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Bible Commentaries

Wells of Living Water Commentary

Mark 5

Verses 1-20

The Wild Man of Gadara

Mark 5:1-20


There are several things we wish to suggest, culled from the opening verses of our Scripture.

1. The first phrase: "The other side." The opening verse says, "And they came over unto the other side of the sea."

There is, indeed, "This side of the sea." This side is America. There is the other side of the sea; that is India, Japan, China, Africa, and many needy lands.

Are we doing all our work on this side of the sea? Are we giving all our money to this side of the sea?

2. The second phrase: "The country of the Gadarenes." Does the country of the Gadarenes not need the Gospel of the Son of God as much as our own country? The Gadarenes may be a people who will not receive the Lord Jesus, but does that excuse us from going to them with the good news? Our Lord says, "Go ye into all the world." He also says, "To every creature." Dare we stop, then, until every creature has heard?

3. The third phrase: "Immediately there met Him * * a man." This third expression shows the wisdom of Christ's crossing the sea to the other side "there met Him a man." Who was he? Where was he?

(1) He was a man of Gadara. He was commonly known as "the demoniac." If ever a man needed the Gospel, he needed it. Think you that there are not many such men on the other side of the sea? We are appalled at the conditions of the heathen world millions who have never known of the Gospel, and millions who are undone by sin's sway and power.

Even now I hear them calling,

Calling, calling, calling, calling;

Come across the sea to help us,

Come across the sea to tell us;

We are falling, falling, falling,

Into death and dark despair;

Make, oh make us, now, your care.

(2) He was a man who met the Master. He met Christ, he sought Him, he welcomed Him. In our land people seem to run away from the Master. We preach Christ unto them and they receive Him not. We plead with them to come to the Saviour, and they spurn our invitation.

If our young preachers, and Christian workers want to preach where there are willing hearts and open minds, they may well go over the sea where men have not had the privileges of the open Bible and the preached Word from their childhood, and who have not hardened their hearts and stiffened their necks.

The land over the sea, the land of the Gadarenes, may not be as pleasant a land as is our land, but it has hearts who will welcome our testimony.

(3) He was a man dwelling in the tombs. That was, indeed, a most unlikely place to find a convert; yet that was the place from whence there came out a man. Some of the greatest Christians of every age have come from the most unlikely places. Some have been born in hovels, raised in shacks, and have never known those nicer benefits of the upper classes.

Christ, after all, came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. He seeks the lost sheep, the prodigal son, the tax collector, the woman with seven demons; the stalwart but godless fisherman. He seeks men in the rough, that He may polish them, and cause them to shine with the luster of a Heavenly glory.

I. NO MAN COULD BIND HIM (Mark 5:3-4 )

1. The helplessness of men to stop the sway of sin. Stop and consider the efforts that are daily being put forth to save the lost of this world. Think not that the world does not try to save the world. Of course it does. Every hospital, every rescue home, every temperance society, every reform movement, every court house, and every jail is an effort to save men from their ills, and from the ravages of their sins.

We do not decry all or any of these agencies. We do most solemnly aver that the best they can do is but to temporarily stem the hellward rush of men maddened by sin and crime.

The Gadarenes had bound the demoniac time and again; however, the man, in his seemingly superhuman lunacy, had broken every chain. Poor fellow, what were ropes and chains to him? just so many good, but useless and easily broken strands. No man could bind the man of Gadara, and no man can bind the sinner of your city or of mine.

2. The helplessness of any man to tame him. The reason they could not bind him was because they could not tame him. They had no potions to give him, no antidotes to provide that would cure his malady, and tame his spirit. Say what you will, even had the people of his land been able to bind him, they could not have tamed him. One may build a cage strong enough to confine, a lion, but one may not tame him.

We think of the words of the Lord to Job, "Canst thou draw out leviathan with an hook? * * Will he make many supplications unto thee? * * He esteemeth iron as straw, and brass as rotten wood."

It is impossible to tame a man who is Satan-driven. When the Ethiopian can change his skin, and the leopard his spots, then can a poor sinner change his heart of shame, and then can men by their own counsels and power give the wicked surcease from sin and its ravages.


1. Dwelling in the place of death. The Gadarene in the mountains and tombs suggests to us that the men of sin are shorn of comfort and peace.

