April 4, 2015.
Daily Reading: Mark 5-6.
Background: Mark 3-4.
Concepts and Connections.
Three accounts of healing: Though this chapter is a rather lengthy text, it has one overall theme, and that is miracles of healing done by the Christ. There are three accounts of healing depicted here, one of a man who has a daemon (or rather, a great many demons acting as one), a woman with an issue of blood and a man who would ultimately have his daughter raised from the dead because she died before Jesus came to the house.
The story of legion is an interesting one that might even spark some controversy over they way Jesus ultimately cast out the demons. The man with this demon was very well known among the country of the Gerasenes, as he had often been bound with chains (for he was out of his mind), but had broken them every time with the strength of the demons inside of him. No one could control him and he probably presented a rather large problem to the town. When Jesus came, however, the demons cried out to Jesus not to torment them. Notice that the demons knew exactly who Jesus was, the Son of the most high God (see James 2:19), begging Him earnestly not to send them out of the county. Thus, He allows them to be send into a large group of swine that were feeding nearby, and they went into them and caused the heard to run off a cliff. When the people came out after the commotion, they were afraid because they saw the man that no one could restrain, sitting clothed and in his right mind. Though this should have pointed to the glory of Jesus, it instead made their hearts to fear, asking Him to leave their region. Jesus had a plan for them, however, as He would not allow the demon-possesed man to remain with Him as he wanted to do, but rather to go back to his city and proclaim the work of God, which he indeed would do, causing many to marvel. Let us remember that his spiritual life did not stop at the point of his salvation from the demons, but it only begun. So too our spiritual life does not end at the point of our salvation, but rather only begins. We have a job to do.
The second story of healing in this chapter is of Jairus’ daughter. It is interesting to note that Jairus is a leader in the synagog, showing that Jesus’ fame had reached the Jewish leaders and even some of them believed in His power (though others would strongly oppose Him, even though they knew He was working miracles). Jairus implores Jesus to come heal his ailing daughter, and Jesus agrees to go with him. Jairus’ story is interrupted, however, with a woman who had an issue of blood and a lot of faith. She knew that if she could just touch the hem of Jesus’ garment that she would be made well. This is precisely what she did, and Jesus turned around when He knew that power had gone out from Him, asking who touched Him. Notice the relational aspect of the Christ seen here. The disciples thought the question He asked was absurd, for there was a great crowd around them and many people were in contact with Jesus. But Jesus turned to speak directly with the woman, creating a relationship with her, commenting on her great faith. During this time (though it was not because of the delay), Jairus’ daughter died, and messengers came to tell him not to bother Jesus with coming any more. This showed an underestimation of the power of Jesus, and He sought to break this paradigm. He took Peter, James and John and went on to the house, claiming that the child was only sleeping. He goes in to where the daughter was, only taking her parents (again, it seems this is a relationship oriented move) and He raises her from the dead, causing amazement in her parents eyes. But He charged them to tell no one, probably to try to keep His fame to a minimum before the appointed time of His departure.
1. The limited commission and various signs: After Jesus is rejected in His home town (for no prophet is accepted in their hometown, with the people that had grown up with them and known them all their lives), He turned to the villages, teaching wherever He went. Then He sends the disciples out in what we often refer to as the ‘limited commission,’ relative to the great commission to all believers in Matthew 28:18-20. It is only deemed ‘limited,’ because it was given to a specific group of disciples. He sent them out two by two, which should be considered whenever we do evangelistic work today (to go in pairs, or more). They went out proclaiming a message of repentance, while doing many great works.
The ministry of the Christ was fully underway, and it can be seen from the limited commission that the message was always intended to be entrusted in the hands of men to spread the good news. But while Jesus was on this earth, He made it very clear that He was the Son of God through His teachings that were backed up by the various signs that He did. In this chapter we read of the miraculous feeding of the 5,000, Jesus walking on the water and a healing of a great number of the sick at just the touch of the fringe of His garment. Jesus’ reputation was growing everywhere He went, and He was gaining more followers, though many would fall off when the message got tough, for many were there just for their physical needs, not to drink the living water of the spiritual life Jesus was offering. Let us hold to the full majesty of God.
2. John the baptizer: In the middle of this chapter, we are given a backstory as to what had happened to John the baptizer in relation to his death. John had been very influential in his ministry, but he did not sugar coat things. Herod seemed to have a love/hate relationship with him. He highly respected John and like to hear what he had to say, but he also didn’t like it when John had negative things to say about things Herod was doing. We can take many lessons from this story, perhaps some of the most important ones being that truth is not always easy to swallow, think before you make blanket promises and sex has always been a strong motivator (in other words, the concept of ‘sex sells’ is nothing new). Herod was forced into a tough position when he promised Herodias’s daughter practically anything she wanted after her dance pleased him. Since John’s words had not been taken kindly by Herodias, she had her daughter ask for John the baptizer’s head on a platter! Though he was reluctant (for good reason), because of his public oath he gave the daughter what she asked for, and she subsequently took the platter to her mother. Many mistakes were made here that could have been avoided if righteousness had been pursued. Let us always pursue righteousness, and diminish the negative consequences of sin.
Tomorrow’s Reading: I Corinthians 14-16.
Prise His holy name.