Mark 5:1-20 – Shining the Light of Christ Sermon Notes

A long time ago there was a battleship steering in a storm at night. The captain noted that there was a light directly ahead. His battleship was on a collision course. He sent a message toward the light commanding that ship to move out of the way. Change your course 20 degrees!

The response: You need to change your course 20 degrees.

The captain was angry. “I am a captain. You will change your course!”

The response: I am just a lowly officer. But you need to change your course.

The captain responded, “I am a battleship captain. MOVE!”

The response: I am a lighthouse. You decide.

We live in a dark world. There is an ever present battle between good and evil, light and dark. The world tries to force us to change course. At the same time, we try to shine the light of Christ into the world and just like the lighthouse our goal is to guide them into safety, even though they may not want to hear it.

Today we are going to talk about shining the light of Christ into the dark.

As we look at this idea of shining the light, we will study Mark 5:1-20.

I.Without Christ the World is a Dark Place (1-5)

The setting of this passage takes place in the region of Garasenes. This was on the east coast of the Sea of Galilee. Although some Jews lived there it was primarily inhabited by Gentiles. The first image we get of this place is of this man who was possessed by a demon. You can see that is a place of darkness. This is a man who was completely controlled by the powers of darkness. It has driven him insane. He roamed the tombs like a mad man cutting himself with stones and screaming into the night. Matthew tells us that he would violently attack people who passed by. And Luke tells us that he was naked. It is a picture of a man in complete despair. Even if he wanted to change, he was powerless to solve the problem. We are not told how this man became demon possessed.

But we do know how Satan works. Satan is the father of lies. He is described as the angel of light. He makes big promises about pleasure and power and success, promises which he does not keep. He promises light, but what actually comes is slavery to the dark. Whatever this man was hoping for when he opened himself to Satan, it is safe to say that he did not get it. He only got despair and torment.

The people of that land knew of him. We see that they attempt some action. Their action is not focused on helping him, but on isolating him. Like so many problems in society, he is a problem that they wish to ignore. Their solutions don’t work. They too, are completely powerless to help. Up against the powerful forces of Satan, there is nothing they can do.

This passages shows us that the world without Christ is a dark place. People are facing serious problems they have no way to solve by themselves or with the help of the world around them.

A couple of weeks ago I heard a sad story about an aquaintance of our family. A young man had recently finished university. He was the star of his family. The family was not well educated and had invested everything in helping him get a good education. In almost every family photo he was right in the center, smiling. Everything seemed to be OK. But he was having a hard time finding a job and struggling with depression. One day with his family sitting in the living room he was out on the balcony. While they were watching and before they could react, he jumped off and was instantly killed. The family was devastated. Darkness triumphed. These stories are all around us.

Orphanages are filled with children who have been abandoned. Mental hospitals are bursting at the seams. Marriages are failing. People pursue money and pleasure, but are left feeling empty. Depression is becoming an epidemic. About fifty five million Americans are on antidepressants. One look at a major news site will instantly flood your screen with stories of crime, terrorism, disease, and scandal. Politicians are helpless to solve the problems. The root of most of the problems in the world is sin. This is what happens when the world rejects God and His Son. In Genesis when God created the world, He said it was very good. Adam and Eve had a relationship with Him. After sin, the world became very bad, corrupted. Adam and Eve hid from God and a void was created in people’s hearts.

Genesis 6:5-6 describes the evil of the world like this: “The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.”

The world around us is a dark place. We can see it in the news. We can see it in our schools. We can see it in our communities. We can see it in the lives of our families.

You know what the world needs? The world needs the light of Christ! He is the solution. Amen?

Isaiah 9:2 says, “The people walking in the darkness have seen a great light.” That is Jesus.

II.The Light of Christ Overcomes the Darkness (6-13)

When Jesus got off the boat and stepped foot in that land, immediately this demon possessed man came up to Him. When I read this, some questions pop up into my mind. How did He knew Jesus was coming? How did He knew who Jesus was? What is his purpose?

