Category Archives: Faith

Mark 5:21-43 – If only we could touch his clothes

Discussion question:

Have you ever touched or held something that is rare and precious?

Read Mark 5:21-43

Context

Jesus has become known as a healer. He can heal many with ease. Great crowds are drawn to Jesus mainly due to his healing ability. He healed a man with an impure spirit in a synagogue on the Sabbath (Mk 1:21-29). He healed a man’s shrivelled up hand in a synagogue. He was accused by some teachers of the law from Jerusalem that he drove out demons with the power of a demon. The impression he is leaving with the leaders of Judaism is not a good one. The opening statement of Mark, however, tells us that this book is about the Good News and Jesus’ first words were “the kingdom has come near.” These things will help draw out some points in this passage.

A synagogue is a place of worship not to be confused for the temple which is where the sacrifices are made.

Observation

Structure

  • A desperate father/a Synagogue leader came to Jesus (21-24a)
  • A desperate woman/an unclean woman came to Jesus (24b-29)
  • A desperate healer/Jesus draws the woman out (30-34)
  • A disinterested house/Jesus ignores the apathy (35-40a)
  • A deliberate healing/Jesus changes everything (40b-43)

A desperate father (21-24a)

“…a large crowd gathered around him…” Try and imagine the scene as you read the story. This piece of information will be repeated as we move to the next part of the story. 

“…synagogue leader…named Jairus, came…” What we know of Jairus is here in this story. He was a Jewish leader of a local synagogue, which is a place of worship and teaching. One interesting thing we know, however, is that he is named. Not a mystery person but a recognised man in the community. Any fake account written about Jesus could be easily laughed at if inventing a fake person of credibility or lying about them. 

“My little daughter is dying…” He was a father. Many Jewish leaders had problems with Jesus. It is possible that Jesus had been at the synagogue of Jairus and performed a healing miracle. Jairus is desperate for his daughter to be healed.

“Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” Being healed at the touch of Jesus is a key message through this section. The healing of Jairus’ daughter begins here and is interrupted by the story of a woman who just wants to touch Jesus’ clothes to be healed. The point is not the magical touch, but the faith that it is Jesus who can heal. These people clearly have their faith in God, but they are displaying their confidence in the God become flesh.

“So Jesus went with him.” Earlier Jesus had declared that he had come to preach, not to heal. Here he chooses to heal because of his compassion on this situation. This is the first account in Mark describing Jesus’ power over death.

A desperate woman (24b-29)

“A large crowd followed and pressed around him.” Again, imagine the scene. The knowledge that people are pressing around him is important for what happens while on the way to Jairus’ house.

“…a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years…instead of getting better she grew worse.” This account is written about in Luke 8:41-56 also. Luke reports her condition with gentle language. Mark explains how hard she has tried to be healed. Menstrual bleeding, in Jewish law, makes a person unclean for seven days and anyone who touches her becomes unclean (Lev 15:19).  Isaiah 64:6 describes all of us as unclean in our sin with an illusion to women’s uncleanness. Leviticus 15:25-30 describes what happens to a woman whose bleeding never stops. She remains in a state of ceremonial uncleanness. This is our state without being cured by Christ.

“…she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak…” Anybody that she touches is made ceremonially unclean. This means that they are unclean until the evening and must isolate and unable to conduct any type of worship in the Temple. It is a symbol to Israel of sin. The laws are there by God to teach and the point is that God is holy. The woman wanted to be healed but to get to Jesus she had to pass through a thick crowd. She would not want anybody to know what she has done. If only she can touch him in secret, she can be healed and nobody needs to know!

“…she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.” She felt the healing. A freedom she had not known for twelve years. She was released, healed and a new woman.

A desperate healer (30-34)

“At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him.” This raises questions about Jesus and his powers. Can Jesus heal whenever he wants? In Luke 5:17 we’re told that on that occasion, “the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick.” See also Luke 6:9. There has never been or never will be anyone like Jesus and so what can we compare him to? We read in the gospels that Jesus’ healings coincide with the faith of those around him. It seems that it’s neither magical powers that Jesus chooses to yield any time he likes nor is it power in the faith of those being healed, but a combination of the two: Jesus’ willingness to heal when he is approached in faith. In Mark 6:4-6 we read how he could not do any miracles except for a few because of their lack of faith.

