THE MAN POSSESSED WITH THE LEGION OF DEVILS
Matt. 8:28-34; Mark 5:1-20; Luke 8:26-39
By David J. Riggs
A. There was a man who was sorely afflicted because he was
possessed with a legion of devils.
1. Jesus Christ worked a great miracle and completely healed
2. The man was fortunate to have the Savior's working in his
B. This miracle was recorded by Matthew, Mark, and Luke; in this
lesson we will study Mark's account. Read Mark 5:1-20.
1. Matthew spoke of two men in this incident who were
possessed. Some say that this is a contradiction between the
writers. No, there is no contradiction. Mark and Luke simply
chose to focus their attention on the most prominent one
who had the legion of devils.
C. We will study the man who had the legion under three main
headings: (1) His condition before meeting Jesus; (2) His
meeting with Jesus; (3) His condition after meeting Jesus.
I. HIS CONDITION BEFORE MEETING JESUS.
A. He was possessed with unclean spirits.
1. Demon possession was a real condition in Jesus' day. The
evil spirit entered into the body and actually took
2. There has been much deception on "demon possession" in
the past, and this seems to be a problem that continues to
arise from time to time.
a. Frequently, some so-called priest or preacher will claim
that he has the power to cast out demons and as a result
b. The cases of the modern-day "exorcists" are very much
unlike the one we are studying from the book of Mark.
3. Demon possession was unheard of in secular history shortly
before the time of Christ and shortly thereafter.
a. The best explanation that I have heard on this is that
God allowed people to be possessed during the Lord's
time so that when Jesus came He could demonstrate His
power over Satan.
b. Zechariah said the unclean spirit would pass out of the
land. Zech. 13:2
4. The man had a "legion" of devils which means "many." Mark
a. A Roman legion consisted of as many as 6,000 men. It
is frightening to think of the horrors this man
experienced day and night as thousands of unclean
spirits tormented him.
b. The terms "unclean spirits," "evil spirits," and "devils"
are used interchangeably in the three records of this
5. Being possessed with a legion of demons gave the man super
a. He could break chains and fetters; a "fetter" is a chain
or shackle for the feet.
b. He could not be bound, and could not be tamed.
Matthew adds that he was exceeding fierce, so that no
one could pass that way. Matt. 8:29
6. He was put in an awful condition.
a. He wore no clothes. Luke 8:27 He had no sense of
decency or modesty.
(1) When the first people on earth learned right from
wrong they were ashamed of nakedness. Gen. 3:7- 11
(2) Their aprons of fig leaves apparently were not
enough, because God made them coats of skins.
(3) It is the devil that causes people to go unclothed.
b. He lived in the tombs.
(1) He was content to live among the decaying bodies
(2) He preferred the unclean to the clean; he liked the
dead more than the living.
c. He abused his body.
(1) He cut himself with stones and was always crying
out in the night.
(2) It is Satan that causes men to abuse their bodies.
(3) The Christian's body is the temple of the Holy
Spirit. 1 Cor. 6:19-20
B. Lessons for us.
1. There is no such thing as demon possession today simply
because no one is possessed in the way this man was.
2. However, many today are under the control of Satan--not
possessed, but controlled.
a. He was an unwilling victim; they are willing servants.
His is our master whom we obey. Rom. 6:16
b. The devil possessed his mind, but controls the sinner's.
Satan blinds the minds of men today. 2 Cor. 4:3-4
c. The devil governed his body, but directs the sinner's.
We should not be directed by some filthy, vile habit.
Paul was the master of his body, not Satan. 1 Cor. 6:12;
II. HIS MEETING WITH JESUS.
A. The devils saw and recognized Jesus. Mark 5:6-7
1. This does not mean that the demons can render acceptable
a. They were begging not to be tormented before their
time. Matt. 8:28
b. The evil spirits are reserved unto judgment. Jude 6; 2
c. Evil men are also reserved under punishment unto the
judgment. 2 Pet. 2:9; see also ASV
d. Demons believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that
He has authority over them. They believe in the reality
of judgment and that one day they will be cast into hell.
This is more than many people believe today!
B. Jesus commanded the unclean spirits to come out of the man.
1. They ask for permission to go into the herd of swine. Mark
a. Matthew also vividly describes how they ran down a
steep place and perished in the waters. Matt. 8:32
2. Why did Jesus allow the destruction of 2,000 pigs?
a. It gave proof to all that a miracle of deliverance had
really taken place.
b. It would let all see that the devil is a powerful and
3. The whole scene shows the marvelous and wondrous
working of Jesus.
a. We repeat the words of the Psalmist--Psalm 118:23
b. Also Hab. 1:5 - quoted by Paul in Acts 13:40-41 to
warn the people from being guilty of the last part of the
verse - seeing (or hearing) those things, but not
(1) We men should beware lest that spoken by the
prophet come upon us.
4. Also, the casting out of the devils shows the power of Jesus
over Satan and his evil forces.
a. Jesus was the one who would bind the strong man as
was mentioned in His remarks concerning Beelzebub.
b. His power over Satan was predicted in Gen. 3:14-15.
This was ultimately fulfilled in his death. John
12:31-33; Col. 2:14-15; Heb. 2:14-15
III. HIS CONDITION AFTER MEETING JESUS.
A. In contrast to before, he was sitting quietly at Jesus's feet,
clothed and in his right mind. Mark 5:15
1. These go hand in hand; those in their right mind will be
clothed. Those not clothed show that their mind is
controlled by Satan.
2. 1 Tim. 2:9-10. "Sobriety" means "with good sense, using
a. When ladies go unclothed or improperly dressed, they
haven't used good sense.
b. A lot of the things sold in stores today are immodest.
c. A Christian lady will use good sense in the selection of
B. He wanted to go with Jesus, but he tells him to go tell others
what great things the Lord had done for him and how he had
compassion on him. Mark 5:18-19
1. We, too, can tell how many great things the Lord had done
for us; He has had compassion on us. Psalm 86:15; 145:8-9
a. We need to show forth the praises of Him who has
called us out of darkness. 1 Pet. 2:9 - "Show forth"
means to "proclaim, or publish abroad."
2. We were once in sin, but He had compassion; were lost, but
now found; once dead in sin, but now alive unto God; once
blind, but now see; once controlled by Satan, but now free;
once in darkness, but now in the kingdom of light.
a. We shouldn't do anything that would cause us to lose
these great possessions.
A. The man with the legion of devils was marvelously blessed by
the Lord, and he was eager to proclaim what the Lord had done
for him. Mark 5:20
1. He had the Savior's working in his life.
B. We, too, have had the working of the Savior in our lives and
we, likewise, need to eagerly tell others of the great things
the Lord has done for us.
1. Read "Amazing Grace" which beautifully describes what He
had done for us.
C. If you are an alien sinner, repent and be baptized for the
remission of sins (Acts 2:38) and then publish abroad how many
great things the Lord has done for you.
1. If you are a Christian and have forsaken the Lord, return by
repentance and prayer (Acts 8:22), and then tell everyone of
the great things the Lord has done for you.
Those Under Satan's Control
He was an unwilling victim - They are willing servants
The devil possessed his mind - He controls the sinner's
Satan governed his body - He directs the sinner's
Lessons To Be Learned
Why the destruction of the pigs?
Evidence of deliverance
The devil is a deadly enemy
The whole scene shows:
Marvelous working of Jesus
We should beware
Jesus' power over Satan
Show Forth The Praises
Once in sin - He had compassion
Once lost - Now found
Once dead in sin - Now alive unto God
Once blind - Now we see
Once controlled by Satan - Now free
Once in darkness - Now in kingdom of light