Thursday 04 November 2021

Bible Book:

'What have you to do with me, Jesus?' (v. 7)

Mark 5:1-20 Thursday 4 November 2021

Psalm 31:1-8


Today’s passage is the second in a series of three episodes in Mark’s Gospel, which tackle the fundamental question of Jesus’ identity. It is preceded by Christ calming the storm (4:35-41) and followed by a resurrection and a healing (5:21-43). There are several common elements in all three. They are all miracles; they all take place around the Sea of Galilee; they all involve fear in one way or another; and each one tells us more about who Jesus is.

The exact location of this story is not known but it would seem to be somewhere on the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee in the area of the Decapolis (v. 20), or ‘ten cities’. This was a Gentile (non-Jewish) area and is one of the rare occasions when Jesus encounters non-Jews in Mark’s Gospel. The passage is undeniably hard to comprehend, and it touches on very difficult issues around ancient and modern understandings of mental illness that do not allow for simplistic interpretations. One commentator (Francis Moloney) candidly described it as “one of the oddest events in the Gospel of Mark”.

However, there is a great deal to learn about Jesus from these verses:

  • He has compassion for the suffering and engages happily with the outcasts.
  • He is willing to go to those at the margins of society who frighten other people, and free them from their chains.
  • He is recognised by the evil spirit as one sent by God (v.7).
  • He has God-like authority over all things in the natural and spiritual realm.
  • He fulfils Scripture, with an interesting link to yesterday’s passage to be found in Psalm 65:7: “You silence the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, the tumult [or madness] of the peoples.”
  • He also has compassion and concern for those he has come to save.

While we may feel sadness about the swine in the story (v. 13), the death of these valuable commodities not only provided visible proof to all observers that this man was truly healed but also demonstrated how precious the outcast’s life truly was.

 To Ponder:

  • How do you react to this strange story? Does it comfort or concern you?
  • Where do we encounter people like this “man out of the tombs” (v. 2) in our lives today?
  • What does the end of the story (vs 19-20) tell us about being a disciple of Jesus?


Challenging God, help us to understand your holy Word that we might be freed from the chains that bind us, and so help others to know true freedom too. Amen.

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