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Jamieson, Fausset & Brown :: Commentary on Mark 5

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The Gospel According to Mark

Commentary by DAVID BROWN

CHAPTER 5

Glorious Cure of the Gadarene Demoniac ( Mar 5:1-20 ).

      1. And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes.

      2. And when he was come out of the ship, immediately--(see Mar 5:6 ).
      there met him a man with an unclean spirit--"which had devils [demons] long time" ( Luk 8:27 ). In Matthew ( Mat 8:28 ), "there met him two men possessed with devils." Though there be no discrepancy between these two statements--more than between two witnesses, one of whom testifies to something done by one person, while the other affirms that there were two--it is difficult to see how the principal details here given could apply to more than one case.

      3. Who had his dwelling among the tombs--Luke ( Luk 8:27 ) says, "He ware no clothes, neither abode in any house." These tombs were hewn out of the rocky caves of the locality, and served for shelters and lurking places ( Luk 8:26 ).

      4. Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, &c.--Luke says ( Luk 8:29 ) that "oftentimes it [the unclean spirit] had caught him"; and after mentioning how they had vainly tried to bind him with chains and fetters, because, "he brake the bands," he adds, "and was driven of the devil [demon] into the wilderness." The dark tyrant--power by which he was held clothed him with superhuman strength and made him scorn restraint. Matthew ( Mat 8:28 ) says he was "exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way." He was the terror of the whole locality.

      5. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones--Terrible as he was to others, he himself endured untold misery, which sought relief in tears and self-inflicted torture.

      6. But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him--not with the spontaneous alacrity which says to Jesus, "Draw me, we will run after thee," but inwardly compelled, with terrific rapidity, before the Judge, to receive sentence of expulsion.

      7. What have I to do with thee, Jesus, Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not--or, as in Mat 8:29, "Art Thou come to torment us before the time?" (See on JF & B for Mr 1:24). Behold the tormentor anticipating, dreading, and entreating exemption from torment! In Christ they discern their destined Tormentor; the time, they know, is fixed, and they feel as if it were come already! ( Jam 2:19 ).

      8. For he said unto him--that is, before the unclean spirit cried out.
      Come out of the man, unclean spirit!--Ordinarily, obedience to a command of this nature was immediate. But here, a certain delay is permitted, the more signally to manifest the power of Christ and accomplish His purposes.

      9. And he asked him, What is thy name?--The object of this question was to extort an acknowledgment of the virulence of demoniacal power by which this victim was enthralled.
      And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many--or, as in Luke ( Luk 8:30 ) "because many devils [demons] were entered into him." A legion, in the Roman army, amounted, at its full complement, to six thousand; but here the word is used, as such words with us, and even this one, for an indefinitely large number--large enough however to rush, as soon as permission was given, into two thousand swine and destroy them.

      10. And he besought him much that he would not send them away out of the country--The entreaty, it will be observed, was made by one spirit, but in behalf of many--"he besought Him not to send them, &c."--just as in Mar 5:9, "he answered we are many." But what do they mean by entreating so earnestly not to be ordered out of the country? Their next petition ( Mar 5:12 ) will make that clear enough.

      11. Now there was there, nigh unto the mountains--rather, "to the mountain," according to what is clearly the true reading. In Mat 8:30, they are said to have been "a good way off." But these expressions, far from being inconsistent, only confirm, by their precision, the minute accuracy of the narrative.
      a great herd of swine feeding--There can hardly be any doubt that the owners of these were Jews, since to them our Lord had now come to proffer His services. This will explain what follows.

      12. And all the devils besought him, saying--"if thou cast us out" ( Mat 8:31 ).
      Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them--Had they spoken out all their mind, perhaps this would have been it: "If we must quit our hold of this man, suffer us to continue our work of mischief in another form, that by entering these swine, and thus destroying the people's property, we may steel their hearts against Thee!"

      13. And forthwith Jesus gave them leave--In Matthew ( Mat 8:32 ) this is given with majestic brevity--"Go!" The owners, if Jews, drove an illegal trade; if heathens, they insulted the national religion: in either case the permission was just.
      And the unclean spirits went out--of the man.
      and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently--rushed.
      down a steep place--down the hanging cliff.
      into the sea (they were about two thousand)--The number of them is given by this graphic Evangelist alone.
      and were choked in the sea--"perished in the waters" ( Mat 8:32 ).

