healed," when in fact you are still hemorrhaging and you have your sicknesses. She said, "I know I will be healed the moment I touch." And she was healed. That was just releasing faith and setting a point to release faith. Now, had she gone on hemorrhaging and saying, "I feel great, I'm healed, I'm not hemorrhaging," that would be positive confession. That would not be the truth, though. So there is a definite difference between the two. Twelve years.

According to Jewish law, her husband could not touch her as long as she was hemorrhaging. According to Jewish law, everything she touched was unclean. Whoever touched her would be unclean. Whoever would touch anything she touched would be unclean. Therefore, she could not continue to live with her family, to prepare them food and all, to do their clothes. Finally, according to Jewish law, she could not enter the place of worship as long as she was hemorrhaging. She was ceremonially unclean. And for twelve years, she lived in the shadow of darkness. With Jarius, twelve years he had lived in the sunshine of this beautiful little girl, the light she brought into her home. But the light was going out. With the woman, twelve years she was living in the shadow of this ostracized condition, but a ray of light was shining, a hope. "I know if I can just but touch Him, His garment, I will be healed. And immediately, the fountain of her blood was dried up and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague." She could feel that touch, that healing in that moment.

Have you ever had that kind of a healing, where you actually just felt, "Wow!"? There was one Sunday morning when we were still over in the other little church that I woke up on Sunday morning too sick, too ill to go to church. I got up and I tried to study, but I was feeling so miserable that I could not concentrate; I couldn't get any message together. I was just too miserable, I was just too sick. So, I went downstairs and I woke up Chuck, and I said, "Chuck, you're going to have to go out and preach for me this morning. I'm really too sick, I just can't do it." And he said, "Okay, Dad." And he jumped up and started studying in a hurry. And he came out and took first service. And of course, they announced that I was at home sick, couldn't make it because I was so sick. Which was so true, I was lying in bed just miserable. But they prayed for me that God would heal me. And as I was lying in bed, just as sick as could be, I felt the healing. I jumped up out of bed. And Kay said, "What's wrong with you?" And I said, "I'm healed!" And I went in and got dressed and came on out and took second and third services. I felt the healing. I felt it happening. It was just suddenly there. Glorious thing. Just felt it.

I've had an experience of laying my hand upon a little child who was running a very high fever. And as the elders and I were praying, and my hand was on her forehead, I felt the heat go out from her. I felt her forehead just cool off as we were praying. Her mother was a nurse and had just taken her temperature, and it was up to about 103. And so I said, "I felt the temperature go." She took her temperature again and it was down, normal. I could feel it; I could feel it happening. And this woman could feel it. She knew it happened, she could feel it within herself. And those are beautiful experiences when you actually feel God's touch upon your body. You know it. You don't need someone to tell you it's happened; you know it's happened. You can feel it. And so, immediately, knowing in herself, "she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague."

And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue [this healing] had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, [the crowd,] and said, Who touched my clothes? And his disciples said unto him, [Lord,] thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me? ( Mark 5:30-31 )

You've got to be kidding, Jesus. Trying to make our way through this crowd with all this shuffling and jostling and shoving and pushing, and then You stop and say, "Who touched Me?" Come on!

And he looked round about to see her that had done this thing ( Mark 5:32 ).

Now, she knew what had happened, and He knew what had happened. She was probably frightened when He said, "Who touched Me?" because she knew what happened, and very relieved when she heard the logical argument of the disciples, "Lord, you've got to be kidding! Look at the crowd; everybody is touching and pushing." Oh, the crowds around Jesus, and in all the crowd around Him, one woman touched Him. You know, you can be close to Jesus without touching Him. You can be among the press. You can be among the throngs and still not touch Him. Many people thronging Him, one person touching Him. And there's a vast difference. She touched Him. It was a touch of faith, and healing came.

But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her [body], came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth ( Mark 5:33 ).

I mean, she confessed everything.

And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague ( Mark 5:34 ).

