I am meeting with my preschool teachers for the last time in 2016 to continue our study on the life and ministry of Jesus Christ as revealed to us in the Gospel of Mark. This time, we will cover Mark 5. Our first meeting after the New Year will finish up the study with Mark 6. I have learned a lot from seeing Jesus’ teaching style and His compassion on the people who surrounded Him. He was so popular that He could not enter the cities and towns because of the crowds, yet, at the same time, He always took time to meet the needs of the individual. We see this clearly in chapter 5. In chapter 4, Jesus spent most of the chapter teaching the large crowds about faith. Most of the crowd missed the essence of His message. The disciples asked for clarification so they clearly understood the teachings in chapter 4 about faith. In the end, their failing faith needed a faithful friend and that faithful friend was Jesus Christ. Chapter 5 changes the focus to the individuals in the crowd. Jesus never got so caught up in numbers and crowds that He forgot about the individuals who made up the crowds. This is something that all disciple makers must remember. Crowds come and go. The individual is who is important to the Lord.
I. The demon possessed man
This man is not the high class of society. In the caste system of society, he would be an untouchable, a person with no friends, no future, and no hope. He hung around tombs, places of death and decay because of the evil spirit that possessed him. The only person lower than him in society would have been leprous people. We have already seen that Jesus had no problem focusing on people whom society had forgotten or shunned because in the previous chapters of Mark, Jesus interacted with lepers. This man was a danger to others because of his supernatural strength. People avoided him, not just because his dwelling was in a place of death and decay but, because he had the power to harm them greatly. Some had tried to help the man by chaining him. He was able to break the chains. To make it worse, the man constantly screamed and did bodily harm to himself with rocks. This man was suffering. Life was terrible for him. No one could do anything to help him. The demon in this man recognizes who Jesus is and it knows the future plans that the Lord has for evil spirits. The evil spirit’s theology is on point. He knows who Jesus is and he testifies to who Jesus is. His testimony is true. The demon knows the power of Christ and begs Christ not to torment him. That torment is to come in the future when all the evil spirits will be thrown into the lake of fire for all eternity. That time had not yet come when Jesus walked the earth. The demon did not know the exact time but he knew it was inevitable. This demon is not alone. When Jesus demanded his name, he said, his name was Legion because they were many. A Roman Legion consisted of almost 7,000 soldiers. The evils spirits are cast out of the man by the Word of Jesus. They beg to be sent into a herd of pigs. Why were there pigs being raised by these Jewish farmers? The pigs go crazy and drown themselves in the sea. The herdsman runs away and tells the people and all of the people come and see the man who was formerly demon possessed, yet now, he is in his right mind. They seem more upset about the dead pigs than being happy for the man who has been set free. They actually ask Jesus to leave them. They are not interested in His message or His ministry. This formerly demon possessed man was probably a Gentile and when He asked to follow Jesus, Christ did not allow him to do so. In the Gospel of John, we learn that Jesus time of crucifixion was coming when the Gentiles began to seek Him. It was not yet time so Jesus did not allow this man to follow Him. He did send the man back to his home town to proclaim the good news of who Jesus Christ is and what He can do. It seems that repentance took place. The man believed in the message of the Gospel. He was released from that which enslaved him and he went out to share the message of Christ with others. This is a beautiful picture of Christ’s compassion and carrying heart for the individual in the crowd. Has Jesus set you free from something that once enslaved you? I know He has done that for me and He can do it for anyone.
