"Psalm 23," John August Swanson. Used by permission from the artist.
Image © by John August Swanson. Artwork held in the Luther Seminary Fine Arts Collection, St. Paul, Minn.
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Jesus and the Gerasene Demoniac
Mark 5:1-20 Commentary
by C. Clifton Black
The second, longest, and most complex of this Gospel’s narrated exorcisms (see also Mark 1:21-128; 7:24-30; 9:14-29), Mark 5:1-20 is a tale of terror.
Jesus encounters a demoniac who horrifies his neighbors by howling among tombs (verses 2-3a, 5a), commandeered by diabolical powers that provoke him to appalling self-abuse, impossible to restrain (verses 3b-4, 5b). For Jewish listeners other details reek of religious impurity. In the Levitical tradition (Leviticus 22:4b-6a; 11:7-8; Numbers 5:2; 6:6; 9:6) contact with corpses defiles. More pointedly, “[those] who sit inside tombs, and spend the night in secret places, who eat swine’s flesh” (Isaiah 65:4; see Leviticus 11:7-8; Mark 5:11) typify a stubborn nation that rebels against the LORD’S holiness.
The demon’s name, “Legion” (Mark 5:9), referring to a Roman regiment of six thousand soldiers, is at once a petrifying depiction of this sufferer’s trauma and a reminder of Israel’s oppression by pagan colonials. Although the precise location of this episode has long been disputed (see also “Gadara”: Matthew 8:28; “Gergesa”: ...
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2019-20 Worship resources
The narrative lectionary is a four-year cycle of readings. Read more.
NL Podcast 393: Jesus and the Gerasene Demoniac
January 26, 2020
Podcast on the Narrative Lectionary readings for Jan. 26, 2020, (Jesus and the Gerasene Demoniac) featuring Profs. Rolf Jacobson, Craig Koester, and Kathryn Schifferdecker. Recorded at Luther Seminary, Saint Paul, Minn., for Working Preacher.