From this we can actually learn something about Satan and his forces. Satan and his demons have the ability to organize. They are intelligent. They also know things that there would be no natural explanation for. How could a poor, homeless man living among the tombs know ahead of the time the exact moment Jesus would arrive? Even with a cell phone, that would be difficult. Satan’s information network is clearly advanced.

We also learn another lesson from this. Where God is working Satan is also actively working to oppose Him. Repeat. In the parable of the sower, Jesus described Satan as a bird that goes around and eats up the seed of the Word before it can take root. In this passage, I believe that Satan sent these demons to Jesus when He got off the boat to try to create disturbance, to oppose Jesus and in essence say, “this place is mine.” Of course, that is not what they say, but Satan is a father of lies. If their true purpose was only in not being tormented, they could have simply gone the other direction from Jesus.

Sometimes it seems that evil is winning.

Was Satan’s method of opposing Jesus successful? If we jump forward we can see that the people became angry with Jesus and He was asked to leave and did leave. Satan may have thought that this was a victory. He got Jesus to leave the land. However, Jesus’ purposes are even higher. And let me tell you, He doesn’t lose.

Jesus enters this land that is covered with darkness and under the influence of Satan. It is a battle of good versus evil, light versus darkness, and truth versus lies. For this man, there was no earthly solution. He didn’t just have one demon. He had many. He was called legion. This is the largest group in the Roman army and included 3000-6000 people. Did the man really have thousands of demons? Was it 3000? 6000? 10000?

Listen carefully because I am going to tell you the answer. The answer is IT DOES NOT MATTER! Up against the power of the King of Kings, they are nothing. One word from Jesus and those resentful, bitter, rebellious demons would have no choice but to be dragged against their will wherever Jesus commanded. And Jesus gives the word. In verse 8, He says, “Come out!”

Notice that then when the demons ask to go into the herd of swine, Jesus gives permission. We don’t need to speculate on Jesus’ exact purposes in this, but we do see clearly that Jesus has complete authority over these demons. In Matthew 28 in the Great Commission, Jesus tells His disciples that “all authority has been given me on earth and in heaven.” You know what that means? That means that He is victorious.

The light will overcome the darkness. Every knee will one day bow to Jesus. Richard Dawkins and Stephen Hawking will bow to Jesus. Satan will bow to Jesus. Your parents, your boss, your government leaders, will all bow to Jesus. He has authority over every opposition you face. He has power over every temptation and every addiction. No matter what obstacles, what enemies you face, He is stronger. If you are on His side, you will win too.

Illustration: Sometimes I watch NBA basketball. There is a really good basketball called Kevin Durant. He was on a team without a lot of good players, so although he tried his best, he lost. When his contract was up, he had an idea. He was tired of losing. He was tired of working so hard and always coming up short. So he decided to join the best team in the NBA. You know what happened? Exactly what was expected to happen. He won. Again and again and again. His super-teammates helped him to win, when he couldn’t always win by himself.

Do you want to win guaranteed? Then join Jesus’ team.

Just as this man and this community could not overcome the darkness by themselves, we too cannot overcome the darkness around us by our strength. But Jesus is the Light of the World. Through Him we can overcome.

Quote: 1 John 5:5 – for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.

III.People Hate the Light Because Their Deeds Are Evil (14, 17)

So how did the people respond when Jesus cast out the demons and healed this man? Jesus solved a problem that they had not been able to solve. He made their homes and their children safer by miraculously transforming this man. One might expect that they would be awestruck by Jesus’ power. One might expect that they would want to question Jesus how He was able to do what they could not. One might expect that they would want to learn more. But this is not what happened.

They instead wanted nothing to do with Him. They begged that He leave their region. Why? Part of the reason is that the result of Jesus’ miracle was a herd of swine was drowned. The people valued pigs over people. They cared more about the money that could be received from the pigs than they did about this man’s soul. Verse 15 also tells us that they were afraid. An amazing transformation had taken place. What else might Jesus transform?

They weren’t looking for things to be shaken up. These were people who were satisfied with the status quo. Jesus’ power frightened them because they didn’t understand it. And it frightened them because they didn’t know what else might be changed if they embraced Him. The easiest solution was to shut out the light.

