Welcome back as we continue working through the Gospel According to Mark. Last week we covered Mark 4, where we saw Jesus teaching in parables and demonstrating His authority over the winds, over the sea, over creation.
Today, we’ll resume reading, beginning in Chapter 5 of the Gospel According to Mark.
Mark 5:1-20 (ESV) | Jesus Heals a Man with a Demon
They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit. He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones. And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him. And crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” For he was saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. Now a great herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and they begged him, saying, “Send us to the pigs; let us enter them.” So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the pigs; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the sea.
The herdsmen fled and told it in the city and in the country. And people came to see what it was that had happened. And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. And those who had seen it described to them what had happened to the demon-possessed man and to the pigs. And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their region. As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. And he did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled.
This is such a beautiful narrative passage. It is also a very difficult passage to parse. Let us begin by focusing on the primary focus of the passage, that Jesus is LORD. We see that in His charge to the man to Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you, and the man going out and proclaiming how much Jesus had done for him. Before we look into anything else going on in this passage, we need to settle this truth being conveyed by this passage as the central truth. Jesus IS LORD. Jesus didn’t need the permission of the demoniac, nor of the demons… instead what we see is them begging Jesus not to torment them and cast them out. They begged Him to allow them to enter the pigs. Jesus… IS… LORD.
Now, there are some other elements of this passage that present challenges for the reader. I encourage you, dear reader, not to treat this narrative as a primer on demonology. Instead, let me encourage you to see this as a picture of the Gospel on full display. Jesus had come across the sea to Gentile territory… we know this to be true for no Jewish town would allow thousands of pigs (unclean animals according to the Law of Moses) be farmed. We see a man tormented, alone, self-mutilating and living among the tombs. We have a picture of the sinful state of mankind since the fall. To help frame this picture, let us turn once more to Eph 2:1-10:
Ephesians 2:1-10 (ESV) | By Grace Through Faith
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Jesus arrived… He commanded the unclean spirit to leave the man… and after the frightened pig herders returned, they found the man at peace… clothed… in his right mind… Saved. And it was not of the man’s works, none of his doing… it was the gift of God. And then we see Jesus rejected by the Gentiles who remain dead in their sins and trespasses, though they think themselves sane, they are not in their right minds. They are not at peace, like the man Jesus Saved… they are filled with fear and chasing Jesus out of their country. Jesus tells the saved man, to go… and proclaim all that the LORD had done for him… to do the good works, which God prepared before hand, that he should walk in them… to proclaim the Word of the LORD, Jesus, Son of the Most High God. Amen.
Mark 5:21-43 (ESV) | Jesus Heals a Woman and Jairus’s Daughter
And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about him, and he was beside the sea. Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet and implored him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.” And he went with him.
And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’” And he looked around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. And he said to her,“Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler’s house some who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” And he allowed no one to follow him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. They came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and Jesus saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. And when he had entered, he said to them, “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. But he put them all outside and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him and went in where the child was. Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement. And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.
In this portion, we get two miracles pointing to Jesus as the Christ of God. Let’s treat each one separately, beginning with the woman with an issue of blood.
We don’t know anything regarding the identity of this woman. We know that she has endured an issue of blood for twelve years. We know she had heard the reports of Jesus and that in hearing the Word of Christ, she had faith. I don’t like to present a lot of Greek background, for I have not yet personally learned Greek, but I heard a great talking point being made here and want to pass it on to you. If we look again at what Mark tells us the woman had said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well”, the word we see being translated “made well” is σῴζω (sōzō), a word defined as “to save, keep safe and sound, to rescue from danger or destruction”. In the KJV it is translated as “save” 93 times compared to only 14 times as being healed or made whole. Now, the point being made here is that if the thought were purely limited to physical healing there is a better word for that… but this word we see both here regarding this woman and the appeal to save Jarius’ daughter from death. She is appealing to something greater than her physical infirmity… she understands that salvation is found in Jesus.
As a bit of a tangent here, that we don’t know much about her identity opens up a couple of interesting thoughts. If she is a Jewish woman, this issue of blood has made her ceremonially unclean, cut off from the temple and from her family and neighbors. It also means that in reaching out to touch Jesus, she is risking making everyone she touches in the crowd (and Jesus had He not been God) ceremonially unclean… she’s taking a huge risk. That instead of making Him unclean, He makes her clean is awesome. But if she’s a Gentile, there is also a part of Prophecy potentially being fulfilled out of Zechariah 8:20-23:
Zechariah 8:20-23 (ESV) “Thus says the Lord of hosts: Peoples shall yet come, even the inhabitants of many cities. The inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, ‘Let us go at once to entreat the favor of the Lord and to seek the Lord of hosts; I myself am going.’ Many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the Lord. Thus says the Lord of hosts: In those days ten men from the nations of every tongue shall take hold of the robe of a Jew, saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’”
Now, that is just an interesting tangent here and an opportunity to reflect back on prophecy. As we said before, we don’t know who this woman is… and I don’t consider Jesus’ calling her “Daughter” a definitive proof that she was a Jew.
Now, unbelievers often manipulate Jesus’ question, “Who touched my garments?” into some sort of proof that Jesus couldn’t be God. That’s preposterous. My counter point would be to direct them to Genesis 3:8-9:
Genesis 3:8-9 (ESV) And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”
So, are we to understand that because He asked this question of Adam that God isn’t God? Of course not, that’s absurd. In Genesis it was a call for Adam to confess, and in Mark it is a call to confess as well. The woman confessed, testifying of what God the Son had done for her, and He blessed her and granted her peace, healing, and Salvation. He also made clear that it was her faith that made her well… not necessarily the act of touching His garment. God does extend Grace through ordinary means, but ordinary means do not compel God to act. We don’t see anyone else securing healing by touching the hem of His robe… because that wasn’t the point of this narrative.
The raising of Jarius’ daughter mirrors that of Lazarus a great deal, though the Lazarus account is much more dramatic. There are those who try to strip this story of its miracle by asserting that Jesus is basically telling those present that they had misdiagnosed the girl’s death. I don’t think that is what is happening at all in this text. He is speaking of her death as though it were sleep, for He is LORD over life and death and can call to life whomever He chooses… and He can do it more easily and gently than we can wake up a child from normal sleep. Jesus charges those present not to make known what took place… this is different from what we’ve seen in this chapter, but it is a return to what we see most often in Mark’s Gospel. The people, the crowds are always following after Jesus the miracle-worker and they don’t yet understand Jesus the Messiah, so He bids them not to speak of the matter. The demoniac in Gerasenes “got it” and proclaimed Him. The woman “got it” and her faith had saved her. Jarius, one of the rulers of the synagogue, probably didn’t quite get it. Jesus knows his heart, and He took compassion on the little girl. This is speculation on my part, since we don’t have in the text “because…”
Jesus is LORD over all of creation, over the wind and the waves; the Gentiles and the demons, the living and the dead. He is Sovereign over all. And by His Grace we are saved. Next week, we’ll continue working through the Gospel According to Mark, starting in chapter 6. Until then, we will continue our expanded Discernment in Music work. It is our sincere prayer that you will devote some time to reading and studying God’s word, and researching your church’s confessions and doctrine. Know what you believe and why you believe it… where it is taught in Scripture. The Pharisees were completely wrong about the Sabbath… and they were the ones charged to serve Israel as stewards of the Law.
Romans 16:25-27 (ESV) | Doxology
Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.
In Christ Jesus,