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Tom Pennington • Mark 5:1-20

  • 2014-08-17 AM
  • Sermons


Let me begin by asking you a very simple question. Who is the worst sinner you know? Who is the worst sinner you know, the one person that, from a human perspective, is most unlikely to become a follower of Jesus Christ? Perhaps he or she is in slavery to sin, completely out of control, perhaps even self-destructive, violent, given to fits of anger and rage. Maybe he has alienated everybody in his life who really cares about him and loves him. Maybe even unbelievers have given up on this person. Maybe from a human perspective you would say this truly is a hopeless case. Maybe that person that comes to your mind lives in your house. Maybe it's a spouse or a child or a parent. Maybe that person is in your extended family, a co-worker, a neighbor, someone you go to school with, or maybe that person is you. Let me ask you this morning, do you believe that Jesus has the power to change that person?

I'm not asking you what your theology is. I'm not asking you if you know the right answer. I think we all know the right answer. I'm asking, what do you really believe? Here's the good news, there is no one, there is no one Jesus cannot change. That's the message of the New Testament. It is the profound message of this remarkable account that we have just read together in Mark chapter 5. Let's go through it together.

In the first verse Mark sets the scene for us, "They came to the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gerasenes." Jesus and His disciples have traveled, in context here we learn, some 12 to 13 miles diagonally across what we call the Sea of Galilee. It's actually a good-sized lake. About 12 to 13 miles they've travelled from the northwest corner where Capernaum was located, and Jesus's home was located, down to the southeast corner of that lake. They have arrived in what's called the country of the Gerasenes. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all record this account. Matthew writing to Jews, who were familiar with the land of Israel, says that this incident happened in a city called Gadara. That was a city some six miles inland from the southwestern shore, but it had the largest ancient harbor on the entire lake. Mark and Luke, both writing to people who were not as familiar with the land of Israel, say that it was in the region of the Gerasenes. There was a city in that region called Gerasa, which was some 40 miles from the lake, but it was a very large city, and even people who didn't live in Israel would have heard of that city. So it's there, on the southeast corner of the lake we call the Sea of Galilee, where these events occurred.

Now, as Mark unfolds this compelling story from Jesus's life, he highlights three great spiritual realities and I want us to note these three spiritual realities together. The first one is found in verses 2 through 5; it is the enslaving power of sin and Satan, the enslaving power of sin and Satan. You see, perhaps nowhere in the entire Bible is there a more graphic description of the power of evil in an individual life. Now, let me remind you that this is not fiction. Jesus really lived. You can visit the place where He lived today. This man was a real man and he was actually enslaved in the way that we read in this passage. Verse 2 introduces us to him, "When Jesus got out of the boat, immediately a man from the tombs with an unclean spirit met Him." No sooner had the disciples secured their boat to that dock that was part of that huge ancient harbor there near Gadara, when immediately this man comes up to Jesus. Verse 6 tells us that he had seen Jesus from a distance. Apparently he had seen the boat approaching the shore and from the tombs he runs at them. Matthew tells us there were two men, but both Mark and Luke focus on the one who was obviously the most troubled and likely the leader of the two.

Now, Mark begins to paint the ugly picture of this man's tragic condition in verse 2, he says he was "a man from the tombs," and in verse 3 he adds, in fact, "he had his dwelling among the tombs." Literally, he was a man who had his home among the tombs. Luke tells us that that hadn't always been true; in the past he had lived in the city there, but now he lived in the caverns that had been carved out of the rocky hillside to be used as graves. It was metaphor for his life. Verse 2 adds, he was a man "with an unclean spirit." He was a man who was controlled by, dominated by, a morally unclean spirit. In New Testament terms, this is a demon. This is one of the fallen angels who accompany Satan and who do his bidding. Notice in verse 15 he's called "demon-possessed," again in verse 16, "the demon-possessed man," verse 18, "demon-possessed." The Greek text literally says demonized. Here is a man completely controlled by a demon.

