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Life of Christ (2007-2009)

Traveling Healer

Mark 4:53 - 5:43

Lesson audio

May we begin with the answer? Here is the doctrine which is underlying this lesson:

  • Jesus of Nazareth is indeed God in the flesh.
  • He is the creator and sustainer of the universe.
  • His power matches his authority; and he has all authority.
  • That power, by the providence of God, is available to all who believe.
  • That providence is given for God’s purposes, not necessarily ours.

It is so simple, isn’t it?

Stilling the storm

Mar 4:35-41 NASB On that day, when evening came, He *said to them, "Let us go over to the other side." (36) Leaving the crowd, they *took Him along with them in the boat, just as He was; and other boats were with Him. (37) And there *arose a fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up. (38) Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they *woke Him and *said to Him, "Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?" (39) And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, "Hush, be still." And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm. (40) And He said to them, "Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?" (41) They became very much afraid and said to one another, "Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?"

Why is he asleep?

If Jesus did not have a lesson to deliver, he could certainly have arranged passage on a tranquil night. So we may assume he had some purpose. Somehow, we may presume, his being asleep was part of this. From his slumber, can we learn?

  • First, it tells you that Christ is fully human. Real human beings need to sleep (though not, please, during class.)
  • There is another reason having to do with the weather. The disciples did not see the storm as supernatural, but an ordinary event. Jesus doesn’t want to be awakened until the disciples are desperate.
  • Likewise, he makes it clear to them that their lack of faith is no limit to his power. For this, he needs a well developed storm. Hence, he sleeps.
Why was the storm calmed “at once?”

Mostly because he didn’t want them thinking it was just some sort of fluke coincidence. But we might advance a couple of other thoughts:

  • Think of all the times in the Old Testament someone did something miraculous regarding water. Moses parting the Red Sea, Joshua the Jordan, Elisha the Jordan – all these used a talisman. Moses had his staff; Joshua the ark; Elisha had Elijah’s mantle. Christ calms the sea with but a word of command. These others were given power; Christ has it in himself.
  • It’s also just possible that Christ had in mind something of a personal lesson. Note that there are other boats on the water – but only the disciples get the lesson. He thus obligates the disciples to explain this calm to those in the other boats. This will be an aid to humility, at least.
Lessons learned

Christ teaches by word, by parable and here by example. The first simple lesson is that we are not to be confounded by our troubles. Tribulation is an opportunity to go before the throne of grace. But how? With boldness, we are told.[1] We must learn and not repeat the mistake. We also need to see that tribulation comes so that our faith may be made stronger, not our panic.

But if there is one thing that comes through this for the follower of Christ, it is this: in the presence of Christ nothing but humility is appropriate. If we will not give it, he will provide for it.

Demons

Mar 5:1-20 NIV The Healing of a Demon-possessed Man

They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes.[1] (2) When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an evil[2] spirit came from the tombs to meet him. (3) This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him any more, not even with a chain. (4) For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. (5) Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones. (6) When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. (7) He shouted at the top of his voice, "What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won't torture me!" (8) For Jesus had said to him, "Come out of this man, you evil spirit!" (9) Then Jesus asked him, "What is your name?"

"My name is Legion," he replied, "for we are many." (10) And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area. (11) A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. (12) The demons begged Jesus, "Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them." (13) He gave them permission, and the evil spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned. (14) Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. (15) When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. (16) Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man--and told about the pigs as well. (17) Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region. (18) As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. (19) Jesus did not let him, but said, "Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you." (20) So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis[3]how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.

Do demons exist ?

It is common today, even among Christians, to say that demons don’t exist; it’s really just mental illness. But I would have you consider two pieces of evidence:

  1. The pigs. How does mental illness spread to pigs – and so fast?
  2. Missionaries. Ask those who work in third world countries, especially among those who are animists.

