Category Archives: Resurrection

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.

REVELATION 22:6 -21 -GROWTH GROUPS DISCUSSION NOTES

As we come to the end of the series on the Book of Revelation it is helpful to recall the historical perspective that lies behind this wonderful book. This is summed up by Paul Barnett in his commentary Revelation: Apocalypse Now and Then at page 153:

Revelation leaves us in no doubt: the great end-time battle of God does not lie in the future but in the past. By his death and resurrection Christ has conquered the twin evils of guilt and death. As a consequence, God’s kingdom is now, a present reality. These are perhaps the most important keys to the mysteries of this book.

As for the evils that the original Christians (and Christians ever since) were facing, Barnett reminds us:

The book repeatedly portrays God as not the source of evil. In his mercy he limits the extent of satanic destruction to provide rebellious humanity with the opportunity to repent of the worship of demons and idols, and their breaking of his commandments (9:2). In the face of this evil, Christians are continually called on to display patience and faithfulness to Jesus. And it is by endurance and faith that believers share in the completed conquest of the Lamb who was slain.

So what is there left for us before we become fully glorified in the presence of the Lord as depicted under the imagery of the new Jerusalem and the bride adorned for her husband?

The answer of course is the second coming of Jesus to bring this age to a close and to bring about the fulfillment of his ultimate plan for his people.

That is what chapter 22:6 is all about.

QUESTION ONE: Rev. 22:7 quotes Jesus as saying, ‘Behold, I am coming soon’. Given that 2,000 years have passed, how would you explain the meaning of the word ‘soon’?

QUESTION TWO: From your knowledge of the New Testament, what do you know about its teaching about the return of Jesus?

QUESTION THREE: How are we meant to prepare for his coming?

QUESTION FOUR: The book of the Revelation ends with a prayer, ‘… Amen, come Lord Jesus.’ It is rare for such a prayer to be heard in worship services today and it is probably rare for it to be uttered in the private prayers of most believers. Why is this so and how can we change our thinking to follow the example of this verse in beseeching Jesus to come quickly?

Revelation 19:19-20:15

Armageddon and the Thousand years

Discussion Question

What is your favourite book? (In this study we will see all the books opened that will be used to judge all of humanity and yet there is the Book of Life – this may become our favourite book!)

Or

Can you think of a story of anti-climax? Like the Y2K bug? All the hype that came to nothing!

Background (Context)

The book of Revelation has been filled with visions from God given to John to write down. We have heard some spectacular things. Chapter One gave us the flavour of the book with its vision of the throne of God. Chapters 2 and 3 contained seven letters to seven churches and we discovered that being faithful to God and holding fast to his promises would return a crown. Chapters 4 and 5 displayed the glorious throne room of our God, declaring that he is worthy and powerful. Chapters 6 to 19 have described the history of the world under the curse of sin while it awaits the return of the King who alone is worthy. Three types of characters appear in the book: those who oppose God (described as beasts and dragons and prostitutes and so forth, they are aligned with Babylon and are tricked by the beast), those who praise God (sometimes called the martyrs or those who survived the tribulation, whose names are written in the book of life) and lastly there is God and his heavenly agents.

Armageddon was mentioned back in Chapter 16 Verse 16  (see VV12-17ff) and as part of our context, we will begin by reading Revelation 19:19-21 to see that it matches the same event as Armageddon.

Read Revelation 19:19-21

Follow this link to read the passage on BibleGateway… 

What did you see? (Observation)

Structure

  • The beast and the armies of the world rise up! (19)
  • But they were all captured and destroyed (20-21)

The beast and the armies of the world rise up! (19)

“…gathered together to wage war…” Compare this phrase in Verse 19 with 16:14 and 20:8. There is one event in mind here and it is a picture of all the worlds strength in attack against God and God dismantling all their efforts in a heartbeat. This is not new to Revelation. Ezekiel 38-39 is alluded to in these verses as is Zechariah 12-14 and Zephaniah 3. A final war of history is described but surely, like the rest of Revelation, they are a picture of how final and effortless the Judgment of God will be on that Day. The emphasis is not on how scary and brutal are the enemies of God but on how swift and final is the Word of God.

Another surprising OT reference is Psalm 2! “The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the LORD and against his anointed…The One enthroned in heaven laughs…You will break them with a rod of iron…” Psalms 1 and 2 set the agenda for the whole of the Psalms and give a theme of the entire scriptures. Psalm 2 declares that there is no king besides Jesus (or David in its immediate context) and we need to get right with Jesus before it is too late!

