Series: The Good News of Jesus Christ - Part Sixteen
Pastor Stephen Muncherian
May 27, 2018
This morning we are at Mark 5 - going on at verse 21. We have a short quiz to help us all get in sync to where we’re at here in Mark’s good news account of Jesus.
Last Sunday we left Jesus and His disciples leaving the Decapolis. So, question #1:
The Decapolis is…
A. A form of Greek execution [which was a suggestion from some one here at Creekside who shall remain nameless]
B. Ten Cities east of the Sea of Galilee
C. A Greek cemetery [a place of tombs]
D. All of the above
Answer B. Decapolis is Greek. “Deca” - Greek number ten. “Polis” meaning “city.” “Deca polis” because there were essentially 10 cities in the region east of the Sea of Galilee that were Greek. Which you can see there on the map.
Over the past few Sundays we’ve been following Jesus taking His disciples on a field trip - through a fear inducing storm at sea and to the Decapolis to exorcise a demon possessed man with a lot of pigs getting dead. So, question #2:
The purpose of the field trip was:
A. To demonstrate what Jesus has been teaching.
B. To give Jesus a break from teaching
C. To provide entertainment for disciples
D. A time of spiritual retreat for Jesus and the disciples
Answer A: Jesus has been teaching about the Kingdom of God - which is the rule of the eternal sovereign God over all of His creation. Specifically the kingdom of God is a spiritual rule over the hearts and lives of those who willingly submit to God’s authority. Meaning those who acknowledge the lordship of Christ and gladly surrender to God’s rule in their hearts.
Jesus has been teaching about what that looks like in real time. Which is the purpose of the field trip - to demonstrate Who Jesus is and what it means in real time to have faith in Him. To live in the power and potential of God’s kingdom as a follower of Jesus.
Mark 5 - starting at verse 21. The Heart of a Father
Would you read verses 21 to 24 with me: And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about Him, and He was beside the sea. Then one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing Him, he fell at His feet and implored Him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.” And He went with him.
Jesus and His disciples return from their field trip across the Sea of Galilee. As they came to Capernaum on the western shore there was a large crowd that had gathered there at the shore to meet Jesus. These were people who had come from all over there was any place to come from. A huge crowd of perhaps thousands - that as Jesus gets off the boat “gathered about Him.” Meaning they just surrounded Him.
As Jesus steps into this large crowd of thousands He’s met by Jarius who was an official in the local synagogue - a man of prominence - who was no stranger to Jesus. Most probably he’d had first hand experience with Jesus because Jesus had attended services at the synagogue and Jesus had taught there. Capernaum being a small town of about 1,500 people - he’d probably seen Jesus healing people and exorcising demons. Probably he’d heard from others about whatever else Jesus had been doing.
Jarius comes and falls at the feet of Jesus and “implored Him earnestly” - which means that with urgency and with great passion coming from his heart - Jarius begs Jesus to come and lay hands on his daughter “so that she may be made well and live.”
What we’re seeing unfold here has the potential to be every parent’s worst nightmare. The death of a child.
There is a heart wrenching tenderness here: “My little daughter.”
We find out later that the daughter is 12 years old. Most 12 year old’s don’t like being called “little.” But this is the father speaking. This is his little girl. Emphasis not size but how the father views his daughter - her tender years - her loveliness in his eyes - the memories of watching her grow. Luke records that this little girl is his only little girl.
“At the point of death” - literally means “at the last end.” Meaning the final stage of dying. Jarius and his wife have done everything anyone knew how to do. And yet they’re watching their only little girl die before their eyes. They’re helpless. Hopeless. Except for Jesus.
It’s not hard to imagine Jarius and the other synagogue leaders having discussions about Jesus - His character and reputation and His teaching. On one hand are the theological issues and possible blasphemy and all the politics connected with all that. And yet on the other hand the sick and dying were being healed. Demons are being cast out. There’s a point where all that discussion was purely intellectual - a good religious or political debate.
But now, Jarius’ only daughter - just 12 years old - is dying. And in a really brave and gutsy move - a move of desperation - setting his rank and position aside - Jarius moves through the crowd welcoming Jesus. He falls at Jesus’ feet and implores Him earnestly to make the short journey to his home - to touch his daughter - “so that she may be made well and live.”
