“Don’t Be Afraid; Just Believe”May 8th, 2011 • Posted in Mark, Messages/Sermons • 1,383 views
Mark Lesson 14 (2011)
DON’T BE AFRAID; JUST BELIEVE
Key Verse: 5:36
“Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, ‘Don’t be
afraid; just believe.’”
In the previous passages we studied in Mark’s gospel, Jesus had demonstrated his divine authority over nature and evil spirits. At Jesus’ command, the angry waves of the sea immediately quieted down and thousands of demons were removed from a man. In today’s passage, two more miracles are recorded that portray Jesus’ divine power and authority (5:21-43): a woman who had been suffering greatly from chronic bleeding found an immediate cure by Jesus’s touch (25-34), and Jesus brought Jairus, the synagogue ruler’s dead daughter back to life by saying “Little Girl, I say to you get up! (Talitha Koum!)” (35-43). Both were humanly hopeless cases, yet their human despair and helplessness only served to reveal the greatness of God’s salvation through Jesus Christ. Both the woman and Jairus had faith in Jesus. In fact, Jesus not only blessed their faith but also helped them to continue to have faith in him. To the lady Jesus said, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” (34) and to the synagogue ruler “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” (36) It reminds us what the Scripture says, “Anyone who put trusts in him will never be put to shame” (Romans 10:11) However, it does not mean that all those who are sick physically will be cured and all the dead will come back to life in this world when they have faith in Jesus. Let’s think about what it means to have faith in Jesus Christ.
Look at verse 21. “When Jesus had again crossed over the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake.” Jesus and his disciples had withdrawn from Galilee to the southeastern side of the lake. But they had to come back, perhaps earlier than they had scheduled, partly because the people in the region of the Gerasenes demanded that they leave. The disciples could have been offended by their rejection and be discouraged by this trip. Yet, when they got back to Galilee, a great number of people gathered once again around Jesus. According to Luke’s account, they welcomed Jesus and were all expecting him. (Lk 8:40)
Look at verses 22 and 23. “Then one of the synagogue rulers, named Jairus, came there. Seeing Jesus, he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, ‘My daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.’” Synagogue rulers were not priests but lay leaders who were responsible for the various affairs in the synagogue, including the worship services. Perhaps Jairus was like the president of the board of elders in the synagogue. He could have been a wealthy and highly respected man in the community, but this prestigious man publicly prostrated himself before Jesus who at that time was not welcomed by the Jewish religious circles. It seems that Jairus must have respected him at least as a man from God. His attitude of falling at Jesus’ feet and earnest pleading with Jesus reveals how desperate the condition of his dying daughter was. She was probably his one and only child. She was only twelve years old, a girl ready to blossom. But she became sick and was at the point of death. Jairus’ pleading voice must have been full of emotion, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” Jesus didn’t say a word to him but immediately went with him. (24a)
Look at verse 24b. “A large crowd followed and pressed around him.” It shows how eager the crowd was to see another miracle. Jesus was not necessarily impressed by the size of the milling crowd. There was in the crowd, however, an unknown lady who was very different from the crowd and who got Jesus’ attention. Look at verses 25-26. “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.” Whatever the cause of her bleeding might be, her bleeding was incurable. No doctor was able to heal her. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had wasted all she had trying to find a cure. Instead of getting better she only grew worse and worse. According to Jewish religious regulations, those who had chronic bleeding like her were considered ceremonially unclean. They were not allowed to attend public service in the synagogue. The woman not only lost her money but basically her life. She also lost her hope. She knew that she was going to die sooner or later. She lived under the shadow of death. She lived only because she could not kill herself.
Look at verses 27 and 28. “When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, ‘If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.’” With her condition getting worse day by day, it was not easy for the woman to believe that she would be healed. She probably may have felt that even God had abandoned her. But when she heard about Jesus, she began to believe that she could be healed. She believed that if she just touched his clothes, she would be healed. Even though her faith was a little bit superstitious, it was amazing that she still hoped and believed that she would be healed. But she, unlike Jairus the synagogue ruler, couldn’t dare to ask Jesus for healing in public. She had to come up behind Jesus and secretly touch his cloak. Obviously, she didn’t want anyone to know about it, not even Jesus.
Look at verse 29. “Immediately, her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.” The healing was instantaneous and happened without Jesus’ conscious participation. And that was the way the woman wanted it. It seems that healing power from Jesus worked like a strong battery discharging its power when a circuit breaker accidently goes off. But that was not the real case. Jesus was still conscious of what was happening. Look at verse 30. “At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, ‘Who touched my clothes?’” Jesus was aware that power went out from him. It suggests that Jesus’ healing ministries cost him much spiritual energy. That’s why Jesus often needed to escape from the crowds to find time for refreshing through fellowship with the Father. What did Jesus do when he was aware that the power went out from him?
Jesus stopped, turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” At that time, Jesus and all others who were with him were hurriedly heading toward Jairus’ house where his daughter was struggling to survive every second. Yet Jesus stopped, turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” Look at verses 31-32. “‘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.” The disciples’ answer indicates that they thought Jesus was making a mistake. But he wasn’t. He knew exactly what he was doing. He kept looking around the faces of the crowd one by one, searching to discover the person of faith.
