In February I’ll be emphasizing faith as we continue our journey through Mark under the theme ‘What Faith Requires‘. Each week we will consider an aspect of the active faith to which we are called. The first week we will emphasize the word BELIEVE. That’s a natural place to start talking about faith.
For February 2 the Lectionary points us to Mark 5:21-43 and Psalm 131. In the Mark text there is a divided story, the Healing of Jairus’ Daughter (21-24, 35-43). It is interrupted by the healing of the woman with an issue of blood (25-34). In both accounts we witness desperate people who have a certain belief that Jesus has both power and willingness to heal.
Jairus is a synagogue leader who has a daughter who is dying. Like all parents in that situation, he desperately and unashamedly begs Jesus to come to his house and lay hands on her. He believes that Jesus can heal her. Interrupting their journey is an unnamed Woman who has an incurable bleeding disorder. She desperately wants to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment because she believes that will bring healing. When it does take effect, Jesus says to her “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering” (Mark 5:34, NIVUK).
The celebration of that healing is cut short when word comes from Jairus’ household that his daughter has died. Humans said, “Why bother the teacher anymore?” Jesus said, “Don’t be afraid; just believe”. Further, when Jesus arrived at the house and told them “The child is not dead but asleep”, they laughed at him. It seems there is a mixture of people in this story – some who believe, some who have yet to believe. That’s all about to change as Jesus raises the twelve year old girl and the people were “completely astonished”.
There seems to me to be a movement of desperation to belief / unbelief and then to faith. Faith calls us to believe – to trust – to know that Jesus is able. These stories recount for us the power and compassion of Jesus. Like those in Jairus’ household, we are amazed. When we face the desperate times in our lives are we moved to trust … to reach out and touch … to know He cares?
If you could bring every broken part of you to Jesus for healing, what would you bring to Him today? This is what we see people doing in the stories about Jesus.He is the One who receives broken hearts … dreams … lives. He is the only one who can bring healing and peace and grace. We have noted this month that Jesus is Amazing! Teacher, Friend, he has an Amazing Mission, and He is an amazing Savior.
We all need saving – all of us are sinners … imperfect … human. There’s some part of all of us today that needs to be saved. Jesus came to save us so that we can live with him for eternity.
Mark 5 describes a scene of terror and destruction. It’s late in the evening. The disciples had just crossed the Lake of Galilee in a storm. The city of Garasa was one of the ten cities of the Decapolis. Geographically, Jesus has ventured well into Gentile territory. This area is characterized by many caves in the limestone rock, many of which were used as tombs.
As soon as he got out of the boat, a man with an unclean spirit came out of the tombs and met him. 3 He lived in the tombs, and no one was able to restrain him anymore—not even with a chain— 4 because he often had been bound with shackles and chains, but had torn the chains apart and smashed the shackles. No one was strong enough to subdue him. 5 Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains, he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones.6 When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and knelt down before him. 7 And he cried out with a loud voice, “What do you have to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you before God, don’t torment me!” 8 For he had told him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” 9 “What is your name?” he asked him. “My name is Legion,” he answered him, “because we are many.” 10 And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the region. 11 A large herd of pigs was there, feeding on the hillside. 12 The demons[b] begged him, “Send us to the pigs, so that we may enter them.” 13 So he gave them permission, and the unclean spirits came out and entered the pigs. The herd of about two thousand rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned there.
Jesus Is Our Savior From the Evil of this World
This man was suffering from a powerful demon living in him. I think of demon possession as something that happened in the first century – but I do not discount the work of Satan in this world.
Little children, you are from God, and have conquered them; for the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.
1 John 4:4
Still Satan is very active in our world today. Jesus was able to resist Satan and when he died, he crushed Satan. We are victorious because of Christ – not because of self.
If you are struggling with evil thoughts, activities, or troubles in your life – Jesus is an amazing Savior from the evil of this world.
Jesus is Our Savior from the Pain of the Life.
This man endured such physical and emotional pain.
There are many signals that our world lives in great pain. Self-destructive lifestyles and habits. The rise of suicide, murders, crime. Emotional pain of loneliness, disappointment, regret, separation from those we love. Family pain, trauma, abuse, debt, doubt.
Kent Hughes: “Are you deeply scarred? Do you have filthy habits – perhaps a mouth that is totally out of control, that has said little that is clean in years? Perhaps you are dishonest. It is your way of life. Maybe your scar is sexual, whether heterosexual or homosexual, and you feel you are beyond help. Not so! Jesus who calmed the stormy seas also calms the storm-tossed soul. He can do so with a word.”
Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
Jesus is Our Savior from the Destruction of Sin
Jesus’ mission was to bring spiritual healing to lost humanity.
For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
After his resurrection the Apostles preached about Him and his message – the truth about the cross, his death, his
When they heard this, they were pierced to the heart and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles: “Brothers, what should we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
…We were buried with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in newness of life.
JESUS is Our Savior from a Life Without Purpose
As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged him earnestly that he might remain with him. 19 Jesus did not let him but told him, “Go home to your own people, and report to them how much the Lord has done for you and how he has had mercy on you.” 20 So he went out and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and they were all amazed.
When Jesus Has brought us healing and salvation we become witnesses for Him in our everyday life.
This man that Jesus healed went into the Ten Cities – the first one to bring the message about Jesus into this Greek territory. When people saw the man who used to run through the woods cutting himself and screaming … is now telling them calmly how Jesus had healed him – the people were all AMAZED. Jesus is Amazing!