The gospel accounts don’t record the nature of Jarius’ relationship with Jesus. But what we see here is a heart motivated exercise of faith in Jesus. Jarius recognizes that without Jesus his daughter has no hope of survival. She will die. By the kindness and healing power of Jesus she will live.
We often delude ourselves into thinking that we have control over our lives - maybe even control over our children. And for a brief time maybe we do have some control over them.
As parents it seems like we’re always working so that our children will have a better start and position in life than we had. We make all kinds of plans for them - about schooling and the experiences they’ll have growing up. We set aside money for college and the future. But what control do we really have?
Families are dysfunctional. Parents and kids can’t seem to communicate with each other. Parents can’t seem to communicate with parents. And yet we go on trying to keep the lid on all the emotions and problems - putting on a well controlled outward appearance - but dying inside.
Maybe it’s because we realize how out of our control life is that we put stuff into our lives that we think we control - how we entertain ourselves - what we eat - what we fill our houses with - the addictions we allow ourselves. Trying to have something in our lives we control.
But what control do we really have?
We need to be impressed with the desperation of Jarius. He comes to Jesus - setting aside his position - his influence - his well ordered - controlled life - and in humility - with nothing left he comes to Jesus. Every part of His life that he controlled is given up. His daughter is dying. And he realizes - that with what’s really important in life - he has no control. He desperately puts his life and the life of His daughter into Jesus’ hands.
We need to see that our desperation - our lack of control - already exists. What real control do we have over our lives and the lives of our children? We need to trust God and let go of trying to control them and us.
Verse 25 us to The Heart of a Woman
Would you read with me starting at verse 25:
And a great crowd followed Him and thronged about Him. And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment. For she said, “If I touch even His garments, I will be made well.” And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed.
And Jesus, perceiving in Himself that power had gone out from Him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched My garments?”
And the disciples said to Him, “You see the crowd pressing around You, and yet You say, ‘Who touched Me?’”
And He looked around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth.
And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
Notice three important things about this woman’s condition.
First, this woman had been hemorrhaging for 12 years.
Literally, she had been experiencing her menstrual flow without interruption for 12 straight years. It’s not hard to imagine that she was anemic and physically weak - debilitated by her physical sickness.
Second, she was an outcast.
In Leviticus 15 there are specific laws given which speak about how to treat a woman who has a discharge of blood beyond her normal period of menstruation. This woman was considered ceremonially unclean - impure. As long as she was in this condition - and for 7 days afterward - she was to be considered unclean.
That meant that anyone or anything that came in contact with her was also considered unclean - including anyone in that crowd - including Jesus. She had to avoid her people. People - even her family - had to avoid her. She couldn’t approach the Temple - because she would defile it. So, she was prevented from being a part of the normal worship of her people. (Leviticus 15:25-30)
For twelve years this woman had lived painfully separated - ostracized - held at a distance by her family - her community - her religion - treated like a unclean - sinful - outcast.
Third, this woman, “had suffered much under many physicians.”
In the Talmud - the Jewish commentary on the Old Testament - there are at least 11 different cures offered for this woman’s condition - lotions - potions - and concoctions based in superstition and the inferior medical knowledge of the day. This woman had spent all of her money on these “cures” and - its not surprising - she was actually worse off because of them.
Thinking about where this poor woman was at. What condition would we find ourselves - physically - spiritually - emotionally - if we had to continue on this way - disappointment after crushing disappointment - being drained of resources - without hope of healing - for 12 long years?
In this crowd following Jesus is this impoverished woman - diseased - distanced - in agony - in anguish - heart level desperate. That has come to understand probably because of what she’s seen Jesus do or heard about Him - this woman - at the heart level - has come to understand that her only hope is Jesus.
In desperation this woman pushes her way through a crowd of people - that by her very touch are now unclean - she reaches out and defiles Jesus with her touch - and yet, she is physically healed.
Verse 29: And Jesus, perceiving in Himself that power had gone out from Him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched My garments?”