“Who touched my clothes?” We begin to speculate about what Jesus did and did not know. He doesn’t know everything (Mk 13:32) and he interacts with this world like a human: growing from childhood, needing to eat and sleep, and he is not everywhere at once knowing all things. On top of that, it seems that he wanted to bring this woman’s secret out into the open. And not everyone in the crowd around him was getting a healing when they pressed against him. This woman had come to Jesus in faith to be healed and Jesus wanted to know what had happened.

“Then the woman…trembling with fear, told him the whole truth.” Jesus had insisted that he know who touched him. She came forward in fear because her condition meant she shouldn’t be touching anyone. She would have feared Jesus’ response but perhaps also the crowd pressing in.

“Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” This is what Jesus offers. We are all unclean in our sin (Isaiah 64:6). Faith in Jesus can set us free from that and give us peace with God. 

A disinterested house (35-40a)

“…some people came…’Your daughter is dead’…” The word ‘daughter’ is used to connect the two stories here. One daughter has just been released from suffering, the other is announced dead. The former had a condition which provided a metaphor for the trouble of sin. The latter is the end result of sin.

“Why bother the teacher anymore?” Death is final. Nothing can fix that. Jesus can do many amazing things but death? That’s too big even for a man of God. The people of Jairus’ house had no faith in Jesus.

“Don’t be afraid; just believe.” Again, faith and belief is key to this story. Well, it is key to every bible story, but it is about confidence in Christ and the scope of his help. Belief solves our fear. Jesus was determined to show that he can do this despite the lack of faith from the household. It was Jairus who came to Jesus in faith for help and Jesus will heal his daughter. 

“The child is not dead but asleep.” Jesus knew that the child would wake up and the best description for her condition then is sleep. Those who die in Christ will be raised with Christ. Death is not the end but we do need to make peace with Christ before it is too late.

But they laughed at him.” It’s an odd reaction I think. I can imagine that being angry with him when one is mourning would fit the mood better. How dare someone make light of a mournful event. Or could it be that the weeping and wailing was not all genuine? Whatever, their faith was clearly not there since their reaction to Jesus was clearly unbelief.

A deliberate healing (40b-43)

“He took her by the hand…” This was no accidental healing. He reached out and touched the child. Another daughter about to be healed.

“Talitha koum…” Jesus spoke his and her native Aramaic language. It is a tender phrase, as Mark translates it for us. Little girl, I say to you, get up! Imagine that! He speaks to a deceased child like a little lamb and says get up!

“Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around…” She is 100% alive and healthy straight away. Imagine the faces of the mourners who will see the little girl walk out of the room to greet them. She might think that they are all here for a party!

“He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this…”’ Of course, Peter, James and John saw it and could tell the world later.

Suggested questions for running this study.

Q1. Describe the scene of Verses 21-24 in your own words – perhaps draw it.

Q2. What do we know about Jarius from Verses 22-23? 

Q3. What do we know about the woman in Verses 25-28? Look up Leviticus 15:25-30 to help understand her.

Q4. Compare Verses 23, 28, 30-31 and 41. What do they share in common? What does this do for the story? What do we know about Jesus that makes this so incredible (hint: incarnation)?

Q5. Apart from touching Jesus, what else do the woman and Jairus have which the mourners and the people from the house do not have (see Verse 35)? 

Q6. What does this passage teach us about Jesus?

Q7. What does this passage teach us about sin and death and fear? Read Isaiah 64:1-9 and consider how God has come down and made us clean from our sin.

Meaning

Many had gathered around Jesus but it was the faith of one woman who touched the clothes of Jesus that made him turn around. Jairus knew Jesus was his only hope to save his daughter. Many outside the girl’s room mocked Jesus and they were not allowed in to see the girl’s life restored. This story is about faith but not general faith. Direct trust in Jesus to be saved. Where all other avenues are hopeless, Jesus saves. While our sins are as red as scarlet, Jesus makes us white as snow. While we are powerless over sin and death, Jesus is able to tenderly say, get up! There is nowhere else for us to go. And the good news is that God has come to us, in the flesh, to take away the sin of the world.

Application

Challenge#1 Jesus strong and kind

Jesus’ divinity and his humanity are both seen in this story. He did not know who had touched him and yet he is able to declare that your faith has healed you. Jesus is the eternal God who has come to us in the flesh. In Christ we see the power of God and the kindness of God. This helps us in our prayers. When we pray, we speak to the One who can do more than we ask and we know that he cares for us more than we know. Come to God in prayer as a child who needs healing.

