First of all, I want to acknowledge that Francis Chan’s Bible study on the Gospel of Mark influenced what I’m writing today. I watched the video on RightNow Media, and read over the study questions. His perspective really challenged me, and many of the things I’m going to ask you to think about came from his ideas.
Here are a couple of questions to start us off:
When have you experienced something that made you afraid? It might be right now during the pandemic with your job at risk, or your emotional health feeling a little shaky by being so shut-in and isolated. Or it could have been a time when you were facing a serious health crisis. Or a time when your marriage was falling apart. Or a time when your child was struggling with something. When have you been afraid?
In the middle of that fear, what was your perspective of God? Did do you have trouble trusting God with specific problems? If so, which ones and why?
Today’s scripture reading tells about 4 situations where people faced difficult situations.
Mark 4: 35 – 41 NLT “Jesus Calms the Storm
35 As evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the sea.” 36 So they took Jesus in the boat and started out, leaving the crowds behind (although other boats followed). 37 But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water.
38 Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”
39 When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. 40 Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
41 The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey him!”
Several of the disciples were fishermen who were quite familiar with the Sea of Galilee. They would be used to various weather situations on the sea, and the fact that they were terrified means it was a super bad storm. Jesus was asleep! The disciples woke him up and shouted, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?” Stop for a moment. What were they saying? What were they asking? It looks like they were upset, afraid for their lives, and Jesus was the reason they were in this mess. He was the one who asked them to take him to the other side of the sea. Why wasn’t he at least awake and scared with them?
Jesus calms the sea – “Silence! Be still!” What was their reaction? They were terrified! What? Terrified? Shouldn’t they have been excited? Relieved? They had seen him teach and heal people. But his command over nature – wind and waves – seemed even greater. Who was he really?
Just think about yourself. You say you have faith in Jesus like the disciples would have said. But do you truly comprehend that Jesus has power over absolutely everything? Do you really believe that? When you face difficulties in our broken world, do you really think that Jesus is with you and can help you deal with whatever it is?
Mark 5: 1 – 43 NLT
“Jesus Heals a Demon-Possessed Man
So they arrived at the other side of the lake, in the region of the Gerasenes. 2 When Jesus climbed out of the boat, a man possessed by an evil spirit came out from the tombs to meet him. 3 This man lived in the burial caves and could no longer be restrained, even with a chain. 4 Whenever he was put into chains and shackles—as he often was—he snapped the chains from his wrists and smashed the shackles. No one was strong enough to subdue him. 5 Day and night he wandered among the burial caves and in the hills, howling and cutting himself with sharp stones.
6 When Jesus was still some distance away, the man saw him, ran to meet him, and bowed low before him. 7 With a shriek, he screamed, “Why are you interfering with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In the name of God, I beg you, don’t torture me!” 8 For Jesus had already said to the spirit, “Come out of the man, you evil spirit.”
9 Then Jesus demanded, “What is your name?”
And he replied, “My name is Legion, because there are many of us inside this man.” 10 Then the
evil spirits begged him again and again not to send them to some distant place.
11 There happened to be a large herd of pigs feeding on the hillside nearby. 12 “Send us into those pigs,” the spirits begged. “Let us enter them.”
13 So Jesus gave them permission. The evil spirits came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the entire herd of about 2,000 pigs plunged down the steep hillside into the lake and drowned in the water.
14 The herdsmen fled to the nearby town and the surrounding countryside, spreading the news as they ran. People rushed out to see what had happened. 15 A crowd soon gathered around Jesus, and they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons. He was sitting there fully clothed and perfectly sane, and they were all afraid. 16 Then those who had seen what happened told the others about the demon-possessed man and the pigs. 17 And the crowd began pleading with Jesus to go away and leave them alone.
18 As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon possessed begged to go with him. 19 But Jesus said, “No, go home to your family, and tell them everything the Lord has done for you and how merciful he has been.” 20 So the man started off to visit the Ten Towns (Decapolis) of that region and began to proclaim the great things Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed at what he told them.”
Nature obeys Jesus! Demons obey Jesus! The man who was healed begs Jesus to take him along as Jesus gets into the boat. Try to picture that scene. This man has been extremely physically strong from the demons’ power. He has lived naked, screaming and cutting himself among the cave graveyard sites. Now he is calm and mentally and emotionally well. To say he ‘begged’ Jesus to come along is an understatement. I’m sure he desperately wanted to stay with Jesus. But he did what Jesus asked him to – he stayed and told people throughout the area how Jesus healed him. Here is a man who followed what Jesus asked of him, even though he would have preferred to accompany Jesus.
