In the time of Christ’s birth, shepherds were viewed as “unclean” in the community of God’s people because of the type of work they did. They were constantly in contact with dirty, smelly sheep, their manure, their blood from cuts and scrapes, and the many insects that buzzed around them. This meant that shepherds were virtually never clean enough to worship with God’s people in God’s presence. So they were generally treated as outsiders.
Yet, “Bethlehem was nearby Jerusalem, and many of the sheep used in the temple sacrifices came from there. The surrounding hills were prime grazing land, and shepherds worked in the area day and night, all year round.”
It is to this group of people that the angel of the Lord appeared one night. Suddenly, and surrounded with amazing light, the angel stood before them (v.9). He gave to them “good news of great joy which will be for all the people.” He tells them of the “saviors” birth, right there in the city of David! He even tells them where to find this heavenly child, “You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger” (v. 12). And then, as if that is not to much already, a multitude of the “heavenly host” appear and are praising God!
That had to be one amazing night. A lowly group of shepherds, angels in the sky all around them praising God and revealing His birth; a divine gift to men! Imagine how you and I might have reacted to such a sight.
Confusion, perhaps disbelief?
They were afraid, in fact, “terribly frightened” (v. 9). The Greek word used for “terribly “ is (megas). It can mean exceedingly, over abundant, or great. But just as in other times when an angel appeared to men, He encouraged them to fear not (1:11-13; 1:30). When the angels leave and go back to heaven (v. 15) we begin to get a pretty good idea of the shepherds view of Christmas!
Faith overcame fear- “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made know to us” (v.15).
Excitement overcame distance- “So they came in a hurry and found where Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger” (v. 16). Just as the angel said!
Joy overcame silence- “They made known the statement which had been told them about this child” (v. 17).
Praise and worship filled their hearts- “The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them!”
The shepherds view of Christmas was one of faith, excitement, and joy. What they “seen” and “heard” ultimately gave them a new spring in their step and a new song in their hearts!
This is only the second view of Christmas that we looked at (the first was Mary’s), but each one of them has given me a renewed joy and heart of praise for a time of the year that our materialistic culture so actively seeks to control.
BRIEF INTRO: As we enter the last section of chapter ten, we read about the healing of a blind man named Bartimaeus. This serves as another transitional passage in Mark’s gospel. “In the conclusion of this section, the renewed sight of Bartimeaus, a man who recognizes the identity of Jesus and follows Him in the way, stands in contrast to the ongoing difficulty of the disciples, who struggle to see clearly what it means to follow Jesus.”
This account also points us to and builds the bridge for Christ’s “triumphal entry” in the next chapter, as Bartimaeus cries out to Jesus using the title “Son of David” (vv. 47-48)! In that account, the “crowd takes up the perspective of Bartimeaus, calling out their blessings toward Jesus and the coming kingdom of David” (11:9-10).
46 Then they *came to Jericho. And later, as He was leaving Jericho with His disciples and a large crowd, a beggar who was blind named Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the road. 47 And when he heard that it was Jesus the Nazarene, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 Many were sternly telling him to be quiet, but he kept crying out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him here.” So they *called the man who was blind, saying to him, “Take courage, stand up! He is calling for you.” 50 And throwing off his cloak, he jumped up and came to Jesus. 51 And replying to him, Jesus said, “What do you want Me to do for you?” And the man who was blind said to Him, “[a]Rabboni, I want to regain my sight!” 52 And Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has [b]made you well.”And immediately he regained his sight and began following Him on the
FOCUS ONE: What do we learn about Jesus?
The first thing we learn about Jesus in this account is that He is the king who hears! As Jesus, the disciples, and “a great multitude” of people were going out from Jericho, a blind man named Bartimaeus was sitting by the road. As the roar of the crowd became louder and the air of excitement intensified, it became clear to Bartimeaus that Jesus the Nazarene was passing by.
At once, He begins to “cry out” to Him. In other words, He starts shouting, as loud as he can, to Jesus. He uses the term “Son of David” in his plea for help. This term for Jesus is a “messianic title.” When the people referred to Jesus in this way, they meant that He was the long-awaited deliver or messiah, who was the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies.
Sadly, many people in the crowd rebuked the blind man. Why wouldn’t they want Jesus to hear him? Why wouldn’t they want to see Jesus heal this man? Perhaps they were caught up in the “crowd mentality,” a mindset focused on one thing, their long-awaited deliver coming to deliver them from Roman rule, thereby restoring the kingdom and reclaiming political power back to the Jewish people. But their rebuke does not stop Bartimeaus, not at all. Their repeated attempts to silence him met with his repeated cries for help (v. 48).
We also learn that Jesus is the king who sees the faith of the needy (v.51). Jesus stops, calls him over to Himself, “and casting off his cloak, he jumped up, and came to Jesus” (v.50).
50 And throwing off his cloak, he jumped up and came to Jesus. 51 And replying to him, Jesus said, “What do you want Me to do for you?” And the man who was blind said to Him, “[a]Rabboni, I want to regain my sight!”
FOCUS TWO: What do we learn about a life of faith?
The beggar’s hope is rightly placed: People of faith set their hope on Jesus, our king (vv.47-48, 50). Nobody else could have healed this man from his physical dilemma, and nobody else can heal us from our spiritual sickness! Bartimeaus was exhorted to have courage and go to meet Jesus (v. 49). Instantly, he jumped up and went to Jesus.
Bartimeaus exhibits the type of faith each of us should have. A trust that “jumps” at the opportunity to go to Jesus for anything and everything we need because we believe wholeheartedly that He is willing and able to meet those needs. Confidence that He hears and sees us and wants a close, personal relationship with us. Why? Because He loves us!
52 And Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has [b]made you well.”And immediately he regained his sight and began following Him on the road.
FOCUS THREE: What do we learn about our response to Jesus?
The way Bartimaeus responded to Jesus is a beautiful picture of how all those who believe in Him should react. People of faith follow Jesus out of gratitude for His grace (v.52). Mark tells us that after Jesus healed him, Bartimaeus “began following Him on the road” (v. 52).
