Much of Mark 3-4 consists of dialectic and parabolic instruction. In Mark 5, Jesus’ teaching was coupled with signs and deeds that demonstrated His power as the Son of God. Mark noted Jesus’ authority over demonic forces and uncleanness, emphasizing Jesus’ unique role in the narrative of Scripture.
(1) In Mark 5:1-20, references to Jesus’ superiority over demons reinforced that His ministry was a spiritual war in accord with Gen 3:15. In the garden of Eden, the Lord pronounced hostility between the serpent and Eve’s offspring. At various points in the Old Testament narrative, Satan opposed and accused God’s people (Job 1:6-2:10; Dan 10:10-11:1; Zech 3:1-7) and in the wilderness, Jesus endured temptation from the Devil (Matt 4:1-11//Mark 1:12-13//Luke 4:1-13). In Mark 3:11-29, Mark portrayed Jesus as a spiritual warrior. Mark noted, “Whenever the unclean spirits saw Him, those possessed fell down before Him and cried out, ‘You are the Son of God!’” (Mark 3:11). Ultimately, the twelve were given authority over demonic forces, again showing Jesus’ superiority (Mark 3:13-19). Thus, the scribes from Jerusalem spoke nonsense when they said of Jesus, “He has Beelzebub in Him!…He drives out demons by the ruler of demons!” (Mark 3:22). Jesus, being the superior logician, called them to account for their foolishness, saying, “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand” (Mark 3:24). The demons were right, and the scribes were wrong. One greater than the Devil had arrived, and the demons knew their days were numbered. Jesus’ exorcism of the Gerasene Demoniac in Mark 5:1-20 reinforced Mark’s portrayal of Jesus as God’s spiritual warrior fighting the Devil and his earthly forces. Though the demon-possessed man was stronger than any human force or chain, upon seeing Jesus, the man ran to Jesus crying out, “What do You have to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You before God, don’t torment me!” (Mark 5:7). When the legion of demons in the man asked Jesus for permission to leave the man and enter the pigs, Jesus gave them permission to do so (Mark 5:13). All were amazed when they saw the formerly possessed man “dressed and in his right mind” (Mark 5:15), sitting by Jesus. While the healed man wished to follow Jesus in the company of His disciples, Jesus instructed him, “Go back home to your own people, and report to them how much the Lord has done for you and how He has had mercy on you” (Mark 5:19).
(2) In Mark 5:24-34, Jesus demonstrated authority over the cleanness laws of Leviticus 15. The Evangelists reported that a woman suffering from a hemorrhage touched Jesus while He was in route to heal Jairus’ daughter (Matt 9:18-26//Mark 5:21-43//Luke 8:40-56). The point of the narrative is that Jesus, unlike any normal person, did not become contaminated by the touch of a woman who was considered unclean. In Leviticus 13-15, Moses recorded guidelines for Israel’s physical purity. Moses detailed the procedures priests were to follow in identifying skin diseases and cleansing people of them (Leviticus 13-14) and then set forth procedures for cleansing those who had bodily discharges. Moses wrote that if a woman suffered from a discharge of blood in a time when it was not her period, she was to be considered unclean, and the furniture she touched was likewise unclean (Lev 15:25-27). When the woman suffering from discharge for twelve years saw Jesus, she said in her heart, “If I can just touch His robes, I’ll be made well!” (Mark 5:28). When Jesus realized He had been touched by this unclean woman, He did not rebuke her, or pursue cleansing in accord with Lev 15:28-30. Rather, Jesus elicited the woman’s faith by asking, “Who touched my robes?” (Mark 5:30). In that moment, she “came with fear and trembling, fell down before Him, and told Him the whole truth” (Mark 5:33). Jesus said, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace and be free from your affliction” (Mark 5:34).