1And again He began to teach by the sea. And a great multitude was gathered to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat in it on the sea; and the whole multitude was on the land facing the sea. 2Then He taught them many things by parables, and said to them in His teaching: NKJV
It’s early in His ministry. He has been teaching in Galilee, which is kind of His home territory, and His disciples are with Him by now, and things are going quite well.
We’re told that a crowd that gathered around Him was so large He had to get into a boat and sit in it on the lake while people listened, because there were so many people there.
Then He’s done teaching, that day when evening came, He said to His disciples:
Let us go over to the other side. (Mark 4:35)
Now that’s the bomb, —–that phrase right there, the other side.
Thought #1 :
We tend to gloss over this but in Jesus’ day the other side of the lake was actually kind of a technical term.
And He’s not talking just about geography. The other side of the lake was used in His day to refer to this region which was called the Decapolis,
It’s a Greek word that means ten cities. And this was enemy territory. These were pagan people.
There was a Jewish rabbinic tradition in Jesus’ day. Back when Israel was first occupying the Holy Land, there had been this promise, Joshua, chapter 3:
God will certain drive out before you the Canaanites, Hittites,Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites and Jebusites. (Joshua 3:10)
These were known as the seven nations of Canaan, and they were talked about even in Jesus’ day.
In Acts 13 it says:
God overthrew the seven nations in Canaan and gave their land to His people as an inheritance. (Acts 13:19)
And the rabbinic tradition in Jesus’ day said that the Decapolis, this area, “the other
side”, that’s where the seven nations of Canaan settled.
It was filled with pagan temples.
They are being excavated even in our day, and they are buildings of amazing splendor.
The ruins of some of them can be seen now, they featured cults that exalted sexuality and
violence and wealth.
This area was everything that Israel was not!!
Does anybody know what animal is regarded as the most unclean, most repulsive animal in Israel?
In the Decapolis, in the Canaanite religion, the pig was regarded as a sacred animal, and it was part of what was used when they would worship.
The Decapolis, the other side, was also a center of Roman power. There was in the
Decapolis a legion of 6,000 Roman soldiers, and by the way, the symbol of a Roman
legion was a boar’s head, the head of a wild pig.
The Jews regarded “the other side” as the place where Satan lived.
· It was dark,
· it was evil,
· it was oppressive,
· it was demonic.
Nobody goes to the “other side”; especially no rabbi ever goes to the other side.
And then one day the disciples found that their rabbi, Jesus, after He finishes a really
good day of ministry, just casually says:
Now, let’s go over to “the other side.”
Thought # 2:
This could have been some of the thoughts that were going through the Disciples minds….. This is not recorded in Scripture what I am about to say.
* What is He doing?
* Doesn’t He know that the Kingdom of God that He is preaching is for our side?
* It’s almost like He didn’t know anything about the other side.
* It’s almost like He thinks it’s His side.
* It’s almost like He thinks every side belongs to Him. It’s almost like He thinks that all the peoples of the earth are going to be blessed now through Him, even the seven nations of Canaan.
Read also Mark 5: 1-20
(Jesus speaking paraphrasing it!!) Hey, guys, let’s go over to the other side, He says. Get in the boat.
So they do. They get in the boat.
How are the disciples feeling about this trip? I don’t think they were happy campers at this point.
* They are confused, * they are irritated, because we are going to have to associate with the other side. * they are scared out of their wits.
A storm comes up while they are crossing over to the other side, a real bad storm.
They’re not surprised by this. We’re not supposed to be going to the other side.
And they knew about the dark powers that were present on the other side,
· these powers were regarded, and worshipped, among other things, as being the rulers over the sea and over nature. So when a storm comes up, no surprise to the disciples. ( I knew this was going to happen!!!)
Now here is another thing that is bugging them!! They’re mad because Jesus is asleep in the boat. Kind of ironic.
He’s the carpenter, but He’s asleep in the storm.
Most of those guys are fishermen, been in boats their whole life long, and they are freaking out.
Aren’t you concerned that we’re going to die? (vs.38)
( Not in the text!!! Just another thought!!! This could have been His reply!!!)
“ Not particularly”
And He looks out of the boat:
Peace, be still still. (Mark 4:39)
And the wind stops and the waves die down. Who is this man? They land.
This is Mark 5.
They land on the other side and nobody’s there to see them. They’ve been having huge crowds on their side. No crowds had come out to see them here.
One man, a demon-possessed man who is so desperate that he has been thrown out of his
own community, they have tried to bind him with chains to keep him from being destructive, but even that didn’t work.
He cries out all the time in torment, and that kind of bothers people. They don’t want to have that going on.
He cuts himself with rocks until he bleeds, so they get rid of him. This guy is living by himself in the midst of tombs.
That’s the reception committee for Jesus and the disciples when they get to the other side.
One demon possessed man!!!
And he falls on his knees before Jesus. He’s terrified, and he says:
What do you want with me? In God’s name, don’t torture me. (Mark 5:7)
Jesus says to the evil spirit:
What is your name? (Mark 5:9a)
And the response is: Legion, for we are many. (Mark 5:9b)
Now legion is a loaded word in this story. There is a legion of foreign soldiers, and this is
where they live. That word is a reminder of all the powers that Jesus is up against:
political powers, spiritual powers.
