The following commentary is a summary and subjective interpretation of Mark 5:1 – 20.
All commentaries are based on the ESV translation.
Starting with verse 1, we see Christ and his party arrive in “the country of the Gerasenes” via a boat, noting that they have successfully crossed from one side of the sea to the next.
In verse 2, Jesus leaves the boat and upon existing, immediately encounters a demon-possessed man from the nearby tombs.
In verse 3, we are shown that the man housed himself in the aforementioned tombs before hearing the man’s backstory: anyone who attempted to bind the demon-possessed man would find that he could break loose. Chains could no longer keep him down.
Continuing on into verse 4, the author explains that the man was commonly put into both chains and shackles. However, he would break off both of these and no one — aside from God — was strong enough to keep the man at bay.
In verse 5, we see get a glimpse at the day (and night) in the life of this demonic man. Throughout both day and the night, he constantly raised his voice and cut himself by using stones whilst journeying between the mountains and tombs.
In verse 6, the author cuts back to recent events, explaining how the man ran to Christ upon seeing Him from a distance. Hence, the man then falls before Our Lord.
In verse 7, the man speaks for the first time in this passage, addressing Jesus as God’s Son and asking what the Messiah wants with the man. Moreover, he pleads with Christ not to bring harm upon him — most likely referring to tormenting the demons and not the man himself. The man goes so far as to urge Christ by God not to torment the speaker.
In verse 8, we see Christ’s response. Rather than replying directly to the speaker’s wishes, Christ commands the spirit to come out of the man.
In verse 9, Christ proceeds to ask the spirit’s name. The spirit replies, explaining that its name is legion, suggesting that it is some kind of multitude of evil spirits. However, we are not given much an explanation to this, besides the fact that there are many if not thousands of demons inside of legion. Though, it is possible that this entity could have been a collective consciousness or multiple demons speaking in unison.
In verse 10, the demons proceed to plead with Christ, requesting to stay within the country’s borders.
In verse 11, on the side of a hill, an answer arrives in the form of hungry pigs.
In verse 12, the demons continue their — note how the author of this translation utilizes the plural “they” rather than the singular “he” or she” — plea with Christ, asking to be sent inside the aforementioned animals.
In verse 13, Jesus allows them to do as they wish, causing the demons to leave the man and possess their new hosts. We then get a number of how many pigs were possessed, roughly two thousand in total, before seeing these now-possessed entities fall down a bank and perish into the waters.
In verse 14, following these events, the herdsmen watching over the pigs evacuate the scene. Then, they proceed to inform their city and country about this recent event, causing others to come and verify what occurred.
In verse 15, having gone and seen what has happened, the people who the herdsmen alerted approach Christ and the previously possessed man. However, they are frightened to learn of the results: Our Lord has freed possessed man, allowing him to maintain a right mind and clothe himself once more.
In verse 16, witnesses to what Our Lord had done to the man and what the demons did to the pigs describe these events to their party.
In verse 17, rather than being thankful, the people then plead with Christ to leave their country.
In verse 18, while Christ attempts to get onto the ship, the man who was once possessed pleads with Christ, asking to come alongside Him.
In verse 19, Our Lord forbids the man to come in the boat with Him. Rather, Our Lord instructs the man to inform his friends of all the wonderful things that have happened to him and how God has been merciful.
In verse 20, the man leaves and starts to profess everything that happened. Those who hear of his news are awestruck.
Thus, allow us to have a response similar to the man who was freed from demons. Let us no longer live in sin nor under the grasp of satan’s reign. Rather, let us have Christ work within us and set us free from our bondage. Hence, let us go into our hometowns, to our friends, and to our family, proclaiming what He has done in our lives.