Mark 4:24–5:43. Jesus Releases Even Greater Power.
Key Notes: Pigs in the water; a man on his feet. A woman bleeding ; Jesus shocked. On miracles.
We had Jesus' teaching of parables in the previous section, and now return to His active ministry. Four power episodes are given, each showing our Jesus the Son of God, The Singular Man, in a unique way.
4:35–41 Jesus ordered passage across the Sea of Galilee. It was not a random move, nor intended to escape the crowds. He was on a mission. He got in the boat "just as He was” making us wonder whether He appeared hungry or tired. Preaching and teaching are tiring. He fell asleep on a cushion in the stern, sleeping so deeply that the motions of the boat, the splash of waves and the anxious cries of the seamen did not awaken Him. He was exhausted. The boat was being swamped and their lives were in danger—or so they thought. They aroused Him with a frantic complaint: didn’t He care if they all drowned?
He rebuked the wind and told the sea to be still. It happened. They could not believe that anyone could control the wind--and even the sea. “Who is this, then, that even wind and sea obey Him?” Who or what was He speaking to, really? Then He turned and challenged their fears and their lack of faith. Did they think He had called them into service to die at sea? No. But why had He led them into such a danger? To test their faith and answer the question: “Who is this, then?”
5:1–13 Jesus stepped on shore in the country of the Gerasenes, near Gadara, a largely Gentile city. A mad-man, a demoniac, ran to meet Him. This was Jesus’ appointment. The madman was extremely powerful and self-destructive. He could not be restrained physically or emotionally, living among the tombs and in the mountains away from society. He was not, however, suicidal in spite of his years of self-abuse. He fell at Jesus’ feet in worship, yet resisted Jesus’attempt to heal him. This is" man against himself". He called Jesus “Son of the Most High God” but begged not to be tormented. The name “Legion” is not a proper name but indicates that this poor soul was possessed by multiple demons. The demons begged not to be driven out of the country, but preferred to be allowed into the bodies of pigs. [That shows the imbecilic nature of demons.] The demons in the pigs behaved as they had in the man—powerful and self-destructive—but unlike the man who managed not to kill himself, the pigs were unable to prevent their own deaths. Two thousand of them were soon floating. At $50 per pig, that is a loss of $100,000—a lot of money even now.
Possession by multiple demons was also the lot of Mary Magdalene before Jesus healed her. (Mk.16:9). Jesus also referred in a parable to a person once exorcised and later invaded by seven spirits worse than the first. Matt.12:43–45
5:14–20 Soon the crowd appeared and the story came out. That crazy man, the demoniac, was suddenly a well man, clothed and rational, sitting with Jesus. But the pigs were dead. The people could not handle the miracle of a man made whole and at the same time, an economic disaster. Was a man’s life worth a livelihood--$100,000? Better He should go away and not confuse them. Miracles were not wanted here. At the boat, the healed man begged to go with Jesus, but He told him to be a missionary to his own people:
“Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how He has had mercy on you. “
The man did so and went around to ten cities (“Decapolis”; nine of them Gentile cities east of Jordan) telling his dramatic story of salvation. People were amazed. Since Jesus had already received audiences from the Decapolis (Matt.4:25), the healed demoniac was doing important follow-up evangelism. He supported Jesus' intentional ministry in this pagan territory. Jesus made His own tour through Decapolis later. (Mk.7:31). (See footnote on Decapolis for the scope of this missionary project.)
5:21–24 A girl was dying. Her father, Jairus, was an official in the synagogue, and he begged Jesus to come and make her well. There was to be a miracle on the way to this one.
5:25–34 A woman with chronic blood-loss, got into the crowd. She had been sick for years, and had wasted her money on doctors who only made her worse. She doubtless had menorrhagia, uncontrolled uterine bleeding. She was likely severely anemic, iron-deficient, as pale as a sheet, and short of breath. She was desperate, and ceremonially unclean because of the bleeding as well. (Lev.15:25–27). But she had faith that just a touch on Jesus’ robe would heal her.
Two things happened very rapidly: she was healed and Jesus felt the power flow, like a condenser discharged. He wheeled around to find out who touched His coat, but more importantly, who touched His power. The woman fell at His feet, afraid and yet wonderfully renewed. When she told her story, about the physicians and her years of suffering, Jesus blessed her:
“Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Be healed of your disease.”
Jesus never used the word “daughter” elsewhere in the Gospels. It speaks of His tender-hearted, compassionate nature.
