Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Mark, Week 18 - Remembering the Past to Trust for Today

Have you heard the saying, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it?” That was written by philosopher George Santayana around 1905. The younger someone is, the less this statement seems to apply. Children have no concept of time, relegating a week ago to yesterday. Our littlest one does this a lot. Thinking something that happened last week, happened yesterday, or a little while ago. To which our oldest very clearly corrects her that it was in fact last week.
But as we get older we either learn this lesson of learning from our past, or as the axiom goes, we repeat it. And it seems like our society is doing just that at the moment. Repainting old failed ideas for a modern setting, and on track to repeat the same disasters. After I became a Christian this is one area of my life that I wanted to not fail in. It was an area that I spent many hours in prayer, and still do today, asking God to teach me from where I fail so I do not repeat the same failures again. Another quote, most often attributed to Einstein says, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

These sayings are invaluable if we want to better understand what God’s word has for us today. We are going to be diving into Mark chapter 5 starting in verse 21. And as we do, I want to give us a little recap on what has led us to this point.
Starting in chapter 4 of Mark we began to see a shift in Jesus’ teaching ministry. Up until that point Jesus was pretty straightforward with his teachings, with him focusing on who he was and why he came. In chapter 4 we saw the disciples begin to understand what Jesus required of them, and they began to take an active role in his work. It’s at this time that Jesus began to teach heavily with parables. These stories with contrasting points were meant to hide truth from people. The reason for this was to either encourage people to seek out the truth by getting more teaching, or discourage people that were just there for the miracles Jesus provided.
Then we read four parables that were to help the disciples understand their roles within the Kingdom of God. The disciples were to understand that they needed to be good soil, so the word could grow in their lives. Then they needed to understand that their job was to share what God had done in their life with others, and through that they would grow more. Next, their job was to share, and it was God’s job to take that seed planted and grow it. We simply plant, and need to allow God to do his work in people’s lives. Finally, It doesn’t matter how small that seed we plant is, God can grow it into something enormous.
With these four teachings relayed to the disciples, we see these disciples challenged in their faith. With a storm that they knew could kill them, they learned that Jesus was not who they thought he was. In fact, their realization that they didn’t actually know who Jesus, terrified them. That leads us into another group who was terrified of Jesus. This happened after Jesus exorcised a demon out of a man that was a plague of the country side. And instead of embracing Jesus as a Savior, the people dismissed him because of his power. But what we saw was that the man, who had been freed of the demon, was sent out as a missionary to his people. The disciples were still learning, what this man had come to realize, Jesus was the Savior.
This brings us to where we are in Mark chapter 5 verse 21. So if you have your Bibles, we’ll be picking up in verse 21 today.

21 When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake. 22 Then one of the synagogue leaders, named Jairus, came, and when he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet. 23 He pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” 24 So Jesus went with him.
A large crowd followed and pressed around him. 25 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. 26 She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” 29 Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.
30 At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”
31 “You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ”
32 But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. 33 Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”
35 While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?”
36 Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”
37 He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. 38 When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, 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.
After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. 41 He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). 42 Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. 43 He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat.

That was a lot of verses to read, but what we’re trying to do on Sunday mornings is to understand the overarching teaching of Scripture and how one event influences the next. And these two stories are combine for a purpose.

This whole situation starts off with a desperate father coming to Jesus, seeking his help for his dying daughter. This man is not just any person, he is the administrator of the local synagogue, a prominent figure in his town. This man, probably wasn’t rich, but he was well respected and was probably well off for his area. But coming to Jesus, someone who is at the very least not on good terms with the religious ruling party, could send all of that respect, all of that prominence out the window. But this man doesn’t care, his little girl is on her death bed and he is desperate.
And I think any of us would throw everything we had away for our child’s life, wouldn’t we? And this man was at the point were his only option was to trust in the rumors he had heard of Jesus. Rumors that had spread hundreds of miles away, and the man who everyone was talking about had entered his town, what else could he do, but desperately seek this healer?
Jesus accepts Jairus’ plea and goes to meet the little girl. Along the way, Jesus became inundated with people clamoring for him. To heal them, and to fix their problems. And as Jesus is pushed and pulled in so many ways, a diseased women makes her way through the crowd, thinking all she needs is a mere touch of Jesus’ clothes to be healed. She is not seeking anything, but an indirect contact with the healer. 
Now we don’t know what type of disease she had, possibly a tumor. But from the physician Luke in his account of this situation, he know that it was an incurable ailment. But low and behold, that indirect contact with Jesus did heal her, but what happened next was not what she expected.
Jesus knew that the healing had occurred. Jesus knew that something was different. With the crowd swarming him, being pushed and pulled in every direction. People yelling and calling out to each other. In the midst of this chaotic scene, something had happened. But only two people knew about. Everyone else was oblivious to the miracle.
And this is how I picture it. Jesus starts looking around for the person, asking a question to which he already knew the answer. Then people start backing away. Is he angry? They might be thinking. Could he call his great power down on us? Then the women presents herself in fear and trembling before Jesus. Not knowing if she had taken what did not belong to her. Her fear gripping her, maybe the thought of, will he take back my healing, crossed her mind. I could see the disciple recognizing her fear, because it was that same fear that gripped them in the boat. It was that same fear that gripped the people when they saw the possessed man healed.
Then Jesus looks at her, the crowd feeling her pain, and fear. And he says these words to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

These words speaks to the women understanding who Jesus was. Just like the demon possessed man understood who Jesus was. Jesus told her that she had placed her faith in the correct place. And because of that, not only was she healed, but she had gained something even greater. Jesus tells her your faith has healed you, this word healed, means to save. It is the same word that is used elsewhere to talk about salvation. This women put her trust into Jesus as her Savior, both of her physical body, and her spiritual life. And now she was truly free from her suffering, with no condemnation from Jesus, only blessing.
Can you imagine her fear leaving her in that moment? To know that you are no longer bound to suffering, both in this life and in the one to come?

