February 26, 2017
There are different kinds of fear. Some fears comes suddenly when we are presented with an unexpected threatening situation. We hardly have time to think. We just react. Maybe we run or stand and find a way to control the situation. Other fears grow slowly. They take shape in our heart and mind as we contemplate various events and situations going on around us. Over time, as you see what is going on at work you begin to fear that you might be let go. Still other fears are the result of our family of origin. For whatever reason we are afraid of being rejected and so we don’t initiate.
Today we are in Mark 5 looking at v.21-43. This is one of the sandwich stories in Mark. He beings with one story but puts another story in the middle of the first story. The middle story holds the key for understanding the whole passage. As we look at this passage in Mark, I want to commend to you the words of Jesus, "Do not fear, only believe."
I. FEEL THE DESPERATION. Mk.5:21-26
After restoring the demon possessed man, Jesus and his disciples sailed back across the Sea of Galilee. No sooner had Jesus arrived but a crowd gathered around him and a ruler of the synagogue named Jairus came and fell at Jesus’ feet. As a synagogue ruler he was in charge of the overall maintenance, security, and orthodoxy of the synagogue. He lined up those who would read the scripture, offer prayers, and preach.
But understandably, this man was deeply troubled because his 12 year old daughter was near death. He came and fell at Jesus’ feet and asked Jesus to come and lay his hands on her that she might live. He knew what Jesus could do and so he was hopeful that his daughter could be saved. Verse 24 simply says that Jesus went with him, along with a large crowd. Just a note to say that this is how Jesus is. He went around doing good. He was especially inclined to be a blessing to children.
But as they were making their way, something happened that caused a delay. There was a woman who suffered with a discharge of blood. Her bleeding problem began about 12 years earlier, just around the time when the little girl had been born. Imagine that. For 12 years she was bleeding! In just a few words Mark tells us a great deal about this woman. She had suffered much under the care of physicians. After all, in those days medicine was primitive. I was reading about how excessive menstrual bleeding was treated back then and I am not at all surprised that she suffered at the hands of physicians. But this was not just a physical problem. It became an economic problem. Doctors do not work for free. This woman had spent all she had to pay the doctors and she was no better. In fact, the bleeding grew worse.
And it is important to see that this was also a spiritual and social problem. In Judaism, menstruation caused a woman to be unclean. Whatever and whoever a woman touched also became unclean. She was not allowed to go to the temple to worship. Since the woman in this story had been bleeding for 12 years, she was essentially cut off from her community and from corporate worship.
Many people live with great heartache, suffering, and desperation. Today if one of our children becomes seriously ill to the point of death, even though the doctors can do amazing things, every parent is desperate to get help. We go for the best help available to us. I don’t know about you, but I am one who can easily worry about my children. They are dear.
But our own lives are also precious to us, to God, and to others. In Ps.22:20, David writes, “Deliver my soul from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dog!” Our lives are precious. There is within us a desire for life. And so when debilitating illness comes upon us we feel desperation and we go for help. We want to get better. We want to live.
And just like this woman, we may feel cut off from our community. We may not be able to get to church. And we find ourselves having to pay huge medical bills. Sooner or later, these are the realities of our lives.
II. EXERCISE FAITH IN JESUS. Mk.5:27-36
These verses hold the key to the entire passage. The woman had also heard about what Jesus could do. And as she thought about Jesus and her situation it occurred to her that if she could just touch his robe she would be healed. She could do that anonymously and avoid embarrassment. So, what did she have to lose? “Let me just touch his robe.” Now keep in mind that what she did was inappropriate. She was unclean. Just to give you an idea of some of the thinking in that day: one passage in the Talmud “teaches that if a menstruating woman passes between two men, either one of them will die (if she is at the beginning of her [period]). If she is at the end of her [period] the men will quarrel.” What a strange idea! Sounds like something men would come up with. Well, this woman was determined. She made her way to Jesus and touched his robe. Immediately she realized that she had been healed.
Just as immediately, Jesus realized that healing power had gone out from him. And he immediately asked, “Who touched my garments?” Think about this. A lot was going on in those moments. On the one hand Jesus and the disciples are trying to get to the bedside of a 12 year old girl who was near death. On the other hand, Jesus was trying to determine who had touched him. The disciples knew nothing about the woman and they became upset with Jesus. “Why are you wasting precious time? There are any number of people who probably touched you.” Jesus continued looking around and the woman realized that she could not evade Jesus any longer.
She came in fear and trembling and fell down before him. This is the third person to come and fall before Jesus in Mk.5. First it was the demoniac, then Jairus, and now this woman. She told him the whole truth. Notice that Jesus in no way called her out for making him unclean. Nothing makes Jesus unclean; he brings cleansing. But more importantly Jesus is not merely a dispenser of miracles. He pursues people. He desires relationship.
There are many people who cry out to Jesus for healing, as if Jesus is a dispenser of miracles. They cry out to Jesus but have no particular intention of embracing or knowing Jesus. What is more, Jesus was not going to let this woman go away thinking that the healing was merely the result of her touching his robe. It wasn’t a magical healing. If Jesus had not spoken with the woman, she might have told others, “Hey all you have to do is touch his robe and you will get your healing.” No. The healing was the result of her faith in him. This was a personal transaction grounded in faith. She acted on what she believed to be true about Jesus. And Jesus healed her, not his robe.