“Mark undoubtedly portrays the healed blind man in a literal sense as walking behind Jesus and heading with Him toward Jerusalem. However, the verb ἀκολουθέω can also have a “metaphorical” sense in Mark to indicate someone’s personal allegiance to Jesus and His teaching. This metaphorical meaning for ἀκολουθέω occurs whenever Mark refers to individuals following Jesus (1:18; 2:14; 8:34; 10:21,28; 10:52;14:54; 15:41). Therefore Mark’s point seems to be that Bartimaeus became a follower of Jesus.”
Bartimaeus responded rightly to Jesus, as many of you have reading this post. His response was immediate and led him to follow Christ. By “following Jesus,” I mean we witness a changed man! Not only physically because of the healing, but more importantly, spiritually, as Jesus granted him faith to believe!
He was willing to leave everything behind to walk in obedient faith to his Lord. He immediately began the journey on his new path in life that was prepared for by God! A journey now filled with hope, not despair; faith rather than fear.
Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament, pg. 181-184
The correct application of knowledge in our lives is essential. Our days are filled with many issues, challenges, and temptations that require a certain level of wisdom to work through in a healthy, God-honoring way.
In our study, we have witnessed the disciple’s “lack” of understanding of who Jesus truly was. We observed some “mountain top” moments in their lives, such as their success in ministry when Jesus sent them out to “preach and have authority to cast out demons” (3:14) and when Peter walked on water (Mark 6:45-51; Matthew 14:29).
And we will hear Peter’s amazing confession of Jesus as the Messiah in our next study (Mark 8:29). But along with these moments, we witness many others that are not so positive! We constantly observe their lack of comprehension relating to spiritual truths (Mark 4:13; 6:52; 7:17,18; 8:1-5, 15-21).
These men seem to take one step forward, only to take two steps backward a little later. Can you relate to them? I sure can. Their understanding of spiritual things is gradual, not immediate. Their ability to get past previously held presuppositions is limited, so they desperately need Jesus to come alongside them and patiently teach them about the kingdom and its King, King Jesus! And this is what Jesus does. So far in our study of Mark, we have observed the fantastic patience of Jesus with these men that He called unto Himself. The patience of Jesus! That, dear reader, is something to be thankful about.
22 And they *came to Bethsaida. And some people *brought a man who was blind to [a]Jesus and *begged Him to touch him.23 Taking the man who was blind by the hand, He brought him out of the village; and after spitting in his eyes and laying His hands on him, He asked him, “Do you see anything?” 24 And he [b]looked up and said, “I see people, for I see them like trees, walking around.” 25 Then again He laid His hands on his eyes; and he looked intently and was restored, and began to see everything clearly. 26 And He sent him to his home, saying, “Do not even enter the village.”
FOCUS ONE: Do you see anything?
The two-step method of healing the blind man seems odd, as Jesus’ healings are usually instantaneous. We must never forget that Jesus, as God in the flesh, still maintains His sovereign choice to heal according to His timing. But along with that, we can also understand that it would be very reasonable for Him to use this miracle of healing as another teaching moment for His disciples. (assuming He took some with Him outside cr. 5:37).
Our previous study ended with Jesus asking the disciples, “Do you not yet understand” (8: 17,21), and in the account that follows what we are discussing in this post, Jesus asks the disciples who they think He is, and Peter expresses boldly that He is the Christ (8:29).
We can see a bit of similarity in Marks writing between the disciples and this blind man. The blind man is like the disciples; at first, he sees only dimly, then when Jesus again puts His hands on the man’s eyes, he sees everything clearly!
“1The disciples still have much to learn about Jesus after the disclosure at Caesarea Philippi. The difference between Jesus’ self-disclosure to His disciples before the healing of the blind man (vv. 15-21) and afterward at Caesarea Philippi (vv. 27-30) is as great as the two seeings of the blind man who is healed in stages.”
The similarities in the account regarding “seeing” or understanding are apparent. From all we read leading up to this point, we notice that the disciple’s spiritual eyesight is gradually being healed. These few verses about this man’s healing seem to serve as a bridge between Jesus’ “Do you not yet understand?” and Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Messiah! Which then is followed by Jesus foretelling His coming death and resurrection!
Outside of the obvious healing of the blind man, there is another object lesson for Jesus’ disciples. Jesus completely transforms people’s lives!
Then again He laid His hands on his eyes; and he looked intently and was restored, and began to see everything clearly. 26 And He sent him to his home, saying, “Do not even enter the village.”
FOCUS TWO: Seeing clearly
The blind man’s life would never be the same again! I can imagine that he would not go through a minute, a day, or even a year, without thinking about the compassion and kindness shown to him on that day from Jesus. But what we don’t want to miss in this object lesson to His disciples is that “transformation” spiritually is also a work done by Jesus: the most critical work.
Do you remember these words from the grand old hymn Amazing grace: “I once was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I see?” How did that happen? It happens because of Jesus Christ! Jesus is not only the “way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6), but He is also the “light of the world” (John 8:12). Light reveals things previously hidden by darkness. Jesus opens the eyes of sinners to see His truth and experience His wonderful redemption.
Physical transformation is a great gift that we shouldn’t take for granted. How much more so spiritual transformation? The disciples were being transformed in the “renewing of their minds,” but it was not an instantaneous event. It was more like a roller coaster ride at an amusement park! Just as this man received his sight back in stages, so will the disciples grow in understanding and see Jesus for who He truly is!
FOCUS THREE: Go on home
In verse 26, the man was sent home but warned, “Do not even enter the village.” Why such a warning? It appears evident throughout Mark’s writing that the multitudes were not yet ready to “see everything” clearly. This isn’t the only time Jesus gave similar commands to others. He told some not to tell anyone about what He had done for them (Matthew 8:4; Mark 3:12; Luke 5:14).
“2There were certain points in Jesus’ ministry when He purposely tried to keep the crowds following Him from growing to large. Overly large crowds tended to be more disorderly and sometimes hindered Jesus from His more in depth discipleship and teaching ministry.”