But they were captured and destroyed (20-21)

“But the beast was captured, and with it…” As was mentioned last week, the beast who has lured humanity away from God is defeated – just like that.

“…who had performed the signs on its behalf…mark of the beast…” Rev 13:12 refers to the activity of the beast and the signs that deluded many. The mark of the beast sounds like a branding. We will not get drawn into equating this image with barcodes or something else. This is not how we have been reading Revelation and we won’t start now. The picture language is about being enticed to side with the rebels instead of with God and humanity are tricked in all manner of ways. We are not going to accidentally be marked by the beast by using a certain credit card or something like that. But one can find themselves so distracted by the things of this world that they cannot say they are marked out by Jesus. We ought to take our eyes off avoiding the beast and rather set our eyes on the One who can put our names in the book of life.

“…thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulphuric.” We will return to this in Chapter 20.

“…killed with the sword coming out of the mouth…birds gorged…” The judgment comes from the word of God coming from the mouth of Jesus who rides on the horse. The sword is not a metal blade but a word of judgment. The birds remind me of something Jesus said in the gospels, when he was speaking about the end times (Luke 17:37). They are an image of the aftermath of war where the slain are left for the birds to eat – there is no one to bury them.

Read Revelation 20

Follow this link to read the passage on BibleGateway… 

What did you see? (Observation)

Structure

  • I saw the dragon bound (1-3)
  • I saw the saints at the first resurrection (4-6)
  • Armageddon? (7-10)
  • The books are open (11-15)

I saw the dragon bound (1-3)

“…having a key…and holding in his hand a great chain.” The theme of holding someone against their will is introduced.

“…the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan…” Four identities given to Satan and linking us right back to Genesis 3. We did not know that the serpent was Satan in the garden but this is clear now. I love to remind people that the bible is one complete book. Themes introduced in Genesis have grown across the pages to give us a complete image – just as much as the seed of the woman in Genesis 3:15 could not have been known to be Jesus until the whole of scripture was revealed.

“…bound him for a thousand years.” It will be interesting to hear each group discuss what the thousand years represents. These thousand years have created a debate about which Millennial view the bible holds: a Premillennial view refers to a Thousand years which begins after Jesus’ return; a Post-Millenial view refers to a Thousand years which ends when Jesus returns and then there is the A-Millenial view which maintains that there is no actual Thousand years but are, again, an image supplied by Revelation to teach us who is in power. Notice how Satan is bound by chains and by time. He is not at all in charge of this cosmos.

There is a timeframe in which Satan is held back from deceiving the nations.

I saw the saints at the first resurrection (4-6)

“…they came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years.” We further our investigation of the Millennial views as this thousand years is not in addition to the previous but superimposed. The question remains, is it an actual thousand years or a metaphor. If it is a metaphor then what does it tell us? The sequence of events seems to follow the sequence in Ezekiel 37-48 (resurrection of God’s people; messianic kingdom; final battle against Gog and Magog and final vision of the new temple and new Jerusalem). The thousand year reference can simply point to a time that has far extended any kingdom that has ever been before. David’s reign was limited by death. Adam’s life fell short of a thousand years. This new era is stronger than any other.

“This is the first resurrection.” The first resurrection refers to the resurrection of Christ. Note that the rest of the dead, those who have not put their faith in Christ, do not participate in this first resurrection. With the power of the gospel, Satan is bound for the same period. He cannot steal or take away what has been claimed by the blood of the Lamb.

“The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God…” This is you and I who have come to Christ. We have full assurance against the judgment to come – do you have full assurance? You should and you can! In this “thousand year reign” that commenced with the resurrection of Christ, we are priests who bring people to God. Jesus said to Peter: I give you the keys to the kingdom! The gospel unleashes security to those who know it and live it!

Armageddon? (7-10)

“When the thousand years are over…” So, despite there not being a literal thousand years (the amillennial view which I hold), there is a storyline of what happens after the resurrection of Christ and after the period that we live in now is over.

“… Satan will be released…go out to deceive the nations…Gog and Magog – and to gather them for battle.” Verse 7 and 8, as mentioned earlier, allude to Ezekiel 38-39 where Gog and Magog are both mentioned. They appear here to represent cities who have bought the lie of the beast and sided with him rather than with the Lamb. The phrase, “gather them for battle”, occurs at 16:16 and again in 19:19 and helps us to see that this is the same event retold again and again. The beast gathers the nations by deceiving them that they can do better than God. God takes them down with his breath. The whole thing ends, not with a bang but with a whimper. This is Armageddon. (I’m-a-gettin’ out ‘o here!)

