SERMON: Faith in the Only Savior | Mark 5:21–43

Faith in the Only Savior | Mark 5:21–43
Shaun Marksbury | Quacco Baptist Church
Sunday Evening Service | 23 July, 2017

Both of these accounts come back to faith in Christ’s words, even when all evidence points to the contrary.  The faith looks different depending on context, but it always has Christ as its object.  As such, we are seeing how true faith in the Savior operates.  We’ll see faith in the Savior amid the crowds, faith in the Savior amid uncleanness, faith in the Savior amid fear, and faith in the Savior amid death.


Sermon Notes
Faith in the Only Savior | Mark 5:21–43
Shaun Marksbury | Quacco Baptist Church
Sunday Evening Service | 23 July, 2017

I.               Introduction

Mark likes to interrupt stories into stories.  He did it back in chapter three, where the Pharisees’ blasphemy of the Holy Spirit comes in the midst of Jesus’s family traveling to fetch Him (3:20–35).  In chapter six, Mark will do this again.  In this case, we see the healing of two individuals, one twelve and the other having suffered for twelve years, so there seems to be a connection in this sandwiched account.  Mark’s theological purpose seems to be to compare or contrast the elements of the accounts. 

The old saying (which does NOT come from the Bible) is that God helps themselves.  What we are in the midst of seeing, starting with chapter four and throughout this chapter, is that God helps those who cannot help themselves.  Indeed, we could call this whole section of Mark “seeking a second opinion,” for the Lord answers with hope when everything else seems hopeless. 

Both of these accounts come back to faith in Christ’s words, even when all evidence points to the contrary.  The faith looks different depending on context, but it always has Christ as its object.  As such, we are seeing how true faith in the Savior operates.  We’ll see faith in the Savior amid the crowds, faith in the Savior amid uncleanness, faith in the Savior amid fear, and faith in the Savior amid death.

II.            Faith in the Savior Amid the Crowds (vv. 21–24)

21 And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about him, and he was beside the sea. 22 Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet 23 and implored him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.” 24 And he went with him.  And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him.

Jesus, rejected by the people on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee, returns to Capernaum on the northeastern shore.  Not much time had passed, so we are not surprised to find this crowd of people quickly gathering to Him.  Indeed, the crowd of the opposing shores is a foil, granting us opposing reactions to the ministry of Christ—one of rejection and one of welcome. 

There’s a jubilance to the crowd, but there are a number of reasons why people come to Christ that do not include faith.  We see that Jesus remains accessible in the group, especially to someone who might come in to Him in true faith.  We see a hint of the only reaction to Christ that means anything.

The man was Jairus, the head or, perhaps even the president of the local synagogue.  He would be a layman of sorts, but one charged with maintaining the synagogue.  He would take replace the Torah scrolls if they were to become old or damaged.  He scheduled rabbis.  He would have been a respected pillar in the community, known for his piety.

This respected individual walked up to Jesus.  No one would have expected what happened next.  He fell at the feet of Jesus and began to plead with Him.  His prostration and begging would be a clear, public signal.  This respected pillar of the community thrusts his pride and dignity aside for the sake of his daughter.  It doesn’t matter if he suffers ridicule or loses his position, as long as Jesus save his daughter.

He uses the diminutive form (which only Mark records), the endearing touch of a father’s plea.  Literally, “My little girl is at the end.”  Jewish custom was that a girl became a woman when she turned twelve years and one day old, but she was still his little girl, and his only child (Lk 8:42). 

Of course, the man’s faith isn’t perfect.  Jairus had probably heard that Jesus healed people in the region through touch, so he believed this was necessary.  In the Greek of v. 23, he literally asks that Jesus come and save her, but he probably only means that in the physical sense, which is why its translated this way.  Still, even though he doesn’t know all that Jesus can do, he is still exercising faith in the only One Who can do anything, and it is enough.

It’s not enough to simply have a positive view of Jesus.  Western society becomes more secularized every day, with more people adopting anti-Christian beliefs.  It’s tempting to view and use Christianity as simply the needed political or countercultural reply.  So, like the crowds here, church goers affirm their belief that Jesus is good for society and personal improvement.  The unfortunate reality is that a positive view of Jesus does little more for you spiritually than having a negative one; many come to Jesus calling Him “Lord” and holding good works, but they are not saved (Mt 7:21–23).

Indeed, this means that we need something more.  When I was a child, a church told me about sin and Hell.  I was told that if I prayed a little prayer and really meant it, Jesus would save me.  I came to realize later, though, that my faith was not in Christ, but in the sincerity of my prayer.  The proof of that is in the fact that I didn’t desire Jesus personally; I just desired a good life with those following Him.  That isn’t saving faith.

One must come to an exalted Jesus in full humility.  Whereas the gathered crowd may have come for numerous reasons, a few, including this man, came in humility and faith.  Jairus was a ruler of the Capernaum synagogue, so he had heard Jesus’s authoritative teaching and witnessed His miracles.  He knew that Jesus was the only hope his daughter had, came with nothing in his hand but belief, fell to his knees before the Lord, and began to beg. 