We are told little of Jesus’ healing power from His perspective. We have hints such as Isa. 53:4,
“Surely He has borne our sicknesses and carried our pains….”
although we do not fully understand the words “borne” and “carried”, Matthew confirms that the passage refers to Jesus’ healing ministry. (Matt. 8:17). This episode is a rare insight into a physical discharge of energy, one episode on one occasion. Jesus’ healing ministry was costly to Him. He was giving of Himself in ways we do not understand. A good doctor can look after 20 patients in a day, but not heal any of them. Jesus often healed dozens in a day.
5:35–43 That conversation was interrupted by the news that Jairus’ daughter had died. Jesus told Jairus not to be alarmed, but to trust Him. Peter, James and John were invited in with Him.
He told the mourners that the little girl was not dead but sleeping, and shooed them out. On another occasion when Jesus said Lazarus was sleeping, He meant that he was dead. (Jn.11:11–13). When here Jesus says she is not dead but sleeping, we could take Him literally. At least she was at the point of death, in deep coma, if not dead. Jesus revived her so that she got up to walk and eat promptly.
Jesus resumed His healing ministry in chapter 5 with greater demonstrations of power.
•No one can stop wind and storm.
But wait, the skeptic says. Storms come up suddenly on the Sea of Galilee and may subside quickly.
•No one could control the uncontrollable demoniac when shackles and chains do not hold.
Yes, says the skeptic, but mental illness is not forever. The person may be mesmerized by a powerful personality and come out of his preoccupation. Even mania cannot continue forever. People do get well from mental illness.
• The woman had instant recovery from a long, chronic illness.
On the other hand, the menses usually stop at the menopause, muses the skeptic. Probably she was going to get over it anyway.
• A young girl dying from meningitis? will not get up and walk at a word.
But we know of people who had “out of the body” experiences who recovered and were soon able to talk about it. Maybe this was an hysterical faint, thinks the skeptic.
The "Now" Factor in miracles says that miracles are often natural events under God's command occurring at unusual times and instant speed. There is no doubt that natural explanations for miracles have been made. The Jordan River could have been dammed up by a land-slide up-river from where Joshua and Israel crossed over. (Josh.3). Tamarisk bushes may have dripped edible materials on the ground for Israel in the desert. (Ex.16). The walls of Jericho could have been shaken by an earthquake.
However, the walls of Jericho fell inward on command. (Josh. 6:15–21). Joshua instructed the priests to put their feet in the Jordan and then it would be suddenly dry. (Josh.3:14–17). Moses was to strike the rock with his rod and the water would flow. (Ex.17:5–7). The manna did not rain down on Sabbath. Ex.16:25–27
The "Now" Factor points out that the miraculous events occurred on command. The woman with bleeding was healed in a moment. The waves and wind went quiet in minutes. Jesus told not only the wind to stop, but the waves, which would normally subside over the next 24–48 hours. Seasoned sailors were amazed. The demoniac was sane in minutes, after suffering decades of agony. The woman with bleeding was healed so suddenly that Jesus was, as it were, shocked by it. A girl at the brink of death got up and ate lunch.
Further, the Now Factor says that the change is complete. The demoniac became a missionary. The man lame from birth, healed by Peter and John, not only stood up but walked and jumped around. (Acts 3:7–8). He normally would have required braces, splints and crutches for months. The man blind from birth whom Jesus made to see (Jn.9:1–12) could never make neural connections from his eyes to his occipital cortex to recover from total atrophy. Jesus, resurrected from the tomb, could not possibly walk around on those mutilated feet with a gaping hole in His chest without a supernatural transformation.
God never violates His natural laws? Then there are no miracles. And Jesus was born by union of two parents in the normal way. Then Christ was not raised from the dead. Then we are still in our sins.
Praise God. He was at work. He does miracles. He is at work in our world.
"The Decapolis (Greek for "ten cities") was a loosely aligned group of heavily Hellenized, Greek -speaking cities...located primarily in the northern Jordan River Valley and the fertile highlands of northern Transjordan. Tracing their roots to the colonial conquests of Alexander the Great and his Macedonian successors...the cities became centers of Greek culture, architecture and learning. The cities were laid out and built to the highest Hellenistic standards, with paved, colonnaded streets and lavishly decorated theaters, temples, baths, marketplaces and hippodromes. " (Bibl. Arch. Rev. Vol.37, No.1, 2011; p.64)