Now, the first specific account of Jesus dealing with a demon and casting it out occurs back in Mark 1:23, then there are a couple of summaries of Jesus casting out large numbers of demons from crowds of people in 1:32-34, 3:11-12, but this one is truly unique. It's why Matthew, Mark, and Luke all record it, because this man's condition is far worse than any other person out of whom Jesus cast demons. Notice verse 3, "no one was able to bind him anymore, even with a chain." In the Greek language it's not grammatically incorrect to use double negatives and when the writers of Scripture want to really emphasize something they do just that. Here's how the Greek text of this verse reads, "not even with a chain, no longer was no one being able to bind him." Mark wants us to understand just how desperate this man's condition really is, "no longer" or "anymore," implies that his condition had gotten progressively worse. He at one point lived in the city and then there was a time when his behavior could be restrained, but not anymore. Verse 4 explains, "because he had often been bound with shackles and chains." Shackles refers to chains that were around his legs at the ankles. Chains here likely refers to metal restraints that were at least on his hands and arms, and possibly around his entire body. This man had been chained up like an animal. Why? Well, because they thought he was mad. They thought he was a danger to himself.

The Jewish Talmud laid out four tests for madness, walking abroad at night, spending the night on a grave, tearing one's clothes, and destroying what you're given. This man passed that test with flying colors. So the best they could do then, in their minds, was simply to physically restrain him, so that he would not hurt himself, but that wasn't the only reason they restrained him. They also restrained him because he was violent and he was a danger to others. Matthew tells us this in Matthew 8:28. He says, "These two men," the man we're reading about here and his companion, "were so exceedingly violent that no one could pass by that road." These men had become so known for their violence on the people who came by, you didn't even take that road if you wanted to go around the Sea of Galilee. You either went the other way or you took a longer route that took you far away from their place. And if you were forced to go by where they lived, you carefully snuck in the quiet hoping upon hope that they wouldn't see you, and if you had to you took something to defend yourself. They were violent man.

So, because of the risk of self-inflicted injury and because of the risk of violence to others, these men had been bound hand and feet with chains, but it hadn't worked, at least it wasn't working at this point. Notice verse 4, for "the chains had been torn apart by him and the shackles broken in pieces, and no one was strong enough to subdue him." This man exhibited super-human strength. Under the influence and power of this demon he could not be restrained. Notice the last phrase, "no one was strong enough to subdue him." Literally, the Greek text says, "to tame him." He was like a wild animal and all attempts to control or tame his outrageous behavior had failed miserably. Nobody was strong enough.

Don't miss the point that Mark is making here because it plays into the story. Here is a man for whom there are no human remedies. They have done everything they can to help this man and there is nothing else to be done; he simply cannot be helped by other human beings. So, they let him wander off. They leave him alone in hopes that he will leave them alone and he lives among the tombs. Now, verse 5 completes the portrait for this tragic figure, it says, "Constantly, night and day, he was screaming among the tombs and in the mountains, and gashing himself with stones." At any time, night or day, if you lived nearby, whether this man was in the tombs or whether he was wandering the hillsides, you would hear him screaming. The Greek word for screaming here describes a bloodcurdling, nightmarish scream. This man's soul was in agony.

Luke tells us that he had not put on clothing for a long time. And notice Mark adds in verse 5 that he was "constantly gashing his naked body with sharp stones," with flint-like stones. He was cutting himself, self-inflicted pain and suffering. We don't know exactly why, it's possible that under the influence of the demons this man just became self-destructive. Demons hate God. They can't get to God and so they often attack man, who was made in the image of God. Maybe there was some masochistic pleasure in this or it's possible this man was engaged in the worship of idols or the occult, because, from Old Testament times, cutting oneself had been connected with the worship of idols and false gods. You remember on Mount Carmel when the prophets of Baal are crying out for Baal to send down fire they attend their prayers with cutting themselves.