The fastnesses of the mountains is no place for sustenance. Their rugged peaks and sharp rocks are pastureless and fruitless.

The place of tombs, the graveyards, is no place for the living to dwell. They speak only of sin and its wages, death. They may be beautiful without with fern and flower, but within they are filled with dead men's bones.

Yet this world is itself only a great graveyard. Men are walking constantly in the shadows of foreboding death. Everything around us says, "It is appointed unto men once to die."

2. Crying in despair. This is the true picture of the wicked. "There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked."

Who can bottle the tears of the Satan-led populace? Who can weigh their burdens and measure their grief?

The earth is filled with aching hearts and weeping eyes. This sad condition is not relegated to the poor and underfed alone. It is just as true of the godless in the homes of wealth and bounty.

3. "Cutting himself with stones." This seems to stand for the tale of self-chastisement. It is as though a sinner, seeing his estate, seeks to remedy it by self-negation and self-afflictions.

The heathen world abounds in all this, actually. In civilization the same thing is true. There are many who tear their hair, wring their hands, bewail their estate, as though that would amend their sad lot. All this but proves that the lost cannot save themselves. They cannot better their own inner springs of life. They are driven of the devil whither he listeth. They are caught in his nets and are helpless to extricate themselves.


1. The first voice: "He ran and worshipped Him." This is as it should be. A poor sinner seeking a Saviour. A devil-driven sinner, seeking One who alone could set him free.

Peter said on one occasion. "To whom shall we go? Thou hast the Words of eternal life." This demoniac had no one to help him; no one else to deliver him from his malady, so he sought the Lord with all haste, and fell down and worshiped Him.

2. The second voice: "What have I to do with Thee, Jesus, Thou Son of the Most High God?" This second voice was the voice of the legion of demons who tormented the man of Gadara. Mark his words:

(1) "What have I to do with Thee?" Of course Christ and the demons lived in two different worlds. Everything which concerned them their ideals and standards of life, their attitudes toward God the Father and to all holy and Heavenly things, were distinct and opposite.

There is no common ground between Christ and Belial. The two cannot walk together and have comradeship.

(2) "Jesus, Thou Son of the Most High God." It is left to men to deny the Sonship of Jesus Christ our Saviour. The devils believe and tremble. They know and recognize not alone His Deity, but His power.

(3) "I adjure Thee by God, that Thou torment me not." The demons knew that Christ was stronger than they, and that they, whom no man could tame, were under the power of His command and word. They stood before One, not their equal, but by far their superior, and they feared His might.


1. Is there a superfluity of demons? We mean by our query, are there more demons than there are men for them to inhabit? From whence come these spirits of evil? Why do they seek to dwell in men? What is their objective?

Perhaps the best thing for us is to quietly accept the fact of the existence of these demons, and not to try to solve the mysteries that surround their existence. They are here and have been here on this earth for unknown ages. They are unclean in character, and seem to seek to drag down and vitiate everything they touch. They indwell men when men yield their baser natures to their madness.

Demons evidently are under the curse of being disembodied, and they want a body through which they may the better express themselves. Thus they enter into men and seek to operate through them, taking charge of their members, their will, and their mental powers, yea, of all their faculties.

2. Do demons operate in and through men today? Personally, we do not doubt that they do. In our own land there is abundant proof of their villainy. Many men and women are certainly under the sway of a power that lies beyond their own natural self. That human nature is, in itself, depraved and vile, we know; however, a depraved man or woman is the fit subject of these demons who seek to house themselves in the bodies of men.

It is, however, when you go to the darkened lands of heathendom that you find demon-possession most marked. The demons, themselves, are objects of worship. Back of the idols they worship are many demons playing havoc with the people.


1. The importunity of the demons. They besought the Lord that He would not send them away out of the country, but that they might be allowed to enter into a herd of swine that was nigh. This the Lord granted, and the whole herd of about two thousand entered the swine. The swine, crazed by the entrance of the demons, rushed down a steep place into the water and were drowned.

2. The news soon spread over the city. The keepers of the swine told what was done, and the people noised it abroad. Then the populace, all agog with excitement, went down by the seashore to see what was done.

We feel quite sure that the disaster of the loss of the pigs caused more excitement, than the deliverance of the lunatic.

