Elation and devastation (Mark 5 v 30-34)

“Who touched me?” Well I can imagine Your disciples reaction. They’re being squashed on all sides with people trying to get a piece of the action. Then they made the mistake. They state the obvious. What do You expect Lord, there are people everywhere. They’re all touching You.

But still You looked around. Jairus is going out of his mind. I’m sure he was screaming out in his mind “forget it Lord. Just get a move on”.

Did You know? Could You tell? Had Your father not revealed who it was? The unnamed woman could so easily have slipped away in the crowd – but she knew in her heart that she needed to tell all. And so she fell at Your feet. First Jairus had fallen at Your feet and now it was this woman, and she proceeded to tell of her years of pain and suffering and cost. I would imagine that Jairus was about to burst a blood vessel. Each second was precious. And yet You were focusing on this nameless woman.

Finally after hearing her whole story You proclaimed the truth to her. “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering”. Jairus should have heard the words “Daughter”, “Faith” and “Well” but all he could see were his officials parting their way through the crowds, tears in their eyes, and the look of defeat on their faces. Before they spoke, Jairus knew what they would say.

He was absolutely devastated.

  At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”  “You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ” But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”  While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?” Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James.  When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” 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. He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat.   Mark 5 v 30-34 NIV

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Helplessness focusses the mind like nothing else (Mark 5 v 21-29)

Well at least the trip back across the lake was uneventful, unlike the storm on the way over and the stormy encounter with the demoniac man. So now, having arrived back on the original side of the lake You found Yourself and Your disciples surrounded once more by crowds of people eager to get close to You.

But as the crowds pressed around You they suddenly began to part in the middle as walking towards You came Jairus, a local Synagogue leader. He would be a respected man and even in their eagerness to see You the crowds would have made way for him to approach You. But ignoring all formalities and with a real urgency in his step Jairus fell at Your feet and immediately began pleading with You to come and see his daughter who was seriously ill and about to die.

I wonder where he stood when it came to an opinion of Your ministry? The Sadducees and Pharisees had already made up their minds. Many of the Synagogue leaders also had their doubts. But helplessness focuses the mind like nothing else and even if he had doubts they were all thrown to the wind now. His one ambition was to get You to his daughter’s bedside and no crowds were going to stand in his way.

So You agreed, and began to walk with Jairus towards his home. The crowds filled in the space around You like air filling in a vacuum. I would imagine that every knock, every jostle, every halt along the way would be an agony to him. Every delay meant less of a chance for his daughter, and he knew it.

And yet, unknown to him, a woman was making her way through the crowd, weaving her way in amongst the pressing bodies, trying to reach You from behind. Out of Your line of sight. She was taking a huge risk. If anyone had recognised her they would have cried out ‘unclean’ at the top of their voices. But this woman had a faith greater than Jairus. For this woman knew in her heart that if she could just get to touch Your robe then she would be healed.

Jairus’s daughter was 12 years old and had perhaps for most of her life enjoyed good health. But at the same time as she had been born in to the world so this woman had begun to suffer from an issue of bleeding, not just for a few days but for every day of those twelve long years. For twelve years this little girl had laughed and played and for twelve years this woman had gone from doctor to doctor searching for a cure, banned from all access to the Temple or Synagogue or from social contact and bankrupted from fake cures. She was absolutely helpless and yet her faith was sufficient to draw her to You.

And in the instant that she made it through the crowd and touched the hem of Your cloak she was healed. Instantly: Miraculously: Amazingly: Healed.

But that’s where the problems began.

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. Then one of the synagogue leaders, named Jairus, came, and when he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet. He 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.” So Jesus went with him.  A large crowd followed and pressed around him.  And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. 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. 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.” Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. Mark Ch 5 v 21 – 29 NIV

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Tell Out My Soul (Mark 5 v 18-20)

It all seemed to happen so fast. A busy day’s ministry. Then a stormy passage across the lake. Then a demon possessed man as You landed. Then after healing him You returned back across the lake again. All for this one, precious man. That’s amazing. He was probably written off long ago by everyone that came across him, and yet You went all that way just to meet his needs.

It was only natural that he would want to follow You. He had come screaming at You, naked and wild, but now he was clothed and at peace and in his right mind. No doubt the disciples had given him the clothes from their own.

But You had a ministry for him, and it wasn’t to follow You from place to place but instead to go out amongst his own people and tell them all that had happened. What a choice. The easy choice would have been to follow You, after all, You were where all the action was. The hardest choice was to go out amongst those that he had harmed, hurt, fought against, and to witness the total transformation that You had made.

So the man went out to the ten cities of the area and everyone that heard his testimony and saw the transformation was absolutely amazed.

We all have a testimony to give. But do we let others know it?

As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed. (Mark Chapter 5 v 18 – 20 NIV)

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To Welcome or To Blame (Mark 5 v 1-17)

The waves are gently lapping against the edge of the lake as Your boat touches shore and You got out onto the land. It has been an eventful few hours. There have been crowds and miracles, there has been a violent storm out on the lake that threatened to drown everyone. There had been that moment when having been awoken by Your disciples You stood and commanded the storm to be still – And it was, to the astonishment of everyone except You. And now Your boat has touched shore and before You even have time to catch Your breath a demon-possessed man comes hurtling towards You screaming at the top of his voice.