Then there were the people in the town. Were they excited that Jesus healed this man who had been so disruptive in the area? No. “And the crowd began pleading with Jesus to go away and leave them alone.” Jesus had disrupted their lifestyle when the pigs had drowned. We might have a tendency to think those people were foolish, and unwilling to accept Jesus – kind of ‘write-offs’. But here is a question for you and for me.
Do you truly believe Jesus is who he claims to be – God Himself? Are we willing to disrupt our daily routine or lifestyle to follow him? Do we feel the nudge of the Holy Spirit to get involved in some particular thing, but brush it aside because we already have plans or because it would mean we had to make some changes?
“Jesus Heals in Response to Faith
21 Jesus got into the boat again and went back to the other side of the lake, where a large crowd gathered around him on the shore. 22 Then a leader of the local synagogue, whose name was Jairus, arrived. When he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet, 23 pleading fervently with him. “My little daughter is dying,” he said. “Please come and lay your hands on her; heal her so she can live.”
24 Jesus went with him, and all the people followed, crowding around him. 25 A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding. 26 She had suffered a great deal from many doctors, and over the years she had spent everything she had to pay them, but she had gotten no better. In fact, she had gotten worse. 27 She had heard about Jesus, so she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his robe. 28 For she thought to herself, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.” 29 Immediately the bleeding stopped, and she could feel in her body that she had been healed of her terrible condition.
30 Jesus realized at once that healing power had gone out from him, so he turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my robe?”
31 His disciples said to him, “Look at this crowd pressing around you. How can you ask, ‘Who touched me?’”
32 But he kept on looking around to see who had done it. 33 Then the frightened woman, trembling at the realization of what had happened to her, came and fell to her knees in front of him and told him what she had done. 34 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.”
35 While he was still speaking to her, messengers arrived from the home of Jairus, the leader of the synagogue. They told him, “Your daughter is dead. There’s no use troubling the Teacher now.”
36 But Jesus overheard (or ignored) them and said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith.”
37 Then Jesus stopped the crowd and wouldn’t let anyone go with him except Peter, James, and John (the brother of James). 38 When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw much commotion and weeping and wailing. 39 He went inside and asked, “Why all this commotion and weeping? The child isn’t dead; she’s only asleep.”
40 The crowd laughed at him. But he made them all leave, and he took the girl’s father and mother and his three disciples into the room where the girl was lying. 41 Holding her hand, he said to her, “Talitha koum,” which means “Little girl, get up!” 42 And the girl, who was twelve years old, immediately stood up and walked around! They were overwhelmed and totally amazed. 43 Jesus gave them strict orders not to tell anyone what had happened, and then he told them to give her something to eat.”
There are 2 stories intertwined here. First, there is a lady who has been suffering from a bleeding issue for 12 years. She has spent all her money on various doctors and possible remedies. On this day, she acts on what she has heard, that Jesus can heal, so she wants to just touch him and hopes that will work. Maybe she had a strong faith, but I wonder if it was more like pure desperation. What I loved about Jesus’ response was that he wasn’t going to let her leave without connecting with him personally. “And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.”
Jesus is a loving God. He wants us to have a personal relationship with him. He wants us to know his healing touch in our lives, so we can give the credit to him. Later we won’t say it was a lucky break, or maybe something else had influenced the outcome.
We see further evidence of Jesus’ love for us as he raises Jairus’ daughter from the dead. Jesus doesn’t make this a big event, something to make him even more famous. As he entered Jairus’ house, he said the girl was just sleeping. The crowd at the house laughed at that since they were sure she had died. But then, Jesus tells Jairus and his wife, as well as the three disciples with him, not to talk about what had happened. His incredible power over death was to remain quiet for now. Look at how Jesus healed her. He held her hand, and said some endearing words, “Little girl, get up!” That was something akin to “Sweetie, come here.” Jesus, Almighty God, has a loving relationship with us.
So, here are some questions for you and me:
* Do you have trouble trusting God with specific fears? If so, which ones and why?
* Have you ever been in a place in your life when you felt things were too far gone even for Jesus? * 8 * * What words would you use to describe that time in your life?
* How does this fact – that Jesus wants to be with you – impact your daily life? What can you do to remind yourself throughout the day of this truth – that a compassionate loving Saviour wants to be with you?