Sermon #19 Series: Mark
Title: MY OWN EXPERIENCE OF GRACE
Text: Mark 5:1-20
Readings: Office: Larry Criss Auditorium: Ron Wood
Subject: Christ’s Saving The Maniac of Gadara
Date: Sunday Evening - April 27, 1997
Tape # T-65
Thirty years ago I was a madman, running wild in the darkness of my own depravity among the tombs of the dead. Every attempt to restrain me was futile. Many tried, but none could bind me. Many tried, but none could tame me. Though I did not know it, I was hell bent to my own destruction. Then something happened. The Son of God stepped into my life, cast Satan out, took possession of my heart, and saved me by his almighty grace.
Tonight, I want to talk to you about My Own Experience Of Grace. I could do o from man texts of Scripture and examples given in the Word of God, and have; but I think that no one person mentioned in the Bible more fully exemplifies my experience of God’s amazing, free, sovereign, almighty, irresistible, saving grace in Christ than the story of Christ’s saving the maniac of Gadara. Turn with me to Mark 5:1-20. Hold your Bibles open on your laps, and pray for God to speak through these lips of clay to your heart, as I try to tell you what the Lord has done for me.
Proposition: That which Christ did for the madman of Gadara, and what he has done for me, he still does for sinners today - He saves by his almighty grace!
I. MARK 5:1 "And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes."
The Lord Jesus had just come from the other side of the Sea of Galilee to the shores of Gadara. Hen he set sail for Gadara, he knew that he was sailing directly into a storm. Yet, he set sail willingly. He was on an errand of mercy. He was going to Gadara to save one chosen sinner, for whom the time of love had come. The Lord Jesus came through the storm, across the sea, with willing heart, to save the chosen sinner, when the fulness of time had come. When he had delivered the object of his grace, he returned to the other side of the sea, from whence he came.
This is exactly what our Redeemer did for all his people. He left his lofty throne in heaven, came across the sea of time and mortality, suffered the horrible storm of God’s wrath as our Substitute to save us, and, when he had done that mighty work by which his chosen must be saved (When he had satisfied the wrath and justice of God and put away our sins by the sacrifice of himself!), he went back to the other side again.
He came to save the least likely of the Gadarenes, a wild man, a maniac, one who as entirely possessed of the devil. In act, a legion of demons resided in his poor soul. However, as we shall see, this man would be the instrument of mercy by whom God would bring his grace and salvation to many others in days to come.
The Son of God came to Gadara to dispossess Satan of one of his captives, to bind the strong man, take his house, and spoil him of his goods; and he did not leave until he had done what he came to do.
II. MARK 5:2-5 "And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, (3) Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains: (4) Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him. (5) And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones."
Matthew, in his account, tells us that there were two mad, demon possessed Gadarenes who met the Master on the shores of Gadara. Some point to that fact and say, “There, you see, the Bible is full of contradictions.” I fail to see their brilliance. If there were two, there had to be one; and Mark was inspired of God to write about one, giving far more detail than Matthew did in his description of the two. Apparently, the man described by Mark was the more notoriously wicked of the two. Look at what he Holy Spirit tells us about this sinner. What a sad, sad picture it is. Yet, what he says of his Gadarene was true of me; and it is true of some of you.
A. He had an unclean spirit.
That is the condition of us all by nature. I know, this man was possessed of the devil; but the devil could never have possessed him had he not been unclean by nature. Even so, the wicked, who opposing God oppose themselves, are this day “taken captive by Satan at his will” (2 Tim. 2:26).
Isaiah declares that we are all as an unclean thing. Our hearts are deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Out of our hearts come forth every abominable evil that exists in this world. Oh, if only we knew the evil of our hearts, the shocking horror of that wickedness that resides in us would prevent us from ever again saying, with regard of any vile act of a man, “How could a man do such a thing?”
B. This poor, mad, depraved soul lived among the dead, “dwelling among the tombs” (v. 3).
Is that the case with you? I know it is; but do you? You who live without Christ live among the dead, for you are dead. This man was not dead physically; but he was dead spiritually. Therefore, he was most comfortable among the dead. That is where I was when the Lord found me; and that is where you are by nature.
C. This poor, wild man could not be bound with the fetters and chains that bind other men.
The fetters of society, social acceptance, peer approval, social advantage, family pressure, reputation, and concern for the opinions of others, those things that bind most men and make them behave with an outward form of decency simply have no effect on some. They had no effect upon me. Like the maniac of Gadara, I knew more than anybody. I was not about to conform to anyone’s code. As far as I was concerned, this world existed for no purpose except me. I was determined to drink in all the gusto in huge gulps, as quickly as possible.