Don’t have faith in your involvement with church, in the excitement of the crowd or the causes trumpeted by the gathering.  Don’t be concerned with whether you are on the “right side of history” any more than with whether you’re on the eastern or western shore of the Sea of Galilee.  Come to Christ with nothing but your need for His salvation, and make sure that your steps are as directed by Him through the crowds of life.

III.         Faith in the Savior Amid Uncleanness (vv. 25–34)

25 And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, 26 and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. 27 She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. 28 For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” 29 And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30 And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?” 31 And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’ ” 32 And he looked around to see who had done it. 33 But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling 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 disease.”

One can only imagine the suffering this woman endured.  While the exact nature of her illness is a mystery, many commentaries agree that she had some sort of a gynecological disorder leading to the discharge.  Such an ongoing hemorrhage would have ill effects on both her physical and mental health, not to mention the social stigma and personal disgust she suffered as life literally drips away from her. 

She would be considered perpetually unclean in the Old Covenant community (cf. Lv 15:25–27).  Such a mark would have set her apart like a leper, part of her ongoing suffering.  She would not have been able to participate in worship or daily life in Israel. 

She invested every penny in search for a cure.  However, the treatments that the physicians suggested not only failed to help, but made the matter worse (v. 26), whatever that might mean.  The Talmud lists eleven cures, all of which failed her.  “The Talmud itself gives no fewer than eleven cures for such a trouble.  Some of them are tonics and astringments; but some of them are sheer superstitions like carrying the ashes of an ostrich-egg in a linen rag in summer and a cotton rag in winter; or carrying a barley corn which had been found in the dung of a white she-ass.  No doubt this poor woman had tried even these desperate remedies” (Barclay, Mark, 129).  Luke the physician omits that doctors made her worse, but concludes that she “could not be healed by anyone” (Lk 8:43).

Yet, she hears about Jesus (v. 27), and she comes to Him.  Hers also is an imperfect faith, filled with superstition and fed by misinformation.  In Matthew 9:20, we read that she seeks to touch the fringe of His garment, probably the tassels (see Nm 15:38–40; Dt 22:12).  But, it was faith

She comes in fear and faith.  There may be several reasons why she’s fearful—since she was unclean, perhaps she feared the crowd approaching her, or perhaps she even feared meeting Jesus face-to-face (see v. 33).  Still, she knows He has the power to heal, and while the crowd squeezes closer, she reaches out in faith.  Augustine says, “Flesh presses, but faith touches;” and she realizes she is healed in that very moment.

He responds with control and care.  It seems in vv. 29–30 that Jesus and the woman simultaneously knew that the healing occurred.  The twice use of “immediately;” the woman ginosko—knew—in her body that there had been a healing, and Jesus epignosko—clearly knew—in Himself that there had been a healing.  He knew someone had touched His garment in this crowd in faith, so He stops the crowd and begins looking back and forth, despite his disciples’ protest.  The use of the feminine case in v. 32 hints that Jesus knew that a woman had touched Him.

Of course, if He knew someone had touched the outermost fringe of his garment in a crowd of people, and if He knew that someone had just been healed, then it is not a stretch to believe that He knew exactly who it was.  Even so, this question accomplishes two goals: 1) to give the woman a chance to come forward now in faith, and 2) a chance for everyone else to praise God for this miracle.  

Praise God that we don’t have to have everything figured out and our theology in a proper row before He will save us!  That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t begin to grow in our knowledge and faith once we come to Christ, but the Lord makes no demands of us to save us; He fulfills all the commands.  When we think of spiritual salvation, our efforts, or the efforts of so-called religious professionals, makes our state worse before God, not better. 

Even in a crowd, Jesus can perceive the touch of an individual.  To those coming to Him suffering for years with the unclean discharge of sinfulness, He says the same thing that He spoke to the woman.  He speaks tenderly in v. 33: “Daughter,” and continues, “Your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed.”  It wasn’t the fringes of Jesus’s garment that saved her.  It also wasn’t her touching Him with her hand that saved her.  It was her faith.  We need to have the same focus, as we are tempted to think about prayers and baptisms and other works that could get us into the Kingdom; we need to know that it is faith that saves us: the gift from God, lest anyone should boast (Eph 2:8–9).  Know the comfort of these gospel words!

IV.         Faith in the Savior Amid Fear (vv. 35–37)

35 While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler’s house some who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” 36 But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” 37 And he allowed no one to follow him except Peter and James and John the brother of James.

There are lengths of our journey where it seems that life gets worse while we’re with Jesus, and faith begins to run dry.  Jairus must have felt that way—he came to Jesus asking Him to come and heal his daughter (vv. 22–24).  However, Jesus delays and heals someone else (vv. 24–34), and now the message of his daughter’s death (v. 35).  He risked ridicule and scorn from the scribes and Pharisees, came to Jesus, and seemingly, all for naught.