And the demons are afraid of Jesus . And they ask to be sent into a herd of animals.
Does anybody remember what animals they ask to be sent into? Into the good old pigs.
Now again, this is kind of a loaded story.
And the herd, 2,000 pigs, rushed down a steep bank into the lake, and they
drowned. (Mark 5:13)
So this is also the symbol of Roman power of the legion.
This is kind of a big spiritual contest that’s going on. And the pigs lose.
This is a very clear statement about authority, a power struggle between light and darkness.
The people’s response is fascinating. We’re told that those tending the pigs ran off and
recorded this in the town and countryside.
And you can imagine, if you’re a pig-herder working for the guy that owned all the pigs, and you come home and you got no pigs, you had 2,000 pigs when you left, you got no pigs coming home, and your boss says:
Where’s my pigs?
Well, they all committed mass suicide. It was just kind of a weird deal.
So they go tell the story, and people hear this strange story, and the people they all come out to see what’s happened. And they see this man that they have thrown out of their community because nobody could do anything with him.
They saw this man dressed and in his right mind.
Now this is very interesting. So there’s great power at work here, and they’re afraid.
And the people plead with Jesus to leave the region.
They don’t respond to this miracle by saying:
This is fabulous,
They don’t do that. They beg him to go away. Why? Because He’s (Jesus) got power but He’s not one of them. He’s from the wrong side. And He might use His power to hurt me.
So they beg Him to go away. And Jesus says:
All right, I’ll go away!.
And this is a very interesting part of the story.
As Jesus was getting into the boat (Mark 5:18), the man who had been demon possessed begged to go with Him.
He comes to Jesus and once more falls on his knees.
I’ve been living here in this darkness my whole life, and it’s destroyed me, it’s
ruined me. Now I want to be with You, I want to learn from You, I want to be
one of your followers. Take me with you, let me go, there’s room in the boat,
He doesn’t just make the request. He begs. He’s desperate. And Jesus says no!
Jesus, up till now, had been going around telling everybody:
Follow Me, come be with Me, be one of My disciples.
But now He says to this desperate man who’s begging to go with Him:
No, stay here. Don’t follow Me. Go tell your story.
Imagine this man’s feeling when that boat rows away and he’s not in it. But he says to
I will do what He says, because He saved my life. And if He asked me to tell
other people about Him, that’s exactly what I will do.. (Mark 5:20)
One city …. to another city …..to another city He goes.
Can I tell you my story?
· You know me.
· You know what I used to be like.
· You know what my life was like.
· Can I tell you my story?
· Can I tell you about what this guy Jesus has done for me? You want to hear?
Now here’s the rest of the story. Jesus returns to Decapolis. It’s talked about in Mark 6:45 -56 & ff and in Matthew 14:22 & ff. He tells His disciples,
Get into the boat; we’re going to go back to the other side.
There’s a second storm, the disciples are not real surprised by this time. The boat goes back over. In fact, it’s a wonderful story.
The second time, Jesus makes them get in the boat and watches while they go on ahead, and they’re gone for hours. He has them leave in daylight, and by 3 or 4 in the morning they’re still in the middle of the lake. And so, the text says, Jesus walks out on the water to them, and then Mark 6:48 says:
He was about to pass by them.
Just picture this; they’re in the water, they’re scared to death, they know they’re going to
drown. Jesus passes by; walking on water —– they think it is a ghost
So they cry out one more time. They’re terrified. He calms the storm. and they return to this region of Decapolis.
Now this time great crowds came to see him, bringing the lame, the blind, the rippled,the dumb, and many others, and laid them at His feet, and He healed them.
The first time they went over to the other side, nobody was home only one pathetic wretch, and everybody begged Jesus to leave.
The second time He comes, and it’s one of the most dramatic responses in all of the New Testament. People are more receptive to Jesus than almost any other place.
What happened? What changed?
One guy told his story. One guy told the story of what Jesus had done for him, and it changed whole cities. It changed the whole other side. It changed the spiritual climate of the other side.
It’s kind of funny. A lot of times, people love to argue about religion or about different
It’s real hard to argue with a story. Can I tell you my story? Can I tell you about Jesus?
It’s interesting that there’s a way in which that one man could reach people here that even
Jesus and His disciples could not reach, because he was one of them. And people will
listen to somebody who is one of them.
Things to Consider:
1. I believe God is challenging us to get out of our comfort zones. We will never grow in these zones.
2. Who is on the other side for you?
3. Do you think there will be some opposition in what you are about do? The disciples had to battle a storm to get there?
4. Do you believe that Jesus will be in your boat? Is it possible that in the intensity of your storm that Jesus may seem to be asleep and you may have to cry out?
5. Do you suppose He is testing your faith?
6. Will you cry out or do you think you can handle it alone?
7. Do you suppose the one you go to….. that there may be a power encounter?
8. Do you understand the importance of being “filled with Spirit”?