After sending the healed man away, Jesus and His disciples head to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. On the way, Jesus questions them about who the people say He is, but more directly, Who do you say I am? This is where I believe all the things we have been meditating on are headed.
BRIEF INTRO: On the heels of the Pharisees testing Jesus and asking for a sign, we find an incident recorded by Mark regarding the disciple’s slowness in understanding spiritual truths that Jesus wanted them to grasp. This is not anything new. We saw this before when Jesus walked on water to their boat after feeding the five thousand (6:45-52). We witnessed it again in (4:13) when they did not understand Christ’s teaching about the seeds being sown.
In our following study, we will face this issue again, and maybe we might be challenged to examine ourselves to see if we are more like the disciples than we’d like to think when it comes to our understanding of spiritual things.
14 And the disciples had forgotten to take bread, and did not have more than one loaf in the boat with them. 15 And He was giving orders to them, saying, “Watch out! Beware of the [a]leaven of the Pharisees, and the leaven of Herod.” 16 And they began to discuss with one another the fact that they had no bread. 17 And Jesus, aware of this, *said to them, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet comprehend or understand? Do you still have your heart [b]hardened? 18 Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear? And do you not remember, 19 when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces you picked up?” They *said to Him, “Twelve.” 20 “When I broke the seven for the four thousand, how many large baskets full of broken pieces did you pick up?” And they *said to Him, “Seven.” 21 And He was saying to them, “Do you not yet understand?”
FOCUS ONE: Where’s the bread?
14 And the disciples had forgotten to take bread, and did not have more than one loaf in the boat with them. 15 And He was giving orders to them, saying, “Watch out! Beware of the [a]leaven of the Pharisees, and the leaven of Herod.”
This statement by Jesus is the catalyst for the conversation if you can call it that, that ensues after leaving the district of Dalmanutha. In a rush to leave, they forget to bring some bread for their journey. Only one loaf is found in the boat with them, and you have to wonder if it has become time to point fingers at one another!
It appears odd to us as we think of Jesus, sitting in the boat with them, hearing the conversation evolve over who’s fault it is that they have no bread, and then for Him to say, “Watch out! Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” We can sympathize with them, can’t we? After all, we would be just as mystified as they were at such a statement.
Take notice of the exclamation point after the “watch out!” Such a punctuation mark is used to indicate strong feelings or emphasize. It helps us grasp a sense of Christ’s tone and demeanor as He engaged these men in what really can be considered a ridiculous conversation to be having at the moment.
Jesus fed five thousand plus with only five loaves and two fish (6:34-44). A bit later, He repeats the same miracle with four thousand people (8:1-9). The latter most likely only being a few weeks ago. And yet, they worry about eating!
What is leaven? Why does Jesus mention Herod with the Pharisees?
“A small amount of yeast can affect a large amount of bread dough when they are mixed. Yeast was a common Jewish metaphor for an invisible, persuasive influence. It often, as here, connoted a corrupting influence. In this context the yeast referred to a gradual increase of unbelief. This lay behind the Pharisees request for a sign even though their minds were already made up (8:11-12; 3:6). So it was with Herod (6:14-16;Luke 13:3133). This attitude had affected the whole nation of Israel, and He warned His disciple against it.”
Jesus’ rebuke will be our next focus point. We see it expressed in five penetrating questions that showed their continual lack of understanding.
16 And they began to discuss with one another the fact that they had no bread. 17 And Jesus, aware of this, *said to them, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet comprehend or understand? Do you still have your heart [b]hardened? 18 Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear? And do you not remember, 19 when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces you picked up?” They *said to Him, “Twelve.” 20 “When I broke the seven for the four thousand, how many large baskets full of broken pieces did you pick up?” And they *said to Him, “Seven.” 21
FOCUS TWO: Penetrating questions
Christ’s rebuke is not spoken in anger but compassionately because He understands that they are slow to grasp the spiritual realities He seeks to teach them. Over and over again, these men are stuck in the physical and can’t comprehend the spiritual aspects of Christ’s teachings. “Leaven” leads them to think of bread when Jesus wants them to understand the pervasive influence of misunderstanding and dull insensitive hearts!
Jesus doesn’t repeat His previous teachings. Instead, He asks several penetrating questions. Why would He do that? It appears He does it to get them to think critically and come to the correct answer by applying the truths learned.
The questions are penetrating and direct their minds toward recent events in which Jesus revealed in various ways, very clearly, who He was.
“Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread?”
“Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear?”
“And do you not remember, 19 when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces you picked up? They *said to Him, “Twelve.” 20 “When I broke the seven for the four thousand, how many large baskets full of broken pieces did you pick up?” And they *said to Him, “Seven.”
Jesus exhibits excellent patience with these men. His example is one from which we can learn if we have “ears to hear and eyes to see.”
People don’t always “get it” the first time they hear or experience something, so repetition is essential.
Patience is essential and will be the catalyst for healthy learning.
Asking insightful questions rather than “feeding” the answers will produce in the students critical thinking skills that will help them prosper.
We are just like them! Let’s be thankful for His patience towards us.
Did you notice that Jesus Reminds them of the two incidents of feeding many people with bread? Why does he do that? Because in both instances, He revealed His deity and authority over all things. He had shown He was the promised Messiah, and they didn’t understand the importance ad significance of those miracles!
Interestingly, They only answered the question of how many baskets they picked up! Maybe that’s because Jesus just fired them off, one after another. Perhaps they were to ashamed to reply? Maybe they were still trying to figure out what he was talking about! In any case, they only answer regarding the number of baskets they picked up; they got that down pat.
21 And He was saying to them, “Do you not yet understand?”
FOCUS THREE: The sound of silence
This last question is a piercing one, and no answer is recorded! After all, I taught you and explained to you; after all of the miracles I have done in your presence, do you still not understand who I am? Rather than experiencing overflowing faith, they seem to be swimming in a sea of doubts? I can only imagine how grievous this must have been to the heart of Jesus. The text moves on to Bethsaida, leaving the reader to ponder what happened after that question was asked.
