Mark 4:35-5:20 Exploring the Passage

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

1. What does Jesus say to those who express an interest in following Him? See Matthew 8:19-22 (printed below)

As they were leaving, a scribe came and said to him, Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go. (20) But Jesus said to him, The foxes have dens, and the birds of the heaven have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head. (21) And another one of the disciples said to him, Lord, allow me to first go and bury my father. (22) But Jesus said to him, Follow me; and leave the dead to bury their own dead. (Matthew 8:19-22)

To the scribe who promises to follow Him wherever He goes, Jesus responds by saying, “the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head.” In response to the disciple who asks permission to first bury his father (i.e.; after his aged father has died he will then take up full time discipleship), Jesus insists that he follow Him immediately. Jesus wants people to understand that there is a cost involved in being His disciple and that being His disciple must be their first priority.

2. When the disciples follow Jesus, what happens to them? See Matthew 8:23-25 and 28 (printed below)

When he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. (24) Then there came up such a violent wind storm on the sea, that the waves swept over the boat. But he was asleep. (25) They came to him and awoke him, saying, Save us, Lord; we are perishing! …(28) When he arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They were so violent that no one could pass by that way. (Matthew 8:23-25,28)

The first thing they encounter is a fierce gale on the sea; so severe that their boat is in danger of capsizing. When they arrive at the far shore, they are immediately confronted by a raging demoniac. Following Jesus may mean being exposed to severe perils, sometimes physical, always spiritual in nature.

3. How does Mark describe the demoniac? See Mark 5:2-5 (printed below)

When he stepped out of the boat, there immediately met him from out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, (3) who lived in the tombs. No one could any longer bind him, not even with a chain. (4) He had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he ripped the chains apart and broke the shackles into pieces. No one had the strength to tame him. (5) He was always in the tombs and in the mountains, crying out night and day, and cutting himself with stones. (Mark 5:2-5)

He and his companion (Matthew tells us there were actually two of them) lived in the tombs. Mark describes this poor soul as being as fierce as a wild animal—no one could tame him. He lived in constant agony, crying out all day and night, and cutting himself with sharp, jagged stones. The poor man was filled with a whole legion of demons.

4. What lessons do the disciples learn from their experiences with Jesus?

The disciples learn that, as they follow Jesus, they may expect to encounter perilous conditions and fierce trials. But they also learn that Jesus is able to preserve them even in the most extreme circumstances. Finally, they witness Jesus’ victory over the devil.

5. Why did the Gerasenes ask Jesus to leave? See Mark 5:14-17 (printed below)

Those who had been tending the swine fled, and reported this in the town and in the countryside. Then people came out to see what had happened. (15) When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed with demons sitting there, dressed and in his right mind—the very man who had the legion of demons—and they were afraid. (16) Then those who had witnessed it told what happened to him who had been possessed by demons, and they also reported what happened to the swine. (17) Then the people began to request Jesus to leave their region. (Mark 5:14-17)

When the Gerasenes saw the former demoniac restored to his right mind, they were afraid. When they heard what had happened to the swine (which had been part of their source of income), they asked Jesus to leave. Thus these people preferred to tolerate the presence of the devil rather than accept the challenging, life-changing presence of Jesus.