For those of us who have experienced the cleansing power of the blood of Jesus, it is our joy to tell others what He has done for us.
The well-known and highly feared demoniac of Gadarenes was healed and everyone rejoiced! Right? No.
What was great news for him, was disruptive to others. Obviously the pigs who ran over the cliff. The owners of the pigs – who suffered losses I’m certain. They begged Jesus to leave. How much he had to offer them, but they were more focused on their own lives and not what He could do for them.
Today Jesus is our Amazing Teacher, Friend, Savior – Are you begging him to stay or leave? Whenever Jesus is mentioned, or is at work, Some just want Jesus to leave. Jesus will change our lives. Jesus will expose our wickedness. Jesus will cost us. There is no way to stay the same if Jesus is in your heart. You can submit to Him. You can send Him away.
If you could bring every broken part of you to Jesus for healing, what would you bring to Him today? What do I envision Jesus saying to me as I come to Him? Why would you wait any longer to bring Christ your broken life … He is an amazing teacher, friend, and savior. He’s been on an amazing mission to bring you to Him forever.
How would you respond to a Christian who questions, in this modern day, whether we still need to believe in angels and demons?*
The demon possessed man was a frightful sight. People had given up on him. What are some situations where the struggles that people face are frightening to us? How can we overcome our fears of those who are struggling in sin and reach out to them?
If you could put yourself in their shoes, what do you imagine are some of the reasons the people of Gadarene begged Jesus to leave?
In what ways can someone who has just been saved be a better evangelist than someone who has been a Christian and studied the Bible for a long time?*
How does Jesus’ sending out of the man to the Ten Cities give us insight into His mission to save the world? How do we interpret that mission as it applies to our life in the Kingdom?
If someone were to ask you how Jesus makes our life whole when we have suffered pain, loss, or self-destructive habits … what would you say to them?
*Questions from Christ-Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in Mark by Daniel L. Akin. Holman, 2014
Akin, Daniel L. Christ-Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in Mark. Holman, 2014.
Hughes, R. Kent. Mark Volume One: Jesus, Servant, and Savior. Crossway, 1989.
The attitude that comes from selfishness leads to death, but the attitude that comes from the Spirit leads to life and peace.
Romans 8:6, CEB
God, thank you for the beautiful example of life and wisdom that we see in Jesus Christ your Son. We read of his encounters with those who loved him, those who were confused by him, and those who hated him. We see how he prayed for the sick, the possessed, the grieving, the impoverished. We see how he prayed for the thief on the cross and for the soldiers that nailed him there.
We freely admit that we sometimes struggle with our attitudes. When life has not gone our way or others have disappointed us, please give us the attitude that comes from the Spirit. Help us to demonstrate your love even when circumstances make that difficult.
Fill our church with the attitude of Christ. Fill our leaders and teachers with the spirit of Christ. Fill each one of us with the love and devotion for Jesus that will change our perspectives and sweeten our attitudes. Help us to see in ourselves what others see in us. Give us the wisdom and strength to make changes when our attitudes are less than they should be.
Help us this year, Father, to reflect your love, mercy, and compassion even more than we have in the past. Thank you for loving and caring for us and being attentive to the way we love and care for others. In the name of Jesus our Savior, Amen.
Prayer by John Dobbs
Thanks to everyone who prayed through the 20 Days of Prayer for 2020. If you would like to pray through them again sometime you can access them in a Google Document HERE. God bless you! JED
But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare, you will find your welfare.
Sovereign Father who rules over the world, we give you praise and honor. We recognize that you alone are our King, and we give our hearts and allegiance to you. We are grateful for every ruler in the world who seeks peace and allows your people to share the gospel freely. We pray for those who find themselves under the oppressive rule that puts their lives at risk. Thank you for those who spread the gospel anyway. Thank you that in our country we are able to freely spread the Good News of your Son Jesus Christ! Give us the courage to do so relentlessly!
We pray for the welfare of our nation, our state, and our parish. We pray for the elected leaders and persons of influence who sway opinion and make law. God give them wisdom and place Christians within their organizations to offer influence such as Daniel had in the Babylonian kingdom of long ago.
God, we ask you to bless Louisiana and Ouachita Parish. Let the people of our land have open hearts to the gospel. Bless all Christians throughout our state and parish as they seek to reach the lost. Give us strength and wisdom, Father!
We believe your promise that when things go well in those settings, things will go well for us. Help us to grow in our faith. Amen.
The wicked borrow, and do not pay back, but the righteous are generous and keep giving
– Psalm 37:21
Father, we are so grateful for the generous way you have blessed us. We would have nothing and be nothing without you. Thank you for providing “our daily bread” – giving us the needs that we have in such a way that it causes us to give praise to you!
We confess we have not often been wise. Many of us are struggling with indebtedness that weighs us down in spirit. Sometimes we wonder if we will ever catch up. Sometimes we have worried too much about money that is either saved or invested, and sometimes we have depended on money more than we have depended on you. Sometimes we have not been giving as we should, because we have not been able to let go.
You have told us that the love of money is the root of all evil. Today, Lord, focus our hearts on you. We pray to love you more than money or anything it can buy.
Give us wisdom in the area of finances. Help us to be good stewards of the money, time, possessions, and gifts you have given to us.
We need your help in this area because we so often get distracted.
Thank you for loving us beyond our weakness. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.