      14. And they that fed the swine fled, and told it--"told everything, and what was befallen to the possessed of the devils" ( Mat 8:33 ).
      in the city, and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that was done--Thus had they the evidence, both of the herdsmen and of their own senses, to the reality of both miracles.

      15. And they come to Jesus--Matthew ( Mat 8:34 ) says, "Behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus."
      and see him that was possessed with the devil--the demonized person.
      and had the legion, sitting--"at the feet of Jesus," adds Luke ( Luk 8:35 ); in contrast with his former wild and wandering habits.
      and clothed--As our Evangelist had not told us that he "ware no clothes," the meaning of this statement could only have been conjectured but for "the beloved physician" ( Luk 8:27 ), who supplies the missing piece of information here. This is a striking case of what are called Undesigned Coincidences amongst the different Evangelists; one of them taking a thing for granted, as familiarly known at the time, but which we should never have known but for one or more of the others, and without the knowledge of which some of their statements would be unintelligible. The clothing which the poor man would feel the want of the moment his consciousness returned to him, was doubtless supplied to him by some of the Twelve.
      and in his right mind--but now, oh, in what a lofty sense! (Compare an analogous, though a different kind of case, Dan 4:34-37 ).
      and they were afraid--Had this been awe only, it had been natural enough; but other feelings, alas! of a darker kind, soon showed themselves.

      16. And they that saw it told them how it befell to him that was possessed with the devil--("the demonized person").
      and also concerning the swine--Thus had they the double testimony of the herdsmen and their own senses.

      17. And they began to pray him to depart out of their coasts--Was it the owners only of the valuable property now lost to them that did this? Alas, no! For Luke ( Luk 8:37 ) says, "Then the whole multitude of the country of the Gadarenes round about besought Him to depart from them; for they were taken with great fear." The evil spirits had thus, alas! their object. Irritated, the people could not suffer His presence; yet awe-struck, they dared not order Him off: so they entreat Him to withdraw, and--He takes them at their word.

      18. he that had been possessed with the devil prayed him that he might be with him--the grateful heart, fresh from the hand of demons, clinging to its wondrous Benefactor. How exquisitely natural!

      19. Howbeit, Jesus suffered him not, &c.--To be a missionary for Christ, in the region where he was so well known and so long dreaded, was a far nobler calling than to follow Him where nobody had ever heard of him, and where other trophies not less illustrious could be raised by the same power and grace.

      20. And he departed, and began to publish--not only among his friends, to whom Jesus immediately sent him, but
      in Decapolis--so called, as being a region of ten cities. (See on JF & B for Mt 4:25).
      how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel--Throughout that considerable region did this monument of mercy proclaim his new-found Lord; and some, it is to be hoped, did more than "marvel."

      Mar 5:21-43. THE DAUGHTER OF JAIRUS RAISED TO LIFE--THE WOMAN WITH AN ISSUE OF BLOOD HEALED. ( = Mat 9:18-26 Luk 8:41-56 ).

      The occasion of this scene will appear presently.

      Jairus' Daughter ( Mar 5:21-24 ).

      21. And when Jesus was passed over again by ship unto the other side--from the Gadarene side of the lake, where He had parted with the healed demoniac, to the west side, at Capernaum.
      much people gathered unto him--who "gladly received Him; for they were all waiting for Him" ( Luk 8:40 ). The abundant teaching earlier that day ( Mar 4:1, &c., and Mat 13:1-58 ) had only whetted the people's appetite: and disappointed, as would seem, that He had left them in the evening to cross the lake, they remain hanging about the beach, having got a hint, probably through some of His disciples, that He would be back the same evening. Perhaps they witnessed at a distance the sudden calming of the tempest. The tide of our Lord's popularity was now fast rising.
      and he was nigh unto the sea.