Jesus said to her, “Go in peace and be healed, or delivered of your disease.” Now this woman knew Jesus. She didn’t just experience the power of Jesus. She experienced the person of Jesus. We don’t know any more about her accept that she becomes a model of faith in this passage.
Unfortunately in ministering to the woman, Jesus delayed and the little girl died. In v.35 it says that some came from the synagogue ruler’s house and said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further.” Hear the reality of this statement. We all understand. Death is the final word. As long as she was hanging onto life there was a chance Jesus could heal her. But not now. She is dead. Jesus heard what they said and in v.36 he told the synagogue ruler, “Do not fear, only believe,” and Jairus listened to what Jesus said.
This is a great challenge for many of us who profess faith in Christ. Will we be overwhelmed by our circumstances or will we trust Christ in our circumstances? Mark wants us to think long and hard about these situations because he is seeking to encourage our faith in Christ. Exercise faith in Jesus in any and every situation.
III. ENTER INTO LIFE WITH JESUS. Mk.5:37-43
Jesus takes Peter, James, and John with him and they go to Jairus’ house. Already the paid, professional mourners were clapping their hands and wailing in loud, haunting laments. It was the expected way to express grief. They had seen death many times and there was no doubt in their minds that the little girl had truly died.
When Jesus arrived he said something that sounds odd. “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but ‘sleeping.” The mourners began laughing. What a dumb thing to say. They knew a corpse when they saw one. All the visible signs pointed to death. But for Jesus, death is never final. Jesus put everyone out of the house except for the three disciples and the child’s parents. They went into the room where the child was laying and Jesus took her by the hand and using endearing words he said, “Talitha cumi.” Little girl, I say to you, arise.” And of course she immediately came to life. She got up and began walking around.
There are a number of observations to make. First I want to observe that in Mk.5 Jesus ministers in three situations that involved uncleanliness. The demoniac, the bleeding woman, and the dead girl were all unclean according to Jewish law. In the Bible uncleanliness is transferable. Someone who is unclean will make a clean person unclean, except in the case of Jesus. Jesus makes all things new. Nothing you have done, nothing that has been done to you, puts you beyond the saving love, grace and mercy of Jesus.
Second I want us to see that when it comes to trusting in Jesus no one has a leg up. The synagogue ruler held a position of honor in the community. The woman who was bleeding was in a position of dishonor. But Jesus was more than willing to bring healing and restoration to her life. He didn’t over look her. In fact he particularized her. She was every bit as important to Jesus as Jairus. And because of this Jairus had to patiently wait. And this suggests a third observation.
Jesus is never rushed. Jesus is not bound by time and circumstances. And that can be difficult for us to accept. When we come to Jesus with a pressing concern we want him to act right away. And we want him to provide whatever it is we think we need. The question for all of us is, do we trust Jesus to know and do what is best in any and every given situation of our lives. Do we believe that Jesus has our best in his heart?
When Jesus walked this earth he was revealing the goodness and power of the kingdom of God. In fact he continually gave of himself sacrificially that others might experience restoration and life through him. Each of these people, the demoniac, the woman, the little girl were given a new life to live. Of course the deepest, most significant expression of the goodness and power of the kingdom of God is seen in the cross and resurrection of Jesus. On the cross Jesus died for our sins. He died and rose in order to heal the deepest sickness of our lives. It is our sinful condition, our rebellion and disobedience to God and his goodness.
True, we often pray for healing and just as often it seems that healing doesn’t come. If Jesus is the healer why doesn’t he heal? Well, do you trust Jesus enough to patiently wait for him? More importantly have you entered into the new life that he has made available through his life, death, and resurrection? The greatest gift that Jesus has to give is life in himself, not healing from a sickness. The miracles of Jesus were done to show that he is the source of life. If you are healed of a sickness in this world and yet fail to enter into eternal living through faith in Christ, you have settled for so much less. You have turned away from life itself and you will die.
Jesus didn’t just heal the woman. He brought the woman into a life giving relationship with himself. That is what he wants to do for you and me. When we receive new eternal life from Jesus through the forgiveness of our sins, we begin to learn by experience that Jesus is holding our lives safe and even if we get sick and our bodies die, our life is safe in the kingdom of God. This is the healing of utmost importance. Have you entered into life with Jesus?
Life in this world is filled with sickness, sadness, hardship, and trouble. This past week I read about a pastor who was on a cruise with his wife and parents. Both couples were celebrating their wedding anniversaries. On the 3rd day of the cruise this pastor began to struggle doing basic things like reading his watch or writing a note. When the ship docked he immediately went to the emergency room and learned that he has a cancerous tumor in his brain. He has months to live. The good thing is that he has entered into life with Christ. He knows Christ. He writes, “I am asking God to heal me. My life is in His hands, and I can't think of a better place for it to be. If he chooses to take me home I am good with that. I am ready. For me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” He continues, “I know where I'm going, and I'm ready. Though this is a very sad day for me, filled with tears, I have to say that there is a peace in the mix that defies understanding. He has proved Himself to me many times, and I trust Him.” Jesus said, “Do not fear, only believe.” So do you know Christ? Have you entered into his eternal, kingdom life? Amen