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An Exposition Of The Gospels by The Most Rev. John Macevilly D.D.

In this chapter, St. Mark describes the cure by our Lord of a wretched demoniac who was possessed by a whole troop of devils, who after their expulsion are permitted to take possession of a herd of swine, that were carried headlong and stifled in the sea (1–20). The Evangelist next describes the cure of a woman who had been a longtime afflicted with an issue of blood, and the resuscitation of the Ruler’s daughter (21–43).

1. (See Matt. 8:28–34).

2. Some commentators, among them Patrizzi, reconcile the account given by Matthew, who says there were two demoniacs, with that given by Mark here and Luke (8:27), by saying, that one of them—the fiercest—regarding whom more particulars are recorded by St. Mark, than are recorded by Matthew regarding the two, met our Lord immediately on disembarking; and that the second, regarding whom Mark and Luke are silent, met Him afterwards.

6. The condition of this wretched man, as described here, and his mode of acting towards our Lord, shows the utter folly of Rationalists, who confound demoniac possessions, recorded in the New Testament, with mere natural diseases. In that supposition, what would be the meaning of this man running to our Lord? Was it to cure him of some natural disease? If so, why ask Him not to torment him? (v. 7). Why did he adore Him? Why address Him as “Jesus, the Son of the most high God?” Who told him so? Was it the disease, from which he suffered? Why beg of Him “not to torment him?” What signs did our Lord give that He meant to do so? Who, therefore, feared to be tormented? Who spoke thus? Is it not plain that the wretched man uttered not his own sentiments, but those of the spirit that acted on him, whom our Lord commanded to leave the body of the man possessed (v. 8).—Patrizzi.

Adored Him,” as God. This is the meaning of προσκυνεῶ, in the New Testament. Next verse he proclaims Him, “the Son of the most high God,” entitled as such, to the worship paid Him. (See Matthew 2:11. Commentary on.)

7, 8. (See Matt. 8:28–34).

9. “Asked him,” no doubt, the evil spirit, “thy name?” This question our Lord put, in order to make known to the bystanders, from the answer which He knew would be given, the great number of unclean spirits who had taken possession of this wretched man, who had suffered so much, and the mighty power displayed in the miracle of their expulsion. Our Lord asked his name, not that each spirit has a peculiar name, although some Angels, from certain qualities which they display, have a particular name, such as Gabriel—the power of God; Michael—who is like into God. Our Lord by the question, only meant to elicit the declaration regarding the vast number of wicked spirits that had taken possession of this wretched man.

My name is Legion, for we are many,” who have entered into him. The Jews, then subject to the Romans, adopted many terms in use among the Romans, with whom the word, legion, denoted 6000 soldiers; and the devil uses this word, which designated a definite number, to denote a large but indefinite number of demons. “Because we are many.” The word means, that a large troop of demons (this is the meaning of the word, “legion”), had taken possession of this wretched man. The demon also uses the word, “legio,” in imitation of God, who is called the Lord of armies, whom all the hosts of heaven serve and obey, to convey that the wicked angels always carry on their fiendish war against us. Hence, as there were so many demons present, the words, demon, wicked spirit, is taken collectively, to denote the entire troop of demons, who possessed the wretched man.

10–17. (See Matt. 8:30–34).

It is hard to see how the Rationalists can reconcile the repeated entreaties and the sending of troops of loquacious demons into herds of swine, with their ideas of mere natural ailments, unconnected with the supernatural, affecting this man and several others cured by our Blessed Lord.

15. After the words, “of sound mind,” the Greek has, “him who had the legion,” which, although nearly synonymous with, “troubled with the devil,” is still expressive of greater emphasis. The words are omitted in the Vulgate.

18. The earnest entreaties of this man to be allowed to accompany our Lord, while the unbelieving Gerasens wished him to leave, shows how perfectly he was cured. He was, probably, influenced by a feeling of gratitude; and he might be afraid of falling again under the power of the demon.

19. Our Lord wished him to stay behind, in order to show that His power would protect him, and also that he might serve as a herald of Divine grace, as a living witness of God’s power among Pagans, especially the wretched Gerasens, who would not have Himself among them; thus proving His benignity and long-suffering towards sinners.

How great things the Lord hath done for thee.” Our Redeemer referred all the glory of the miracle to God alone.

20. “And all men wondered.” This was the fruit of the preaching of this man, an incipient fruit of grace, intended by our Lord when leaving him among them.

Deeapolis.” This name was given to ten cities almost all beyond the Jordan among which was Gadara, and also Gerasa.

21. “Over the strait,” across to Capharnaum. For, St. Luke (8:40) says, “And it came to pass, that when Jesus was returned the multitude received Him; for, they were all waiting for Him,” surely, waiting for Him, where He usually dwelt, viz., at Capharnaum.

22. “One of the rulers,” or presiding officers, “of the synagogue.” Very likely, in each synagogue there was not only a president, but other officers also, consisting of the most respectable members, who bore the title of chiefs of the synagogue, either because they discharged the duties and exercised the office of president, or occasionally discharged the duties of their office, which consisted in preserving due decorum and choosing and inviting those who were to address the congregation. (See Acts 13)—Bloomfield.

The order of events, as narrated by St. Matthew is the more probable one (see Matt. 9:2). The care of the ruler’s daughter occurred not immediately on our Lord’s return, as would seem to be stated here by St. Mark and St. Luke, but afterwards, while He was in the act of refuting the calumnies of the Pharisees (see Matt., ibidem).

22–43. (See Matt. 9:18–26).

36. “Only believe,” has reference merely to the performance of the miracle, without which faith He will not perform any miracle (6:5). There is no reference whatever to justification.

41. “Damsel (I say to thee) arise.” The words (“I say to thee”), are not included in the words of our Redeemer, “Tabitha cumi,” but were added by the Evangelist himself, for the greater expression of the authority of the words of our Lord, or perhaps, to express the tone in which these words were uttered by Him.

30. “Knowing in Himself the virtue that proceeded from Him.” The words clearly indicate that our Lord’s power of working miracles was inherent in Him, in virtue of His Divine nature, and not adventitious, or derived elsewhere, as in the case of the Prophets and Apostles. The words, “virtue that proceeded from Him,” mean, that the inherent and intrinsic power of working miracles which was in Him had gone out from Him, by the performance of the cure wrought in the infirm woman.

43. (See Matt. 9:26). Our Lord, when He performed miracles among the Jews, endeavoured, as much as possible, to conceal it for a time; not permanently, but only until the appointed period of His manifestation would come, and enjoined on others to do so. Among the Pagans (v. 19), He told the man cured to proclaim it aloud; thus, in the former case, teaching us to avoid every occasion of praise and celebrity, unless when the glory and worship of God demanded the contrary, as in the latter case.

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