When I was growing up my brother and I shared a room. Sometimes he would come in late at night and turn on the light. My eyes weren’t used to it. It was uncomfortable. So I would yell ‘turn it off.”

This is what we see the Garasenes doing in this chapter. Jesus’ light is brightly burning. Instead of adjusting themselves to it and letting it change them, they yell “turn it off!” It is more comfortable for them to stay in the dark and maintain the status quo.

From this we learn a simple lesson that applies to us today as well. When we shine the light of Christ into a dark place, it will be uncomfortable for people whose eyes are closed to the truth. It may offend them. They may reject it. They may ask you to stop sharing or leave. If so, they are not ready yet. But also know that God’s Word will not return void. Even if the message of truth you share is rejected, God may use to soften their hearts for the next person who shares.

IV.The Light Changes Lives (15-18)

Let’s read again verses 15-17. This man was naked. Now he was clothed. He was violent. Now he was calm. He acted crazy. Now he was sane. Before they were terrified by his wild and violent behavior. Now they are frightened again! But this time they are not scared he is going to hurt them. Instead they are frightened because of the rapid and powerful change in his life. They were frightened by the power which Jesus had demonstrated.

I am not sure the world will ever see a person undergo a faster or more complete transformation than this man. His life was changed forever. From the inside out he was a new person. Before he was coming to confront and oppose Jesus. Now? Now he want to become Jesus’ follower! He wants to be Jesus’ disciple. He was saved!

2 Corinthians 5:17 – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

He was a new person. God does not just help people turn over a new leaf. He does not just shift the trajectory of our lives a little bit. He is not just like a chef who sprinkles some salt and pepper on a dish created by someone else. He takes the raw, spoiled ingredients of our lives and changes the very chemistry of it to make something wonderful.

The Bible is filled with examples of people whose lives were completely transformed by the light of God’s power. Rahab was a prostitute who was saved and become an ancestor of Jesus. Moses was scared and self-conscious, but became a fearless leader who took God’s message to the most powerful man on earth. The disciples were fishermen who turned the world upside down. Paul persecuted and supported murdering believers before switching sides and becoming persecuted himself.

You. I look out and believe that many of you have experienced what we see happening in this passage. Many of you have been transformed. While you were in the darkness, now you live in the light. Look around you for a moment. It’s OK. We are family. Take a long look. Do you see all those shining faces? Most of us are here because God has touched us. He has changed us.

If we had time to hear your testimonies the stories would be filled with examples of transformation. Some of you may have been addicted to drugs or alcahol. Some of you were slaves of unhealthy relationships. Some of you loved money, making it and spending it. Whatever it is that had a hold of you. God has set you free.

Take a moment and reflect on how far God has brought you. Thank Him for how he has changed you. God is everything to us. Without His grace in our lives, we would be just like this crazy man, completely controlled by Satan and slaves to our own temptations. Instead we are sons and daughters of the King of Kings. Are you excited about that? If that doesn’t make you excited we might need to check your pulse and make sure your heart is still beating. Go ahead and take a look at your neighbor. If they don’t look excited then go ahead and check for a pulse.

Jesus changes lives. At the same time we also have a responsibility to let our lives be changed and to submit ourselves as clay to the potter.

Galatians 5:1 – For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

Whatever it is is that may have controlled you before coming to Christ, do not go back again.

V.Shine the Light By Telling Others What God Has Done For You (19-20)

In this passage we have seen some amazing things. But I think the most surprising (and my favorite part) comes last. This man had experienced a miraculous conversion. His very first response is wonderful. He comes to Jesus to ask to follow Him. And Jesus says, “Of course you can be disciple. Follow me and I will make you a fisher of men.” Right? WRONG! Jesus says, “No!” What? What is going on here?

Instead of allowing this man to come with Him, Jesus says, “Go home to your people and report to them what great things the Lord has done for you and how He had mercy on you.”

In other words, “I want you to start sharing the good news right now.” When we look at how Jesus dealt with this man, we can learn so many principles from it, many of which are completely the opposite of what the church in some places traditionally practices.

