The account (in Mark 5:1-20) is so vivid, immediate and unimaginable as to be true, presenting again a strong case that the story rests on the recollection of someone who was there (Peter, once more?)
A moment’s reflection prompts us to feel the suffering of all those involved in this tragic scene. The local townspeople were anxious for their welfare, as witnessed by their many unsuccessful attempts to capture this frightening man. We can readily imagine the sense of helplessness of the man’s immediate family too, forced to live with the tragedy of their deranged relative.
The unclean spirit gives his name as Legion, revealing something of the greatness of the man’s own inner pain and sense of dislocation. As the man advanced, he fell on his knees before Jesus, not in the menacing mock worship of an earlier occasion (see 3:11) but in a sincere, if confused, manner.
Mark concludes his story with starkly contrasting human responses. The owners of the pigs, and others from the neighboring region who had been told what had happened, converged on Jesus and the man who had been demon-possessed. They were afraid, sensing the presence of the supernatural, when they saw the previously deranged man sitting there, dressed and in his right mind.
Yet despite the astonishing change in the man they began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.
We might have expected a request for Jesus to come and bring his powers to bear on others similarly afflicted in the area. But they asked him to go away, a sad commentary on their distorted sense of priorities which preferred property to people.
Mark lets us not only see the dramatically changed man but also hear him beg to go with Jesus as one of his group Did he not owe him his life?
Mark, the Servant King, Paul Barnett, Aquila Press, 1991, p.83