But while all this was happening, these moments had taken their toll, because even as Jesus was speaking these words of freedom to this women, people had arrived to give the heart-breaking news about the girl.
In my mind, I wonder what thoughts passed through the mind of the father. I would have been thinking, “if Jesus didn’t take his time with this women, my daughter would have been saved.” And it’s almost as if Jesus understood the thoughts that could be creeping into the father’s mind, because Jesus turns and says, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”
The fear the disciples felt in the boat, the fear that the people felt after seeing Jesus cleans a man of a demon, and the fear of the woman after Jesus asked who touched him, all these fears were unfounded, because Jesus was there. And now, Jesus was relaying to this father, to not fear, but to trust. Trust that his faith in Jesus was not unfounded, just as the women’s faith was not unfounded.
They arrive at the house, with people already mourning the death of the little girl. These people knew what death was like. They had seen it time and time again. They knew the coldness that came upon a person after life had left their body. But Jesus would have none of it. The Creator was walking among them, and he understood what could and could not be done. So he shuts all the mocking people out. He brings three of his closest disciples in, with the mother and the father.
Taking the girl’s hand Jesus gives a command. In ancient times healers would come and say things like, "Arise from your disease”, which better translated would be more like, ”I wish you would arise.” But Jesus says two words, “Talitha koum!” “Child arise.” It was a command from the Creator to his creation. And the creation responded. The girl got up, walked around, and ate. She was not merely back from the dead, but her health was fully restored.

Two stories of full restoration. Two stories of fear being swept away for joy. Two stories of trust in Jesus tested.

I can imagine the woman, twelve years of suffering possibly falling into depression believing that she would die from her disease.
I can imagine the father, looking at his twelve year old girl dying before his eyes, with no ability to stop it.
Both had sought the doctors of their time, both finding that no one could help them.
Then both hearing of Jesus and his mighty power. One sought Jesus to come and heal his daughter, the other sought to merely have an indirect touch of Jesus. While Jesus was dealing with the lady, the girl died.
Fear had overtaken the woman, her healing on the line. Fear had overtaken the father, his daughter had died.
But it was trust, trust in Jesus that both had. And because of this trust, both experienced Jesus’ saving work that day. And all the while the disciples were watching all of it unfold. From a storm, to a demon, to an incurable disease, to a life restored, they were watching all of it unfold. And they were learning who this Jesus was. They were learning from each experience that Jesus wasn’t just another Rabbi, another teacher, or healer. He was much, much more.

Our experience of God today, can sometimes be stunted by our not trusting in his previous acts. The father could have given up on Jesus, when he heard the news of his daughter’s death. I mean, there had only been one other resurrection recorded in the Scriptures prior to this. And that was hundreds of years prior. But Jesus’ words, “Don’t be afraid; just believe,” spoke of the fear that the woman had, that was unfounded, and her trust in Jesus. And that trust is what the father needed now, trust that he had put his faith in the right person.
We must be like the father, we must be like Jairus. Watching the work of Jesus, learning what he is capable of doing. We need to open our eyes and see what God has done throughout the centuries, and what he is doing right now around us. If we are unwilling to trust what God has done in the past, then we are in a position where we might not be able to see his work in us today.  If we are not willing to see the history of God’s working, how can we expect to see it when it happens to us?

Instead, God wants us to trust him in the present by remembering the past. We must take inventory of God’s works throughout history, throughout other’s lives, and throughout our own, so that we can better trust Jesus today, because of what he did yesterday.

Jairus’ daughter would have stayed dead, if he had not trusted Jesus in that moment. The woman was not merely there for her own benefit, but for the benefit of Jairus. More than likely, Jesus would not have reached the girl in time either way, but the interaction with this women gave Jairus an opportunity to learn that his trust in Jesus was not unfounded.
One of the parts I struggled with in this passage, had nothing to do with anything theological, but rather I kept asking the question, why is the age of the girl brought up? And I believe it is to help us connect the women with the girl. The interaction with the woman, being a part of the healing of the girl. Without the woman, it’s possible that Jairus doesn’t go through with his trust in Jesus. This woman suffered twelve years, the same amount of time as the little girl was alive.
This woman happens to get her healing at the same time, when Jesus is off to heal another. This interaction happens mere seconds before Jairus gets the news of his daughter’s death. All of it compiled together lets Jairus know, God is here, God is working, and all you need to do is trust Jesus.

And that’s what God is calling us to do. Look at all that God has done in the past. In history, in other’s people’s lives, and in our own. And he is calling us to trust. Trust him with what we’re going through now, because of what he has done before. 

Let us remember God’s past works, so that we are not condemned to missing out on his work for today.

My question today is will you trust Jesus with your current situation? With whatever you are going through, with whatever your family is going through, with whatever our country is going through, with whatever our world is going through, will you trust Jesus with it?

Here is my challenge for you this week. Come up with five things God has done. They can be in history, in other people’s lives, in your own life. Today, I gave you four things Jesus has done. Think of your own, write them down on a piece of paper, and every day this week I challenge you to go back to that paper and pray a simple prayer, “God keep me remembering what you have done, so I may trust you today.”
A simple prayer, for a day-to-day trust in Jesus.

Now may the Lord of yesterday’s victory, bring those victories to mind today, so that your trust in him continues to grow tomorrow. Amen.

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