Hello Everyone, Grace and Peace to you in Christ,
We are in week five of our in-depth reading of the Gospel of Mark. Week five means chapter 5 but soon we will be covering 1 1/2 chapters on Sunday. In Chapter 3 we heard about the opposition to Jesus that was beginning to get organized. The powers and principalities (as Paul puts it; this can be equated to “satan”) do not like people who seek a new way based on love. In Chapter 4 Jesus told some parable about that should help us understand the nature of God Rule and how God’s Word will undermine our social systems based on victims. The last story in Mark 4 was Jesus stilling the storm and that can also be understood as a physical manifestation of our social systems that Jesus has authority over. As I think back on my sermons this past Sunday, I am not so sure I effectively communicated those ideas.
Chapter 5 continues the theme of Jesus’ authority over demons, disease, and even death. After the storm is stilled, the disciples row to the other side of the lake, the east side. As soon as they land and disembark, Jesus is accosted by man possessed by a Legion of demons. As you read this story, notice how Mark describes the man, how the town’s people have treated him, and how they treat Jesus when they find out what Jesus did. Why do you think they wanted Jesus to leave? Shouldn’t they be happy that the person who gave them so much trouble was now cured? If society is founded on victims perhaps not having a victim was scarier than the demon-possessed man. The man wants to go with Jesus but Jesus sends him back to town to proclaim the good new.
Jesus then crosses back over to the west side. Crowds gather to hear Jesus and to be healed by him. This section of chapter 5, verses 21-43, contains a story within a story; something Mark is fond of. First, Jesus is confronted by a leader of the synagogue, Jairus, whose daughter was very sick. As Jesus follows him to his home a woman who had been bleeding for 12 years touched his garment and was immediately healed. Feeling the power flow through him, Jesus demands to know who touched him. When she comes forward, Jesus commends her faith and send her home in peace. At that point, Jairus’ people come to tell him that his daughter has died. Jesus says to him, “Do not fear, only believe.” Arriving at the home, Jesus sends the “mourners and wailers” out and takes Jairus, his wife, and the disciples in. Taking the girl’s hand, Jesus commands her to get up and she gets up and walks about.
Sometimes people and churches are so comfortable and familiar with the way they have always done church that they are afraid of casting it off and try something new, even if the old way no longer works and the church is dying. We need to hear Jesus’ words to Jairus, “Do not fear, only believe.” Expecting people to just show up because they once came to church, or because we are here waiting for them, or because everyone should come to church doesn’t work anymore. We must work at forming new relationships with people. We must be willing to share the God Moments in our lives. We must be willing to invite people into a life changing, life affirming relationship with Jesus. People won’t have the chance to touch Jesus, or be touched by him, if we don’t take Jesus to them.
Our Lectionary Reading assigned for this week are:
Isaiah 40:21-31 – Who is it that has created all things? Why do we think and feel that God has forgotten us? Isaiah tells us that when we wait for the Lord, the Lord will not disappoint.
Psalm 147:1-11, 20c – The Lord is good, the giver of all good things, and we should sing God’s praises.
1 Corinthians 9:16-23 – Paul will do whatever it takes to win people to Christ. “I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some.”
Mark 1:29-39 – Jesus heals Simon’s mother-in-law and then begins going to other towns and cities with the good news.
Have a great week serving God by serving others.
Peace in Christ,