In Bethsaida, Jesus heals a blind man. Another miracle. Another revelation of His deity. Jesus does not let the issue go. As we will see, all of this leads to a critical discussion with His disciples.
BRIEF INTRO: It should appear odd that the Pharisees would be asking for a sign, an “attesting miracle,” to validate who Jesus says He is. When we survey the gospel accounts up to this point, we are quickly inundated with many situations in which Jesus performed miracles. He cast out demons (1:23-27), healed Simon’s mother-in-law from fever (1:29-31), and healed many who were sick from various illnesses (1:34). He healed lepers, paralytics, and a man with withered hands, a woman with a bleeding issue (5:25-34), and many others. He even fed five thousand people with five loaves of bread and two fish! Who else but God the Messiah can do such wonders?
And yet, as often as we see the Pharisees in the gospel accounts, gathering together to test Him, observe Him, and even debate Him, with full knowledge of what He has done for the people, we still find them “seeking a sign.”
Do you need some sign before you trust in Jesus?
11 And the Pharisees came out and began to argue with Him, demanding from Him a [a]sign from heaven, [b]to test Him.
FOCUS ONE: The problem with the Pharisees
Who were they anyway?
“After the Babylonian exile, the Pharisees organized with the express purpose of ensuring that the people of God would no longer stray away from the divine precepts. In an effort to do so, they became expert exegetes and interpreters of scripture. They painstakingly studied the law of God and created a sort of oral commentary on the law, which evolved over time and later was produced in a written form known today as the Mishnah. The parts of the Mishnah directly related to commandments or legal requirements of the law were known as halacha, which means walking through the law.”
“By New Testament times, the Pharisees had reached the height of their influence. They were well-respected by the common people because of their commitment to piety and dogged loyalty to the nation of Israel. They were bitter rivals of the Sadducees, a similar group that was made of mostly upper-class Jews, though with more liberal political views. The Pharisees, whose name in the original language signifies a literal separation from that which would defile, were the opposite of the Sadducees, who were highly motivated by any relationship or arrangement which would advance their political or economic aims. The Pharisees were deeply committed to doctrinal and personal purity. While the Pharisees did consider Sadducees to be compromising backsliders, we do see them leaguing together to entrap Jesus (see Mt. 22:15-16,22-23,34).”
So, they didn’t start badly, but over the years, the motivations of many of them changed. Their influence over the people was of paramount importance to them. Jesus called them out over this very thing in Matthew 23:6-7. “It seemed as though their primary qualm with Jesus was that He was detracting from their influence and thus diminishing the ability to maintain control of the hearts and minds of the people.”
Some problems we notice regarding the Pharisees:
They had an incorrect view of authority (7:6)
They failed to acknowledge the inconsistencies in their hearts
They were self-consumed and self-absorbed (Matthew 23:1-36)
They were hypocrites (Matthew 23)
In our text, we find Jesus and His disciples had just entered the district of Dalmanutha and were immediately harassed by the Pharisees from that region. Where is Dalmanutha?
“(1) A place on the west of the Sea of Galilee, mentioned only in Mark 8:10 . In the parallel passage, it is said that Christ came “into the borders of Magdala” ( Matthew 15:39 ). It is plain, then, that Dalmanutha was near Magdala, which was probably the Greek name of one of the many Migdols (i.e., watch-towers) on the western side of the lake of Gennesaret. It has been identified in the ruins of a village about a mile from Magdala, in the little open valley of ‘Ain-el-Barideh, “the cold fountain,” called el-Mejdel, possibly the “Migdal-el” of Joshua 19:
In this place, we read Christ’s response to them regarding their request for a sign.
12 Sighing deeply in His spirit, He *said, “Why does this generation demand a [a]sign? Truly I say to you, [b]no [c]sign will be given to this generation!”
FOCUS TWO: Why a sign?
The Pharisees already had many attesting miracles (signs) that revealed the deity of Jesus. It wasn’t that they needed clarification of anything. No, it is evident in these few recorded words of Mark that they were there to “test” Him and did so while “arguing” with Him (8:12).
Those words: “sighed deeply in His spirit,” reveal the heart of our Lord Jesus Christ! They express how deeply affected He was by their “wickedness” and “hypocrisy.” It appears that their “obstinate unbelief” is the issue underlying His refusal to give them a sign of their asking. So, no sign at their request, in such unbelief, will be given to them, BUT Jesus will provide “one” sign of His choosing! Matthew 16:1-4 records Christ’s words regarding the sign He will provide: the sign of Jonah! It was NOT what they asked for and would NOT be given because they asked for it.
Now the question should arise: Is it always wrong to seek a sign? I guess the answer to that would be yes AND no! Confusing? Let’s focus on that answer for just a bit.
In our day and age, the definition of terms is very critical. While one person may understand a word to mean one thing, others may define it differently. So, we need to be careful here. There seem to be three different possible meanings being used when the word “signs” is used.
“2The first category for “signs” is biblical but should NOT be sought after by Christians. The second category for “signs” is biblical and should be sought after by Christian’s. And the third category for “signs” is not biblical and thus should not be sought after by Christians.”
The first category of “signs” is what I would label as “signs and wonders.”
In the Bible, there is clear evidence that at certain times in history, God has chosen to create “signs and wonders” to send a message, warnings, or to mark the fulfillment of a promise.
An example of this would be in Luke 2:8-15, when an angel appeared to the shepherds and announced the supernatural birth of Jesus. Luke 2:12 states, “And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”
“While these types of “signs” are clearly biblical, these are not the type of signs a Christian should look for to hear from God on a daily basis. Signs and wonders are rare and will not be performed by God whenever we want him to do them. God chooses to use these types of signs for special purposes and reasons. We should not ask God to speak to us through signs like this whenever we want to know his will for our lives. These types of signs and wonders are something God will choose to do when he wants to, but this is not something we should seek after.”