Look at verse 33. “Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth.” She must have told what was written in verses 25-29. “Lord, I have been subject to bleeding for the last twelve years. I have suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors… and on and on.” Look at verse 34. Listening to what she said, Jesus said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” Jesus didn’t rebuke her superstitious faith. Instead, he called her “daughter” acknowledging her as a precious child of God and one of his spiritual family members (Mk 3:35). Jesus also blessed her faith by saying, “your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” The phrase “Go in peace” in Hebrew is “shalom”, a common way of saying “good-by” among the Jews. But when Jesus said to her “Go in peace and be freed from your suffering” he may mean not just freedom from fear and anxiety but also the completeness recovery and restoration of life through God’s grace that comes from faith in Jesus Christ. It’s more than justification, which is the initial step of our salvation. Jesus surely meant the sanctification of the woman’s soul and the restoration of her dignity and inner beauty.
While Jesus was taking time with the woman, Jairus must have been anxious. He could have felt that Jesus was taking too long with a chronic patient while his daughter’s case was an emergency. Look at verse 35. “While 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 anymore?’” When the word reached Jairus that his daughter had died, Jairus’ heart must have sunk into fear and despair. We understand Jairus’ situation. When our situation grows from bad to worse, it’s hard to keep our faith in Jesus. Jairus needed some encouragement.
Look at verse 36. “Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, ‘Don’t be afraid; just believe.’” When Jairus came to Jesus first, he believed that Jesus could heal his daughter, and he had just seen the result of believing in Jesus through Jesus’ healing of the bleeding woman. (25-34) Although his faith could have been challenged by the news of his daughter’s death, with Jesus’ encouragement he could keep his faith in Jesus. Jesus was saying to Jairus “Keep trusting me.”
Look at verse 37. “He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James.” Jesus obviously didn’t want this miracle to be exposed too much unnecessarily. If the crowds found out what had happened to the girl, there was a danger that they would cling to Jesus even more in order to seek his physical help.
Look at verse 38. “When they came to the home of the synagogue ruler, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly.” Apparently the little girl’s death was expected so that mourners were ready the moment she died. Look at verses 39-40a. “He went in and said to them, ‘Why all this and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.’ But they laughed at him.” Evidently what Jesus meant by saying “the child is not dead but asleep” was that he was going to raise her to life. However, the mourners who didn’t understand what Jesus actually meant were offended and laughed at him. “Ha, ha, ha… You don’t know what you are talking about. You said, ‘she is asleep’? No way. She is dead.” Perhaps their reaction was what Jesus intended because he didn’t want anyone to know that he raised the dead girl, except three of his disciples and the girl’s parents.
Look at verse 40b-41. “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 walked around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished.” When they went in where the girl was, they found that her eyes were closed, her face was pale, her breath stopped and her body was cold. There was no trace of life in her. Yet, Jesus approached her, took her by the hand and said, “Talitha Koum!” as if he were waking her up from sleep. Then she immediately opened her eyes, stood up and walked around. I am sure that the parents embraced her in total amazement.
Look at verse 43. “He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat.” Jesus gave two strict orders to the parents and the disciples who were with him. First, he asked them to not let anyone know about the fact that he raised the girl from the dead. Obviously the people outside the house would have found out what had happened, but Jesus wanted to avoid all unnecessary publicity, so he could continue his ministry and the little girl could be protected and continue to grow without too many hindrances. And Jesus also told them to give her something to eat, meaning that her resurrected body needed food. Her resurrected body was different from the glorious resurrection body that each of us will receive at the last days.
What the disciples learned about Jesus through this miracle is that Jesus is more than a man. He is more than a wise teacher or even a great prophet. Two miracles in today’s passage had enough evidence to teach the disciples that Jesus not only had the power over nature (4:35-41) and demonic forces (5:1-20) but also over the power of death. It was an amazing revelation from God.
We, however, must not assume that Jesus came to heal all the sick so that no one would die and raise all the dead people so that no one would die again in this world. Jesus, through his first coming to this world, provided the purification for our sins through his sacrificial death on the cross and rise again so that we may receive the grace of forgiveness of sins and have eternal life. Jesus had demonstrated his divine power over nature, the power of demons, diseases and death so that we might believe that he is the Son of God, the divine Messiah.
Hebrews 1:3 reads, “The Son of God is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by his powerful words. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.” (Heb 1:3) Colossians 1:16 reads concerning Jesus, “For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.”
Jesus told the woman who had been suffering for twelve years, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” Jesus also told Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe!” Jesus wants us to live by faith in him. So what does it mean for us to live by faith in Jesus?
It does not mean just go to church once a week on Sundays. It’s not as simple as it may sound. It means to have a personal relationship with God through the grace of forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ who suffered and died on the cross and rose from death. To live by faith in Jesus means to believe that in all things God works for the good of those who love him who have been called according to his purpose. (Ro 8:28) Indeed, the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross is the prime expression of God’s love for sinners. We must know that God is not against us but for us. If God is for us who can be against us? To live by faith in Jesus means to believe in God’s absolute love for us. (Ro 8:31) Romans 8:34 and 35 reads, “Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died – more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. What shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?”
We need to believe that nothing can separate us from the love of God. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Jesus Christ. (Ro 8:37-39) Nothing can separate us from the love of God! We live in an overly stimulating world. People want excitement and instant gratification. Trusting in the Lord in adverse situations is very challenging. It requires patience, constant emotional, mental and spiritual struggle. It’s a spiritual battle to everyone. But only through trust in God’s absolute love through Jesus can we find wholesomeness and completeness of life, even with our limitations. Trusting in the Lord means to keep trusting in God’s work, not in our work. Trusting in the Lord means to believe that God gives us grace each moment of our life, not to remove all difficulties, but to enable us to endure hardship and difficulties so that we may be able to find meaning, be joyful, prayerful and thankful. Faith is the victory. May the Lord help us to share our faith in Jesus Christ with others and may the Lord help us to fight the good fight of faith until the final days of our lives.