Challenge#2 Your faith has healed you

It’s not the size of your faith but the direction of it. Jesus is the key to all of these stories. The combination of who Jesus is and what we do with him makes the difference. It’s not that Jesus is only powerful when we give him our faith, but that belief and trust is what Jesus wants from us. It is also what we need more than physical healing! The little girl lived but she would die again one day. Healing from Jesus is greatest when it is our sin and death that is cured. The resurrection and justification are the things we desperately need from Jesus.

Challenge#3 Our ignorance of the problem of sin and death

The woman’s problem was not only medical but it was spiritual. She was an outcast because of her condition. The law did not give her freedom. As Isaiah 64 teaches, we are all outcasts from God because of sin. But the presence of God is what we cannot have and what we desperately need. Jesus is God come to us. Somehow we need to harness the desperation of Jairus and the unclean woman in order to overcome our attitude like the people who said, ‘don’t bother.’ Our apathy must be repaired with our awareness of sin and the problem of death. Jesus comes to us to say, don’t be afraid, just believe.

Mark 4:35-5:20 – Who is this man?

Discussion question:

What’s the most impressive thing you have ever seen?

Read Mark 4:35-5:20

Context

Jesus began his ministry by preaching the gospel (Mk 1:14-15) and after a growing popularity through healing he determined that he would preach the word (Mk 1:38). He taught in parables and when confronted with a paralysed man to be healed he even turned that into a sermon more than a healing moment. His teaching and his healing were amazing. From Mark 4:1 he had been teaching a crowd in parables (later explaining the meaning to the disciples).

Observation

Structure

  • 35-41 Jesus calms the storm
    • 35-38 Don’t you care?
    • 39-41 Why are you so afraid?
  • 5:1-20 Jesus restores a demon-possessed man
    • 1-5 No one was strong enough
    • 6-13 In God’s name don’t torture me!
    • 14-17 They were afraid
    • 18-20 Go tell everyone what the Lord has done for you

35-41 Jesus calms the storm

35-38 Don’t you care?

“Let us go over to the other side.” Incidentally, there are a couple of times in Mark’s gospel where Jesus crosses over a lake and some have noted these to be major change moments in the gospel. Another observation here is that Jesus initiates the move. This may be important when it comes to applying this passage.

“…they took him along, just as he was, in the boat.” Jesus stops preaching and is suddenly treated as baggage on the journey which he initiated. ‘They took him, just as he was.” At first reading this can just seem like incidental detail. That it was a spontaneous journey. He said, let’s go, and they went. Sounds all good and fine. But you might notice that in just one page later we’ll see an account of Jesus walking on water. He will show himself to be more masterful over the lake than any of these fishermen. They’ve only been sailing most of their lives – which is just a drop in eternity!

“There were also other boats with him.” Nobody seemed to be worried about a storm brewing – there were no warnings of disaster.

“A furious squall came up…” A sudden violent localised storm. The crew were unprepared for this life threatening moment.

“Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion.” How marvelous is this picture of our lives? Masters of our own cruise ships with Jesus in the stern doing nothing until disaster strikes and then we go running to him!

“Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” This is the question that we all need to seriously ask of God. Does he care? How can we know that he cares? When everything is falling in around us, what good is knowing God if he’s just going to be asleep at the back of the boat (I know where the stern is). Romans 5:8 says, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” 1 Timothy 1:15 says, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” and Mark 10:45 reports Jesus’ words, “I did not come to be served but to serve and to lay down my life as a ransom for many.” The disciples will yet learn how deeply Jesus cares about their lives. God cares, and what is equally cool is that he is powerful to help.

39-40 Why are you so afraid?

“He got up, rebuked…” Before Jesus says a word to the disciples in reply, he turns to the very thing that they are most afraid of right now and deals with it.

“…it was completely calm.” Jesus can tell a storm to be quiet. Mic drop.

“Do you still have no faith?” This is a curious question. But plainly he means, why don’t you trust me? What is the link between this episode and the measure of their faith? What else were they supposed to do? Join him at the back for a nap?! Well, the words in Verse 36 are curious to me. Rather than receiving the command from Jesus to go and then ask, how shall we get there? Or what shall we need? Or some sort of collaboration with Jesus – ‘they took him along’ as if he is merely a traveler – a burden – good for teaching and healing but not for sailing. Our walk with God is for all of life. When we wake and while we sleep. The disciples were still figuring Jesus out and had not computed yet that he is the Messiah, the Son of God most high. Verse 41 makes this clear.

