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Bible Commentaries
Mark 5

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

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Verses 1-43

Mark 5:9 . What is thy name? Our Saviour asked this to show the great power which demons have over men, when permitted of God.

Mark 5:25 . A certain woman. See Luke 8:43.

Mark 5:36 . Be not afraid, only believe, for there was no fear of the ruler’s faith exceeding the power of God. Faith should always enlarge itself to the full extent of the promises.

Mark 5:37 . He suffered no man to follow him, save Peter, James, and John, and the father and mother. The mourners were not worthy to see the glory, for they laughed at the Saviour’s saying that the damsel slept. He put out the players or the minstrels, whose peculiar species of music was supposed, by the tender touch of the passions, to soothe the grief and anguish of the family. The use of these were to them proofs that the damsel was really dead.

Mark 5:41 . He took the damsel by the hand, and said, Talitha cumi damsel arise. Here he gave proof that he was himself the resurrection and the life, and that the living should listen to that voice in the gospel, which at his pleasure can call the sleeping dead to life.

Mark 5:42 . The damsel arose and walked, being twelve years of age, a time of life when the loss of a child is more severely felt by parents. He bade them give her meat, for the miracle was perfect, and health and strength were restored by his word. Yet he enjoined silence on the parents, probably because that was not the proper time to blaze it abroad. See also John 11:0.


In addition to what is said on Matthew 9:34, we may again fix our eye on the awful case of this gentile demoniac; for there was another in the same place of less note. Whether the punishment was permitted for idolatry, necromancy, and atrocious wickedness, or whether it was inflicted to deter men from the like practices, or from whatever cause, we must regard this man as the most unhappy and miserable of the human kind. And while we pity him, let us not forget the myriads who, in a moral view, are in the same situation. What else but demoniacy, and the work of the devil, is that legion of pride, of wrath, of drunkenness, of blasphemy, and sensual propensities. All these wicked and impetuous passions are but the counterpart of this man’s case.

His body was naked, and his flesh was bruised and wounded with stones. Come hither, prodigal, and see thy brother see thyself in this portrait. Thou art naked and poor. Original and moral rectitude is torn away completely from thy character. Thou hast not even the rags and tatters of self-righteousness to cover thy shame. And as to the wounds and scars of vice, they are visible all over thy life and conduct.

This man was often bound with chains, but in the moments of paroxysm he broke them all. This also is thy case. The chain of conscience has been broken, as Samson broke his cords. The chains of penal law, whether human or divine, thou hast broken with triumph. The chains of relative duties thou hast broken with impunity. And the yet stronger chains of vows, promises, and sacred oaths, voluntarily made when smarting for sin, thou hast broken so often that the reckoning is lost.

This man was a terror to the neighbourhood. And ah, sinner, if thou couldst know how pious men tremble at try conduct, and shudder at thy words; if thou couldst hear how they caution their children against thy principles, and against thy company, thou wouldst own that thou art no small terror to virtuous men, and that people fear thee as much as this poor demoniac. He indeed could only hurt their bodies, but thou art feared as the destroyer of the soul.

This man dwelt among the tombs, places famed among the heathens for necromancy, or conversing with the dead. So the profligate character shuns the charms of innocent society for the nocturnal orgies, for the gaming house and the brothel. He cannot bear the charms of day. The conversation and countenance of good men confound him. His only solace is darkness and corruption. He grovels in the mire of vice, and the dregs of the cup are to him the sweetest draught.

This demoniac had great light, and that light was to him the completion of misery. He knew the titles and dignity of the Holy One of God. Hence he is thought to have been an apostate from the jewish religion. Ah, when apostates become prodigals, their misery is extreme. When a man’s intellect is strong, his education liberal, his knowledge extensive, and his acquaintance with religion large, he bears the greatest resemblance to the spirit which carries him away. He justifies the awful adage, that none but great minds can be consummately wicked. This man, miserable as he was, deprecated deliverance. He said to Jesus, Art thou come to torment us before the time? I know it was the demons who spake this, and I know it is the carnal and infidel heart of wicked men, which still says to God, Depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways. Oh what a singular mercy that Christ stoops to hearken to that better voice in man which hopes, yet hopes to shake off vice, and to become holy. And what a prodigy of grace that we still see prodigals, and the worst of sinners, like this demoniac, clothed and in their right mind, seated at the feet of Jesus. Let us therefore both hope and pray for the worst of men; grace may yet reach their hearts.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Mark 5". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/mark-5.html. 1835.
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