Warm-up: How do you feel about your name? Have you ever gone through a phase where you wanted to go by something different? How about your last name?
Your name can identify your people: White, Male, Middle-child.
Your name can identify your place: If you live in Detroit, you may be seen as tough. If you live in San Clemente, everyone else in the world is just simply jealous of you.
Your name can identify your purpose: Hi, I'm _______, and I'm a student, businessperson, surfer, server at a restaurant, etc.
In the story we are about to read, we will see how our name relates to our identity. The way you name yourself makes all the difference in who you will choose to become.
Read Mark 5:1-2
In the beginning of this story we read that Jesus travels to the “other side” of the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. This is important to note because the other side of the lake was not a place Jesus was particularly welcome. In fact, it was a land filled with people who didn’t know or want to know about Jesus, and who were perfectly comfortable living in their sinful, dark ways. Yet Jesus says, “I want to go there.” It’s important to see ourselves in the story here. Don’t we all have another side, a dark side “across the lake” that we’re not proud of? We go to great lengths to try and conceal it, yet it always eventually reveals itself.
When he arrives, Jesus climbs out of his boat, and is met by a demon possessed man. At this point you may be tempted to check out, and dismiss this story as something that doesn’t relate to you. But the Bible says there is craziness in all of us. We are all broken, and if we allow our cravings, our desires, and our sins to control us, we can open our lives up to things that will inevitably destroy us.
Read Mark 5:3-5
Below are some characteristics we learn about the man. Listen for qualities that may resonate with you personally:
The man could not be restrained
- Self-control seems impossible no matter how hard you try
- Other people’s help or advice doesn’t seem to work
- You keep going back to the very thing you despise most
The man is wandering
- No purpose, direction or roots
The man is isolated
- You purposefully isolate yourself, and lack community and accountability
The man is living among dead things
- You hang around destructive things and unhealthy people because that is what you are comfortable with
- Your guilt and shame cause you to fall back in to patterns and habits you know are unhealthy, but you continue anyways
The man is acting out
- You don’t know how to manage your pain so you act out
- You inflict pain on yourself or others because you are in so much internal turmoil
Read Romans 7:15-24.
In what way(s) can you relate to the characteristics of the demon possessed man, and the struggle that Paul talks about in Romans 7?
Read Mark 5:6-9
Jesus asks the man, what is your name? This is one of the most important questions Jesus could ever ask, because your name = IDENTITY, and your identity will determine your destiny.
Look how the man answers. He says his name is “Legion for the there are many of us inside this man.” The man answers by giving a number instead of a name. On Sunday Jon talked about how “the enemy wants to make us a number, but Jesus wants to give us his name.” What do you think this means?
If Jesus were to ask you the same question, “What is your name?” how would you reply?
Read Mark 5:10-17
What is the crowd’s reaction and why do you think they responded this way?
On Sunday, Jon said that in order to experience true freedom in your life, “the pain of remaining the same must outweigh the pain of change.” What do you think that means? Have you experienced this?
Read Mark 5:18-20
Why didn’t Jesus let the man come with him? What might Jesus be doing here?
Jesus tells the man to go back to his family, and share about the good things God has done for him; back to his people, back to his place, back with a new purpose. Jesus gives the man a new identity. He is now a Jesus follower and the first missionary to the ten cities in his region.
The man goes from deliverance to discipleship. The goal of freedom is never just deliverance from sin, it is discipleship to Jesus. It is only when we receive the grace of Jesus we can now freely give the grace of Jesus to others.
Living it out:
What is your name? What is your fundamental identity?
Are you a sinner trying to love God, or are you a child of God that struggles with sin? How you answer this question will make all the difference in how you see yourself and your Father in heaven.
Make an intentional choice each day this week to reflect on and declare your identity IN Christ, and watch how everything else will flow from it.