5:1-20 Jesus restores a demon-possessed man

1-5 No one was strong enough

“…a man with an impure spirit came from the tombs to meet him.” We first met someone in this condition in Mark 1:23. In that episode, they needed no introduction to Jesus either. It is clear from the gospels that people were disturbed and affected by impure spirits – not to be confused with mental health issues. This episode will illustrate this clearly by a) talking to Jesus as though they already know him and b) being cast out of the man and into a herd of pigs – that is not a mental health issue.

“This man lived in the tombs…” The description in Verses 3 to 5 of the man is extremely sad. His disturbance was known by all in the town and they had tried to contain him. He was a burden to the town as no doubt they journeyed from caring for him to trying to restrain him. Nothing on earth was helping. His anguish and hurt was real.

6-13 In God’s name don’t torture me!

“What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?” The voice from the man was obviously distressed at the sight of Jesus. Jesus had commanded the impure spirit to come out (Verse 8) and the reply was to ask what does Jesus want? What is his intention? Legion knew Jesus and his power since he pleads not to be tortured! How ironic to plead not to be tortured when Legion was torturing this man. How interesting that there is self-awareness of being on the wrong side of the Almighty God and yet no intention to repent. The supernatural world is clear on who Jesus is. We are living in a kind of parable, where the kingdom of God is described but not seen, but one day everything will be revealed and every knee will bow and tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father (Phil 2:10-11).

“…he begged Jesus…not to send them out of the area.” There may be a good correlation between the presence of these impure spirits named Legion and the region that they inhabited being a place that farmed pigs – thousands of them! Since pigs are unclean, it is not a god-fearing region. There is something to be said here about community belief. While remnants of believers may be found everywhere, we can find places that are characteristically for or against the gospel. This man may not just be an anomaly but a benefactor of the rebellion in the area. But God is able to impart grace in any location!

14-17 They were afraid

“…dressed and in his right mind…” Can you imagine the sight for those who knew him to be overcome by an impure spirit – day and night crying out and cutting himself. Now, he may as well be sitting on a chair drinking a cup of tea from a china cup!

“…and they were afraid…the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.” An extraordinary response. A further indictment against the people of that region. They were not eager to know God. They were not seeking eternal life. Their heart was in fixing things with chains and making money from pig farming. This reaction to the sight of a calm man in his right mind is incredibly damning on them. They did not want or like Jesus and what he could do! This event produced fear not faith.

18-20 Go tell everyone what the Lord has done for you

“Jesus did not let him [go with him]…” Jesus healed the man – set him free – but had different plans for him than to join him.

“Go home to your own people and tell them.” While the people asked Jesus to leave, Jesus was not willing to allow the good news to leave them. “Home” for this man was obviously not among the tombs and we don’t know exactly where his home was but Mark tells us that he began sharing his testimony in the Decapolis which means ten cities. A map can be seen at this link… 

…it shows Jesus’ possible boat landing at the place marked Gergesa. From there the man headed south to the region of the Decapolis. The people responded to his testimony in amazement (Mark 5:20)

Suggested questions for running this study.

Q1. Compare Mark 4:37-38 and Mark 5:3-5. What do these events have in common?

Q2. In these two stories, who had a vivid awareness of the identity and capability of Jesus? What does this reveal to us?

Q3. How did the disciples treat Jesus at the beginning of the account? How does Jesus want them to change?

Q4. Two responses recorded in these stores are fear and faith. What drives both of these reactions? Ie, when fear is described, what is the basis of it?

Q5. What do these accounts teach us about Jesus?

Q6. How can we answer the disciples’ question in Verse 38? (ie, don’t you care?)

Meaning

Jesus is stronger than the weather and impure spirits. He is Lord of creation and Son of the Most High God. This is the revelation of these stories. Things that are just way out of our control and bring us fear are completely in submission to Jesus. He revealed his ability to overcome our greatest fears and yet he asks us, “where is your faith?” The things that we think we have put under our control (conquering the sea and suppressing evil) are nothing compared to Jesus’ tender care and total control over every situation. He can bring a tortured man to peace. He will bring all evil into torture one day. And he has come to demonstrate his love and care for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Application

Challenge#1 – Working hard to be in control or to hand control to Jesus.