      22. And, behold, there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue--of which class there were but few who believed in Jesus ( Jhn 7:48 ). One would suppose from this that the ruler had been with the multitude on the shore, anxiously awaiting the return of Jesus, and immediately on His arrival had accosted Him as here related. But Matthew ( Mat 9:18 ) tells us that the ruler came to Him while He was in the act of speaking at His own table on the subject of fasting; and as we must suppose that this converted publican ought to know what took place on that memorable occasion when he made a feast to his Lord, we conclude that here the right order is indicated by the First Evangelist alone.
      Jairus by name--or "Jaeirus." It is the same name as Jair, in the Old Testament ( Num 32:41 Jdg 10:3 Est 2:5 ).
      and when he saw him, he fell at his feet--in Matthew ( Mat 9:18 ), "worshipped Him." The meaning is the same in both.

      23. And besought him greatly, saying, My little daughter--Luke ( Luk 8:42 ) says, "He had one only daughter, about twelve years of age." According to a well-known rabbin, quoted by LIGHTFOOT, a daughter. till she had completed her twelfth year, was called "little," or "a little maid"; after that, "a young woman."
      lieth at the point of death--Matthew ( Mat 9:18 ) gives it thus: "My daughter is even now dead"--"has just expired." The news of her death reached the father after the cure of the woman with the issue of blood: but Matthew's brief account gives only the result, as in the case of the centurion's servant ( Mat 8:5, &c.).
      come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live--or, "that she may be healed and live," according to a fully preferable reading. In one of the class to which this man belonged, so steeped in prejudice, such faith would imply more than in others.

      The Woman with an Issue of Blood Healed ( Mar 5:24-34 ).

      24. And Jesus went with him; and much people followed him, and thronged him--The word in Luke ( Luk 8:42 ) is stronger--"choked," "stifled Him."

      26. And had suffered many things of many physicians--The expression perhaps does not necessarily refer to the suffering she endured under medical treatment, but to the much varied treatment which she underwent.
      and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse--pitiable case, and affectingly aggravated; emblem of our natural state as fallen creatures ( Eze 16:5, 6 ), and illustrating the worse than vanity of all human remedies for spiritual maladies ( Hsa 5:13 ). The higher design of all our Lord's miracles of healing irresistibly suggests this way of viewing the present case, the propriety of which will still more appear as we proceed.

      27. When she had heard of Jesus, came--This was the right experiment at last. What had she "heard of Jesus?" No doubt it was His marvellous cures she had heard of; and the hearing of these, in connection with her bitter experience of the vanity of applying to any other, had been blessed to the kindling in her soul of a firm confidence that He who had so willingly wrought such cures on others was able and would not refuse to heal her also.
      in the press behind--shrinking, yet seeking.
      touched his garment--According to the ceremonial law, the touch of anyone having the disease which this woman had would have defiled the person touched. Some think that the recollection of this may account for her stealthily approaching Him in the crowd behind, and touching but the hem of His garment. But there was an instinct in the faith which brought her to Jesus, which taught her, that if that touch could set her free from the defiling disease itself, it was impossible to communicate defilement to Him, and that this wondrous Healer must be above such laws.

      28. For she said--"within herself" ( Mat 9:21 ).
      If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole--that is, if I may but come in contact with this glorious Healer at all. Remarkable faith this!

      29. And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up--Not only was her issue of blood stanched ( Luk 8:44 ), but the cause of it was thoroughly removed, insomuch that by her bodily sensations she immediately knew herself perfectly cured.

      30. And Jesus immediately knowing in himself that virtue--or "efficacy."
      had gone out of him--He was conscious of the forthgoing of His healing power, which was not--as in prophets and apostles--something foreign to Himself and imparted merely, but what He had dwelling within Him as "His own fulness."
      turned him about in the press--crowd.
      and said, Who touched my clothes?