Social fetters could not bind me; and the fetters and chains of religion were no more effectual. I knew something of the terror of God’s law. The wrath of God, the terrors of judgment, hell, and endless death tormented my soul, sometimes for months on end. Those terrors would sometimes appear effectual; but those fetters were also easily cast off. The fear of hell never changes a sinner’s heart.
D. No man could tame this madman.
When society sees that chains and fetters cannot bind a man and make him better, it tries by refinement, education, reward, and gentle persuasion to tame him into moral respectability. The Lord Jesus does not bind or tame. He renews, regenerates, and breaks! And when he gets done, the broken sinner rejoices to be broken!
E. This poor maniac, like me, like many of you, was hell to the destruction of his own soul.
He was "always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones." Imagine the terror that this man wreaked upon others, as they passed by this place, especially at night. Imagine yourself living near such a man. You would put iron bars around your windows and doors and sleep with a gun under your bed every night. Whenever you saw him coming down the street, you would nod politely to keep from incurring his fury; but you would hurry away and try every way possible to protect your family from his influence and his wickedness. But, can you imagine what misery such a person is in himself. I know, it is his own doing. I know, his wickedness is inexcusable. But I also know the misery of his soul. I have been there among the tombs, moaning, groaning, crying, and cutting myself, always playing with death, yet always terrified of dying, despising loneliness and isolation, yet always doing that which of necessity brought me into greater loneliness and isolation.
III. MARK 5:6-7 "But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him, (7) And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not."
A. Here is the confession of a demon spirit.
I do not know much about demons and demonology; and I do not want to know much. But I do know this - They are real! You will be smart to stay as far away from the occult, spiritism witchcraft, and Satanism as you can.
Here the devil pretends to be a worshipper of Christ. He does not hesitate to assume the character of an angel of light, when it serves his purpose. Sometimes he comes here. I have seen him at work frequently, in many places. He makes men and when they think they have become worshippers, when there is no worship in their hearts. What a cunning, crafty adversary he is! Many serve the devil best when they pretend to be worshippers of Christ! Worship from the teeth outward is not worship, but blasphemy! Many there are on the road to hell who have nothing but the faith of devils. They know that the Lord God is the most high God, and that Jesus Christ is the Son of God; but there is no commitment of heart to him as God.
B. Yet, these two verses also show us a picture of a poor, lost sinner coming to Christ.
I cannot pass this without pointing out the fact that our great Savior sovereignly and graciously used the very devils who would destroy the Gadarene to bring him to him for mercy! Look at this man.
1. His Place - “Afar off!”
That is our place by nature. He was afar off from Christ, and the Lord Jesus was afar off from him. In character he was afar off. This man and the God-man had nothing in common. In knowledge he was afar off. The demoniac knew who Christ was, but did not know him. In possessions he was afar off. This man had nothing to offer Christ, no good feelings, no repentance, no good thoughts, no holy desires. He cried, “What have to do with thee?” The poor demoniac was utterly helpless and hopeless.
If you are yet without Christ no words of mine can paint the picture of your desperate need. You are so far off from God that you cannot and will not, of your own accord and by your own ability return to him.
2. His Privilege
Though he was afar off the Lord Jesus came to him, and he saw him coming! How I pray that that is true for some of you tonight! How he knew, I do not know, but this poor sinner knew some things about the One coming to him. I suspect he knew because whenever Christ comes to a sinner in saving mercy, he makes himself known as the God of mercy and the Savior through whom mercy comes. He saw that…
· The Lord our God is God Almighty - The most high God!
· The Man Christ Jesus is the Son of God.
· This great Savior has total, sovereign power over all things, even the devils who possessed him.
· If he would, he could deliver him from the devils and from himself!
3. His Prostration - “He ran and worshipped him.”
If this text looks like it is full of confusion that is because this poor soul was full of confusion. He was in a terrible mess. He was torn by powerful influences. Here is the Son of God, who has come to save him. Yet, there is within him a legion of devils bent on destroying him. He loves the evil that is destroying him; yet he has grown to hate it because it is destroying him. He did the only thing he could do. In utter despair, he ran to the only One who could help him, and prostrated himself before his sovereign majesty. He worshipped him!
How can I speak to your heart? Run now to Christ! With nothing but sin within you, with time fleeing from you, with eternity pressing upon you, with hell gaping beneath you, with heaven above you, O sinner, run, run to Christ! If you would have forgiveness, peace, pardon, and eternal life, you must run for it! And this I know - If you do, you will find God your Father running to you in saving mercy, love, and grace! When sinners need mercy, they run to get it and God runs to give it!