Jesus - at the moment He’s touched by this woman - Jesus was on His way to the home of Jarius - a life and death mission to heal Jarius’ daughter. The disciples are focused on the crowds - the important official - the expected healing of the daughter. The crowd - Jesus’ paparazzi fan club - is partying as they move to Jarius’ house. Jesus’ enemies are looking for opportunities to take Jesus down. Each one is distracted by their own reasons for being there. Everyone is distracted except Jesus
What it means that the “power had gone out from Him” we don’t know. That’s a Jesus thing. But we know that when Jesus sensed what had happened, Jesus immediately stops - in the midst of this great crowd - and looks around for the woman who had touched Him. This woman who was going to slip back into the crowd - anonymous. No one would ever have known what she had done. But now the whole procession has stopped and Jesus is looking for her. Imagine her fear.
When Jesus stops and searches for this woman He’s not looking for her out of anger - to expose this unclean woman to the ridicule of the crowd. When Jesus asks, “Who touched Me?” He’s giving her an invitation. She’s already been healed physically. Jesus could have left it at that. But there’s a need here that goes deeper than any physical healing.
Jesus gives an invitation to come and be healed inwardly - spiritually - of her deepest inward need - to know His love and the complete healing that He offers to each one of us.
Verse 33: But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth.
You can almost see her there in the crowd - eyes fixed on Jesus. Only she and Jesus know what has happened. As their eyes meet each other she senses His love and concern for her. As the crowd steps back - perhaps forming a space around Jesus - she steps forward into that space and falls at His feet. Before the scrutiny of that entire crowd - she pours out her story - it all comes out at the feet of Jesus - 12 years of emptiness - hopeless suffering - wounded ness.
Verse 34: And He - Jesus - said to her, “Daughter - what tenderness - not anger or rejection - but tenderheartedness - the only time in Scripture Jesus addresses someone that way - daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your disease.”
Unfortunately the completeness of this woman’s healing - the scope of what Jesus says to her - gets lost in our English translation. It’s important for us to realize just how completely Jesus has healed her.
In the original Greek, the word translated here as “well” goes way beyond the scope of physical healing to encompass eternal spiritual salvation - salvation from her sins - healing of her relationship with God.
The word “peace” is the same word Jesus used to describe the peace that can only come from God - a deep - lasting - inner peace. Not the kind of temporary peace that we see in the world around us. (John 14:27)
The word “healed” speaks of restoration - wholeness. It’s a word used to describe Jesus’ resurrected body. (Acts 4:10)
“Disease” - some versions translate it as “afflictions” - what afflicted her - “disease” is the same word which describes when Jesus was scourged - having His back ripped open by a whip. (John 19:1)
What this woman has been healed from is that severe. The healing is that complete.
says to this woman:
“When I called and you
responded in faith. You were made more than
physically well. You’ve been made
spiritually well for eternity. Go and live
within this new inner peace and from what has been
ripping your soul apart be made completely whole.”
Let’s be clear on how what we’re seeing here connects with us.
The religious and cultural and medical understandings of the day had miserably failed this poor woman. Whatever answers she had longed for - for 12 years she’d been left longing. Until the day she met Jesus.
There are many places that we’re often tempted to turn for healing. Some of them are helpful.
But, the healing we need is not found in spiritual leaders or religious activities and traditions. Its not found in being part of a church congregation. It’s not found in philosophy. Not in patriotism. Psychology is limited in how it can help us. Doctors can promote healing in our bodies, but they can’t heal our soul. The healing we need is not found in the latest fads of meditation and exercise and diet or pop-Christianity.
What we need is Jesus. He’s the only one who can give us wholeness and peace and healing - what we long for - heart level - deep within.
And - let’s be clear - what He offers to us - His complete renewal and healing - He gives to us when we’re open to Him working in our lives on His terms and not ours.
Like the woman who wanted to slip into the crowd - touch Jesus - and slip out again with her healing - we’re tempted to slip into God’s presence and slip out again.
It’s possible to come Sunday after Sunday to church - to be a part of this congregation - this crowd - and to experience God’s presence - even to live within His blessing by living according to Christian precepts and God’s commands. But we can completely miss what Jesus wants to do in our lives because we’re content to just touch His clothing - coming on our own terms to touch the surface of what He can do in our lives.
