Jump Start # 3320
Mark 5:9 “And He was asking him, ‘What is your name?’ And he said to Him, ‘My name is Legion; for we are many.’”
Our verse today comes from one of my favorite sections in the Gospels. This chapter moves fast. A lot happens. Having stilled the storm at the end of chapter four, immediately we face three more incredible miracles in this chapter. Putting them together, Mark shows us that Jesus can do anything. An impending disaster is calmed as Jesus chases a storm away. A demon is driven out of a possessed man. A woman with a disease that no one can cure, is cured. And, the chapter ends with the death of a little girl. Jesus raises her from the dead. Disaster. Demon. Disease. Death. Impossibility is not in the vocabulary of Jesus. No one could change the weather. Jesus did. No one could drive out demons. Jesus did. No one could cure the incurable. Jesus did. And, no one could reverse the effects of death. Jesus did.
Our verse today, surrounds the conversation that Jesus has with the demons. They had taken hold of this man and made him scary, indecent, and troublesome. Living in the tombs, screaming day and night, cutting himself with stones, naked, possessing superhuman strength to break chains, no one knew what to do with him. As Jesus lands on the shore, this man races towards Jesus. I expect the disciples were jumping back in the boat and trying to get away from him. Not Jesus.
As Jesus asks the possessed man his name, the demons speak. My name is Legion, a Roman military word. This is something that Mark’s readers were very familiar with. A legion numbered about 5,000-6,000 soldiers. The word is plural, possibly meaning more than one legion. Later in the story, the demons are put into the pigs and two thousand drown in the sea. If one demon went into each pig, there were at least 2,000 demons in this man. Unbelievable. Hard for us to imagine.
Some lessons for us:
First, the human heart and soul can hold much more than we realize. It’s beyond our understanding how 2,000 demons can dwell in a person. But that illustrates for us just how massive our hearts are. Moms and grandmothers get this. A child is born and there is so much love for that child. In a few years another child is born. Moms wonder how can they love a second child when the love the first child with all that they are. Our hearts are big. Somehow it just happens. I have nearly a dozen grandchildren. Each special, unique and loved very dearly by me. How is it possible to love that many? It’s just the way God makes our hearts.
But, our hearts can also hold a lot of evil, meanness and bitterness. The depth that some can sink to in wickedness is hard for us to understand. How can a person become so evil? The heart is large enough to hold all that hatred.
This reminds us of how important it is to fill our hearts with the goodness of Jesus Christ. Keep pouring love, trust, faith and joy of our Lord in your heart. Colossians says to let the word of God richly dwell within you. Timothy was told to be absorbed in these things. A couple of generations ago, attendants at the gas station would pump gas into your car. Some would say, “I want $5 worth of gas.” Sometimes a person would say, “Fill ‘er up.” And, that’s exactly what we need to do, fill up those hearts with the goodness of Christ.
Second, no matter how filled our hearts may be with bad things, Christ can cleanse us and change us. This naked and bloody possessed man is later seen, clothed, seated and in his right mind. He was changed. He was no longer indecent. He was no longer trouble. He was no longer to be feared. Jesus had driven the demons out of his heart. And through Christ, we can drive out anger, hatred, bitterness and revenge from our hearts. Those things do not belong in your heart. They will only lead to serious heart trouble. A person can grow up in a home with prejudice, but he can learn to love all people because of Jesus. A person can be selfish and stingy but through Christ, he can become generous and sharing. Christ can change our hearts.
Third, what’s in our hearts shapes who we are and what we do. No normal person would cut themselves with rocks, run around naked and live in a cemetery. But fill a person with demons, and this is what they do. Much too often, we see the outward behavior and we try to fix and change that, failing to understand, unless the heart is changed, the person will not change. All the warnings, sermons and lectures in the world won’t stop bad behavior until the person changes his heart. Jesus said out of the heart proceeds evil thoughts, fornications, thefts and murders. Legislatures can make policies and laws, but they won’t be followed until hearts change. It’s through Jesus that hearts change.
When a person is tired of living like an animal, chained to his addictions and passions, then he will seek out the Lord and the help that Jesus gives.
The heart is an amazing thing the Lord gave to us.