Mark 4:35 – 6:6.
A demonstration of power!
…. BUT dismay over unbelief.
Have you ever thought what it would have been like to have lived at the time of Jesus? Wouldn’t it have been so much easier to believe in him and follow him?
Already in Mark’s gospel we have read about how Jesus healed the sick and the maimed and drove out evil spirits from people possessed. Surely seeing these great miracles would convinced the most hardened cynic that Jesus was something special – that he was no ordinary man?
Maybe like me you have thought, “If only we saw miracles today like Jesus’ disciples saw then people would come flocking into church and believe!”?
Especially if we saw miracles like we are about to look at – calming a tempestuous storm – exorcising devils – and even raising the dead – surely no one can doubt after such miraculous signs!!
There is a view that the gospel of Mark divides into two – the first 8 chapters are Jesus demonstrating his power and authority culminating in the declaration by Peter in ch. 9 that Jesus “is the Christ, the Son of God”.
Leading up to that point Jesus performs many miracles and explains who he is – After Peter’s declaration there are fewer miracles. Miracles are called signs in John’s gospel and the purpose of a sign is to point to the real thing. Signs are important but have limited use. We see this reflected in Mark’s gospel – once Peter and the disciples have recognised Jesus as the Messiah he turns from teaching the crowds to instructing his disciples – the miracles have served their purpose in showing his disciples who he is.
The question is – “Is there a need for such miracles today?” Opinions have been divided on this question throughout history. Some think miracles stopped after the NT era while others think they continue ‘til today.
Whatever our view the point is that with or without miraculous signs God is working out his purposes!!
- Dreadful Storm.
This account of Jesus calming the storm is not just about rescuing the disciples from a sticky situation that they had got themselves into? NO! – on the contrary it was in fact Jesus who got them into the situation – Mark 4:35 That day when evening came, he [JESUS] said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” (NIV)
Points to remember –
- Many of the disciples were fishermen who knew the Sea of Galilee well and would have encountered many storms – it seems that this was a particularly fierce one.
- The disciples are Jews and they know who controls nature – God created all things – he sent the flood in Noah’s time – he made the sun stand still in the days of Joshua – he stopped the rain in the days of Elijah —
So here they are in the middle of the worst storm of their lives – they are terrified, bailing out the boat for dear life and Jesus is sleeping peacefully.
Mark 4:38 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” In desperation and no doubt anger they shout at him – I don’t think they tapped him gently on the shoulder and whispered in his ear. The wind is howling and they are frantic.
Jesus addresses the storm – the word used is similar to one used to subdue wild animals – the force of his command is “Be muzzled!” – and the impression we get is that instantly the wind stopped and the sea became calm!
I grew up at the sea and used to surf – after strong winds the sea was rough for days!! This was no coincidence and the disciples knew it!!
None but the creator could have done this!!
Is it any wonder the disciples ask, “Who is this!” – is it any wonder that a few chapter further on Peter concludes that he is “the Christ the Son of God!”
The main point of this miracle I believe was to show Jesus power of Nature – however at the risk of over-spiritualising I think it can also teach us that we must learn to trust him whatever storms of life come our way.
Storms of life do not necessarily come as a result of disobedience – remember it was Jesus who suggested crossing the lake in the first place.
We too can be come afraid and angry – angry at the situation / or at God because he doesn’t seem to do anything or even care. BUT in spite of what may appear he is with us in the storm and he is in control!
SING: HoF 402 “Fierce raged the tempest”
- Demonic Spirits.
Living is our modern, scientific, sophisticated world we tend not to be too aware of demons and evil spirits. The only notice most people take is with something like Halloween which is seen as harmless fun – BUT it is anything but harmless – it is actually very dangerous.
In other times and places the spiritual world had a much higher awareness. Simply because we may not be conscious of it doesn’t mean that it is not there and active.
This story some how very real the demon world is!
The story takes place in a Gentile area – east of Jordan River. The man is probably not Jewish. This is borne out by the title given Jesus – Mark 5:7 ……..Jesus, Son of the Most High God? ……
Most High God – was a typically Gentile term for the God of Israel.
Jesus has cast out demons before [Mark 1]
This man is completely possessed / deranged – he is intent on hurting himself physically and he has superhuman strength.
ILLUS.: In Durban SA at a Muslim Sufi Festival – a small skinny teenager in a demonic stupor and he was so strong that 4 grown men could not hold him down.
This man was so far gone that no human beings could help or restraint him. YET face to face with Jesus he becomes aggressive yet he is restricted / he is held in check by a superior power. The demons within him / and there are many – there is an army of demons / – they recognise Jesus for who he is Jesus, Son of the Most High God / –
The demons may have been in control of the man but confronted with Jesus they cower in submission – NB he gives them permission to go into the pigs. It must have been quite a spectacle /- 2000 pigs rushing into the sea.