The saving act of faith here is not that this woman reached out and touched Jesus’ clothing. The saving act of faith that Jesus responds to is her response to Jesus’ invitation - when nothing else mattered to her but Jesus - not the scrutiny of the crowd and their opinion - not the culture and traditions of her people - not even her own fears. It was the condition of her heart that brought her to her knees before Jesus - complete broken openness before Him.
That faith is saving faith. That faith open us up to Jesus’ healing in our lives.
There’s a difference between being a part of a crowd - knowing we’re broken and needing Jesus - a difference between that and being broken and on our knees before the Lord and Savior.
If we desire His complete healing in our lives - when Jesus asks, “Who touched Me?” - when He invites us to come on His terms - the big issue for each of us - the decision we need to make is are willing to let go of our self-protectiveness - our control of our relationship with God - and trust Him with everything we are.
Verse 35 brings us to back to Jarius and The Heart of Our Savior.
Would you read with me beginning at verse 35:
While He was speaking, there came from the ruler’s house some who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?”
But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.”
And He allowed no one to follow Him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. They came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and Jesus saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly.
And when He had entered, He said to them, “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping.”
And they laughed at Him. But He put them all outside and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with Him and went in where the child was. Taking her by the hand He said to her, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.”
And immediately the girl got up and began walking around (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement. And He strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.
It’s not a stretch to imagine that while Jesus is talking with this woman - that Jarius might be getting a bit impatient.
“We’re on our way to save my one precious little daughter and this unclean woman shows up and touches Jesus and He has to stop and deal with her situation. And the He’s carrying on this conversation with this diseased unclean woman. She’s been bleeding for 12 years. One more hour isn’t going to make a whole lot of difference for her. But it’s life and death for my little girl. Why can’t Jesus just ignore her and go home with me now. Jesus, let’s get moving.”
Can we relate? We can almost see Jarius watching this conversation - shifting from one foot to the other - constantly checking his sundial. Which of us wouldn’t. Right?
Notice that there’s nothing recorded here to indicate that Jarius is impatient. Actually - the opposite.
While they’re there - killing time - messengers come from Jarius’ house and tell Jarius that his little girl has died. “Don’t waste Jesus’ time any more. The situation is beyond hopeless. She’s dead. Maybe you should come home with us.”
This is a real test of faith. What did Jarius really think of Jesus?
But, Jesus - Who has authority over death and what we would consider hopeless - Jesus tells Jarius, “Don’t be afraid, only believe.” “Trust Me. I’ve got this.”
And Jarius sides with Jesus. He continues on with Jesus. The heart of the father trusting the heart of the Savior. That’s not impatience. That’s faith.
“However Jesus has this worked out, I’m in.” We could stop off for lox and bagels and it’s all good as long as Jesus says it’s good. That’s faith.
Jesus takes His inner circle of disciples - Peter, James, and John - and goes directly Jarius’ house. When Jesus arrives the professional mourners are going full blast.
In those days - like some cultures today - they hired mourners to mourn over the death of someone. The more mourners the better. They would wail and cry and shriek - rip their clothing apart - tear out their hair - beat themselves. And musicians are there playing mournful music. It is a powerful and chaotic scene of desperation and hopelessness.
Jesus steps into all that and in a very calm manner tells them to stop carrying on. He says, “She isn’t dead. She’s sleeping.”
Which is Jesus’ way of declaring that physical death is not final. The Bible tells us that everyone will awaken from the sleep of physical death to face judgment in the presence of God - to face either eternal death - what is called the second death - eternal torment and separation from God - or to enter into eternal life with God forever. Jesus with authority over death is speaking truth about what is death.
In verse 53 we read that they all laughed at Jesus. They ridiculed Jesus. Because, they knew better. Like the messengers - the mourners knew what death looked like. The child was beyond hope... dead. Which tells us that they weren’t hearing Jesus as Jesus intended for them to hear Jesus.
Belief and unbelief can look at the same circumstances and draw totally opposite conclusions. Their response reveals their heart attitude towards God - their lack of openness to God’s kingdom - to what Jesus offers them in Himself.
