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Jesus Asks: What is Your Name? (Mark 5:9)

What is your name

In today’s Gospel from Mark, (Mark 5:1-20), I pondered why Jesus asked the demon, “What is your name?” (Mark 5:9). Why would Jesus ask such a question, when Jesus, as God, knows everything? And the demons know Jesus’ true identity! Well, what Jesus is really doing here, by asking the demon for his name, is turning the tables on the demon, “thus gaining power over the demon possessing the man.”1  The demon must respond to Jesus’ inquiry, because He must respond to God. By doing so, the demon reveals his name. Jesus doesn’t need to do the same in return, because He is God. Thus, Jesus exerts His power over the demon.

This encounter from today’s Gospel reminds me of an incident that occurred to me, several years ago. At one Saturday evening Mass, I watched people as they received Communion. I saw a man place the consecrated host in his pocket and start walking for the door. As a trained Eucharistic minister, I knew what he did was wrong, because we are expected to consume the host immediately. I got up and followed the man down the aisle and said, “excuse me.” The man turned around and looked at me. I looked at his face and saw that the space where I should see eyeballs, contained nothing but dark blackness, completely devoid of eyes.

Then the Holy Spirit Took Over

I knew this was not a human person. I knew I was looking at a Satanic figure, who tried to get a host for a black mass. With an infusion of courage, I said to the demon, “You must either consume the host, or give it back.” I held out my hand to receive the host. He took the host out of his pocket, and as he gave it back to me, he said, “I was only trying to leave fast.” I don’t know how I knew this, but I knew that when he was holding the consecrated host, he was required to tell the truth, because he was in the presence of God, just like the demon from today’s Gospel.

What is Your Name?

Jesus asks many questions in the Gospel readings, but I have always found this one to be quite intriguing. When we ask this question of others, we ask from a point of unknowing; wanting to know, wanting to possibly build a relationship with the other. Yet, Jesus asks this question from a point of knowledge and power. It makes me wonder what my particular judgment will be like when I stand before the One who knows all – even my name. I can tell you this much: I will tell Him the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God!


1 Brown, Raymond E. Ed. New Jerome Biblical Commentary. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall. 1990. Print. p. 607.

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6 Responses to Jesus Asks: What is Your Name? (Mark 5:9)

  • This seem like a repeat to me. Is it?

    • Hi Grace: You have an eagle eye! I goofed last Wednesday and populated my website with the post that I planned for today. I couldn’t retrieve it from everyone’s inbox, but this post specifically relates to today’s Gospel, and not last Wednesday’s. Sorry for any inconvenience. – Peace, Virginia

  • What a fascinating question. I never thought about it. So I don’t understand why you think He asked. Your equally fascinating experience doesn’t seem to answer it. Even if the demon is forced to tell the truth, why would Jesus need to ask?

    • I believe Jesus asked for OUR edification, not because He needed an answer – He already knew.

    • Jesus didn’t need to ask anything. It was His way of showing His power, meaning “you must respond, but I (as God) do not need to give you the same deference (courtesy).” Does that make sense? And in my incident, the Holy Spirit forced whatever it was standing in front of me to defer to God’s will, not his own, and I was there to witness it.

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