Regardless, what I don't want you to miss is that this is the tragic picture of a condemned, enslaved soul at its absolute worst. There is no control. There is no restraint. There is nothing but Satan and sin dominating this man's life. Kent Hughes, in his commentary on this account, writes, "He was uncontrollable and dangerous. Inside he was totally wretched. At intervals, during the night and day, he would let out a preternatural howl then gash himself with jagged rocks. This poor naked man was a mass of bleeding lacerations, scabs, infections, and scar tissue living out a delirium of pain and masochistic pleasure."

What's the point? You see, the condition of all sinners is not this extreme, nor are all sinners demonized, but this paints a tragic picture of the controlling, enslaving powers of sin and Satan in every life. Today, our physical circumstances aren't identical to this man. Most unbelievers are clothed and live in houses and in cities. Most unbelievers are not necessarily demonized. We don't experience the power of sin in the same way as this man, but our spiritual condition is really no different apart from Christ. It's simply a matter of degree. We are all, apart from Christ, in slavery to sin. You see, unbelievers think they're free. They think they're doing what they want to do. But let them try to change and they'll learn they are not free at all. In reality, they are in slavery.

Maybe you're here this morning and you think, "I'm free. I'll do what I want." Listen, you're not doing what you want; you are in slavery, slavery. Try to change and you will learn that very quickly; we are in lockstep with our spiritual father, Satan. Jesus said every unbeliever has as his father, Satan, and the lusts of our father we will do. Moreover, like this man, all of us are in the process, apart from Christ, apart from His intervention, we would be in the process of destroying all of our relationships, alienating ourselves from everyone we love. We destroy and dishonor our bodies in the pursuit of our personal pleasure, just as this man did. Our lives without Christ are equally tragic and certainly equally tragic from the perspective of eternity. All of us, myself included, all of us know very well and very personally about the enslaving power of sin and Satan. Our story could be described, apart from Christ, in the words of Psalm 107 verse 10,

There were those who dwelt in darkness and in the shadow of death, prisoners in misery and chains, because they had rebelled against the words of God, and spurned the counsel of the Most High. Therefore He humbled their heart with labor; they stumbled and there was none to help.

Everyone's condition isn't exactly the same as this man, but let me tell you, every one of us, without exception, can see echoes of ourselves in this description. Our condition is equally hopeless without Christ.

Now, that brings us to a second spiritual reality. We've seen the enslaving power of sin and Satan, but I want you to see the saving power of Jesus in verses 6 to 13. This man knew very well the enslaving power of sin. He's about to discover a far greater power. Verse 6, "Seeing Jesus from a distance, he ran up and bowed down before Him." Now, we don't know why he ran at Jesus. Probably, at a distance, he saw this boat land with a group of men and he ran to terrorize them as he did everyone else that came by. Try to place yourself in the position of the disciples. You've just landed there at this dock and you're walking off of the dock at the ancient harbor there, you come to the land, and suddenly you look up and hurling down the hillside at you are two naked men, and they are screaming at the top of their lungs, as they so often did, a bloodcurdling nightmarish scream, and they are coming at you.

If initially this man's motive was to terrorize Jesus and the disciples, when he got closer, at some point, the demons controlling him recognize who Jesus is, and remember they are in complete control of this man and his body, and so they force him to fall down before Jesus. The Greek word that's translated "bow down" is actually the word worship. They worship before Him. Here it doesn't mean willing worship; it means they recognized that they were in the presence of one vastly superior to them and so they bowed down before Him. Now, verse 7 tells us what came out of this man's mouth, "and shouting with a loud voice, he said, 'What business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God, do not torment me!'" Now, this human being had never met Jesus and he certainly doesn't know Jesus's true identity, so this is a demon speaking through this man. Mark says the demon was using this man's vocal cords and was screaming these words, with, literally, a mega-voice, and what he said was this, "What to me and to you?" In other words, what do we have in common? The demon knows Jesus's human identity. Notice, he calls Him by His name Jesus. He understands He's a real man, He's there in the land, but more importantly he knows His divine identity because he screams out, "Jesus, Son of the Most High God."

