Thursday, October 27, 2016

Mark: Jesus lets a girl die while healing an interrupting woman and then goes and heals the dead girl

Mark 5:21-6:4
In this passage, a synagogue ruler, Jairus, comes and asks Jesus to heal his deathly sick daughter.  In Mark, she is at the point of death.  In other synoptic gospels, she has already died.  Whatever the case, it was serious.  So Jesus responds to this Jewish religious leader who had been given genuine faith from God.

On his way to help Jairus, crowds are swamping out Jesus.  A woman, who has been hemorrhaging for 12 years, comes seeking healing.  She successfully sneaks up to Jesus, believes that if he touches his cloak, that she will be healed, and does so.  Immediately, she is healed.  This woman had a superstitious belief that touching a religious man's clothes might heal her.  That is not what healed her.  God's mercy healed her.  And Jesus, being the gracious lover that he is, takes the time to tell her that it was her faith that healed her.  Not touching Jesus's clothes or beating through a crowd, but faith.

It is also wonderful that he sweetly calls her "daughter."  Since she essentially had her period nonstop for 12 years, she was ritually unclean and had no relationships.  But God never stopped loving her and graciously showed her his amazing Son.

Then, Jairus comes and tells Jesus that his daughter has died and that he will no longer bother him.  All of Jairus's hopes and dreams are gone, but Jesus is not done.  He says, "Do not fear, only believe."  Jesus then goes to the house and tells the people that the girl is only asleep.  They laughed at him, and in no uncertain terms, Mark tells us that Jesus put them all out.  He took them by their shirts and belts and threw them out of the house, much like he will clean the temple later on.  Then he raises the girl.

Disciples like me can learn 1) 12-year long menstruation cycles and death are the most unclean situations to be in, but they are not too much for Jesus.  They don't ruin Jesus, and in fact, he makes them better.  He can heal them all.  So, if you are in a situation, you must not fear but believe.  He was willing to let a girl die to heal another woman.  He can heal you and then go and raise the dead.  And he will raise all the dead on the day he comes back to earth.  Just you wait.

2) All of faith is a gift.  Usually synagogue rulers were the ones most opposed to Jesus.  Not Jairus.  He believed with a faith not his own.  The unclean woman also had faith that was a gift.  She thought her faith was in touching clothes, but it was a gift from God that Jesus clarified the moment he healed her.  Our faith doesn't come by a good church position, any action we could take, or any decision we make.  It is all from God, and it is given in varying degrees to different people.  But the main thing is what Jesus said, "Don't be afraid.  Only believe."  When Jesus tells you that, then you must believe.  And he will help you grow from there.  Just trust in his Holy Spirit.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Mark: Jesus's first missionary

Mark 5:6-24a
After describing the demon possessed man in the Gadarene region, Mark shows how Jesus healed the man.  He asked the guy's name.  He said, "Legion," because there were many demons in the man.  They begged Jesus not to send them to hell just yet.  Jesus sent them to a herd of pigs who rushed headlong into the sea and drowned.  The rest of the town told Jesus to leave, but not before Jesus made the newly healed man the missionary to that region.

Then, Jesus and company go back to the Jewish side of town and a synagogue ruler, Jairus, asks Jesus to heal his daughter.  Jesus goes with him.

The presence of pigs shows readers that Jesus had taken his disciples to a place where Gentiles lived.  Pigs were unclean to Jews and no Jewish town would keep them as livestock.

After Jesus had just weirded out his disciples by calming the storm, he made things even more weird by taking them to the uncleanest region he could think of.  A Gentile town, with a herd of pigs, in a graveyard, with a demon-possessed man.

Perhaps Jesus was trying to teach them that without his presence, they are just as unclean if not more.  Jesus came to save sinners.  All kinds of sinners.  He came to clean the unclean.  And all people are hopeless until Jesus shows up and changes them in the inside, making them able to love and follow him.

It would take much longer for the disciples to understand that they were to spread the message to non-Jews, too.  Peter had to be shown a vision of a sheet being lowered with unclean animals and God telling him to not call unclean what God has made clean, before he went to see Cornelius with Jesus's Gospel.  But when that happened, he probably remembered this day in the uncleanest graveyard and told Mark to write about it.

When Jesus heals the man, the town not only shows that they are Gentiles, but also the kind of environmentalists that think pigs are more important than people.  This precious man had been bound by Satan for so long, and the demons just kept growing and growing until nobody could control him.  And all they can think about is that their pigs and income are all dead in the Galilean water.

The newly healed man wished to go with Jesus, but Jesus, having mercy on the town, told the man to share the Gospel with this town.  Jesus's first missionary was this man.  He got to be a missionary before the Apostles.  God can to the same for you and your children too.  If anybody you know it hopeless, he or she is not beyond our Lord's healing touch.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Mark: Teacher, do you care?

Mark 4:35-5:1
Jesus calms the storm, and then John Mark describes the situation of the demon-possessed man when Jesus meets him.

I think in this one story and starting of the next of two miracles, the question that pops out at me is, "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?"  The disciples are in a boat on Lake Galilee, there is a storm, and their little boat seems to be crashing.  In all the chaos, Jesus simply sleeps on a cushion.  And then, when they wake him, he gets up, stops the storm by just talking to it, and then asks the disciples why they were so afraid.  Where is their faith?

I know when my life is chaotic, I often forget that Jesus knows exactly what he's doing.  And, I don't get an immediate answer like these guys did.  In fact, I may have to wait until I'm in heaven for the answer.

Right now, this upcoming election frightens me because we will either have a dictator who will allow abortion to go on unchecked and take all our money, or we will have a man who treats women like property and isn't really pro-life either.  Does Jesus not care that America is still blaspheming God with their lifestyles and their choices?  In my own life, I am a grown, married woman who still lives in the house I grew up in and can't move closer to where I work and go to church.  Doesn't God know how much more I could do if he would allow me to move and also to get a job that matches the fact that I have a master's degree?  Why did my mother die when she was only 50 and leave behind me and my autistic brother who will never know independence and her aging mother who was still alive at the time, not to mention my widowed dad?  Their marriage was the best it had ever been at that point.

Jesus was not asleep on a cushion, I can tell you that.  We live in a fallen world because Adam and Eve sinned, but he also showed his love by dying on the cross for my sins.  The real question is why does he even allow me to live?

Then, we move on to the beginning of the story about the demoniac.  Some people don't have storms on the outside.  Their storm goes on inside.  Some people have mental illness.  Some people are on the autism spectrum and view the world in ways others could never imagine.  I always find it interesting that when we meet a demon-possessed person in the Bible, his description usually reminds me of an autistic, although I would definitely say that autism is not a demon possession.  Sometimes, it's not even really a bad thing.  I've lived with an autistic brother for 26 years and have had to keep him from hurting himself or running into harm many times.

But just the same, Jesus cares about that too.  He may not make my brother able to communicate with speech in this life or get him to where he can lives on his own, bathe himself, feed himself, and many more things.  But he can.  And he will.  We still wait for the complete consummation of Christ's kingdom.  Until then, how can we make life more bearable for people going through storms?