The second category of “signs” is what I would label as “evidence for what God wants you to do in your life.
“Unlike “signs and wonders,” this second type of “sign” is the kind I believe Christians should always be looking for so that they can fulfill God’s specific will for their life. The process of seeing these signs is less about asking God to send them to us and more about properly interpreting the signs God is already sending to us. God is always telling us what he wants us to do in life, and we need to properly interpret these “signs” so we are doing what God wants.”
“When certain things are happening in your heart and in your life, we need to interpret these things through a biblical lens. When I use the word “signs” in my videos and articles, I’m referring to this process of interpreting events through applying the Bible. If “________” happens, this is a sign you should apply “_________” biblical principle. Just like a doctor who looks at the patient and examines what symptoms are present before giving medicine, we need to look at the “signs” in life that would lead us to apply the correct biblical wisdom.”
For example, if you are a man and asked God, “Lord, do you want me to ask Ashley out on a date?”, it would not be biblical to ask God to give you a vision to tell you what to do. But, it would be biblical to look for evidence in your life and interactions with Ashley to help you rightly apply the word of God. So if you are talking with Ashley and it comes out that she is not a Christian like you thought she was, this would be a “sign” that God does not want you to date her because 2 Corinthians 6:14 states that God does not want his people unequally yoked.
Because our goal here is to apply biblical wisdom rightly, this is why we can use the language, “God wants you to do this” or “God wants you to do that.” The Bible is God’s word; therefore, when we rightly apply the Bible to our lives, we know we are doing what God wants us to do in our lives.
The third category of “signs” is what I refer to as “horoscopes and superstitions.”
“When someone is using the word “sign” in this sense, they are attaching unrelated meaning to random events and situations in life.”
“For example, if a man was asking, “Lord, do you want me to date Ashely?” and then he instantly saw five grey cats walk in front of him, and he then interpreted this as a sign that God does want him to date Ashley, this would be unbiblical. Why? Because those five grey cats have nothing to do with healthy relationship principles found in the Bible.
If this man prayed that prayer and then at church that night, he and Ashly have a great conversation together, and they get time to serve with one another, and it seems like they both are prepared to start a godly relationship – then that could be interpreted as a sign that God is telling him to move forward with her. But when we try to attach our meanings to random things in life, we are playing God and just making things up in our heads. This is not what God wants for us.”
“Or if a woman was asking God if she should breakup with her boyfriend and then on her way to work she literally got stopped at every red traffic light possible, and then she interpreted this as a sign that God was telling her to breakup with him, this would not be biblical because red traffic lights don’t mean anything biblically or relationally. However, if on her way to work she sees her boyfriend kissing another woman, clearly that would be a sign she needs to breakup with him because this man is not showing the character of a faithful man that the Bible requires for husbands.”
“God speaks clearly through the Bible, through the Holy Spirit’s impressions on our hearts, and through the circumstances in our lives. God will help us rightly interpret the “signs” in our lives by showing us how to rightly apply biblical wisdom to the situations and relationships we experience in our lives.”
I trust these examples from a website on applying God’s word will help us better understand the importance of correctly defining terms and biblically applying scripture.
13 And leaving them, He again embarked and went away to the other side.
FOCUS THREE: Approaching Jesus
One other thing that stands out in this portion of scripture, at least to me, is the question of how we approach Jesus? To simply state it, there are only two ways to approach Jesus:
BRIEF INTRO: This account from Mark is similar to another that he wrote about in Chapter 6 (vv.34-44). Similar but very different incidents in the life of Jesus and the disciples! The storyline is much the same; the outcome too. So, what does this account offer to help us see Jesus more clearly? What can we glean from this that will challenge us in our walk of faith? Let’s get into it!
“In those days, when there was again a large crowd and they had nothing to eat, Jesus summoned His disciples and *said to them, 2 “I feel compassion for the [a]people because they have remained with Me for three days already and have nothing to eat. 3 And if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way; and some of them have come from a great distance.”
FOCUS ONE: The compassion of Jesus
In those days, Jesus was becoming more popular. The “multitudes” followed Him wherever He went. His preaching and teaching amazed them. His miracles astonished them. Who wouldn’t want to be around this guy? The problem that arises again (cr. 6:34-44) is that the people do not want to leave Jesus. This time they “remained” with Him for three days and had run out of food.
Mark opens our eyes again to the compassion of Jesus. He was concerned for their welfare. He knew they were with Him for three days listening to His teaching. He knew they had nothing to eat and wanted to care for them! The fact that they stayed with Him so long and would pass out from hunger while traveling to their homes for food affected Him.
Jesus called the disciples to His side and explained to them the situation. Sadly, we will observe in the following focus point that they still are slow to comprehend who Jesus is and what He is capable of.
4 And His disciples replied to Him, “Where will anyone be able to find enough [a]bread here in this desolate place to satisfy these people?” 5 And He was asking them, “How many loaves do you have?” And they said, “Seven.”
FOCUS TWO: The disciple’s hardness of heart
If we were not astonished at Mark’s statement about the disciples after He walked on water, we ought to be now. Mark told us that “they had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves, but their heart was hardened” (6:52). It seems hard to believe that people can experience Christ firsthand and miss the undiluted testimony to His divinity that He expressed. But, if we are honest with ourselves, we are not beyond the scope of irrationality we witness here. How long did Jesus pursue you? How many amazing things did He do in your life and those around you to get you to understand who He was? How long did it take you to get it?
Did you observe that I placed the word “anyone” in the scripture above in bold print? Why would I do that? Because that word indeed says it all, at least in regards to where they are at in their understanding. The man (God/man) is standing beside you; He already did this exact thing before, WITH FIVE THOUSAND PEOPLE, and you participated in it, and now He wants to do it again, and you look right past Him! Anyone?
Mark wants His readers to understand that Jesus is compassionate. He also wants to point out the irrationality of unbelief. That is what we are witnessing with the disciples, what a stark contrast is seen here between the disciples and the multitudes. They walked with Jesus since He called them unto Himself. They experienced firsthand His authoritative teaching and astonishing miracles. They even did many miracles with the power and authority He gave them (6:7-13). And yet they fail to recognize His ability to feed these people!
