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Mark

Ask - You Shall Receive

Mark  5

Funny, isn’t it – our view of Jesus Christ is almost a self-fulfilling prophecy. Those who expect little or nothing from Him find their attitude quite confirmed. Here are some examples from the Scripture – from which we hope to learn.

Mark 5:1-43 NASB They came to the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gerasenes. (2) When He got out of the boat, immediately a man from the tombs with an unclean spirit met Him, (3) and he had his dwelling among the tombs. And no one was able to bind him anymore, even with a chain; (4) because he had often been bound with shackles and chains, and the chains had been torn apart by him and the shackles broken in pieces, and no one was strong enough to subdue him. (5) Constantly, night and day, he was screaming among the tombs and in the mountains, and gashing himself with stones. (6) Seeing Jesus from a distance, he ran up and bowed down before Him; (7) and shouting with a loud voice, he *said, "What business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God, do not torment me!" (8) For He had been saying to him, "Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!" (9) And He was asking him, "What is your name?" And he *said to Him, "My name is Legion; for we are many." (10) And he began to implore Him earnestly not to send them out of the country. (11) Now there was a large herd of swine feeding nearby on the mountain. (12) The demons implored Him, saying, "Send us into the swine so that we may enter them." (13) Jesus gave them permission. And coming out, the unclean spirits entered the swine; and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea, about two thousand of them; and they were drowned in the sea. (14) Their herdsmen ran away and reported it in the city and in the country. And the people came to see what it was that had happened. (15) They *came to Jesus and *observed the man who had been demon-possessed sitting down, clothed and in his right mind, the very man who had had the "legion"; and they became frightened. (16) Those who had seen it described to them how it had happened to the demon-possessed man, and all about the swine. (17) And they began to implore Him to leave their region. (18) As He was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed was imploring Him that he might accompany Him. (19) And He did not let him, but He *said to him, "Go home to your people and report to them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He had mercy on you." (20) And he went away and began to proclaim in Decapolis what great things Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed. (21) When Jesus had crossed over again in the boat to the other side, a large crowd gathered around Him; and so He stayed by the seashore. (22) One of the synagogue officials named Jairus *came up, and on seeing Him, *fell at His feet (23) and *implored Him earnestly, saying, "My little daughter is at the point of death; please come and lay Your hands on her, so that she will get well and live." (24) And He went off with him; and a large crowd was following Him and pressing in on Him. (25) A woman who had had a hemorrhage for twelve years, (26) and had endured much at the hands of many physicians, and had spent all that she had and was not helped at all, but rather had grown worse-- (27) after hearing about Jesus, she came up in the crowd behind Him and touched His cloak. (28) For she thought, "If I just touch His garments, I will get well." (29) Immediately the flow of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction. (30) Immediately Jesus, perceiving in Himself that the power proceeding from Him had gone forth, turned around in the crowd and said, "Who touched My garments?" (31) And His disciples said to Him, "You see the crowd pressing in on You, and You say, 'Who touched Me?'" (32) And He looked around to see the woman who had done this. (33) But the woman fearing and trembling, aware of what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth. (34) And He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your affliction." (35) While He was still speaking, they *came from the house of the synagogue official, saying, "Your daughter has died; why trouble the Teacher anymore?" (36) But Jesus, overhearing what was being spoken, *said to the synagogue official, "Do not be afraid any longer, only believe." (37) And He allowed no one to accompany Him, except Peter and James and John the brother of James. (38) They *came to the house of the synagogue official; and He *saw a commotion, and people loudly weeping and wailing. (39) And entering in, He *said to them, "Why make a commotion and weep? The child has not died, but is asleep." (40) They began laughing at Him. But putting them all out, He *took along the child's father and mother and His own companions, and *entered the room where the child was. (41) Taking the child by the hand, He *said to her, "Talitha kum!" (which translated means, "Little girl, I say to you, get up!"). (42) Immediately the girl got up and began to walk, for she was twelve years old. And immediately they were completely astounded. (43) And He gave them strict orders that no one should know about this, and He said that something should be given her to eat.

In this lesson, please note four types of people:

  • The mourners – who know that Jesus can do nothing
  • The herdsmen – who want Jesus to do nothing
  • The ruler – who thinks Jesus might be able to do something
  • The woman – who knows Jesus can do all she wants

Each of these we must examine in terms of their attitude, their request of Jesus, and his reaction.

The Mourners – Those Who Know

A bit of local culture must come first. In this time, there were people who were paid mourners. You hired them to do the proper weeping and wailing at a funeral. If it sounds strange, remember that we hire funeral homes. One thing is sure: you don’t call these people unless someone has died.

Their attitude

Their attitude is simple: we’re the ones in the know. We know the story; we’ll tell you the answer, God.

