The Agora
Bible Commentary

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

Mark 5

Mar 5:1

Mar 5: "Amongst a busy day of activities, which drained the Lord of strength, he continued to maintain the work to declare his Father's purpose. He cured the maniac of Gerasa (vv 1-20), and continued to assist the ruler Jairus (vv 21-24), to heal the woman with the issue of blood (vv 25-34), to bring to life the daughter of Jairus (vv 35-43). There are dramatic lessons of spiritual value in every incident. To the manic of Gerasa the Master brought a hope beyond his madness. He 'saw Jesus' (v 6), and stopped before he reached the boat, to throw himself upon the ground. Something in his disordered mind felt a power greater than himself. But the people of the city did not recognise that power (v 17). The Lord punished the men of the city by granting their prayer; he rewarded the cured man by refusing his (v 19). Sometimes we are rewarded when prayer is refused. Each of the miracles of this day impact upon the work of the Master; each one adds to that which went before. The woman was cured of her physical defilement, and the young daughter of Jairus was brought from the dead. In this way the ultimate conquest over sin and death will occur with our physical redemption of the body, following the removal of the defilement of sin in the flesh" (GEM).

"Demoniacs" suffered from: blindness, dumbness (Mat 12:22; Luk 11:14), insanity, schizophrenia (Mar 3:21; 5:1-5; Joh 10:20), epilepsy (Mar 9:17-27), and arthritis (Luk 13:11-17).

Mark 5 has three similar incidents as the recipients of Christ's healing miracles are taught lessons:
  1. "Legion", who desires to accompany Christ (v 18), is told instead to stay behind and preach (v 19).
  2. The woman with an issue of blood, who desires anonymity, is brought into the public view (v 33).
  3. And the ruler of the synagogue, who desires notoriety, is told to remain silent for the present (v 43).
The unifying lesson: We must each learn to control our natural tendencies, and to serve in the capacities required by our Lord, although such may "go against the grain".

Legion, another "storm" to be stilled (cp Mar 4:37-41). First, the storm at sea (Psa 107:23-31); then, the "storm" in the mind of Legion. He who can calm the one can calm the other! The "troubled sea" of Isa 57:20 and Rev 13:1 becomes the "sea of glass" in Rev 4:6; 15:2; 21:18. The Psalms portray a God who can calm the storms, of the nations and of the lives of individual believers -- and this is what His Son does in the Gospels: cp Psa 65:7,8; 89:9; 93:3,4.

THE LAKE: Or "sea" (AV). The sea of Galilee. Also called the sea of Gennesaret (Luk 5:1), sea of Chinnereth (sig harp, because of shape? -- in OT), and sea of Tiberias (Joh 6:1). On route of Jordan River from Mt Hermon (life: Psa 133) to Dead Sea (death).

GERASENES... GADARENES... GERGESENES: Gadara, in Decapolis, near sea of Galilee (LB 375). Gergesa, a city on east shore of lake, a suburb of Gadara, one of the "ten cities" of Decapolis (v 20), inhabited by many Gentiles. Distinguishing characteristics: ruins, cliff, lake, old tombs.

Mar 5:2

A MAN: Cp Mat 8:28: "2 men". One came near, while the other stood back? Cp the two thieves, but only one believed. (NR 155).

WITH AN EVIL SPIRIT: Called "demon-possessed" in Mat 8:28; Luk 8:27.

FROM THE TOMBS: The region and shadow of death: Isa 9:1,2; Isa 65:2-4.

Mar 5:4

NO ONE WAS STRONG ENOUGH TO SUBDUE HIM: Insane men are known sometimes to have superhuman strength. In the East, they inhabit cemeteries.

Mar 5:5

IN THE HILLS: There are many caverns in mountains of Palestine (cp Jdg 6:2), used for dwellings and tombs. Cp Heb 11:38.

Mar 5:7

Even the "demons" believe and tremble: Jam 2:19.

WHAT DO YOU WANT WITH ME?: Or, "What have I to do with thee?" (AV), emphasizing their common humanity. "Are you come here to torment us before the appointed time?" (Mat 8:29).

Mar 5:8

The demoniac had mistaken Jesus' command "Come out" for a rebuke against him: ie "Get out of here!" Jesus speaks to the demon, but he also has just spoken to the wind and sea (Mar 4:39).

Mar 5:9

LEGION: Usually consisted of about 6,000 infantry and 600 cavalry. There was usually about one Roman legion in Jerusalem at any one time. A Roman legion: fierce, implacable, lawless oppressors of mankind (cp giants of Gen 6).

Mar 5:10

See Zec 13:2.

Mar 5:11

A LARGE HERD OF PIGS: "Humans become infected when they ingest the cysts of the tape worm in the flesh of the pig... Unfortunately humans can also ingest the eggs from their own or another's infection, and they then develop a much more serious form of the disease, with cyst formation throughout the body. These cysts can infect the brain, and it is poss that Legion was suffering from this disease. A link between his condition and the herd of swine seems very likely, and not just in his mind" (SP, Tes 71:205).