The title Most High God is used in the Old Testament primarily by Gentiles to distinguish the one living God from all the nonexistent gods of the nations. This demon says, "Jesus, You are the unique Son of the one living and true God, God Most High." He knew immediately who Jesus really was, and he asked Jesus to take an oath. Notice, he says, "I adjure You," is what it literally says, "I adjure You by God." In other words, "Swear to me Jesus, by God, that You will not torture me." Matthew adds, "before the time." You see, demons know their time is limited. They know what's coming. They know the end of the story and yet they are happy, because of their hatred of God, to play out their role.

Now, specifically he acknowledges he's under God's authority and he asks not to be tortured before the proper time. Why do the demons say this? Well, notice verse 8 explains, "For," because, "Jesus had been saying to him, 'Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!'" Jesus had already commanded the demon to leave the man. The demon knows he has to leave in response to Jesus's order, but his concern is where Jesus is going to send him. Now Jesus continues the dialogue with this demon in verse 9, "He was asking him, 'What is your name?' And he said to Him, 'My name is Legion; for we are many.'" That is a shocking response. On most occasions in the New Testament, those who were demonized were inhabited and controlled by a single demon. Next to this man the worst example that we know of was Mary Magdalene, who, chapter 16 tells us, was indwelt by seven demons when Jesus rescued her. But this man, notice, has "many" demons, so many that the demon in charge describes them as Legion.

You know that word; it's the word that's used most often to describe the Roman legion, which consisted of approximately 6,000 men. Now that doesn't necessarily mean there were 6,000 demons in this man. In the first century the word was used to describe a very large number. It is interesting that they're about to leave this man and go into 2,000 swine, so it is possible, and some make the case, that there were that many demons in this man, but regardless, we know there were many. There was an army of demons that indwelt this man.

The leader or the commander of this legion of demons makes a request of Jesus. He knows he has to leave; Jesus has commanded it, but noticed verse 10, "He began to implore Him earnestly not to send them out of the country." Now don't misunderstand the question here, the request, he's not saying, "Don't send us to a different country." Luke makes it very clear what he was asking, Luke 8:31, "They were imploring Him not to command them to go away into the abyss." That's what he was asking. Ironically, he, in essence, appeals to God's eternal plan. He says, "Jesus, Son of the Most High God, this isn't the Father's time to send us into the abyss. This is before the time. Don't torment us before the time." Verse 11,

Now there was a large herd of swine feeding nearby on the mountain. The demons implored Him, saying, "Send us into the swine so that we may enter them."

Now, their request clearly shows their submission to Jesus, albeit an unwilling submission, and they asked to go into the pigs. Verse 13, "Jesus gave them permission. And coming out, the unclean spirits entered the swine; and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea, about two thousand of them; and they were drowned in the sea." Now, Jesus agrees to their request. Can I just stop and say, there is a powerful lesson here? Contrary to the spirit of the evolutionary age in which we live, animals are not equal in value to human beings. Jesus is more than willing to pay the price of 2,000 pigs to rescue a single human life.

The scene that's described in verse 13 is described in four Greek verbs and the verb tense that Mark uses is like a series of snapshots you might take on your phone. The first snapshot is the demons coming out of the man; the second snapshot is they're entering the pigs. The third is the herd rushing down the steep embankment. By the way, if it was there at the port of Gadara, there was a steep 12-foot embankment, historians tell us. If it was a little farther up the coast at the traditional site, Kursi, there's a steep hillside there. The final description, the final verb he uses, is more like a video that it is a snapshot. It pictures the heard plunging into the lake and drowning.