You may not think that applies to Christians today. But give some thought to it:

  • Have you ever given God detailed instructions on how to handle some crisis in your life - or more importantly, in someone else’s life? As if He couldn’t figure out what to do?
  • Have you ever gone to prayer just to list your complaints? Some of us are so bitter that our prayers are nothing more than a complaint session. We never ask anything; we complain about everything. Is it any wonder that we receive nothing?
Their request

What request? They don’t ask anything of Jesus. Why?

  • Because they are so “wise.” They are so wise that they will decide who is God – for whatever purpose is at hand. God is God on Sunday mornings, when we need a beautiful worship service to be proud of. But Monday He’s not so convenient.
  • Ultimately, if you decide who is God, day by day, the truth is that you have made yourself your own little god.
Jesus’ Response

In one sense Jesus proves that these people are right. They expected that he could do nothing – and that’s just about what they get. It’s self-fulfilling prophecy.

But in another sense he gives them what they need. He gives them a sign, if they will only see it. Here, it is the awakening of the dead girl. In our time His signs are numerous; if the church is active.

The Herdsmen

Have a little sympathy for these guys; they didn’t ask for trouble.

Their attitude
  • These are the people who are content with the status quo. It’s a quiet life. The house is good; the car is running fine; the kids aren’t in trouble with the law; life is good. Why are you bothering me, Jesus?
  • All they want to do is make a buck – or more precisely, a few more bucks. They’re not asking for riches, nor for miracles – just a little more. These guys are herding swine – forbidden to the Jews. I’m sure they could rationalize it in their minds. After all, it’s profitable, and I need the money. It’s not like I was eating the pork, after all.
  • They’re willing to tolerate the evil around them – the demoniac, after all, lived nearby – as long as it isn’t personal. Hey, what’s the problem? I’ve never had an abortion, personally (not surprising, considering I’m “him.”) As long as the pornography’s in plain brown wrappers, what’s the problem?
  • Most of all, they don’t want to feel guilty. Don’t remind us about that pork.
Their request

Their request is simple: go away. Do we ever act like that?

  • Do we ask Christ to hide in the church? Stay where he belongs – out of our lives and in the sanctuary?
  • Most particularly, do we want him to let sleeping worms lie? Not to bother us about the guilt on our consciences?
Jesus’ response

Jesus gives them exactly what they ask for. He goes away. It is sad to think of it that way, but if the things of this world crowd Him out of your life, He will go away.

But He will leave someone behind – a witness. Miracles you don’t care about; signs you will not see. So he leaves behind a person, a witness. If you want to know if you’re a herdsman, check around for the witness in your life.

The ruler

Here’s one of the nice guys. He resembles a lot of us.

His attitude

He’s a man of little faith – but not “no faith.” He’s educated in the Scriptures, and he knows the “theoretical” answers to the questions. We may conclude from the fact that Christ does not rebuke him (as he did the Pharisees) that this man is indeed a righteous man. His life is full of good works – but something is missing. That something is a full and complete faith.

There’s one other thing: he’s come to a crisis in his life. His daughter is dying.

His request

He knows what he wants – his daughter’s life. He also knows the “right way” to get it – by asking God. It’s important to remember here: little faith is not the same thing as no faith. He’s asking in the little faith he has for the great thing he wants most of all. Sound familiar?

Jesus’ response

Jesus gives him a three-fold response:

  • First – by way of the woman who was bleeding – he gives him an example of the faith he should have, and its results. He strengthens the little faith to make it grow.
  • Next, by his explicit command, he removes the fear that blocks that faith from growing.
  • Finally, he grants his request.

There’s a pattern there for us. Look for the examples around us, and let our faith be strengthened. Listen to his command: do not be afraid. Then look for his blessing.

The Woman

You need to understand the desperation of this woman. A woman in her monthly period was considered ceremonially unclean. For that time of the month, she could not participate in the synagogue, the center of life in a Jewish village. But for this woman, her “period” never ended. She would be unclean – an outcast – all the time. She was slowly bleeding to death – alone.

Her attitude

Her attitude is a joy to behold. She has that great faith.

  • Note that having that faith still means she waits until God’s moment for healing. It is not a magic talisman; it is faith.
  • She puts it simply: “if only.” She knows the character of God; the question is whether or not she can get close enough. How many of us desire to get “close enough” to God?
  • Ultimately, she does not consider anyone’s opinion (the virtue of being an outcast) but acts on faith. Action still counts.
Jesus’ response

Jesus’ response can be summed up in the name of God: I Am. She has relied on his eternal, unchanging nature – the nature of God. She knows that God is good; that he is merciful.

That might just be a solid definition of faith: to rely on the nature of God. He does not change; yesterday, today or forever. What changes is our reliance on Him.

Note this: no explicit action by Christ is required. Her faith alone, when in touch with his nature, is sufficient. He is God in the flesh; therefore, He will heal.

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