In the storm story, the disciples assumed responsibility in getting Jesus to the other side of the lake. That seems reasonable but when you have someone as unique as Jesus in your boat, you should treat him as something more than just cargo. After all, he will demonstrate in Chapter 6 that he can walk on water! Perhaps we could treat God as God and bring our fears to him knowing that he cares.

Challenge#2 – Does God care?

In Mark 10:45, Jesus said, “I did not come to be served but to serve and to lay down my life to ransom many.” When the disciples ask, “Don’t you care?” – this is their answer. Far greater than any storm or horror movie is the problem of sin and death in this world. Jesus has not come to simply speak in riddles (parables) but to do something about our biggest problem.

Challenge#3 – From fear to faith.

It took a storm to wake the disciples up and ask, ‘who is this man?’ It took years of torture before Jesus came to the man in the tombs and transformed his life. It would be years before the good news of Christ would finally be spread across the Decapolis to share, not only that he made this tortured man well, but that Jesus is risen from the dead and he is Lord. This world contains suffering and testing in order that God may transform our fear into faith. Many will respond to suffering by turning Jesus away – rejecting the Son of the Most High. But we pray that we will respond in faith and reply, “Jesus, I am afraid, and yet I trust in you.”

Commandment #10 – Do not covet

Opening Question

Name 3 things that you already have and are thankful for.

Exodus 20:17

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

In the beginning (5 mins)

Once again we turn our minds to Genesis 1-3 and consider what is there that speaks to covetousness. What do we see is our focus in life?

Genesis 1:31-2:1 – God made everything very good. It was complete and full of life.

Genesis 2:7-9, 15-18 – God continued to bring everything into being. He made man from the earth and gave him everything to enjoy. He was not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The big idea here is that mankind did not create, establish or struggle for existence and plenty. God created and gave generously.

Genesis 3:6 – they took and ate after they looked and considered how good it looked. They wanted what was not theirs to take and what they did not need.

*God created all things to be dependent on him and to live in harmony with his order and will. Life is not defined by objects but by relationships, especially to God and his will

The command to Israel (5 mins)

What is listed as things to potentially covet in the 10th commandment?

House, wife (or husband), slave (or Jim’s lawnmowing service), ox or donkey (or VW Tiguan), or anything that belongs to your neighbour.

Israel’s history (10 mins)

Read Psalm 49. What is the conviction of this Psalmist? See also Ecclesiastes 2:1-11.

Wealth may look appealing but it will not defeat the grave. Note verse 16 tells us not to be in awe of the rich and verse 18 warns us against being seen by others as successful. You can’t take it with you. What is most valuable, according to this Psalm is understanding.

The Gospel (10 mins)

Jesus warned against giving our hearts to riches on earth that are stolen and fade in Matthew 6. He did so also in Luke 12. Read the following and discuss how easy it is to be living like the rich fool (12:20) and pagans (12:30)!

  • Luke 12:13-21
  • Luke 12:22-34

The command is to not covet. What is the cause of coveting according to Verse 32? 

Fear. Jesus said, ‘do not worry’ in the Matthew 6 account. 

What do we replace coveting (or fear) with according to Luke 12:28,31,32?

God has already given us the kingdom. We already have everything we will ever need. For today, we will need to exercise our faith and trust him. In this life, we may see others with more and apparently easier lives (a lie) but our hope is not for heaven right now. We have a Father who loves us, a Lord who gave his life for us and a kingdom prepared for us and promised. 

Christian Living (15 mins)

We know that God created life and everything in it. We know that turning to Christ is about receiving a kingdom that can never perish spoil or fade. And we know that our greatest test is to put our trust in God (faith) and live for the kingdom. 

The New Testament throws reason after reason to stop hoping that this world will deliver and turn our hearts to God who has promised us everything we need. Either read through the following three passages and turn them to prayer or focus on 1 Timothy 6:6-12a.

Ephesians 1:3-10 lists out how much we have received in Christ!

1 Peter 1:3-9 reminds us that we have been given new life into a living hope through the resurrection. The time of struggling is only or this world and is there to mature us as we learn to lean on God and love him more and more.

Read 1 Timothy 6:6-12a and turn it into prayer. Being the final week on the 10 commandments, it might be appropriate to consider how we need to repent and turn back to God and live our lives for him.

But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 

11 But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life.