“In number they are like the sand on the seashore.” The enemy ramps up in power like they intend to smash down God with their might! The description of the enemy is big. Get ready for a BIG battle!

“…but fire came down from heaven and devoured them.” If it weren’t talking about the Day of the Lord it would be funny! God received no scars from this battle. He didn’t even leave his throne room. This took no effort. It is ridiculous to think that we can oppose God. 

“They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” The ‘they’ refers to the devil and the beast and the false prophets. The description is of eternal conscious punishment. Revelation contains imagery that we have learned to not take literally (like the beast and the dragon and the four living creatures etc) but the message of Revelation is real. There will be a Judgment to determine the future of all. And here, for the devil and co, there is what we would perhaps call hell. So what about everyone else? Are they, who have not been washed clean by Jesus, ‘devoured’ like in Verse 9? Let’s read on.

The books are open (11-15)

“The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them.” This is one of my favourite verses in the bible because it is so mysterious and subtle. The heavens is not ‘heaven’ but the space above the earth. Just as easily as the enemies of God were struck down effortlessly, the earth and all that we know of this reality will simply be gone – without a trace. This is well worth our time meditating on regularly.

“…and books were opened.” Revelation 20:11-15 gives a classic and concise account of what every living human needs to look forward to. There is no mistaking the bible to say that we will all give an account of what we have done. Romans 14:12.

“Another book was opened…” The book to take notice of, however, is the one titled: Book of Life. It’s not the “This is your life” book but the “Jesus has saved your life” book. As Revelation says, if your name is in that book, then you don’t need to be concerned about what is in your personal book. I recall Aslan speaking to Lucy after dealing with Edmond’s unfaithfulness. Lucy was told that there is no need to speak of it any more.

“…and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them…” the point is that no person is exempt from Judgment day. The sea, death and Hades are simply three names for the region of the dead.

“Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire.” Death no longer has any sting. The very concept of death has an end – it is also subject to God.

“The lake of fire is the second death. Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.” Noting firstly that if your name is not in the book of life, the conclusion is that your own life story will not get you saved. We all need saving! The big question is: do Verse 15 and Verse 10 refer to the same punishment? I don’t see how they cannot!

The human race is faced with a decision: turn to Christ and rely on His pure record to avoid the lake of fire or cross your fingers that you have a clean record written in the book of your life. According to Revelation (and therefore the word of God) you cannot pass the test because you have already failed it. There won’t be a party in hell for all who couldn’t care less about Jesus. ‘Tormented day and night for ever and ever” is the description in Verse 10.

What did we learn? (Meaning)

There is no stopping the kingdom of God as it is the most powerful kingdom in all history and beyond. There is no avoiding hell on our own merit. As Psalm 2 says: Kiss his son, or he will be angry and your way will lead to your destruction…blessed are all who take refuge in him.

Now what? (Application)

Topic A: Premillennialism has no future. The only text in the bible that refers to a thousand year reign is this one in Revelation and it stands against much of what the New Testament has to say about judgment day. That is, that it will be swift and come like a thief in the night (see actually Revelation 16 where this is quoted in the context of Armageddon). If there is a thousand years that happen after Jesus’ second coming, then it will also include death and the curse of sin. To take the thousand years as literal is to begin to take the whole book of Revelation literally too, with swords coming out of mouths and feet blazing with fire. What we have reflected on in these notes is that the Resurrection inaugurated a new reality which constrains Satan who cannot destroy those who are alive in Christ.

Topic B: The reality of hell. It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Heb 10:31). There is an urgency in the bible to get right with God. Jesus said it would be better to not be born than to betray the Son of Man (referring to Judas). He also said that it is better to enter life a cripple than to have two feet and be thrown into hell (Mark 9:45). There is a view in Christianity that final judgment may result in eternal unconscious punishment, otherwise known as annialation. This is a big area of discussion and no theologian is excited by the doctrine of hell – but we can get excited about the doctrine of salvation by grace alone! How easy is it to avoid!

Topic C: The book of Life. There must be no greater book that this one. I know, it’s a metaphor, but it points to the reality that when you are with Christ, there is no more condemnation! The book of Revelation has talked about the saints being robed in white, given a stone with a secret name on it, being crowned. There is no such language as ‘hoping for the best.’ I pray that all who are involved in Growth Group ministry can fathom the wonder of full assurance. The thing that matters most is not, which millennial view you hold (although it does matter), nor which view of hell you hold (although that also matters) but whether you have run to the Son who saves.