For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well (Mark 5:28).
The Gospel of Mark introduces Jesus with a prologue of fifteen verses. The next section of the book (1:16 – 3:6) contains five important scenes of exorcism or healing, followed by five controversial actions of Jesus. The section ends with the plot of the Pharisees and Herodians to kill Jesus.
As the second section unfolds (3:7 – 6:6), the opposition to Jesus intensifies – beginning (and ending) with his own family – and with increasing opposition comes increasing chaos. People are crowding Jesus, falling before Jesus, and falling on Jesus. In the middle of it all come two people: Jarius, a synagogue ruler, and an unnamed woman. The woman needs healing for herself, the ruler needs healing for his daughter. The two stories are set up to be read in comparison. “Jarius is a man of distinction, honor, and has a name. The woman is “unclean” and is unnamed. Jarius can approach Jesus from the front and ask Jesus for help. The woman must approach from behind and steal it. Jarius is rich. The woman is destitute. Jarius has a family. The woman will never have a family.” Jarius’ daughter is twelve years old. The woman has been ill for twelve years.
For all their differences, these two have three things in common: both believe in Jesus, neither escape anxiety, and both find peace.
Life will always have times of chaos and in those times faith will always be challenged by anxiety. But those who focus on their confidence in Jesus will find both removed and peace restored.
As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed (Mark 5:18-20).
This story seems to captivate Mark. He gives it more attention than any of the other gospel writers. Among the details only Mark mentions is the healed man’s response of discipleship.
The demons in the story beg Jesus not to send them out of the area. They beg Jesus to send them among the pigs. The people beg Jesus to leave their area. But the demon possessed man begs to follow Jesus and though Jesus doesn’t allow it, he does commission him to tell what God has done for him – which is interesting because up to now, Jesus has forbidden anyone to speak of him (see Mark 1:24, 25, 34; 3:12) – not that anyone paid attention.
What made this man such an acceptable evangelist?
I note this difference. The demons, and the people of Gerasa all wanted Jesus to do what they wanted. The healed man simply wanted to do what Jesus wanted – and was willing to do it.
Certainly we all ought to tell our family and friends what Jesus has done for us, but our story becomes more credible when it flows from an obedient heart. People will truly be amazed at what God can do with our lives when we let Him have His way rather than when He lets us have our way.
The story of the healing of the demon possessed man, the woman with a hemorrhage and the raising of Jarius’ daughter are found in Matthew and Luke as well as Mark, but Mark’s telling is much more vivid, providing details you will not find in the other accounts.
They are three stories of desperation, and three stories of faith.
Only Mark tells us that the woman with the hemorrhage has spent all her money on doctors and treatment, only to see her condition worsen. When she is healed (and discovered) she comes to Jesus in fear and trembling. Why so afraid? Perhaps she was afraid her boldness might result in the healing being removed.
When Jarius’ daughter dies, Jarius loses all hope and is afraid. His world has indeed collapsed. Jesus tells him not to be afraid.
The man with the demons is the most pitiable of all for the conflict within him. He comes and “worships” Jesus – not the sort of thing a demon would do. He knows what he should do. He knows who is his hope. But he cannot control himself. The demons control him and he is no match for their power.
It is the demons who take over and converse with Jesus. They know his power, and they beg for leniency. They don’t get it.
All three of these people have expressed fear and desperation, but all three come to Jesus. The inhabitants of Gerasa, seeing the healed demoniac likewise express fear. But the difference between them and the three who find Jesus’ blessing is the different response of fear. The three who receive healing push through their fear and come to Jesus. The people of Gerasa turn from Jesus in fear. Fear of staying the way they are brings the three to Jesus. Fear of change causes the Gerasenes to reject the Lord.
In times of desperation and fear, how do you respond to Jesus?