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Mar 27 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

Meditations In Mark, chapter 5 03/26/2023



Welcome and Prayer: Nancy Lopez

Good morning!  Welcome to the RefleXion Community.  The Lord is with you.

“Why should I?”  “Why do I have to be the first to change?”, I’ve heard myself asking a few times lately (well, maybe not out loud).  Do you ever respond to what someone else is doing, or not doing, in a way that is reactive and not in keeping with your Truest nature.  It’s pretty common to use our familiar defenses and coping strategies, to hold a self-protective stance, or even to cower in fear or shame.  Well, it’s all about control, isn’t it?

The Lord answered my “why should I?” one morning recently with a passage from Ezekiel 36.  The Israelites had  defiled and polluted the land, and the Lord had scattered them in punishment.  But then other nations had taunted them, “Why couldn’t your God keep you safe?” So, the Lord responded: Then I was concerned for my holy name, on which my people brought shame among the nations. (He’s speaking to Ezekiel, the prophet here.) Therefore, give the people of Israel this message from the Sovereign LORD: I am bringing you back, but not because you deserve it. I am doing it to protect my holy name.  I will show how holy my great name is.  And when I reveal my holiness through you before their very eyes, says the Sovereign LORD, then the nations will know that I am the LORD.  For I will gather you up from all the nations and bring you home again to your land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols. And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.  And I will put my Spirit in you so that you can follow my decrees. And you will live in Israel, the land I gave your ancestors long ago. You will be my people, and I will be your God.  Not because you deserve it, but for My Name’s sake.

The Lord not only forgave them, but brought them back to their land, washed them clean, and gave them a new heart and spirit.  Why?  Not because they deserved it, but because that is the character, the nature, of God.

So why must I forgive, bless, and provide for someone who doesn’t deserve or doesn’t want to change?  Why must I show my righteous character in the midst of unfair circumstances?  Because this is my True nature, because someone else or something else, can’t stop me from being who I am.  Our friend, Paula, says “You do you.”  Amen; your responses and your reactions belong to you, and I’ll be true to me, to my new heart and spirit.

Let’s pray:  Lord, what opportunities you give us to practice living righteously.  How stubborn and weak we are.  Thank you for giving us a new heart and a new spirit, that we don’t have to try harder or rely on willpower.  Thank you for your new covenant with us and the gifts you’ve given that we might offer love for Your Name’s sake.  Let us live with wisdom and discernment, as well as compassion.  Thank you not only for dying for us but showing us how to live in our new nature.  May Your light shine brightly through us, and may the nations know that we are Christians by our love.  Amen

Morning Talk: chuck smith, jr.

They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes Mark 5:1

Intro: I have enjoyed this story ever since I was a child

When spending the night with cousins or friends,
– we would sit in the dark and tell ghost stories
• it surprised me to find one of the spookiest of ghost stories in Mark’s gospel
◦ and this one is true – it really happened
◦ Mark turns flashlight into his face and tells “The Legend of Legion”
• “It all began on the other side of the sea”
◦ this is like saying, “the other side of the tracks” — it was a bad neighborhood
◦ it was Gentile territory – and anything awful could happen there
– in fact there was a wild man there, tormented by demons, and who lived in the graveyard
• he lacerated his body with stones and was heard howling night and day
◦ he was like an animal, but too strong to capture and cage
for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him (v. 4)
◦ doesn’t Mark begin this story well?
• as soon as Jesus set his foot on the shore,
◦ this man came running at him, screaming

This is the first of three extraordinary stories told in this chapter

One story erupts into the middle of another story
– all three touch on our most common worries:
• conflict – illness – and death
• Jesus resolves the conflict, heals the illness,
◦ and proves to be more powerful than death
– crowds are present, but it’s these three faces that grab our attention

The demonic encounter is unlike any other in the Scriptures

Until now, Jesus has silenced the demons he encountered
– but he speaks to this one – and we’re told where the demons went once they were cast out
• we have seen in Mark that demons know who Jesus is
I know who you are—the Holy One of God (Mk. 1:24)
You are the Son of God (Mk. 3:12)
◦ here he is recognized as, Son of the Most High God
• the first time Most High God appears is when a Gentile priest blessed Abraham

Abraham had known God as El Shaddai, “God Almighty.” Later on he discovered that God was his Provider, so that title was added to Abraham’s list. That is how a record of theological revelations first developed, by the list of titles ascribed to God.