This man had never met You before. I doubt if he had even heard about You because no one would go anywhere near him unless with excessive force to feebly attempt to bind him in chains. And yet the moment You arrived he headed straight for You. Not John or Peter or James or any of the other disciples. The evil spirits within him had drawn him specifically to You. As he rushed toward You, You did not speak to the man but to the demons controlling him. “Come out of this man, you impure spirit!”  Then You asked him, “What is your name?”    “My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” Here was spiritual warfare at the extreme. I would imagine that Your disciples would be cowering behind some rocks rooted to the spot in fear. The reputation of this man had travelled far and wide. Although the man himself would have no idea who you were, the spirits within him definitely did. “Jesus, the Son of the Most High God” they called You. And they knew full well that their time of destroying this man was over and they feared for their own destruction.

As this clash of powers came to a climax You allowed the legion of demons to leave the man as You had commanded and instead of wandering in the wilderness You allowed them to enter the herd of pigs that were nearby. Did You need to negotiate with them? – No. Did they have a bargaining position? – No. So perhaps You allowed it so that the disciples could see the conclusion of this power clash – to bring an ending to it. And 2000 pigs suddenly received the demons that had fled out of the man and in their wild panic threw themselves off the cliff and into the lake. Wow.

It is not too surprising that those who were tending the herd of pigs were none too pleased to see them all drowned and so they go rushing back to their villages to spread the word about what had happened.

This demoniac man was a legend and so the news that he was now at peace would spread like wildfire. But along with the good news was the economic news about the pigs. So as the people came rushing to the scene they had a choice to make. Either to welcome You with open arms and invite You to come and spend time with them – or to blame You for the loss of their pigs and chase You away from their region.

It should have been a no-brainer. But instead they asked You to leave. That was a tragedy bigger than the loss of the pigs.

 They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an impure spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. 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. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In God’s name don’t torture me!”  For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you impure spirit!”  Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”    “My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.”  And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area.   A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside.2 The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.”  He gave them permission, and the impure 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.  Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. 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. Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man—and told about the pigs as well. Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region. (Mark Ch 5 v 1 – 17 NIV)

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In an Instant (Mark 4 v 35-41)

It had been a long day. From dawn till dusk the crowds had surrounded You at the lakeside. They would have stayed all night, hanging on to Your every word that You uttered. If You had taken the disciples to a local village then the crowds would have followed, giving You no rest. So it was sensible to climb into a boat and go to the other side of the lake for some peace. Having made the decision You left it up to Your disciples to organise it and so they put You in one of the boats (for there were several travelling together) and there You lay down in the stern and fell asleep.

But as they began to row across the lake one of the local storms began to blow. The heat of the day had led to the violent winds rushing across the lake and throwing the calm waters into a raging maelstrom. But You were with seasoned fishermen. They had lived their entire lives with the occasional storm at night . And yet – this one seemed different. This one seemed to have a malevolence that went beyond a normal storm. Was this an attempt by the tempter to stop Your ministry in its tracks. Finally, after struggling with all their effort to keep the boats afloat they realised that all was about to be lost.

It should have given them a clue that You were peacefully asleep in the stern of the boat but the significance was lost of these men who were now terrified for their lives. “Teacher. Don’t You care that we are all about to drown?”

You got up and with just 3 words “Quiet, be still” it was all over. From mountainous waves and raging wind to instant calm. Even if the wind had stopped instantly it would have taken a long time for the waves to have slowly subsided – but this happened in an instant. No wonder the disciples were said to be terrified. One moment they were afraid of the storm, but the next they had glimpsed Your awesome power and authority. They’d seen miracles, they’d seen amazing things, but this topped it all. And so into their fears You spoke words of calm and comfort. “Why were you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

You had sown a thought deep into their hearts. What could they have done if they had exercised faith? Wow.

That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.”Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.  He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”  They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” (Mark 4 v 35 – 41 NIV)

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The Explosive Kingdom (Mark 4 v 30-34)

Saying something in several different ways is a good way to drive a point home. Like facets on a diamond they all shine light in different planes and all add increasingly to the beauty of the overall picture. After all, a diamond with just one cut surface would only reveal a fraction of its potential.

You had opened up the mysteries of the Kingdom of God. I’m sure that this was still just a glimpse into the overall picture that we shall all experience one day if we put our trust in You but this was sufficient to whet the appetite and open the curtain just a glimpse. And so You concluded with a final glimpse. The Kingdom of God, You said, was like a tiny mustard seed – the smallest of seeds . And yet from such a small seed a tree grows that is sufficiently big that the birds can shelter in it.

So what are You saying? Obviously it is not that the Kingdom of God is tiny, but rather that the Kingdom of God has the explosive potential to take root in someone’s life and will result in a growing and massive change in heart, attitude and outlook.

Seeds are little miracles – but not as miraculous as the Kingdom of God.

Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds of the air can perch in its shade.” With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand. He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything. Mark Ch 4 v 30 – 34 (NIV)

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The life is in the seed (Mark 4 v 26 – 29)

Back at the beginning of Mark’s letter You came into Galilee proclaiming “The time is at hand. The kingdom of God is near”. But now it is time to explain further the concept of the kingdom of God. You said it was like scattered seed. The farmer prepares the ground and scatters the seed. But then, apart from removing the weeds and stones and providing the water he cannot do anything else to get the seed to grow. The miracle of life is contained within the seed – not with the soil. No matter how perfect the soil is, the miracle in the seed is locked into that tiny capsule and has the full potential to produce a full grown plant with the capability of producing enough seed to feed the farmer and leave enough to sow for a future crop.

It is breathtaking to see this in action, especially with a speeded up film from germination to crop, but it is even more spectacular to see Your word planted in someones hard and brittle life and rapidly transform them into a new person on fire for You. And from their life and testimony many more seeds are planted that germinate and transform lives.It is Your Holy Spirit who transforms the Word that You plant in people’s lives into a living and vibrant force.

He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.” NIV Mark 4 v 26 – 29

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