First Act. Presentation of Jesus: Mark 1.14-8.30
Scene 5. More Stories about the Rule of God: Mark 4.35-5.43
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➨ The clean text below (without chapter or verse markings) reflects the literary-structure of the original author. Sections that are flush-left indicate a section in itself. When the flush-left is followed by an indented paragraph(s), the indented paragraphs are included in the specific section. It’s a different way for you to read but is much closer than the additives version of our modern Bibles.
That day, when evening had come, he told them, “Let’s cross to the other side.” So they left the crowd and took him away in a boat without making any special preparations. Other boats were with him. A violent windstorm came up, and the waves began breaking into the boat so that the boat was rapidly becoming swamped. But Jesus was in the back of the boat, asleep on a cushion. So they woke him up and asked him, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to die?”
Then he got up, rebuked the wind, and told the sea, “Calm down! Be still!” Then the wind stopped blowing, and there was a great calm.
He asked them, “Why are you such cowards? Don’t you have any faith yet?”
Overcome with fear, they kept saying to one another, “Who is this man? Even the wind and the sea obey him!”
They arrived at the other side of the sea in the territory of the Gerasenes. Just as Jesus stepped out of the boat, a man with an unclean spirit came out of the tombs and met him. He lived among the tombs, and no one could restrain him any longer, not even with a chain. He had often been restrained with shackles and chains but had snapped the chains apart and broken the shackles in pieces. No one could tame him. Night and day he kept screaming among the tombs and on the mountainsides and kept cutting himself with stones.
When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell down in front of him, screaming in a loud voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you in the name of God never to torment me!” Jesus had been saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!”
Then Jesus asked him, “What’s your name?”
He told him, “My name is Legion, because there are many of us.” He kept pleading with Jesus not to send them out of that region.
Now a large herd of pigs was grazing on a hillside nearby. So the demons begged him, “Send us among the pigs, so that we can go into them!” So he let them do this. The unclean spirits came out of the man and went into the pigs, and the herd of about 2,000 rushed down the cliff into the sea and drowned there.
Now when those who had been taking care of the pigs ran away, they reported what had happened in the city and countryside. So the people went to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus and saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there dressed and in his right mind, they were frightened. The people who had seen it told them what had happened to the demon-possessed man and the pigs. So they began to beg Jesus to leave their territory.
As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed kept begging him to let him go with him. But Jesus wouldn’t let him. Instead, he told him, “Go home to your family, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you and how merciful he has been to you.” So the man left and began proclaiming in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And everyone was utterly amazed.
When Jesus again had crossed to the other side in a boat, a large crowd gathered around him by the seashore. Then a synagogue leader named Jairus arrived. When he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet and begged him urgently, saying, “My little daughter is dying. Come and lay your hands on her so that she may get well and live.” So Jesus went with him.
A huge crowd kept following him and jostling him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from chronic bleeding for twelve years. Although she had endured a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all of her money, she had not been helped at all but rather grew worse. Since she had heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his robe, because she had been saying, “If I can just touch his robe, I will get well.” Her bleeding stopped at once, and she felt in her body that she was healed from her illness.
Immediately Jesus became aware that power had gone out of him. So he turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”
His disciples asked him, “You see the crowd jostling you, and yet you ask, ‘Who touched me?’”
But he kept looking around to see the woman who had done this. So the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came forward fearfully, fell down trembling in front of him, and told him the whole truth. He told her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace and be healed from your illness.”
While he was still speaking, some people came from the synagogue leader’s home and said, “Your daughter is dead. Why bother the Teacher anymore?”
But when Jesus heard what they said, he told the synagogue leader, “Stop being afraid! Just keep on believing.”
Jesus allowed no one to go further with him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James.
When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw mass confusion. People were crying and sobbing loudly. He entered the house and asked them, “Why all this confusion and crying? The child isn’t dead. She’s sleeping.” They laughed and laughed at him.
But when he had driven all of them outside, he took the child’s father and mother, along with the men who were with him, and went into the room where the child was. He took her by the hand and told her, “Talitha koum,” which means, “Young lady, I tell you, get up!” The young lady got up at once and started to walk. She was twelve years old. Instantly they were overcome with astonishment. But Jesus strictly ordered them not to let anyone know about this. He also told them to give her something to eat.
I’m sure that by this time in their life, my kids grow weary of hearing me tell stories about my family life and my personal life. They have been well indoctrinated by these stories. It is amazing to hear one of your kids say, what you just said sounds a lot like your mom even though neither of them personally knew my mom well. What they know of her, is from the stories I have told about her. So, if you want to know about how God operates, read and listen to the stories that Mark continues to tell of our family story and how it relates to kingdom authority.