◦ it would seem that Yahweh is recognized as the God above all other gods
◦ in almost every instance that Most High God appears in the Bible, it is connected somehow with Gentiles

The news of this exorcism traveled fast into nearby villages

When the locals arrived they were shocked to see
– Mr. Legion sitting there, clothed and in his right mind
• in his right mind means he was sane, but also he was also in possession of his own mind
◦ no longer controlled by or confused by demons
• his transformation terrified the locals more than when he was wildly possessed
◦ now, it’s not demons that scare them, but Someone far more powerful than the demons
– in the previous chapter, the disciples were frightened by a storm at sea
• but after Jesus calmed the storm,
they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” (Mk. 4:41)
• isn’t this wonderful?!
◦ this was not a fear related to a specific physical danger
◦ it was a fear of the unknown – of the supernatural

I always feel sadness when I come to the end of this story

On other occasions, when people wanted to join Jesus,
– he did not reject them outright, but he did discourage them
someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have dens, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” To another recruit, Jesus said, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” And to a third, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God” (Lk. 9:57-62)
• but here, the man now delivered and sane, begged Jesus to let him be with him
◦ he did not request to be made a disciple, but just to be with him
• perhaps this is first time the man ever felt safe
◦ what was he going to do with his life now? he had nothing
◦ but Jesus flatly denied his request
– this rejection is intensified, because of the number of times Jesus is begged in this chapter and he has granted their request
• people in that area begged Jesus to leave,
◦ Jairus begged for daughter to be healed
◦ even the demons begged Jesus not to send them out of the country
• but with Mr. Legend we find the only instance in this chapter that Jesus denied a request
◦ I do not doubt Jesus’ love for him
◦ or that he did what was best for him, and perhaps what was best for both of them

Anyway, the man took it well
– what Jesus did for him, is he turned him around and gave him a mission
• a mission he jumped into with enthusiasm (v. 20)
◦ Jesus gave him a new life, and a purpose
◦ he gave him a way to please Jesus – and show his gratitude
• if he could not travel with Jesus, he would travel for Jesus

The other two stories have to be told together

Jairus was a man of some importance
– he did not run to Jesus like Legion did,
• but he also fell at Jesus’ feet in desperation
◦ he begged Jesus–to heal his daughter, his little daughter!
• two times Mark tells us there was a great crowd around Jesus
◦ this would have made walking down streets difficult and very slow
– that’s when a woman made her move
• she used the crowd to sneak up behind Jesus
◦ she had a physical disorder that rendered her impure
• both Jairus and woman came to Jesus with the same thought and purpose
◦ to “be made well” (vv. 23 and 28)
◦ both faced the challenge of fear and faith
But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and told him the whole truth. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well . . . .
Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” (vv. 34 and 36)

When I read this chapter last year, was also reading Leviticus

Specifically, passages about the priests and their holy garments
– the priests were never allowed contact with anything unclean
• they could not even tend to the body of a deceased relative
◦ their sacred robes were worn only in the sanctuary
◦ no one else was ever allowed to touch those garments
• so Jesus’ words jumped out at me when he suddenly asked,
Who touched my garments?
– I was reminded that Jesus lived outside of designated sacred space
• he even entered Gentile territory
◦ his body and clothing were exposed to impurities
◦ the demon-possessed; a woman with a bleeding disorder; the corpse of a little girl
• when Aaron’s sons violated the purity of worship,
fire came out from before the LORD and consumed them (Lev. 10:2)
◦ but when woman touched Jesus’ garments, power went out from Jesus and healed her
◦ this was the new wine – this was Jesus changing religion
– Jesus continues to live freely in our world
• he’s not afraid to touch us or be touched by us
– the woman received something from Jesus, she received healing
• or, did she steal the healing?
◦ if so, Jesus blessed her, and the faith that gave her boldness to attempt such a theft

When Jesus raised Jairus’ daughter, he kept it secret

His strict warning to parents was opposite to what he told Legion
– I think that may be why he told the mourners the girl was only asleep
• so afterward they wouldn’t realize the magnitude of this miracle

Can you imagine the desperation of countless people coming to Jesus, begging, perhaps demanding that he, raise a recently deceased loved one from the dead?

– it occurred to me, he might have wanted both parents present for this miracle
• so when their daughter regained consciousness,
◦ she would see familiar faces and not be frightened
◦ but I don’t know; it’s just a thought and seemed to be something Jesus would do

Conclusion: I have spent time sitting in each of these stories

I’m not sure that I can muster up the faith of the nameless woman
– or the faith Jesus told Jairus to have
• but what I notice about each of these main characters,
◦ is that they came to Jesus
• they came and each one fell down before him
I can do that – I can collapse at Jesus’ feet
And if that’s all I can do, it is enough
Because Jesus is enough
It is enough, because Jesus is everything

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