Mar 5:13

// Exodus: Legion, like Israel of old, naked, miserable, in tombs (pyramids), now sees the bodies of its enemies, perished in the (Red) sea.

The madness of the man was transferred to the swine, but this does not prove the existence of lit demons, any more than the fact that the leprosy of Naaman cleaved to Gehazi implies that leprosy is caused by demons (2Ki 5:27) ("Devil", by PW 69). The unchosen uncleanness of the madman evoked mercy from Jesus, but the willful uncleanness of the swinekeeper called forth wrath.

AND WENT INTO THE PIGS: Poss, "the unclean spirits attacked the swine." Perhaps the man himself rushed into the herd, stampeding them over the cliff, while at that very moment being healed himself of his illness. This seems to be the most natural explanation of the event.

RUSHED DOWN THE STEEP BANK: The Gadarene Swine Law: Merely because the group is moving together in formation does not mean that the group is on the right course.

AND WERE DROWNED: Cp the great choking mass of pigs with the press of the crowd in v 30.

Mar 5:14

Christ's two destructive miracles: (1) 2,000 unclean swine (unclean Gentile nations) destroyed, but one man (a Gentile) is saved. (2) The fig tree (Israel) cursed, but one man (Christ, a Jew) is saved.

Mar 5:15

DRESSED: "Himatizo" from rt "robe". Did Christ give him his own garment? See Mat 5:40.

IN HIS RIGHT MIND: "Quiet! Be still!" (Mar 4:39).

Mar 5:17

"Pigs" meant more to them than salvation! They could see only what they might lose (the pigs), not what they might gain (healing, salvation). Jesus does not argue. He simply leaves.

Mar 5:18

BEGGED TO GO WITH HIM: And he did! He went with Christ when he went to tell others of what Christ had done for him.

Mar 5:19

The first of 3 similar incidents:

  1. The lunatic, who desired to accompany Christ (v 18), is told to stay behind and preach (v 19).
  2. The woman with issue, who desires anonymity, is brought into public eye (v 33).
  3. Jairus, the ruler of the synagogue, who desires notoriety, is told to remain silent for the present (v 43).
Lesson: We must learn to control natural tendencies, serve in the capacity we are commanded, although this goes "against the grain".

Silence was his settled policy for most of his ministry (Mat 9:30; 17:9; 12:16; Mar 1:34; 5:43; 7:36; 8:26; Luk 5:14), with one notable exception (Mar 5:19 -- Legion with his family). But in last days of ministry, a change of course (Mat 21:1-11; Joh 7:37; 9:3; 11:4).

Mar 5:20

BEGAN TO TELL... HOW MUCH JESUS HAD DONE FOR HIM: "What manner of man is this?" (Mar 4:41).

Mar 5:22

ONE OF THE SYNAGOGUE RULERS: A president of synagogue, who had likely ignored Jesus until now. Some synagogues probably had more than one ruler (Act 13:15). "He WAS a ruler..." (KJV). Was Jairus later demoted through becoming a follower of Jesus?

CAME THERE: He did not send for Jesus, as might one in his position; instead, he came to Jesus, as a lesser comes to a greater.

Mar 5:23

LITTLE: Called "little" until age 13 (v 42). 'My one and only daughter': Luk 8:42.

Mar 5:24

Vv 24-34: Parenthetical.

"He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows" (Isa 53:4). "Come unto me, all you who labor and are heavy laden" (Mat 11:28,29).

Mar 5:25

SUBJECT TO BLEEDING: Ceremonially unclean, and a social outcast (Lev 15:19-30). She was supposed to be separated from other people, and from the synagogue, and from Temple worship -- not for any moral reason, but for a physical condition. In effect, she was being punished for something of which she was not guilty.

TWELVE YEARS: Cp the 12 years of v 42. The woman's misery was as old as the daughter of Jairus.

Mar 5:26

YET INSTEAD OF GETTING BETTER SHE GREW WORSE: Human remedies make matters worse (as in religion).

Mar 5:27

IN THE CROWD: Jesus was choked in the crowd. Note his closeness to mankind. Jesus was a man.

SHE CAME UP BEHIND HIM IN THE CROWD: By rabbinical law, she should not have even been in the city -- much less in a crowd of people. This took great courage on the part of a poor, and probably weak and frail, woman.

We have to seek out and reach for Jesus; he will not be handed to us on a silver platter!

AND TOUCHED HIS CLOAK: With its border of blue (cp Num 15:37,38). To do so, she must have fallen to her knees.

"In those days ten men from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe and say, 'Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you' " (Zec 8:23).

All the occasions of Jesus touching, or being touched, in the context of healing (notice that not one of them is in John's gospel): Mat 8:3,15; 9:20,21,29; 14:36; 17:7; 20:34; Mark 1:41; 3:10; 5:27,28,30,31; 6:56; 7:33; 8:22; 10:13; Luk 5:13; 6:19; 7:14,39; 8:44-47; 18:15; 22:51.

