Light Shines in the Darkness (Mark 5:1-20)

150719_LightWe are in the 3rd message in a series on the miracles of Jesus. Today's miracle is the power of light over darkness as seen in Mark 5:1-20. In this passage there are three characters: a demon possessed man, the demons themselves, and the crowd who saw and heard about the miracle. We will see how the light of Jesus shines in the darkness and how each responded to the light.

This message won't address the details of demon possession but instead lets first look at the emotional, physical and spiritual state of this man. He lived in a graveyard, he had been chained hand and foot but kept breaking free, night and day he would cry out and cut himself with stones. What a painful life!

In some senses I think we see this on the streets of San Francisco every day in the people who look and smell homeless, talking and shouting to themselves. But if you look deeper, this state can also describe the people near and dear to us in our family, friends and even ourselves. Those who feel isolated and lonely, chained with addictions, trying to relieve pain with self-destructive behaviors.

Into this dark story steps Jesus. When Jesus sees this man, he doesn't say, "Take heart, your sins are forgiven" or "What do you want me to do for you?" Instead Jesus goes right to heart of the issue "Come out of this man you impure spirit." The light of Jesus cannot help but dispel the darkness.

Now let's look at the demons themselves. There are two mistakes we can make regarding spiritual warfare. One mistake is to be obsessed and fearful and the other mistake is to take it too lightly. The main point in this story is that the demons know who Jesus is (the Son of the Most High God) and they are afraid of Him. The legion of demons beg Jesus to send them into some nearby pigs and when Jesus agrees, the pigs stampede into the into the lake and drowned.

The purpose of demonic possession is made clear by what happened to the pigs. The demons were bent on destruction but Jesus' power and authority over the demons points to the victory of the Kingdom of God! The strong man is bound, in Christ we are delivered from the dominion of darkness and transferred into the kingdom of light.

Lastly, the third character in this story is the crowd. When the crowd hears about what has happened to the pigs and sees the previously crazy man sitting peacefully by Jesus' side, they have a strange response. Instead of being overjoyed in the man's deliverance, the people are afraid and ask Jesus to leave.

What is going on here? John 3:19 says it best, "This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.  But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God."

This story ends with Jesus leaving. Jesus will never force Himself where He is not wanted. But the man who had been demon possessed wants to follow Jesus. Instead of agreeing to the request, Jesus sends the man back to his people, his family. His mission: "Tell them how much the Lord has done for you."

How will you respond to the light of Christ this week? Will you ask Jesus to leave you alone? Or will you allow the light to bring healing and wholeness and forgiveness? Will you tell people how much the Lord has done for you?