The multitudes, on the other hand, are not panicked. They heard about what He was doing in different places and had enough confidence that He could do it again.
6 And He *directed the [a]people to recline on the ground; and taking the seven loaves, He gave thanks and broke them, and started giving them to His disciples to serve, and they served them to the [b]people. 7 They also had a few small fish; and after He had blessed them, He told the disciples to serve these as well. 8 And they ate and were satisfied; and they picked up seven large baskets full of what was left over of the broken pieces. 9 About four thousand [c]men were there; and He dismissed them.
FOCUS THREE: Christ’s deity displayed
Upon the disciple’s inability to recognize who could feed these people, Jesus asks them, “how many loaves do you have.” Jesus, just like we saw in feeding the five thousand, blesses the fish and loaves and provides four thousand plus people! Take notice that all the people “ate and were satisfied.” So, in this situation, they didn’t have to walk through the crowds searching for food.
You might think that this miracle is insignificant and wonder why Mark would even bother writing about it since the feeding of the five thousand is much grander in scale than this feeding of only four thousand. That would be a wrong conclusion. First, the repeat of such a miracle reinforces the power and authority Jesus has among men. Second, it forces people to answer the question: Who do you say I am?”
One other interesting fact must be observed. The Greek word for basket used in this account is not a tiny basket that could easily be carried about. This word is referencing a basket that could fit a man into it! The basket in the account of the five thousand is smaller. So, even though they only picked up seven baskets full (unlike the 12 baskets in Mark 6), they possibly picked up as much OR more than the last time!
Below is a comparison of the two events mentioned throughout this post: If you take the time to study the comparison, you will notice differences.
The feeding of the 5000
Disciples want to send the crowd away to find food
Jesus responds you give them something to eat
They search out and find five loaves and two fish
Jesus commands them to recline in groups on the green grass (hundreds, fifties)
He looked toward heaven and blessed the food
Broke the loaves and kept giving them to the disciples
All ate and were satisfied
12 baskets full of all remained
He commands disciples to leave in the boat and then dismisses the crowd
The feeding of the 4000
A great multitude was with Jesus for 3 days
He feels compassion for them because they have no food
Jesus does not want to send them away hungry, worried about fainting from hunger along the way
Disciple question as to where “anyone” would be able to find enough food to satisfy so many people
Jesus asks how many loaves they have (they instantly know this) 7 and a few small fish
Jesus direct the multitudes to sit down on the ground
He took the loaves and gave thanks and broke them and gave them to His disciples to serve
The bread is served first, fish later (v.7)
They ate and were satisfied
Seven baskets full were left over of the broken pieces
They were fed and sent away
And then disciples with Jesus get into the boat and leave
My point? Simply put, these are two very different settings, with different particulars that signify to us that these are eyewitness accounts and NOT some allegory we need to decipher. The redundancy is intentional on Mark’s part and allows the readers to gain greater insight into who Jesus is!
BRIEF INTRO: Last time we ended our study after Jesus got into the boat, the boat the disciples (the men who were the first generation of gospel preachers and were to be the rulers over the 12 tribes of Israel -Matthew 19:28) were in as they battled strong winds. These men couldn’t understand who Jesus truly was, “their heart was hardened” (v. 52). These men had no excuse considering all they saw, heard, and experienced. But neither do we!
The other gospels show us that the disciples understood only by degrees. Therefore their statements (throughout their days of walking with Jesus) shouldn’t be interpreted as if they had a “post resurrection” understanding of Him. They always seem to come to the same point over and over again, each time at a deeper level of understanding. But always with a mixture of apprehension! They haven’t arrived yet, AND neither have we!
Jesus, who previously instructed the twelve to go to Bethsaida (v.45), now instructs them to cross over the sea again, this time going into the region of Gennesaret on the western shore of the sea (see photo for a better understanding of their travels back and forth).
53 “When they had crossed over they came to land at Gennesaret, and moored at the shore. 54 And when they got out of the boat, immediately the people recognized Him.”
FOCUS ONE: Jesus recognized
Immediately the people recognize Him. Why? Most likely, they had heard about the miracles He was performing from others. They listened to the news about the demons He cast out, the woman with the blood issue being healed by only touching Him, and I am sure they would have heard about thousands of people being fed till satisfied, even though there were only five loaves of bread and two fish!
It seems probable, as well, that they would have been told that twelve scraggly looking men usually surrounded this outstanding preacher and miracle worker. So, upon seeing this group coming on shore, it was evident to them exactly who He was. This text has no hint of doubt or confusion about His identity. Instead, “the people immediately recognized Him” (v. 54).
55 “and ran about that entire country and began carrying here and there on their pallets those who were sick, [a]to wherever they heard He was. 56 And wherever He entered villages, or cities, or a countryside, they were laying the sick in the marketplaces and imploring (entreating) Him that they might just touch the fringe of His cloak; and all who touched it were being [b]healed.”
FOCUS TWO: Jesus pursued
These verses reveal that Jesus’ popularity was at an all-time high. People from that region began gathering their sick and lame and bringing them to wherever Jesus was. We can imagine that in many cases, that was no easy task. Getting their friends and loved ones to Him required some sacrifice and hardship along the way. But they did it. Why? They desired a miraculous intervention in the lives of their sick loved ones.
No matter where He went: villages, cities, or the countryside, there was a particular scene that would unfold. People from all over the place would bring their sick and lay them in the market places. These were the open spaces used for buying and selling and would afford much room for the sick people to be placed.
We are not told whether or not Jesus healed anybody in any other way than by them touching the fringe of His cloak. In our text, this was the main avenue of approach they used with Jesus (v. 56). They had heard about this man and were ready to take advantage of the situation. I wonder if the story of the woman with the blood issue influenced them (5:25)!