Now, inasmuch as this was a common practice, many were touching Him and being healed, we read that in chapter 3, verse Mark 5:9 . And as we continue on in the text, in the next chapter, verse Mar 5:56 , "And whithersoever He entered, into villages, or cities or country, they laid the sick in the streets and besought Him that they might touch if it were but the border of His garment: and as many as touched Him were made whole." This is the only one where Jesus stopped to say, "Who touched Me?" that is recorded. Now it was happening all the time. Why would He stop at this particular time and say, "Who touched Me?" when this was a common occurrence? And when Jarius was so desperate, his daughter was so close to death. The reason why Jesus stopped is He knew that the daughter had died already. And He knew that soon those messengers were going to be there telling Jarius,

Thy daughter is dead ( Mark 5:35 );

And Jesus had compassion on Jarius because of the grief and all that he was going to receive when he heard news that his daughter was dead. And he was seeking, really, to give to Jarius a ray of hope even in the midst of the bad news. So, while Jesus was saying to the woman, "Be thou whole of your plague," Jarius was seeing the power of Christ manifested just by someone touching Him and being healed of a condition that existed for twelve years, that same amount of time that he enjoyed the beauty and glow of his little daughter. As Jarius turned from those who brought the message to Jesus and probably said, "Lord, it's too late, never mind," Jesus just said to him,

Be not afraid, only believe ( Mark 5:36 ).

He had given him a basis for his belief. He had given him courage in the darkest hour. Surely as Jarius turned, it must be that the blood had drained out of his face and he was probably an ashen white and just had that sad desperate, "Oh, God, it's too late. My daughter's gone." And he just had that grief, hopelessness. He had been hoping that Jesus might get there just to touch her. "I know that if He'll lay His hand on her, she'll be healed. Now, it's too late. My little girl is gone." But Jesus just said to him, "Don't be afraid, only believe."

And at this point Jesus stopped the crowd and said, "That's it. Don't go any further; you stay here. I'll be back." And He took Peter and James and John and the father, and they journeyed together, probably in order that they might get there more quickly. Because it's awfully slow moving with a huge crowd of people, trying to work your way through the crowd. So, they stopped them in order that they might come with haste to the house.

And he cometh to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and seeth the tumult, and them that wept and wailed greatly ( Mark 5:38 ).

It was a custom in those days to really show your great love for the deceased by wailing loudly for them, and the louder the wails, the more it expressed your grief and love for the one who was deceased. And so, they had professional wailers, people who were especially skilled in wailing. And they would hire them to come and to wail on these occasions, in order that the whole neighborhood might know the grief that you are feeling in this hour of loss. And so, many times when a person was dying, the wailers would assemble so that at the moment of death they could let out the cries and the wails, which were as an announcement to the neighborhood and all of the tragedy that had befallen the family. And so, there was the tumult, great weeping and wailing as they approached the house.

And when he was come in, he [Jesus] saith unto them, Why make ye this ado, and weep? [What's all the big fuss about, and why are you weeping?] the damsel is not dead, but sleepeth. [And their wails turned to laughter of scorn.] And they laughed him to scorn. But when he put them all out, he taketh the father and the mother of the damsel, and them that were with him, [that is Peter, James and John,] and entereth in where the damsel was lying. And he took the damsel by the hand, and said unto her, Talitha cumi ( Mark 5:39-41 );

That's Aramaic, and because it is Aramaic, it was probably the household language, the language used around the house. Jesus probably generally spoke in Greek, but the household language was Aramaic. And that is why Mark says,

which is, being interpreted, Damsel, (I say unto thee,) arise ( Mark 5:41 ).

More literally, the Aramaic, "Talitha, cumi," is "My little lamb, arise." Jesus was speaking to this little girl in extremely endearing terms. Looking at this little form of the twelve year old daughter of Jarius that was lying there still in death, He said, "My little lamb, arise."

And straitway the damsel arose, and walked; for she was of the age of twelve years. And they were astonished with a great astonishment. And he charged them straitly that no man should know it; and commanded that something should be given her to eat ( Mark 5:42-43 ).

The question arises, why would Jesus bring this little girl back into a world of strife and misery and woe? Surely being with the Father in heaven would be much better than to be in this world with all of its heartache and all of its pain and all of its suffering. Why would the Lord call her back into this world? Only because of His compassion for the parents' grief. It was for their sake, not her sake, that He did it. It was because of His compassion upon the great grief that they were feeling that He brought the little girl back to life. For her sake, He would have left her in the kingdom, away from the strife and the turmoil and the ache and all of this world. But for their sake, He brought her back.

Next week, we'll start with chapter 6. It's a long chapter, so we dare not try to get started with that tonight.

May the Lord be with you and bless you, give you a good week. And may you begin to see fruit from the seed that has been sown in your heart, as God begins to take the word and use it just as a life-changing power. And may the word of Christ dwell in your hearts richly by faith. And may the Lord touch your life with His touch of love and strength. In Jesus' name. "

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Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Mark 5". "Smith's Bible Commentary". 2014.