3. What they saw. They came to see the bodies of the swine floating on the waters of the sea, and being washed up onto the shore, and they found a man seated at the feet of the Lord, clothed and in his right mind.

There follows a striking statement: "And they were afraid." Afraid of what of the man who was now sane and clothed? Not at all. They had been afraid of him of old. In the quiet, peaceful face of the one who had been healed there was nothing to fear.

Were they afraid of the dead swine? Nay! They were beyond hurting anyone. Were they afraid of the demons who had been set free, and might seek to do them harm? We think not. They were afraid of Christ afraid of His power afraid of the sweep of His authority.


1. They were afraid of Christ. Could it be? Afraid of the Lover of men? Afraid of the One who could deliver them from all the power of sin and Satan and demons? Afraid of the One who came down from Heaven to set the sinner free, to loose the bands of his captivity, to give the spirit of joy to him who was tinder the spirit of heaviness?

Yes, so it is today. Darkness is afraid of light, because men love darkness rather than light. Iniquity is afraid of righteousness, because every evil way is the quest of the flesh.

We dare not sit in judgment against the people of Gadara, for the children of this age are as corrupt as they. The ungodly hug to their hearts the things which make for their undoing. Men do not want to retain God in their knowledge, because men are filled with unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, maliciousness. They are even haters of God.

2. They besought Christ to depart out of their coast. The plot of their rejection increases in its significance. First they were afraid of Him, now they ask Him to leave them alone.

Once again we need but to look around us to see the very same thing being done in our generation. Multitudes of people will not have this Christ to rule over them. Christ said, "Ye will not come to Me." Yes, it may be they believe Him not. But why not? There is abundant proof of every kind to satisfy even the most obstinate of men. Plainly stated men and women in sin, want to be left alone. They will welcome no hand that seeks to rescue them. The masses are saying, "I know not the Lord, neither will I let my sins go."

3. The Lord quietly went His way. Mark 5:18 says, "And when He was come into the ship." Yes, they asked Him to go, and He went, Unto this hour the Lord will not force men to be saved. It is still "whosoever will, may come." Twice in Romans 1:1-32 we read "God gave them up," and once, "God gave them over."


1. The request of the man of Gadara. He prayed the Lord that he might be with Him. This was a perfectly natural and honorable request. Where is he who, being saved from so great a death, by so great a Saviour, does not want to be with Him!

He, the Lord, is now in Heaven. Yes, and we want to be there with Him. However, the Lord says, "No, not yet: I cannot take you with me now. There are other tasks for you."

2. The Lord's command. The man wanted to go with Christ. Christ suffered him not, but said, "Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee."

Perhaps we, too, can hear a similar word. Here it is: "Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel." Every creature must hear. We must go and tell. We must go to the end of the earth, until earth's last man has heard.

3. Blessed results. A successful heralder is one who can publish abroad what great things the Lord hath done for him. This is theological, because it has to do with what God hath done. It is practical and personal, because it has to do with what the Lord had done for him. It was not mere theory, but blessed fact. Such is the message we need to publish.

The result of the former demoniac's publishing Christ abroad is thus summed up: "And all men did marvel." Can we tell something that God has done for us? Real testimony meetings of blessed experiences have never lost their power.


"One Sunday morning as I was preaching a woman kept crying out and I soon realized that she was demon-possessed. We all began to pray for her and as we did, she cried out that she had four demons: ancestral demon, sorcerous demon, dog demon, and pig demon. We continued in prayer alt day and night until she was completely delivered from the power of Satan. In answer to our importunity and earnest prayers her deliverance was so remarkable and miraculous that her whole family has turned to the Lord. They have confessed that a God who could bring such a deliverance as He brought to that woman, must be the true and living God." (Mrs. Chang, Toowon, Korea.)

"One afternoon a young man came to my office and, with some insolence, asked me to let him have some money. Before answering his request I dealt with him regarding his soul. Finally, he humbly confessed his past sins. For more than two years he had been in prison for having attempted to kill a preacher in Manchuria. Because he was mixed up with Bolshevism, he had incurred a hatred for this preacher, who happens to be a friend of mine; but he had miraculously escaped death from the hands of this wicked man. It was wonderful to be able to lead this man to Christ. His heart was utterly broken as he prayed to the Lord for salvation. Arising from his knees he gave glory to God."

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Bibliographical Information
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Mark 5". "Living Water".