To “entreat” means that they kept begging again and again and again. We see this same Greek word (parakaloun) used in 5:10 regarding the demons asking not to be sent out of the country. In other words, they were persistent!
“As a good Jew, He wore the fringes and tassels commanded by God in Numbers 15:37-39 and Deuteronomy 22:12 (see picture). It was these that they sought to touch for healing.
I am taken back by how gracious Jesus was to these people. Rather than being angry for their constant neediness. Rather than being self-focused, He was others-focused. So unlike many of us. He saw them as sheep without a shepherd. Even though it seems that they were not interested in His teaching, we find that “as many as touched it were being cured” (v. 56).
We know from other synoptic accounts that Jesus healed people in varied ways (speaking, touching, spitting on the ground, and then wiping it in the eyes of a man, etc.). But here, the scriptures say healing occurred only by touching the fringe of His cloak!
Now we know that it was not the “touching” that healed them. Nor was it the particular piece of clothing they touched. Christ healed no one except “by faith” (5:34; Luke 5:20; Luke 18:42). This context does not change that reality.
FOCUS THREE: Jesus’ compassion
Unlike Jesus, we often tend to do things expecting something in return. We do it when it works for us and if we feel someone is deserving of our help. NOT JESUS! From start to finish, he sought to do the Father’s will. Lack of sleep and food, no issue. No alone time, no matter. Constant cries for physical help but little if any desire for spiritual aid, not a deterrent to Him!
I know we are not Jesus, BUT we are to imitate Him (Ephesians 5:1; 4:32; Luke 6:40). It is sad to think that many people are more concerned about their temporal significance, “more concerned about their bodies than their souls.”
Do you get upset when you feel people are taking advantage of you?
When you see a need, do you try to fill it?
Do you show proper appreciation and consideration for others when asking them favors?
These are a few things to consider as we seek to imitate Jesus in our walk of faith.
BRIEF INTRO: Imagine for a moment, if you can, being apart of the multitude the day that Jesus fed them with only five loafs of bread and two fish! See yourself sitting on the green grass with fifty or one hundred other people anticipating what was going to happen. Maybe you could see Jesus, maybe not, in either case you hear the murmuring of the crowds and it is getting increasingly louder.
It’s not a sound of fear, but one of joy! Soon, in the near surroundings, you can see the disciples going from group to group with something in their hands. You are not sure what it is but you sure are hoping it’s something to eat, after all, you’ve spent part of the day tracking down Jesus and His disciples after you saw them leave in a boat.
You have been with Jesus all day, listening to His teaching, it’s now late and too dangerous to try to go back home. Your belly rumbles with hunger. What could they be doing going from group to group?
That is where these people are at in Mark’s account. And we are about to jump into it and learn just how significant this story was for them and us today!
30 “The apostles *gathered together with Jesus; and they reported to Him all that they had done and taught. 31 And He *said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a little while.” (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.) 32 And they went away in the boat to a secluded place by themselves.
33 The people saw them going, and many recognized them and ran there together on foot from all the cities, and got there ahead of them. 34 When Jesus went [a]ashore, He saw a large crowd, and He felt compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and He began to teach them many things.”
FOCUS ONE: The concern of Christ vs. the presumptions of the crowds
Here we find the disciples returning from a very successful mission (6:13; Luke 9:6). The backstory about Herod and John the Baptist was “sandwiched “ between their being sent out and their return. Now they are back and report all that had happened to Jesus. They had healed many, proclaimed the gospel of the kingdom repeatedly, and traveled many miles. They needed rest and Jesus recognized they that. So, he directs them to go away on a retreat, so to speak, to get some much needed rest. Jesus sends them to an unnamed place most likely near Bethsaida.
But, unlike Jesus and the concern that He showed for these faithful servants, the people chased after them, unconcerned, most likely not even entertaining the thought that they needed a rest, and caught up with, in fact, got to the other side ahead of them!
“While Jesus was showing concern for the disciples, the common people were not. They did not care how tired Jesus or the disciples were. Their minds were filled with what they wanted to get or see rather than what they could do for others. What should they have done at this point? Instead of just presuming that Jesus and the disciples were always ready for serving them, they could have asked. Even better, they could have used their eyes and seen the weary expressions and came up to Jesus and said, “I have noticed that you and your disciples are busy from before dawn until after dusk every day preaching to us, healing us, and serving us. You must all be very tired.” How can we serve you?
I am challenged with this aspect of the story. I shutter at the thought of how many times I have and most likely still do, presume upon the humble, obedient, and compassionate service of my church Elders and Deacons.
Another aspect of the story that needs to be highlighted is the evidence of how Christ discipled these men and why. Please take notice that when the apostles met with Jesus they were not talking about what Jesus had been doing or teaching, but what “they” had “done and taught.” “This is yet another passage that gives us a lot of insight into how Jesus trained the disciples. They were not just bystanders observing Jesus’ ministry. They were part of it. They participated in it.”
Participation comes in many forms: “Sometimes their participation was in deeper small group discussion after Jesus’ miracles/teachings. Sometimes their participation was in preparing something like the place for the Last Supper or later in this passage finding some food. Sometimes it was asking Jesus more questions. And here we see they were also going around teaching the Word. As effective as Jesus was, He was still just one person. He could teach big crowds, but He was still limited to one place at a time. To make a bigger impact that would stretch to the ends of the earth Jesus had to train others.”
12 “Truly, truly I say to you, the one who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I am going to the Father”. (John 14:12).
Ironically they have no time to eat, but are used by Christ in feeding 5000 plus other people!
34 When Jesus went [a]ashore, He saw a large crowd, and He felt compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and He began to teach them many things. 35 And when it was already late, His disciples came up to Him and said, “[b]This place is secluded and it is already late; 36 send them away so that they may go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves [c]something to eat.” 37 But He answered them, “You give them something to eat!” And they *said to Him, “Shall we go and spend two hundred [d]denarii on bread, and give it to them to eat?” 38 But He *said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go look!” And when they found out, they *said, “Five, and two fish.”
