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03.06.11 Moving from Death to Life, Mark 5:1-20, Sermon Summary

by on March 7, 2011

Summary Points

  • Personal grief, personal demons, and a personal savior
  • The cost of salvation

In the landscapes of our lives, there is a cemetery. It is sacred ground, for it holds many of our most treasured memories. We are tempted to live in the cemetery, but God wants us to explore the rest of our landscapes, and sent Jesus to enable us to do that.

Like most cemeteries, the cemetery in the landscapes of our lives is a place of loss, grief, and even despair. It is a place of death, sometimes literally, but more often metaphorically. And throughout our lives we break ground in this cemetery. When hopes go unrealized, when dreams remain unfulfilled, when reality disappoints, we break ground. And we erect tombstones with various things written on them: Regret, Betrayal, Lost Health, Disillusionment.

When we bury what’s lost, a vacuum is created and demons can enter in. The names of some of these demons are Cynicism, Bitterness, Unforgiveness, Anger, Apathy, and Addiction. And if these demons take over our lives, we find ourselves living in the cemeteries—all alone, surrounded by vestiges of life but not life itself. We are accompanied only by a “Legion” of demons. We are like the Demoniac in Mark 5.

Many of us try to liberate ourselves by binding the demons, trying to limit the control they have over us. We put our efforts into work, exercise, or hobbies. We take up a new cause or enter a new relationship. Some of us try to escape in fantasy through the internet, identifying with a sports team, or reading fiction. Some of us attempt to use positive thinking to bind the demons and gain control back of our lives.

But all of these strategies eventually fail, because the Strong Man hasn’t been bound. In Mark 3 Jesus tells a little wisdom parable. Unless the Strong Man is first bound, one can’t plunder the Strong Man’s house. One of the central messages of the Gospel of Mark is that Jesus Christ—especially in his death and resurrection—has bound the Strong Man, and has come to plunder his house. We are the reward of Jesus’ liberating mission. He came, in the words of Luke 4:18, to provide “release to captives; to let the oppressed go free.”

And so if we hope to be free from the demons in our cemetery, Jesus himself must enter in. He is like the Sheriff in an old Western movie who says to the Outlaw, “There isn’t enough room in this town for the both of us.” This is why Legion says to Jesus, “What have you to do with us? Don’t torment us! Send us into the pigs.”

There isn’t enough room in the Demoniac of Mark 5 for both Legion and Jesus, and so Jesus casts out the demons, heals the man, and thereby saves him. Jesus’ binding of the Strong Man allows him to plunder the Strong Man’s house, to set the captive free. And so Jesus fulfills another of his wisdom parables: unless a seed enters the ground (its tomb) and dies, it cannot bring forth life in other seeds. And unless Jesus enters our cemeteries, we cannot hope to move from death to life.

Bringing life out of death is costly, and Mark depicts it through the image of Legion driving 2000 pigs to their deaths. The townspeople didn’t want to pay the cost. Hearing of these events, they come to Jesus and the Liberated Man. But instead of rejoicing in his freedom, they calculate the economic consequence those 2000 pigs. They decide it’s too expensive and ask Jesus to leave. But Jesus is the shepherd who is willing to risk ninety-nine secure sheep in order to find only one who is lost. He’s willing to pay the price for our liberation.

Are we willing to pay the cost—individually and as the church? Are we willing to invite Jesus into our individual cemeteries and let him heal us—even if it costs us letting go of demons like Cynicism and Unforgiveness? And are we willing, as a church, to pay for even one sheep to be found, one captive to be set free—even if it costs us 2000 pigs? Because at stake is not just our own freedom, but that of the entire “Decapolis.” In a startling departure, Mark tells us that Jesus doesn’t forbid the Liberated Man from speaking of his liberation. Rather, Jesus sends him back into his community to testify of what God has done for him.

Thoughts for Further Reflection

  • Visit the tombstones in your personal cemetery. What is written on them? Are there any demons controlling your life as a result of these burials?
  • How are you trying to battle demons instead of letting Jesus the Plunderer liberate you?
  • Pray Psalm 30, asking to be one who has been liberated to live beyond your cemetery.
One Comment
  1. Collins Ambeyi permalink

    Thanks alot this is really encouraging am so blessed.

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