      31. And his disciples said unto him--Luke says ( Luk 8:45 ), "When all denied, Peter and they that were with Him said, Master."
      Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?--"Askest thou, Lord, who touched Thee? Rather ask who touched Thee not in such a throng." "And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched Me"--"a certain person has touched Me"--"for I perceive that virtue is gone out of Me" ( Luk 8:46 ). Yes, the multitude "thronged and pressed Him"--they jostled against Him, but all involuntarily; they were merely carried along; but one, one only--"a certain person--TOUCHED HIM," with the conscious, voluntary, dependent touch of faith, reaching forth its hand expressly to have contact with Him. This and this only Jesus acknowledges and seeks out. Even so, as AUGUSTINE long ago said, multitudes still come similarly close to Christ in the means of grace, but all to no purpose, being only sucked into the crowd. The voluntary, living contact of faith is that electric conductor which alone draws virtue out of Him.

      32. And he looked round about to see her that had done this thing--not for the purpose of summoning forth a culprit, but, as we shall presently see, to obtain from the healed one a testimony to what He had done for her.

      33. But the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her--alarmed, as a humble, shrinking female would naturally be, at the necessity of so public an exposure of herself, yet conscious that she had a tale to tell which would speak for her.
      came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth--In Luke ( Luk 8:47 ) it is, "When the woman saw that she was not hid, she came trembling, and falling down before Him, she declared unto Him before all the people for what cause she had touched Him, and how she was healed immediately." This, though it tried the modesty of the believing woman, was just what Christ wanted in dragging her forth, her public testimony to the facts of her case--the disease, with her abortive efforts at a cure, and the instantaneous and perfect relief which her touching the Great Healer had brought her.

      34. And he said unto her, Daughter--"be of good comfort" ( Luk 8:48 ).
      thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague--Though healed as soon as she believed, it seemed to her a stolen cure--she feared to acknowledge it. Jesus therefore sets His royal seal upon it. But what a glorious dismissal from the lips of Him who is "our Peace" is that, "Go in peace!"

      Jairus' Daughter Raised to Life ( Mar 5:35-43 ).

      35. Thy daughter is dead; why troublest thou the Master any further?--the Teacher.

      36. he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe--Jesus, knowing how the heart of the agonized father would sink at the tidings, and the reflections at the delay which would be apt to rise in his mind, hastens to reassure him, and in His accustomed style: "Be not afraid, only believe"--words of unchanging preciousness and power! How vividly do such incidents bring out Christ's knowledge of the human heart and tender sympathy! ( Hbr 4:15 ).

      37. And he suffered no man to follow him, save Peter, and James, and John the brother of James--(See on JF & B for Mr 1:29).

      38. And he cometh--rather, "they come."
      to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and seeth the tumult, and them that wept and wailed greatly--"the minstrels and the people making a noise" ( Mat 9:23 ) --lamenting for the dead. (See 2Ch 35:25 Jer 9:20 Amo 5:16 ).

      39. And when he was come in, he saith unto them, Why make ye this ado, and weep? the damsel is not dead, but sleepeth--so brief her state of death as to be more like a short sleep.

      40. And they laughed him to scorn--rather, simply, "laughed at Him"--"knowing that she was dead" ( Luk 8:53 ); an important testimony this to the reality of her death.
      But when he had put them all out--The word is strong--"turned them all out"; meaning all those who were making this noise, and any others that may have been there from sympathy, that only those might be present who were most nearly concerned, and those whom He had Himself brought as witnesses of the great act about to be done.
      he taketh the father and the mother of the damsel, and them that were with him--Peter, and James, and John.
      and entereth in where the damsel was lying.

      41. And he took the damsel by the hand--as He did Peter's mother-in-law ( Mar 1:31 ).
      and said unto her, Talitha cumi--The words are Aramaic, or Syro-Chaldaic, the then language of Palestine. Mark loves to give such wonderful words just as they were spoken. See Mar 7:34 14:36.

      42. And straightway the damsel--The word here is different from that in Mar 5:39-41, and signifies "young maiden," or "little girl."
      arose, and walked--a vivid touch evidently from an eye-witness.
      And they were astonished with a great astonishment--The language here is the strongest.

      43. And he charged them straitly--strictly.
      that no man should know it--The only reason we can assign for this is His desire not to let the public feeling regarding Him come too precipitately to a crisis.
      and commanded that something should be given her to eat--in token of perfect restoration.

Introduction to Matthew ← Prior Book
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The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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