Q&A: Legion and Jesus Approaching Time

Legion and Jesus Approaching Time

Question

In Mark 5:5-11, why did the legions ask Jesus not to send them out of the country? Was it because their time had not come? Did they think they still have more work to do?

Answer

The word for "country" in Mark 5:10 is chora -- it is the same word used for "country" in Mark 5:1 in reference to the "country of the Gerasenes." So, it is possible that the demons just wanted to stay in that general area. In the parallel account in Matthew 8, however, the demons asked if Jesus had come to "torment [them] before the time" (Matt. 8:29), apparently referring to the judgment when they will be cast into the lake of fire for eternity (compare Matt. 25:41; 2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 1:6; Rev. 20:10). So, it may also be that they did not want to be cast out of the country because it could have meant premature torment.

In any event, since they were demons -- rebellious, sinful creatures all -- they would not have perceived themselves as doing God's work but as trying to wreck God's work (compare Job 1-2). They would simply have been imploring Jesus to allow them room to do more evil. Interestingly, Jesus responded by allowing them to do just that -- they destroyed a huge heard of pigs, and who knows where they went after that. The fact that Jesus allowed them this freedom indicated that in fact their time had not yet come. Even now they are awaiting the final judgment (Matt. 25:41; 2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 1:6; Rev. 20:10), and probably trying to do as much damage to God's kingdom as possible in the meantime. As Christians, however, we know that whatever evil they do, God uses it for our good (Rom. 5:3-5; 8:28-30; Jas. 1:2-3) -- just as he used the demoniac's possession as an opportunity to save that same man (Mark 5:18-20). God allows evil to continue because he turns it to his own good uses. But a day is coming when he will tolerate evil no longer, when he will recompense every evil deed, and when these demons actually will suffer eternal torment.

Answer by Ra McLaughlin

Ra McLaughlin is Vice President of Finance and Administration at Third Millennium Ministries.