II. Jairus the synagogue official
Jairus was supposed to be a man who understood faith, lived by faith, and helped others to understand and live by faith. This was not the case. His ancestral religion just bound him to traditions and enslaved him much like the demon possessed man. His names means enlightened by God. The origin of his name means one who shines. Jairus has had the ability to be enlightened by God because of his position in the synagogue. He had never been enlightened. Jairus needed to learn to have faith and it took a crisis to get his attention and cause him to look to Jesus Christ for salvation (rescue). Being the father of two little girls, there is really nothing else that hurts me more than seeing my girls hurting. This man’s little girl is sick and there is nothing that he can do about it. He is at the mercy of the sickness and he has to humble himself and beg Jesus for mercy and grace. Jesus feels compassion for both Jairus and his little daughter. This reminds me of the first of the Beatitudes that Jesus taught; “blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven“. This is how we are to come to God, with nothing to offer and only to receive, like a beggar with nothing to his name. No one has anything to offer God but, we seem to think that we do and that keeps us from being enlightened. Jairus came as a man poor in spirit. Jesus was not too busy for Jairus. Jesus wanted to enlighten Jairus and He was ready to do so but, the crowds were great and His attention was distracted by a women who also needed enlightenment. In the middle of the story with Jairus, the Gospel writer, Mark, interrupts with the healing of the sick woman. It seems that Jesus and Jairus were separated before Jesus could enlighten Jairus. This was an obstacle for Jairus but, he did not give up. After Jesus healed the sick woman, Jairus found Him again and begged Him to heal his daughter. Jesus, once again, was ready to enlighten Jairus so that Jairus could live out the meaning of his name, the enlightened one who shines. Another obstacle presented itself while Jairus was talking to Jesus. One of Jairus’ servants comes up to him and informs him that his daughter is dead. Jairus begins to lose heart. Jesus reaches out to him and encourages Jairus to believe in Him. Now Jairus has nothing left but to believe. Jesus goes to Jairus’ house and sees the girl. He brings her back to life. This is an amazing miracle but, it is not the most amazing miracle in the story. The fact that Jairus is enlightened and comes to faith in Jesus Christ. His life is transformed and he is now able to shine the light of the Lord to all who are around him. This falls in line with the main teachings of Luke 8. Jairus hears the message of the Gospel. He understands the message of the Gospel because Jesus explains the message to him. Jairus believes in Jesus Christ, the central character of the message of the Gospel. His life is changed. He was created to be enlightened and shine the light of the Lord but, because of his sin nature, a nature that we are all born with, he was not able to live up to his calling. Jesus fixed that through faith. Jairus now has a testimony to share with all
Have you ever experienced such desperate times that you were driven to your knees to cry out to God for help, like a beggar? Do you realize that God uses tough situations to force you to turn to him and cry out in desperation? How do you respond? Do you continue to kick against the goads or, do you give in and cry out for help? Jairus stopped relying on everything and turned to the Lord for help.
III. The sick woman
In the middle of the story with Jairus, Jesus is interrupted by the crowds. During this interruption, Jesus is touched by a woman who has been hemorrhaging for many years, 12 to be exact. She has been enslaved to this problem. She wants and needs to be rescued and the Rescuer is just a few feet away from her. The only problem is that she is lost in the crowd. She believes in the power of Jesus, that if she can just touch Him, she will be healed. We have already seen that Jesus wants to release the people. He is preaching a message of repentance, faith, forgiveness of sins, following Him, and learning how to take that same message to others. Jesus is in the process of making disciples and I really believe that this is a teaching moment for them. No matter how large the crowds become, do not ever forget the individual who makes up the crowd. Teach the crowds bur please, focus on the individual. The woman is healed, not by faith alone. She is healed by faith in Jesus Christ. Faith in itself is not powerful. In fact, we discovered in our last lesson that our faith is failing. The object of our faith is what is important. When our faith is placed in the person of Jesus Christ, then that faith is powerful. Jesus offers peace to this woman and to everyone who comes to Him in faith. Do you come to Jesus and place your faith in Him? Do you realize that the power is in Christ, not in faith? Are you willing to risk all to attain Christ? What has the Lord revealed to you in this passage about your own faith? May the Lord help us to have compassion on the individual at all times, sharing the Good News of the Gospel of Christ with all in whom we come into contact.