So why did Jesus allow this? Why did He allow the demons to go into the pigs? Certainly He knew what would happen, but we can't be certain, and I'm not going to spend a lot of time here because of that, but there are two fascinating possibilities. Two thousand pigs is a huge herd of pigs even by modern standards. This was a big business operation. What were this many unclean animals doing that close to Israel? There are two intriguing possibilities. One is that there were some Gentile entrepreneurs. That side of the Sea of Galilee was primarily Gentile and it's possible there were some Gentile entrepreneurs who were raising these pigs and selling them on the black market into Israel and disobedient Jews who were happy to eat that food even though it was forbidden by Old Testament law at this point. That's one possibility.

But, while most of the people on that side of the Sea of Galilee were Gentiles, there were also Jews that lived there and it is possible that there were some Jewish entrepreneurs who started a business raising and selling pork to the Gentiles in that area. They couldn't deal with them personally, so they hired what amounted to pig shepherds, or as the text says, pig feeders. Now, why do I say this? Well, this actually happened, last century. This is exactly what happened during the First World War. To supply British troops with meat, enterprising Jewish and Muslim businessmen raised and sold the troops pork. Since they couldn't touch it themselves they hired others to do it, but this is how it unfolded. Jesus may have allowed these pigs to be destroyed because of a similar situation in the first century, but we can't be sure.

Regardless, I don't want you to miss the main point. The main point here is that Jesus freed this man who had been so long enslaved to sin and Satan. Mark's point, listen carefully, Mark's point is that there is no power that is greater than the power of Jesus. There is no one He cannot subdue. No one else could subdue him, but Jesus can. There are no chains Jesus cannot break. There are no habits of a lifetime that you may have forged that Jesus cannot end. There are no enslaving patterns in your life that Jesus doesn't have the power to free you from, whether it's anger or sex or alcohol or drugs or pornography or lying or stealing or pride or selfishness or lust or you fill in the blank. Jesus has the power to free anyone, whether it's you or whether it's that person that you so desperately love and about whom you're so desperately concerned, the saving power of Jesus.

That brings us to the third spiritual reality in this passage. Let's call it the typical responses to Jesus. First of all, notice the typical response of unbelievers, particularly when they see the power of Jesus in someone else's life. Here's how unbelievers respond, verse 14, "Their herdsmen ran away and reported it in the city and in the country. And the people came to see what it was that it happened." The pig keepers, or pig feeders, had watched everything unfold and now they run to the city. Obviously, first of all, to tell those who paid them, but to tell everybody else who will listen what happened and their hearers have to come and have to see this for themselves. I mean, after all, there were 2,000 drowned pigs. There was the man whom they had known for years as a pariah in that community, whom they'd all avoided, gone a different road, and then there was the miracle worker who had accomplished it all. They had to go see, and if you had been there, you would have gone to see as well.

Verse 15, "They came to Jesus and observed the man who had been demon possessed, sitting down, clothed and in his right mind, the very man who had had the 'legion'; and they became frightened." Notice the contrasts in verse 15; they're intentional. Instead of running in and out of the tombs and up and down the mountains, never at rest day or night, he was sitting calmly. Instead of a naked body, a body that for years had been covered only in dirt and dried blood and scabs, he's clothed. And instead of raging and screaming, cutting himself, violently attacking everyone near him, he's in his right mind. He's in full control of his faculties and instead of a demoniac, he's a disciple sitting at the feet of Jesus.

Verse 16, "Those who had seen it described to them how it had happened to the demon possessed man, and all about the swine." There were a number of eyewitnesses to this miracle. There were the pig feeders, we don't know how many there were, but for a herd that size there were a number of them. There were the 12 disciples. Listen, this was a verifiable miracle. And, oh by the way, there were 2,000 carcasses floating in the Sea of Galilee. What kind of response do you expect to that kind miracle? What if that kind of miracle happened today, a verifiable miracle? What kind of response would you expect from people? Here it is, this is the typical response: it's not gratitude, it's not joy, it's not congratulations to the freed man, it's not pleading with Jesus to stay and help others, verse 15, "they became frightened." I mean, after all, they had known this man. They had tried to restrain him, unsuccessfully, and he was now radically changed. It was clear that something supernatural had happened, and so they were frightened in Jesus's presence.