There are many issues here that are difficult to understand –
- Why into the pigs
- Why did the pigs rush to the sea and drown
- What about the owner of the pigs
–I don’t really know!
The true miracles in no what happened to the pigs BUT what happened to the man. I love verse 15 When they [the crowds] came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. (NIV)
This story shows Jesus’ absolute power of the spirit world. What is sad is that the people who witnessed it instead of believing in Jesus and begging him to stay actually begged him to leave.
Miracles do not necessarily produce faith and belief in those who witness them.
Power over Nature — Power over Demons.
SING: HoF 127 “Jesus the name high over all”
- Diseased Woman and Dead Girl.
There is so much in these stories – we are just skimming the surface.
In this section Mark weaves two stories together.
Jarius, a leader in the local Synagogue, seeks Jesus help because his daughter is desperately ill. He has probably heard the stories of Jesus healing others / he has probably tried the doctors but they are powerless in the face of this particular illness.
En route a woman who for 12 years had had a bleeding problem reaches out to touch Jesus garments believing that to be sufficient to heal her – and she is right!
This is not unnoticed by Jesus Mark 5:30 At once Jesus realised that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” (NIV)
A desperate woman – for 12 years she has been ill – she has spent all her money on doctors – BUT also by Jewish religious law woman were considered ceremonially unclean during menstruation and were cut off from fellowship during that time – FOR this woman it was 12 years!!
By touching Jesus she was considered to be defiling him as well as any others she touched.
Imagine the embarrassment when Jesus and all the crowd focus on her – Far from Jesus being annoyed that she has defiled him ceremonially, he commends her for her faith and heals her!
What she must have found hard to understand was that here was someone who not only didn’t reject her BUT was willing to ‘defile’ himself for her sake so that she could be ‘clean’. Previously Jesus had done this for the leper!
Here is the true power of God’s kingdom, the power of the cross and the power of love.
This incident with the woman delays Jesus and news comes that Jarius’ daughter has died. Jarius has believed that Jesus can do the difficult – heal the sick – Can he now believe the impossible?!?!!
By the time they arrive at the house the mourners [professional mourners most likely] are already there weeping and wailing – BUT their weeping turns to scornful laughter when Jesus says the girl is only sleeping. They know full well that she is dead. Mark 5:38-40 38 When they came to the home of the synagogue ruler, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. 39 He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” 40 But they laughed at him…..
It is interesting how Jesus excludes the unbelieving. Only the girl’s parents and Jesus’ close disciples are there!
So Jesus goes in and tells the girl to get up and she is restored!
Here is Jesus’ power over the ultimate enemy – Death! He is the Lord of life and death. This is s foretaste of the power he has over his own life and death!
- Dismayed Saviour.
When Jesus comes to his hometown – probably Nazareth – the people are amazed at what he said and did BUT that does not lead them to faith in him.
The simply express puzzlement that he is related to people they know. Instead of being drawn to him in faith they are offended!!
It seems the majority are unbelieving – he only heals a few people there who are humble enough and needy enough to believe in him.
Does this mean that God’s power is limited / or restricted by our lack of faith? Certainly not in the absolute sense!! BUT it seems that God chooses to act only in response to faith!!
It becomes clear as we consider these miracles that being a witness to them does not automatically inspired faith. In a curious way the demons know better even though they oppose Him.
Usually Mark says that the people are amazed at Jesus but here he says that Jesus is amazed at them!! At their unbelief.
It seems that the people of Nazareth are so familiar with Jesus that they enjoy no blessing: Is that a danger for us – “Familiarity breeds contempt!”
Here is a great exhibition of Jesus’ power over Nature, demons, disease and death and these are great miracles. However the greatest miracles of all is when he calls imperfect human disciples like you and me to join him in his task.
What Jesus wants is disciples who will follow him whatever – He does not want impulsive, fly-by-night, sensation seekers…
Chambers [October 21], …comments, “Walking on water is easy to someone with impulsive boldness, but walking on dry land as a disciple of Jesus Christ is something altogether different”. Peter rashly dashed out and walked on the water…for a short while ‘til he started sinking. It requires God’s supernatural grace to live twenty-four hours of every day as a saint, going through drudgery, and living an ordinary, unnoticed and ignored existence as a disciple of Jesus. Spectacular things soon vanish…but we have to be exceptional in the ordinary things of life, on ordinary streets, among ordinary people….to really build. And this is not learned in five minutes.
Do we want miracles?
We have a room full – ordinary people – whose faith in Jesus makes them extraordinary. The power of Jesus to calm storms, drive out demons, heal illnesses and raise the death is at work in us, his people.
Ephesians 1:18-23 18 I pray … that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, 20 which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
Mark 4:35 – 6:6.
A Demonstration of Jesus’ Power!
1. Dreadful Storm. 4v35-41
2. Demonic Spirits. 5v1-20
3. Diseased Woman and Dead Girl. 5v21-43
4. Dismayed Saviour. 6v1-6