  • Principle #1 – A person does not have to go to seminary or theological school before he starts sharing the gospel. Neither does he have to have a Masters in Divinity before he becomes a missionary. You know if this man went up to a pastor today and said, “I want to be a preacher” many would counsel him “go to seminary for 4 years and then you can become a preacher.” What may actually happen is that in those 4 years he will lose his enthusiasm for the gospel or his will to give up all to go serve the Lord. Jesus knew that the most effective preacher of the gospel is someone whose life has been transformed and who is excited to tell others about it.
  • Principle #2 – A person does not need to know all of the answers before he starts telling others about God. How many answers did this man know? How much Scripture had he studied? He had only been saved for at most a few hours. He didn’t know a lot. But you know what, he wasn’t asked to share what he did not know. He only was asked to share what he knew. We must stop using the excuse of “I don’t know enough yet” or “I won’t be able to answer their questions” as reasons for not sharing the gospel. Jesus asked this man to simply share what the Lord had done for him. Every single one of us can do this. If you don’t know about the symbolic meaning of the four horned beast in Daniel, then don’t share it. But if you have been saved, you know the gospel. Start there.
  • Principle #3 – You don’t need to be a successful person or have a great reputation before you start to share the gospel. I have had people tell me that they want to become successful in their career first and then when they have the respect of their family and colleagues they will start to share because people will be more likely to believe them then. This is a myth. I will go even farther. This is a lie of Satan to try to delay you from sharing the gospel. You know what Satan and his demons say to believers who want to share the gospel. “That is a good idea. You should do that. But do it later.” When people tell me this, I turn to Mark 5 and study it with them. This man had about the worst reputation possible. Do any of you have a reputation where when you enter a room people start screaming and running in the other direction? That is the reputation that this man had. People wouldn’t listen to him because of his intelligence or his business success or his position in society. They listened for this reason: his life had been changed and they were witnesses of it. It is not your reputation or success that can change people’s lives. It is the Light of Christ.
  • Principle #4 – Go not come. Jesus’ goal was not to gather as many disciples around Himself as possible. His goal was to send people. And this man had a story and was ready to be sent.

The simple lesson from this passage is clear: ANY person whose life has been touched by Christ can share the good news. And EVERY person should. This not solely the task of pastors and preachers. It it is not only the job of of Sunday School teachers and missionaries.

2 Corinthians 5:11 says that God gave us “the ministry of reconciliation.”

Matthew 5:14 says, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.”

God has brought you out of the darkness and into the light. And He has given you a job to do.

We learned in the passage today that we should SHINE THE LIGHT. This is the mission that God has given to us. He put you where you are for a reason He has put you in your school or your business for a reason. It is not so that you can be the same as everybody else. He brought you here to reflect His light. He has put you where you are so that you can be a witness for Him. In Acts 1 before the ascension He told His disciples that they were to be His witnesses. Will you agree to do one simple task? Share what God has done for you. Share what God has done for you. He has done so much for you. Tell it out.

Conclusion:

Someone might say the task is too difficult. There are too many people who haven’t heard the message. What can one person do? Firstly know this. You are not one person. We are a team.

But even one person can have a huge impact when acting in simple obedience. The first time Jesus came to this region he was immediately greeted by demons and was quickly asked to leave. The next time Jesus came there in Mark 7-8, there were over 4000 people willing and ready to hear His message. The spark started as a flicker in the life of this one man who had been changed. And soon it started a roaring fire.

Someone once said a picture is worth a thousand words. I guess a video is worth even more than that. So to end today, I will conclude with this video titled “This is Discipleship.”

Meditation Questions

  • What are some common reasons you do not share your faith with others? How can the story of this man encourage you?
  • Practice sharing a short one minute salvation testimony with others in your group about what God has done for you. Who can you share this testimony with this week?
  • Write down the names of at least 3 people that are not yet followers of Christ who you would like to pray for and share with. Discuss with your group who they are and why you are called to reach them. At the end of the sharing time, together pray for your lists.
  • Will you commit to taking the initiative to share the gospel with them?
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