Observing the Story
In this section of Mark (Mark 4.35-5.43), we are treated to another round of miracle stories, which demonstrate the kingdom authority of Jesus. Remember the words and works of Jesus are the same. Together they demonstrate the rule of God that has invaded this present evil age. Several stories cover the gamut of miracles that Jesus performed in this section. They show his kingdom authority about direction (Mark 4.34-35); his kingdom authority over nature (Mark 4.37-41); his kingdom authority over demons (Mark 5.1-13); his kingdom authority over humans (Mark 5.14-20); his kingdom authority over sickness (Mark 5.25-34); and his kingdom authority over death (Mark 5.21-24a; Mark 5.35-45). We must keep our eye out for how Jesus treats the storm and what his value system is. We will also discover that he has two calls in life. We are more familiar with one than the other.
Interpreting the Story
Kingdom Authority in Direction (Mark 4.34-35)
We believe that God’s will is lost and we must find it
Many believers are always looking for God’s will in their lives. Our language betrays us. We believe that God’s will is lost and we must find it. We become great sleuths looking for clues that will lead us to his will. We do all sorts of foolish religious things to help us along, like putting out a fleece. In the Old Testament story from which this peculiar religious habit is rooted, there was a man who could not believe God for direction even though he was given supernatural direction on more than one occasion.[ref]Winn Griffin, googling God’s Will. (Woodinville, WA: Harmon Press, 2011)[/ref] The idea of putting out a fleece is not a good habit to develop. As a matter of fact it is a bad habit. When the disciples decided to follow Jesus, it included risk. This is what the disciples were facing when they heard Jesus tell them to cross over to the other side of the lake. A friend of mine once said to me, “You can’t get to where you are going from where you are.” It took a while to sink in, but he was right. Often Jesus has to take us to a new place from where we start a new journey with him to go where he wants to take us.
Kingdom Authority over Nature. (Mark 4.37-41)
The demonic forces, which play havoc in the lives of humans through sickness and demonization, also indirectly exert their perverted influence for evil by causing nature to run amuck! This is a difficult concept for the Westerner. We see weather as just some form of patterns that sometimes gets out of hand, a natural catastrophe of old Mother Nature. For the Easterner, there was a demonic force behind nature that had run rampant. We are now given a historical view of the sea on which Jesus and his followers were traveling. A sudden furious squall came up, and the waves came and kept coming over the sides—till the disciples thought they were sinking and drowning. Some of these men were seasoned fishermen. They knew the perils of the sea. Mark provided his readers with a picture of the conflict with nature that was under demonic control.
This story is often written off with a syrupy moral that the winds and waves of life will often overtake us. This, however, is not the true intent of the author who wants to show Jesus and Satan in conflict with each other. This story is a real and literal attack of Jesus on the entrenched forces of evil, which hold the world in bondage and decay (Romans 8). The disciples panicked and cried out in fear, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” Jesus awakes and rebukes the wind. The word “rebukes” is the same word Mark used when he spoke to the ranting and raving of the demoniac in Capernaum. Jesus also told the sea to be quiet! Again we find the same word spoken to the demoniac in Capernaum. He literally scolds the wind the way he had scolded the demonic forces before. He strangled the storm just as he had previously strangled the demon in Capernaum. Remember, if a language has any meaning at all and gives us any insight to thought patterns, then the same words were used because the same enemy was attacking. Jesus reacted to the storm precisely the same way he reacted to the demon and the fever. Why? Because he saw them as a unity. The only difference is that in one action, he attacks the person of the demon, while in the other action, he attacks the weapons of the demons.
After removing the weapon, which had brought the fear on the disciples, Jesus speaks to them, “Do you have no faith?” Why did Jesus react to them with these words? Because they had forgotten his word to them as they began their journey. He said, “Let us go…” Jesus believed that they would reach the other side, so he laid down and went to sleep. The disciples got focused on what the enemy was trying to do and forgot his word. The story ends with his disciples still in terror and amazed at the power and authority in the ministry of Jesus.
Kingdom Authority over Demons (Mark 5.1-13)
This story took place on the other side of the lake approximately five miles from where they began their journey. They docked in a cemetery. The training method of Jesus carried the disciples from one adventure to another. From one adventure to another was the training method of Jesus.
In the first few verses, Mark demonstrates the strength of the demonized man. He had been bound with many chains but had broken free. It is not bad enough that you land in a cemetery in the middle of the night, but you are met with a mad man.
