Out of all the Gospel accounts and the book of Acts, Mark 5:9 is the only instance where Jesus asked for a name to a demon(s). This is so far out of normal that we must ask why Jesus would do such a thing.
It seems rather ludacris to even question this passage in scripture – of course, Jesus asked for the name of the demon(s) possessing the man.
Then they came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gadarenes. And when He had come out of the boat, immediately there met Him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no one could bind him, not even with chains, because he had often been bound with shackles and chains. And the chains had been pulled apart by him, and the shackles broken in pieces; neither could anyone tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains and in the tombs, crying out and cutting himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped Him. And he cried out with a loud voice and said, “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God that You do not torment me.” For He said to him, “Come out of the man, unclean spirit!” Then He asked him, “What is your name?” And he answered, saying, “My name is Legion; for we are many.” Also he begged Him earnestly that He would not send them out of the country. ~Mark 5:1-10
“There, right there Robert, can’t you see that Jesus asked for their name,” you might be saying to the screen as you read this. Sure, Jesus asked for their name and they gave it.
But…did Jesus ask for the name of the man or the demon(s)? Let’s look at how Jesus and demons seem to operate.
The demon in the Synagogue.
The first chronological instance that we see Jesus having the authority to cast out unclean spirits is in Mark. I say Mark and not Matthew because all four Gospel account talk about Jesus from 4 different perspectives and the verses below are the first instance where Jesus casts out demons.
“Then they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and taught. And they were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Now there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, saying, “Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet, and come out of him!” And when the unclean spirit had convulsed him and cried out with a loud voice, he came out of him. Then they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? What new doctrine is this? For with authority He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.” And immediately His fame spread throughout all the region around Galilee.” ~Mark 1:21-28
Notice that Jesus didn’t ask for a name and only allowed the demons to speak so that it would tell people who Jesus was and who His Father was…nothing more. Jesus told them to “muzzle it” (literal) after they gave glory not only to Jesus but to the authority of God.
“And the unclean spirits, whenever they saw Him, fell down before Him and cried out, saying, “You are the Son of God.” But He sternly warned them that they should not make Him known.” ~Mark 3:11-12
This is a single instance of many where Jesus healed masses of people and cast out demons, only giving them permission to tell the people who He (Jesus) was and who His Father was in Heaven.
When you read through the Gospel accounts and the book of Acts, Mark 5:9 is the ONLY instance where Jesus asks for a name, but did He? Let’s pull the scripture apart.
Dissecting Jesus’ request.
When you look at the simple request of Jesus “what is YOUR name,” we see an indicator in the request – Jesus was speaking to the man. Demons always lie, twist the truth, delay the inevitable, and that’s exactly what was going on. Legion had FULL POSSESSION of the man and it was them that was speaking. As a brother in Christ once said, “who has the naming rights to a tall office building? The major tenant has!” Jesus was asking for the name of the man, but when he heard the name, which Jesus, having authority, asked, He got His answer “My name is Legion; for we are many.” Up to that point, the demons were trying to play it off like they weren’t there (“What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God that You do not torment me.”) They (demons) were trying to fool Jesus, but when he asked for a name, the “main tenant of the building” HAD to answer as Legion was in full control of the man, but Jesus spoke the request with His Aurhority.
So, what am I supposed to take away from this?
Christians are supposed to be conformed to the likeness of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29) and we have been given authority to cast out unclean spirits/demons (Mark 16:17). If we are supposed to walk as Jesus walked, we don’t ask for names of demons because Jesus never did…there’s no need. Only by coming to Jesus Christ and believing that He was raised from the dead and confess that He is Lord (Romans 10:9.) can we be under authory Once that has happened, you are under authority to cast out demons, heal the sick and many more things, all for the Glory of God through His Son, Jesus Christ, showing people signs so that the Good News comes with power and authority.
Many books, pastors, even religions have been based on a misunderstanding of a single sentence. Jesus never asked for the name of a demon, but He got it anyway. Demons lie, delay, twist the truth, curse, and a whole lot more, so why would any Christian choose to engage them in dialogue to get their “secret name?” Speak the name above all names and let the Holy Spirit do the job of casting demons out. Afterward, we fill them up with the Good News of Jesus Christ (yes, you can do that before and that will cast many-a-demon out), baptize them with water and the Holy Spirit so their house won’t be empty (Matthew 12:43-45, Luke 11:24-26.)
Forget the name thing, just evict them.