What a picture! The only time in the Bible we have any indication of God Almighty ever getting in a hurry, it is here, hurrying to welcome his darling, chosen prodigal home!
IV. MARK 5:8-13 "For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit. (9) And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many. (10) And he besought him much that he would not send them away out of the country. (11) Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding. (12) And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them. (13) And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea."
Our Lord Jesus Christ is the absolute Monarch of the universe. These demons, a legion of them, were compelled to Christ’s feet like a whipped cur bows at its master’s feet. As they prayed for permission to enter into the herd of hogs, so they must receive permission from our Savior to do anything. Our Lord allowed the demons to enter and slaughter the herd of hogs for at least two good reasons that I can think of…
A. He wanted this poor Gadarene to know and remember what these demons of hell would have done to him, had it not been for his divine, saving intervention.
B. He wanted to get the attention of the people of the city.
As I will show you in just a moment, our Lord’s purpose of grace was toward many others in Gadara, others for whom the time of love would soon come. In order to prepare them for what he had in store for them, he demonstrated both his awesome, sovereign power over the demons of hell and the creatures of his hand, and his awesome, saving grace in this man who had once been the terror of the city.
V. MARK 5:14-15 "And they that fed the swine fled, and told it in the city, and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that was done. (15) And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid."
What a change! It was a change everyone in town could see. This terror of a man had been born again.
A. He who had been possessed of the devil was now possessed by the Son of God.
B. He who was before uncontrollably wild and wicked, was sitting before his Master.
C. He who once roamed about half naked, or totally naked, was clothed.
By nature, I was naked before God. Now I am clothed with the very righteousness of God in Christ. Like the prodigal, my Father has placed upon me…
· The Family Robe - The Righteousness of Christ!
· The Family Ring - The Ring of Everlasting Covenant Love!
· The Family Shoes - The Gospel of Peace!
· And He feeds me at the family buffet - The Sacrifice of Christ!
D. He who was before a madman was now in his right mind.
Someone accurately said, “Every man is out of his mind until he has the mind of Christ.”
E. Those who saw what had happened, but had not experienced it, were afraid.
When God saves a sinner, others who thought they were all right are terrified by it, especially if the saved man was once one of them! These poor souls were terrified in the presence of almighty mercy, omnipotent love, and saving grace. Why? Because they knew nothing about it. They still lived in bondage. The only difference between them and the demoniac was that they were held by fetters and chains, and tamed by society. They mistook their fetters for righteousness and their tameness for goodness.
VI. MARK 5:16-17 "And they that saw it told them how it befell to him that was possessed with the devil, and also concerning the swine. (17) And they began to pray him to depart out of their coasts."
I cannot imagine reading sadder words than these. Here stands in the midst of a congregation of eternity bound sinners the Savior of the world. He has just demonstrated his saving power and grace. Yet, their hearts are so full of the world that they fear he may cost them their living. So they pray; but it was a very strange prayer. They prayed for him to save them; and he did! What a sad, sad thing. Be warned. The Son of God will go away, if you ask him! He will leave you alone, if you ask!
Illustration: “My God, preacher, for Christ’s sake, leave me alone.”
VII. MARK 5:18-20 "And when he was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil prayed him that he might be with him. (19) Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee. (20) And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel."
Let me, very quickly, show you five things in these verses. I promise, you will be blessed by them.
A. This young convert wanted to go immediately with Christ and become a preacher.
Illustration: My Attempts
B. The Lord would not allow it.
Conversion is not a call to be a preacher. A desire to be one does not qualify a man to be a preacher.
C. The Lord sent him home to his family and friends, with a message to deliver to them.
The lord would not allow him to go where he wanted to go or do what he wanted to do; but he was given something far better, far more useful to do. God made him a witness to his own community. Now, that’s a preacher! The Lord told him exactly what to tell those of whom he would be a witness.
1. How great things the Lord had done for him.
2. How he had compassion on him.
D. This sinner, saved by the grace of God, did what the Lord told him to do.
He was told to publish what great things the Lord had done. So he told everyone what great things Jesus had done. He knew that Jesus is Lord. He learned it by experience from the Lord himself.
E. The Lord graciously used him in Decapolis for the good of many.
The next time the Lord Jesus came into the region, he was readily received. Many came to him. Many were healed by him. Multitudes were fed by his hand. All because a sinner saved by grace faithfully told other sinners what great things the Lord had done for him!