But, remarkably, that wasn't their only response, look at verse 17, "They began to implore Jesus to leave their religion." Why? Why would you want Jesus to leave after that miracle? Well, it was clear that He wielded supernatural power. It was equally clear that Jesus's presence would mess up their lives. It already had. William Hendriksen writes, "These men were scared of Jesus. Besides, they resented Him. Had He not deprived them of their property? Was He not a disturber of their familiar way of life? If Jesus stayed it would demand costly changes of them and they didn't want that. He had already ruined their profitable business and they knew that if He stayed there would be other changes He would demand as well." James Edwards writes, "Such is the response of the human heart to Jesus. Most people, if they were asked, would probably say that they would like to see a manifestation of God. If I said to you, 'Would you like to see Jesus, would you like for Jesus to come and show up here?' Most people's response would be, 'Oh, that would be great.'" Edwards goes on to say, "But this story is a cold shower for such religious pipedreams. When God manifests Himself in Jesus, most people ask Him to leave. Why? Because the cost of Jesus staying is just much, much too high."

In fact, let me just speak to you. If you're here this morning and you know you're not a Christian, would you just listen to me for a moment? I know you may not be wildly interested in what we've been talking about this morning, but would you just listen to me for a moment? If you know the gospel and you haven't responded to that gospel, you haven't committed yourself to follow Christ, it's likely for the same reason these people wanted Jesus to leave. It's because you just don't want what it will cost you if Jesus stays, but can I plead with you to think about your real situation. You're not free. You think you're free. You're in slavery and if you don't give yourself to Christ, if you don't become His follower, it'll only get worse as it got worse for this man. It's not going to get better. Your life is going to become a greater picture of slavery. There will come a time when you'll realize that you think you're free, but just try to stop doing what you're doing and see how free you are. You're not free. So you have a choice, you can continue in slavery to sin and Satan and it will get worse, as it did for this man, or you can give yourself to Christ. Those are your options.

Notice, Jesus agreed to their request. He left them. Because Jesus only stays on His terms, where there is a willingness to do what He demands. That's the response of unbelievers, but notice the response of those Jesus frees in verses 18 to 20. Verse 18, here's how believers respond. We see ourselves in the response of this man, verse 18, "As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed was imploring Him that he might accompany Him." This man, now healed and forgiven, is pleading with Jesus, literally, that he might be with Him, "Lord, let me be with you." Jesus commands something entirely different. Notice verse 19, "He did not let him, but He said to him, 'Go home to your people,'" that is to your family and your friends, "'and report to them what great things the Lord has done for you and how He had mercy on you." Jesus commands this new Gentile disciple to take the gospel to his fellow Gentiles. And that's exactly what this man did. He became an evangelist to his own people, that is, his family and friends. Luke tells us that he did that in his city, the city he used to live in. Luke 8:39, "So he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him." But it doesn't stop there. Eventually this man has a ministry that spreads throughout the entire region east of the Jordan. Notice verse 20, "And he went away and began to proclaim in Decapolis," that's a word which means "ten cities" because on the other side of the Jordan from Israel, on the east side, there were 10 Gentile cities, and that whole region was called the Decapolis, the region of "ten cities." This man began a ministry to that whole region. "And he began to proclaim in Decapolis," verse 20, "what great things Jesus had done for him; and," the result, "everyone kept on being amazed." No doubt there were many who came to genuine faith in Christ through the testimony of this man. Remarkably, this tragic man became the first Gentile missionary to the Gentiles. And, oh by the way, this story reminds us that it was always Jesus's intention for the gospel to be a global message. It wasn't just for Israel. It was for everybody.