Jesus - not trying to defend His statement - not trying to convince the crowd - Jesus sends everyone out of the house except His inner circle of disciples and Jarius and Mrs. Jarius. And they go into where the child is. Jesus tenderly takes the hand of this little girl and in her native Aramaic - uses words that her parents may have used every morning to wake her up - grab the tenderness in that - Jesus speaks to the daughter: “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” And she does.
Jesus literally calls this child from the sleep of death back to life. And the parents are overcome with amazement. The word in Greek has the idea of being driven out of their senses. There was no way to rationally process what they’re seeing. What they’re feeling. Their little girl - once dead - now walking around seemingly as if nothing had happened - hungry.
Then - verse 43 - Jesus strictly charged them - which in Greek means that Jesus strictly charged them. “Don’t tell anyone about what just happened.”
Which is kind of the way Jesus does things. Right?
Jesus does some amazingly spectacular only God could do this kind of thing - like raising the child from death - which He could have done in plain view of all those messengers and mourners - but instead of using this astonishing miracle as a springboard for some world encompassing evangelism program potentially sweeping millions into the kingdom of God - like we would - Jesus once again shuts the whole thing down. “Don’t tell anyone. Keep this to yourselves.”
Jesus did miracles in public - miracles that attracted large crowds. Jesus did miracles in public to validate His message and Who He is. And crowds of people would draw their own conclusions about all that - and about what happened to the little girl. They’d draw their own conclusions based on their belief or unbelief. Jesus wisely knows what the response of the crowd will be.
Jesus is tenderly ministering to the parents and teaching His disciples - what it means that He is the kingdom of God at hand. What it means in real time to live by faith in Him.
In that is a reality we must not miss for ourselves.
Just as earlier when the woman had touched Him Jesus had Himself become ritually unclean. In that room Jesus takes the hand of the little girl and Jesus Himself becomes ritually unclean. The significant connection of touch. Jesus shares in this little girl’s death in order to deliver her from death.
Looking ahead - Jesus again will share in death - our death. Jesus will become unclean for our sake. Jesus will experience physical death and bear God’s judgement for our sake. What we’re seeing here is preview of what Jesus will do on the cross for us.
And what we’re seeing is a preview of what Jesus will do at the end of time when He tenderly takes our hand and says, “I say to you, arise.”
That’s the heart of our Savior - that the crowds in their unbelief won’t understand that no matter how many miracles they see. That’s the heart of our Savior that one day the crowds will see and then they will mourn… for themselves.
Processing all that…
Or maybe we can relate to the heart of this woman who suffered for 12 long agonizing years - who is desperate for what Jesus can do for her but in fear she’s trying to control the when and how of God’s working in her life.
C.S. Lewis, in his book, “The Problem of Pain” - Lewis said that “[pain] plants the flag of truth within the fortress of the rebel soul” (1) Lewis called pain God’s megaphone. Meaning that we all can be really self-focused stubborn people and God uses pain to get our heart level attention - to get us focused on trusting Him.
Somehow - when life is going good - we can get caught up in our delusion that we’ve got it under control - and we can let slide on our surrendering and submitting to God. Just saying.
Pain - on the heart level - pain shatters our illusions of self-sufficiency and brings us to the realization of our weakness and desperation for God.
In that sense, desperation is a gift from God.
Desperation which may feel like a cruel joke. But God is not cruel. Our circumstances never escape His notice. He loves us even though difficulty remains. His heart towards us never changes.
As Paul writes, “We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purposes.” (Romans 8:28 NASB)
The pain we go through makes what Paul write more than theory for how we do life.
So here’s the take away. At some point - hopefully sooner rather than later - we need to trust the heart of our Savior.
These days what troubles your heart? What brings your heart to desperation? To anguish? To misery? To agony? What keeps you up at night? Or what crowds your thoughts during the day?
We all have a desperate need to trust the heart of our Savior. To view our circumstances from the perspective of faith. To trust Him regardless of what His path through the pain may be.
1. C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain (New York: Macmillan, 1978), page 95.
Sinclair B. Ferguson, Let’s Study Mark (Edinburgh, The Banner of Truth Trust, 2016).
Charles R. Swindoll, Swindoll’s Living Insights New Testament Commentary, Volume 2: Insights on Mark (Carol Stream, IL, Tyndale House Publishers, 2016).
Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.