Some, however, argue that demons cannot exist. They are, after all, not made of matter and energy, and all things that exist are made of matter and energy – because that’s all there is in the universe. But let me give you a couple of counter-arguments:

  • If, bear with me, we define the universe as all matter and energy in all times and places, then I submit that there must be something “outside.” Why? Well, did the universe create itself? It is absurd. Whatever (Christians would say Whoever) created the universe cannot be a part of the universe. Therefore something “other” must exist. We call that spirit.
  • If the universe ceased to exist tomorrow morning, would the Pythagorean theorem still be true? If it would, then truth exists “outside” the universe.
Nature of demons

We must begin with the fact that the demons are the servants of Satan – the father of lies. Anything we learn directly from the demons must therefore be viewed with great suspicion. What we can see in this passage comes down to:

  • Demons seek to control or dominate those they can.
  • Somehow, they need a body – even a pig.

Other than that, we know that they often try to deliver the results of magic. Magic is a cheap shortcut for science; but the purpose of both is the same. We want to manipulate the universe to our pleasure.

Worldview

The reaction to this deliverance is rather interesting. Consider:

  • The herdsmen take fright, then flight. The fact that this man is now in his right mind counts very little against the bill for two thousand pigs.
  • The locals therefore come to Jesus and ask him to leave – which, being the perfect gentleman, he does.

Sound familiar? Our world likes Jesus the gentle, but wants no part of Jesus the strong. We want our god to be a tame one.

Two petitions

Mar 5:21-43 NIV When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake. (22) Then one of the synagogue rulers, named Jairus, came there. Seeing Jesus, he fell at his feet (23) and pleaded earnestly with him, "My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live." (24) So Jesus went with him.

A large crowd followed and pressed around him. (25) And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. (26) She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. (27) When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, (28) because she thought, "If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed." (29) Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. (30) At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, "Who touched my clothes?" (31) "You see the people crowding against you," his disciples answered, "and yet you can ask, 'Who touched me?' " (32) But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. (33) Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. (34) He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering." (35) While Jesus was still speaking, some men came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. "Your daughter is dead," they said. "Why bother the teacher any more?" (36) Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, "Don't be afraid; just believe." (37) He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. (38) When they came to the home of the synagogue ruler, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. (39) He went in and said to them, "Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep." (40) But they laughed at him.

After he put them all out, he took the child's father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. (41) He took her by the hand and said to her, "Talitha koum!" (which means, "Little girl, I say to you, get up!" ). (42) Immediately the girl stood up and walked around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. (43) He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat.

The woman

We must deal with the woman first, for she sets the example for Jairus. Most clearly, she sets and example in humility. How so?

  • She has been ceremonially unclean for twelve years. She’s living in humiliation.
  • She touches his garment from behind – not worthy to look on his face.
  • She dares not ask the Master anything – just grasp.

Her faith is obvious, and is therefore an example. Christ rewards this by telling her to “go in peace.” Compare that to the anxiety she has had. Not just healing, but peace from God – see then that healing has its psychological side as well.

Most of all, though, she is an example to Jairus, the synagogue ruler. But it leads one to ask: why did God have her suffer physically and as an outcast, unclean?

The Ruler

It is significant that Jesus takes sufficient time so that when he arrives the young girl is dead. This sounds cruel, but consider what it means to us:

  • Which is a greater miracle, healing sickness or raising from the dead?
  • We have hear an example of the resurrection of the dead – which is promised to us by the one who did it.

This man was most likely one of “ordinary holiness” – not super-saint but pillar of the church variety. Did he come to Jesus with anger in his heart, asking why such things happen to good people like himself? We don’t know – but we do know he didn’t ask. The tragedy before him and the example of the woman have combined to make him a man humbled before God.

Seek his face

Both of these came to Jesus, and give us an example when we go before the throne of grace:

·         We should approach him in humility, remembering who we are. If you are too humble, God should be able to correct that fairly quickly.

·         We should approach him in faith.

·         We should approach him as one knowing him, and his power.

Do these three incidents have a thread between them? Yes; they show the power and authority of Christ:

·         Power and authority over things natural

·         Power and authority over things spiritual

·         Power and authority over all our troubles

All is given to him; therefore, seek his face.


[1] Hebrews 10:19

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