What a story, but what are the lessons from this story for us? What are the implications for us? Let me just briefly give you four implications. Number one, this story teaches us the true identity of Jesus. The demon, as I noted, acknowledges Jesus's humanity by calling Him Jesus. In the same breath he's forced to acknowledge that Jesus is God, "You are the Son of the Most High God," and the story goes on to underscore that reality. I mean, think about it. Jesus is shown in this story to have more power than an army of demons. He commands and they go. They have to ask His permission to go into the pigs. They admit that there is coming a time when Jesus will torment them. They acknowledge that Jesus will personally send them into the abyss, into Hell. Jesus will be their judge and executioner. You cannot read the story and come away with anything less of a conclusion than that He is God.

There's a second implication and that is the priority of personal evangelism. Jesus grants two requests in this account. He grants the request of the demons to go into the pigs and He grants the request of the people of Gadara to leave, but He refuses this man's request to stay with Him. Why? Because He wants him to spread the gospel. This man was an expression of Jesus's grace to that community. They had asked Him to leave, and He does, but in His grace He leaves them a missionary. It's the same with us. Listen, if you're in Christ you want to be with Jesus and the older you get the more you want to be with Jesus, but we're here, and we're here on a mission just like this man was. Do you understand that everything you do as a Christian you can do better in heaven? Except one thing, and that is, tell others what great things He has done for you and how He had mercy on you. That's your mission. How are you doing with your mission? Do the people in your life know what great things Jesus has done for you and how God has had mercy on you? You know, a lot of people say, "Well, I just don't know how to share the gospel." Did you notice, this guy just got converted and Jesus sends him out, and what's the message he's sent out with? He doesn't understand a lot, but he understands this; he understands what great things God has done for him, and he understands that God has had mercy on him. Listen, you can take that message.

There's a third implication and that is Jesus's power to free the human soul from slavery to sin and Satan. Listen, if you're here this morning and you're not a Christian, you know you're not Christian, maybe your parents made you be here, maybe your spouse encouraged you to be here, some friends invited you, whatever it is, you know in your heart of hearts you're not Christian, would you please just listen? Would you please understand the main point of this story? It's for you. And this is the point God wants you to get, it doesn't matter what you have become. It doesn't matter what you have done. It doesn't matter how bad your case is. It doesn't matter how long you've been enslaved, or by what. Jesus has the power to set you free. Whatever your condition, I can promise you it's not as bad as this man's was, and if you will come to Him today He will welcome you and you will find that there are no chains He cannot break. There is no slavery He cannot end. He can change you just as radically as He changed this man and He can do so as He did with this man, in a moment.

There's a fourth lesson here, and it's the place of praise and thanksgiving. I think Mark wants us, who have been freed, to be reminded of that. Look at verse 19. I think we need to be reminded about what great things the Lord has done for us and how He had mercy on us. What Christ has done for us should be a constant source of praise and thanksgiving. The Lord's Table is remembering Christ, yes, but it's also thanksgiving. In fact, the New Testament connects this ordinance with the giving of thanks. Thanks for what? Thanks for the great things He has done for us and the mercy He has shown us in Christ.

Let's pray together. Father, thank You for this wonderful reminder, thank You that You have forgiven us in Christ, that He took our sins in His own body on the tree and there You punished Him for our sins. He died in our place, completely satisfying Your justice. Father, I pray that for those of us who are in Christ You would help our hearts to be filled with praise and gratitude, not merely in this moment, but throughout the week ahead. And Father I pray that, as well, You would open our mouths as You did this poor man we've studied this morning, a man You gloriously saved. Open our mouths to speak of the great things that You have done for us and how You had mercy on us. Lord, may we be faithful to that mission as long as You leave us here. And Father, I pray as well for those here this morning, and I know there are some, some for whom I have personally prayed and I know others for whom family members have prayed, who aren't in Christ. Lord, may You this day open their eyes to the desperateness of their own condition and to Jesus's power to save, and may they find change in Him. We pray in Jesus's name, amen.