Perhaps the messengers pulled Jairus aside while Jesus healed this girl, but Jesus still overheard the conversation.  He chooses to ignore their words and speaks directly to Jairus: “Do not fear, only believe.”  Two imperatives.  He gave two commands to the woman in v. 34, “Go in peace and be healed.”  Here, we see faith as the antidote to the fear undoubtedly welling up within Jairus.  Luke notes that Jesus added that “she will be well” (Lk 8:50).  Jairus demonstrated faith in coming to Christ, and now Jesus tells him to continue in that belief—a difficult command we need to hear as fears well up in our own souls. 

Do not fear if you don’t see.  We who read ahead know how this will end, but in the moment, Jairus walks without sight.  He has to walk back home with Jesus believing everything will be all right when they arrive.  He has no evidence other than the word of Christ.  He doesn’t even have the excitement of the crowd anymore—only Jesus and three disciples walk this part of the road.

Believe based on what you know.  Perhaps the delay added difficulty to his faith, but it probably helped Jairus to witness Jesus’s healing of the woman’s hemorrhage (vv. 25–34).  It confirmed what Jarius already knew about Jesus, that He could heal the sick.  Moreover, her issue lasted for the same number of years his daughter had life, perhaps drawing Jairus’s mind to the possibility of Christ healing his daughter specifically.  It’s significant that Jesus doesn’t say, “Start believing”—the tense carries the meaning of “keep believing.” 

We must not entertain doubts, allowing them to rob faith.  We have the Word of God, and we know what God has done in the past for other people and ourselves.  Even though the road gets quiet and clouded, don’t fear to continue with Jesus in faith. 

Indeed, we can look to Him when our faith feels weak. Jesus doesn’t allow Jairus’s faith to be snuffed out by the moment.  He gives this anguished father grace in the moment.  Indeed, the Lord is growing Jairus’s faith in the moment, faith that call a more committed and thorough trust than he previously had. 

V.            Faith in the Savior Amid Death (vv. 38–43)

38 They came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and Jesus saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. 39 And when he had entered, he said to them, “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping.” 40 And they laughed at him. But he put them all outside and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him and went in where the child was. 41 Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” 42 And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement. 43 And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.

Jesus, the disciples, and Jairus walk alone toward the house, and Jairus has been wondering what Jesus could do.  He’s with Jesus in faith that something could be done for his precious little girl, but now their ears are greeted with the sound of commotion.  The family would have hired professional mourners to help announce the passing to the community, a common practice in the day that even included flutes (cf. Mt 9:23).  This sad sound confirms the news they received—Jairus’s daughter is dead.

Yet, in the sorrow of the moment, Jesus replies that the girl is simply asleep.  One can imagine the confusion and anger arising as they ridicule Christ.  It’s not as though they’d announce the death of the daughter of the ruler of the synagogue if they weren’t sure she was dead.  So, Jesus’s words of promise seem foolish to the unbelieving world, as would any teaching on the resurrection of the dead (cf. Acts 17:30).  Even so, the promise remains for those who today mourn a loved one in the Lord.

Death for believers is like sleep.  Jesus wasn’t lying when He said that she was asleep, and He gave the same description He did with Lazarus in John 11:11.  In both cases, their deaths were reversed, and so, the death of all saints is considered sleep (Acts 7:60; 13:36; 1 Cor 15:6, 20, 51; 1 Thes 4:13–14).  It’s not that the soul sleeps within the body, for death occurs when the spirit leaves the body (Js 2:26) and goes to be with the Lord (2 Cor 5:8).  Even so, the bodies of all saints will be raised again. 

Death is rolled back by Christ.  This is less than a day since he rebuked the raging storm and the legion of demons, but He tenderly cares for this little lamb.  Indeed, though a dead body is ceremonially unclean, just like the woman had been, Jesus still touches her.  He speaks so tenderly, and the Aramaic word “Talitha” can be translated “Lamb.”  His sheep know His voice (Jn 10:27), and the Greek makes the “I” emphatic; “I myself say to you arise.”  He heals her so completely that she gets out of bed and begins to walk—she’s even ready to eat something!  “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Cor 15:55).

Look at how complete the miracle is.  In v. 42, she immediately began to walk around.  We need to understand that she is not a small child even though she’s “daddy’s little girl;” she’s old enough to walk around.  Jesus orders her to have food—she’s not a zombie; she can eat.  Everyone is thrown into a state of amazement.

VI.         Final Thoughts

So, there we are.  We’ve seen faith in the Savior amid various circumstances: the crowds, uncleanness, fear, and death.  We’ve seen faith in two, different individuals who demonstrate two, very different approaches to Christ.  Still, we see that the faith is to be in the one and only Savior, Jesus Christ.

Jesus is the only one Who can save our souls, though we are the walking dead, like the woman with the hemorrhage.  He’s the only One who can lift us up from the grave, like Jairus’s daughter.  He is the resurrection and the life; He says, “Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.  Do you believe this?”

We must have faith in Christ for salvation.  We must have faith in Him for eternal life.  We don’t add anything to this faith—we simply come to Him, knowing that He is the only source of salvation.  

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