First Terrifying, Then Testifying

Michael Wilcock

READ : Mark 5:1-20

Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” (v. 9)

Just as everybody in Capernaum knew the centurion, so everybody in Gerasa, facing Capernaum on the other side of the Sea of Galilee, knew the demon-possessed man. For the opposite reason, of course: the soldier inspired admiration, the maniac inspired terror.

The gospel writers have not named either of these two men for us. But of all our gallery of anonymous people, today’s character is the one who most nearly wasn’t—anonymous, that is. Jesus actually asked his name, and perhaps, in a lucid interval, he was beginning to answer, “My name is —,” when the demons in his mind took over, shouting “Legion! There are crowds of us!”

As Christian converts from other religions have often adopted Christian names in place of their old pagan names, we in Britain find nowadays an increasing number of our young people converting to Islam and abandoning English “Christian names” for Muslim ones. For better or worse, what people call themselves sometimes speaks volumes about what they truly are.

“Legion,” once he was healed, presumably reverted to whatever his parents had named him—an Aramaic version of John Doe. But now he was “the John Doe with a Christian Testimony,” and everybody was going to know it.


Lord, may it be not what we have done, but what you have done in us, that others notice.