When Jesus told the demon to “Come out of this man, you evil spirit!” it could be translated, “he said and kept on saying” to the evil spirit that he should relinquish the hold on this man. The name of the demon was Legion. A Legion was a Roman troop containing over 6,000 troops. The name had come to mean a well-organized group having great power. In freeing the man, Jesus shared his value system with his disciples (5.11-13). He values humanity more than material goods. For these hog farmers, property meant more than people.
Kingdom Authority over Man (Mark 5.14-20)
The town folks didn’t like what Jesus had done in the cemetery. Their response to him was “get lost!” They examined carefully the man who had been demonized apparently to make sure that it was the same man they knew was demonized. This idea is captured in the sense of the word “saw.” These folks were afraid of the man before when he was demonized, and they were afraid of him after he was set free. There are two calls to humankind that Jesus reveals. The first one occurred in Mark 1.17 when he spoke the words “follow me.” Now he says to the man who was set free from the demon pack, “Go home!” (5.19) and tell your friends. Both calls are valid. It is important to decipher which call is valid for a community of Jesus followers or, as in most cases, whether it is to “follow” or to “go.”
Kingdom Authority over Sickness (Mark 5.25-34)
Certainly, because she had been to so many doctors, it could have impacted her financial life.
This story is about a little lady who had been hemorrhaging for twelve years. Think about how long ago that kind of time period is in your own life. What were you doing twelve years ago? Jesus responded to all areas of her life as he healed her. She said, “if.” She was not certain, but she was willing to try. She certainly was confused, having been to many doctors, and frustrated, having been pronounced unclean. She had no social life for twelve years. Certainly, because she had been to so many doctors, it could have impacted her financial life.[ref]“Encyclopedia Judaica: Medicine,” Jewish Virtual Library. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/judaica/ejud_0002_0013_0_13493.html (accessed July 7, 2016). A physician had to receive adequate fees, and free medical service was not approved because “a physician who takes nothing is worth nothing” (BK 85a). At the same time, Jewish physicians had special consideration for the poor and needy – a tradition that was maintained throughout the centuries. Abba Umana (fourth century C.E.) was reputed as a physician and a charitable man. In order not to discourage needy patients he would hang a box on the wall where anyone could put in, unnoticed, the fee he thought he could afford for medical treatment. Abba Umana refused to take fees from poor students and would return them their money so that they could use it for convalescence.[/ref] We must remember that healing is for the whole person, not just a physical part. Her faith had made her well. It was not the bottom of Jesus’ garment that made her well. We often get caught up in the way people are healed, in this case, the touch the garment, instead of rejoicing that they are healed.
Kingdom Authority over Death (Mark 5.21-24a, 35-45)
The story of the lady who was healed interrupted the story of the Ruler of the synagogue. Mark now continues that story. Seven things can be noted.
- First, the Synagogue ruler stated his need: my daughter is dying. He had to put his own pride aside and confess to Jesus that he had a need. He did this in public.
- Second, his request was interrupted, which took away valuable time from his own crisis.
- Third, his friends tell him that there is no use to continue to bother Jesus, it was too late.
- Fourth, Jesus spoke to his fear.
- Fifth, Jesus needed the right atmosphere to perform the miracle. He only took three of his disciples with him.
- Sixth, Jesus took control of the situation. The professional mourners were spinning their charm. They laughed at the words of Jesus, which he ignored.
- Seventh, He spoke and touched her and she rose from the dead. Jairus and his family were affected for the rest of their lives.
Living Into The Story
- Can you or your community of faith get to where God wants to take you from where you are? What needs to change (Mark 4.34-35)?
- How can your community of faith and you keep from forgetting the words and works of Jesus (Mark 4.37-41)?
- How does your community of faith and you react to Jesus taking you from one adventure to another without any breaks (Mark 5.1-13)?
- Has Jesus called you to go home and tell your friends about him (Mark 5.14-20)?
- In what way are humans are an interconnected whole and how should that affect how we pray for people (Mark 5.25-34)?
- How does your community of faith and you handle interruption (Mark 5.21-24a)?
- Read Mark 6.1-56
Easy to Understand
Tom Wright. Mark for Everyone (New Testament for Everyone [Paperback]
Winn Griffin. Gracelets: Being Conduits of the Extravagant Acts of God’s Grace [Paperback]
Ben Witherington III. The Gospel of Mark: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary.
William L. Lane. The Gospel according to Mark: The English Text With Introduction, Exposition, and Notes (The New International Commentary on the New Testament)