Tomorrow night in Bible study, I’m going to cover Mark 5:21-41. Since I actually put some work into preparing and actually wrote something halfway substantial for probably the first time this year, I thought I’d share it here.
Special thanks go to Jeff King for inspiring this largely derivative study, and to God for using Jeff and his talents and insight to answer two simple prayers from last night.
Let’s let Mark start the story:
21When 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. 22Then one of the synagogue rulers, named Jairus, came there. Seeing Jesus, he fell at his feet 23and 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."
Now remember, most of the religious leaders of the day didn’t have a whole lot of use for Jesus. And being a synagogue ruler in this day and age, he was in the upper crust. But on this day, He needed Jesus.
So this aristocrat comes up to Jesus and wants something from Him. Jesus had this big crowd around Him. Yet Jesus dropped that opportunity and went to help him. Even though Jesus had something else to do. And even though Jesus could have used this opportunity to teach the aristocrat a lesson.
The lesson for me: God does not have better things to do. God wants to hear my voice. Yours too.
And there’s a second lesson: God “teaching us a lesson” doesn’t necessarily have to be painful. Sometimes it is. But He prefers, as we’re about to find out, to be unbelievably kind and loving.
24So Jesus went with him. 25A large crowd followed and pressed around him.
The crowd expected something. I guess Jesus had a reputation. The hard question for me: Do I expect God to do something?
And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. 26She 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.
Anyone who made contact with this woman became ceremonially unclean. (See Leviticus 15-25-33.) She was an inconvenience. A nuissance. This woman lived in loneliness and isolation for 12 years. Not to mention the physical pain she must have suffered.
Now, I don’t know about anybody else, but I can handle pain. I deal a whole lot worse with loneliness. When I’m in pain and lonely, personally, it’s the loneliness that I want to go away. To me, 12 hours of it is more than enough, so I can’t even begin to imagine this poor woman’s plight.
27When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak,
What I want to know is why this woman that nobody wanted to have anything to do with knew about Jesus. And that raises a question: Is there anyone in my life or yours who nobody wants to have anything to do with who needs to know about Jesus?
28because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.”
This has always troubled me, because I’ve wondered whether this was faith or superstition. Faith is good. Superstition isn’t. But God knows faith when He sees it. Here’s a question: What had the power? The cloak, or Jesus? The answer is the difference between the two.
If you think I think there are a lot of superstitious Christians, you’re right. Take the Prayer of Jabez (please!): There is absolutely nothing special about the words, "enlarge my territory." Say that to me and I might give you a quarter if I have one and nobody else has asked me today. But if you say it to God, trusting in the power of God and not in some magic words, and it’s God’s will… then it’s something special. But wouldn’t God rather hear your own words?
Here’s something else that strikes me. She was afraid to just ask Him for what she wanted. Maybe she didn’t want to trouble Him. He was off to stop someone from dying, after all. He had something better to do, right?
Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, a million times plus infinity wrong. God isn’t like your overburdened unapproachable boss. God isn’t bound by the constraints of time. God always has time for you.
Is there anything that you’re afraid to ask God for?
29Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.
Jesus healed her. Period. End of story. Right?
30At 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?’ "
32But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it.
I used to think Jesus was angry here. Maybe He was mad about her making Him physically unclean. Maybe He was mad about her being superstitious. Maybe He had some other reason. Now I believe differently. Of course Jesus knew who touched Him. He only asked because He wanted her to approach Him. Why? I don’t think Jesus was satisfied with healing just her physical ailment. We’ll see why in a second.
33Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth.
She thought the same thing I used to think. She’s a genius! She agrees with me!
34He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering."
Look at what Jesus said. What word jumps out at you? The word that jumps out at me is "Daughter." "Daughter" is a loving word. It’s a special word. How special was it to Jesus? It’s the only recorded instance of Him using this word.
Now, if you’ll indulge my overanalysis for a minute: She’s in pain and she’s lonely. If she could get rid of her bleeding, then human contact suddenly becomes a possibility. Solve the root problem, and then she can see about finding some companionship. Maybe she had some relatives. Maybe she could make some friends. She didn’t dare ask Jesus to love her.
But what she wanted wasn’t nearly as important to Jesus as what she needed. Jesus didn’t dare keep on walking without telling her that He loved her.
The Eastern Orthodox church has a legend that this woman’s name was Veronica, and that she followed Him literally to His death. The legend says that when Jesus fell underneath the weight of the cross on His way to Calvary, Veronica reached out to Him and wiped the sweat, blood, and dirt off his face with a handkerchief as the soldiers seized Simon of Cyrene and made him carry Jesus’ cross the rest of the way. She was there for Him when His disciples had abandoned Him. It’s only a legend, but isn’t it a beautiful picture of a reaction to God’s love?
35While 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?"
If “trouble” wan’t Jesus’ least favorite word before He was incarnated, it was by the time He died. Remember what I said before about God not being bound by the constraints of time? You’re not any trouble for Him.
36Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, "Don’t be afraid; just believe."
Faith is enough. The amount of faith doesn’t matter. The smallest possible amount of faith in the right thing–God–is more than enough.
37He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James.
Peter, James and John were Jesus’ inner circle. This was one of many things they alone were priveliged to see.
38When they came to the home of the synagogue ruler, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. 39He went in and said to them, "Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep."
As far as God is concerned, death and sleep are the same thing. Jesus wasn’t lying.
40But they laughed at him. 41After he put them all out,
God isn’t mocked. But Jesus didn’t punish them; He just gave them the same fate as the other 9 disciples: They had to wait outside.
he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, "Talitha koum!" (which means, "Little girl, I say to you, get up!" ).
Look at some of the words here. Gently. Taking her by the hand. “Talitha” is an endearing way to say “little girl.” Jesus loved that girl.
42Immediately the girl stood up and walked around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. 43He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat.
Let’s look at the two halves of verse 43. First half: Jesus didn’t want to be famous. Jesus wanted to help people. Jesus was the very embodiment of humility. This raises a tough question for me: How many times have I boasted about something God did, hoping that someone would think more highly of me simply because I happened to be there? Don’t we sometimes seem to be preoccupied with appearing to be spiritual powerhouses? I hope I’m the only one.
Second half: Jeff King, a friend of a friend, brought this one up. Do you see the parallel with verse 34? Jesus raised this girl from the dead, and once again, He wasn’t satisfied. First He’s concerned that she’s sick and in pain. Then He’s concerned that she’s dead–a valid concern, possibly. Did she believe before He raised her from the dead? Not likely. I’m sure she did afterward. So now that He’s healed her ailment and saved her soul, what’s He concerned about? He didn’t want her to be hungry.
God derives no pleasure from your hunger or mine. None.
I’ve asked a lot of questions tonight, but I want to ask one more. What have you been afraid to talk to God about?
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®: NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.
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