It should have taken the disciples a couple of hours to cross over to the other side. It is not a long journey. But it apparently took them at least all night.
In Mark 4:35 we see the phrase “when evening came” so we can say confidently that they set sail at evening. When did they arrive? Apparently the next morning, or at some point when there was daylight. Speaking of the demoniac, Mark 5:6 says, “when he saw Jesus from afar”. Apparently it was bright enough for the demon possessed man to see Jesus coming.
What took them so long?
Is it possible that the disciples did NOT actually want to go? Maybe they noticed that Jesus fell asleep and they started sailing in circles, not wanting to actually land in the gentile region. Why would they do that? For sure they knew that it was a land of pig farmers. Coming in contact with pigs would make them “unclean”. Certainly they could hear the screaming of the demon possessed man
Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones. – Mark 5:5
Did they know they were heading right where the screaming was coming from?
Let’s look at this from a Jewish perspective:
- Gentile Land: bad
- Exposure to Pigs: bad
- Demon Possessed Man: bad
- Exposure to Man’s Blood: bad
- Being in a Cemetery: bad
This trip had nothing good going for it! With “the boss” sound asleep, were they trying to prolong the inevitable? Who knows?
Maybe the storm kept them from making good time. That is certainly possible. Of course, these were experienced and skilled fishermen. How bad must that storm have been if it kept them from navigating the Sea efficiently?
Was the storm demon-powered? A “legion” (thousands) of demons controlled the man in the tombs. Is it possible that the demons were able to create a high-powered storm in an attempt to keep Jesus and his disciples away?
The only time that work “rebuke” is used is when it is in a spiritual context. Perhaps the storm was spiritual. Perhaps the storm was demonic. Nevertheless, Jesus wakes up and shows that he has power over the wind and the waves. Whether it is a natural or spiritual phenomenon, Jesus is greater.
The storm was no match for Jesus, and neither were the demons possessing the man in the tombs. Jesus cast the demons out and into a herd of swine. Over the cliff and into the Sea the they went.
While sitting among the ruins of a fifth century church in Gerasenes, we opened our Bibles and talked through this story from Mark. The text came to life! There is really only one place along the entire Sea of Galilee where this episode could have taken place. There is only one cliff that leads directly to the Sea.
How fascinating to have my feet on the ground where this happened!
So Jesus tells this man who was previously possessed by demons to go home and tell about what the Lord has done for him. Did he do it?
I think he did!
Later on Jesus will be back in this area and will end up feeding 4,000 people who came out to hear him speak and to be healed. Where did these 4,000 people come from? Perhaps they heard about Jesus from the previously demon possessed man!