Mar 5:28

The reverse of legal restriction: 'If I touch him, he shall be unclean too!' A man who could touch unclean, and yet remain pure himself: this is a great miracle!

HIS CLOTHES: "The sun of righteousness... with healing in his wings" (Mal 4:2), ie borders (Num 15:38 sw) of his garments.

Mar 5:29

SHE FELT IN HER BODY: Christ's healing spirit was the operation of some real natural power, that could be felt.

Mar 5:30

HE TURNED AROUND: Jesus turned to the following multitude (Luk 14:25), the backsliding disciple (Luk 22:61), the impulsive disciple (Mat 16:23), and the trembling believer (here).

TOUCHED: With feeling of our infirmities: Heb 4:15.

WHO TOUCHED MY CLOTHES?: Jesus knew who had touched him! He asks this so as to reveal this woman to the onlookers.

Other questions, designed to lead to the repentance of the hearers: Gen 3:9; 4:9; 2Ki 5:25.

Mar 5:31

THE PEOPLE CROWDING AGAINST YOU: Multitudes throng Jesus today, but only a few touch him in faith, and are healed.

Mar 5:33

AT HIS FEET: Whereas previously she had come behind him (v 27), now she kneels in front of him. An embarrassing process, but a necessary public profession (v 19n).

Mar 5:34

DAUGHTER: Mentioned in both miracles here.

This is the only occasion when Jesus so addresses any woman; he demonstrates that there is a spiritual relationship between them, beyond all natural ties.

YOUR FAITH: And not simply my power....

HAS HEALED YOU: With restored ability to bear children, as Hannah?

Mar 5:36

Both miracles have in common: 12 years; daughter, faith in Christ, healing. The restoration of Israel (the "12"!) comes only through Christ. For "daughter", cp Jer 6:14; 8:11; etc.

Power of faith and intercession of others: Mat 8:13; 9:32; 15:28; 17:14-18; Luk 8:50; Joh 4:49; Jos 6:17; Gen 7:1; 18:32; 19:12; Act 27:24.

DON'T BE AFRAID; JUST BELIEVE: Immediately Jesus, full of compassion and tender pity, reaffirmed the man's basis for faith -- as angels to women at tomb. Those with faith, Christ helps. Those with none, he ignores (vv 17,18; Mar 6:1).

JUST BELIEVE: More properly, "go on believing". Justification by faith.

Mar 5:37

PETER, JAMES, AND JOHN: These 3 singled out on other occasions: Transfiguration (Mat 17:1), Olivet prophecy (Mar 13:5), garden of Gethsemane (Mar 14:33).

Mar 5:38

Professional mourners: Amo 5:16; Jer 9:16,17; 2Ch 35:25.

Mar 5:40

A poor type of mourner, to turn so easily to scornful laughter. They scorn Christ, but he shows greater authority: "He put them all out!"

HE PUT THEM ALL OUT: Cp context of Mar 4; 5 with Num 5:1-4. By LM, lepers, bleeders, and those defiled by dead were "put out" of camp. Here, Christ heals such as this, whilst putting the disbelievers "outside" (Tes 52:257,258).

WENT IN: Jesus came near to death, partaking of mortality, again ignoring legal defilement.

Mar 5:41

"Thy touch has still its ancient power;
No word from thee can fruitless fall.
Hear in this solemn evening hour,
And in thy mercy heal us all.

"Jesus, Deliverer, near to us be;
Soothe thou our voyaging over life's sea:
Then when the storm of death roars, sweeping by,
Say thou, O Lord of life, 'Peace, it is I.' "

HE TOOK HER BY THE HAND: Christ touches that which is defiled (cp vv 27,28). Death! the ultimate defilement, yet held no fear for Christ, who "tasted death" for all men.

TALITHA KOUM: Aramaic. Mark frequently uses Aramaic expressions: Boanerges (Mar 3:17), Talitha koum (Mar 5:41), Korban (Mar 7:11), Ephphatha (Mar 7:34), Rabbi (Mar 9:5; 11:21; 14:45), Bartimaeus (Mar 10:46), Abba (Mar 14:36), Golgotha (Mar 15:22), Eloi (Mar 15:34).

Mar 5:42

"What manner of man is this?" (Mar 4:41).

A parable of baptism: sleep of death, touch of Master's hand, words: "Arise" and "walk"!

Mar 5:43

Cp v 19n. But nevertheless "they spread abroad his fame in all that country" (Mat 9:31).

Silence was his settled policy for most of his ministry (Mat 9:30; 17:9; 12:16; Mar 1:34; 5:43; 7:36; 8:26; Luk 5:14), with one notable exception (Mar 5:19 -- Legion with his family). But in last days of ministry, a change of course (Mat 21:1-11; Joh 7:37; 9:3; 11:4).

"Four Galilean peasants slipped quietly away from the house of Jairus and headed through Magdala down the 'Valley of Doves' which led toward Nazareth. They were a carpenter and three fishermen, and they all knew now that one of them was the Lord of Life" (SMk 83).

Previous Index Next