FOCUS TWO: The confusion of the disciples vs. the plan of Christ
Can you see the irony in this? After all they had just done and witnessed, they could not grasp the scope of Christ’s divine power to provide for these people!
“The disciples suggested that Jesus send the people away so that they could eat. Jesus told the disciples to give them something to eat. Why? It was certainly an interesting request and the disciples responded like you might expect them too, which was to ask if they should buy food for everyone.” Could it be that Jesus was giving them an opportunity to show their faith by making a suggestion such as, “Jesus, we can’t feed all of these people…but you can. In fact, we learn from John 6:5-7 that Jesus was doing it to test them. He often tried to get them to think beyond the physical realities of what they could see and touch. Most of the time, however, this was a struggle for them.
They scan the landscape at come up with only five loafs and two fish, which should be no surprise to us that in Christ’s hands it abundantly supplied the need! Where did they get the loafs and fish from? John 6:1-14 – A parallel account mentions the boy who gave the loaves and fish. I often wonder if he was the only one that brought a snack with him that day. Were others being selfish and deceptive by keeping what they had to themselves? These accounts do not speak to that question, but I wonder how I, how we, would have acted in that situation!
39 “And He ordered them all to recline by groups on the green grass. 40 They reclined in groups of hundreds and fifties. 41 And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food and broke the loaves and He gave them to the disciples again and again to set before them; and He divided the two fish among them all. 42 And they all ate and were satisfied; 43 and they picked up twelve full baskets of the broken pieces of bread, and of the fish. 44 There were five thousand [a]men who ate the loaves.”
FOCUS THREE: The compassion of Jesus satisfies a compelling need
Why separate into hundreds and fifties? “Jesus commanded them to sit down all in groups. As we see in 1 Corinthians 14:40, God is a God of order. Nothing generates chaos like free food. Jesus didn’t want a stampede or trampled people so He wisely made people sit down. If they wanted to receive the benefit from His miracle they had to do it on His terms. This is just like salvation. He offers it freely, but we have to accept it on His terms, not on our own.”
Jesus takes the food into His hands, looks up toward heaven, not towards the crowds, which expresses where are needs are met, and blesses the food. I am amazed at this next sentence: “He blessed the food and broke the loaves and He kept giving them to the disciples.”
I wonder how this actually transpired. Did the food keep on appearing in His hands? Did He keep producing it in His hands and incessantly pass it out or fill up the returning baskets? It is interesting and exciting o think about!
In this we should see an example of prayer for blessing the meals He so graciously supplies us. I believe 1 Timothy 4:5 helps us understand this better. By means of the word of God and prayer “nothing” that God created and has given to us for good should be rejected or taken for granted, but are supposed to be received with gratitude! Such gratitude is expressed in our following the example of Jesus and acknowledging God’s goodness in meeting our needs.
Many ponder why 12 baskets were left over? It is observed that those twelve baskets equal one for each disciple. It doesn’t appear rational to create or surmise some other reason for the left overs. Jesus did not forget about these men, these servants. He knows they were tired and hungry before this situation unfolded and He knows they are even more so now. He meets their needs!
Friends, we can always trust Jesus to meet our needs, temporal and eternal! GOSPEL
BRIEF INTRO: We have noticed beginning in chapter four (4:1) that Jesus was teaching by the sea. After He finished His teaching using parables, He wanted to cross over the sea to go to the other side, into the region of the Gerasenes (4:35; 5:1). There He was met by a man “with an unclean spirit” who lived in the tombs (5:2). Jesus commanded the spirits to leave the man and gave His permission for them to enter the swine. The herd, about two thousand, ran into the sea and drowned!
We witness Jesus getting into the boat and “crossing over again “to the other side (5:21). It is there where one of the synagogue officials approaches Jesus. In the events leading up to this meeting, we find two fascinating and seemingly “hopeless” situations that Jesus proved His Lordship over! First is the deadly storm (4:35-41). Second, the man possessed by the “Legion” (many unclean spirits). He now moves into what I will term another set of seemingly hopeless situations: a diseased woman and a dead girl! We will witness in each of these situations, yet, again, the complete authority and power Jesus has over all the things and all the scenarios of our daily and temporary lives!
21 When Jesus had crossed over again in the boat to the other side, a large crowd gathered around Him; and He [a]stayed by the seashore. 22 And one of the synagogue [b]officials, named Jairus, *came, and upon seeing Him, *fell at His feet 23 and *pleaded with Him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death; please come and lay Your hands on her, so that she will [c]get well and live.” 24 And He went off with him, and a large crowd was following Him and pressing in on Him.
FOCUS ONE: Jairus boldly approaches Jesus
Directly after Jesus touches the shore, a man breaks through the crowds that have gathered and falls at Jesus’ feet. His name is Jairus, and he is a “synagogue official” (v. 22). As a synagogue official, Jairus would be some form of an attendant in the synagogue. That role entailed bringing out the Torah scrolls for the service, leading the synagogue in prayers, and returning the scrolls afterward. Historically speaking, “after the destruction of the Jewish temple in A.D. 70, worship could no longer take place in the temple, making the synagogue the central place of worship.”
He approaches Jesus in reverence and humility, NOT demanding or proclaiming entitlement, evidenced by his tone and demeanor (fell at His feet, pleading earnestly). This man exhibits great faith in Jesus to heal his daughter in what, humanly speaking, is a hopeless scenario to find himself in. She is only twelve years old and is at “deaths door” (v. 23). His faith in Jesus to heal her is impressive and instructive for us, even today. “Come and lay your hands on her so she can get well and live.”
Jairus is a bold man of faith. He was not afraid to approach Jesus, the only one that could help him in his hour of need. He must have heard of what Jesus was doing on the other side of the sea and so had no doubts that He was able to heal his daughter.
“So, Jesus went with him.” Everybody in that crowd wanted to witness a miracle. To see with their own eyes the Undoing of the impossible! With that many people pressing against Him as they walked, it must have been burdensome to move. At that moment, a woman suffering from bleeding for twelve years reached through the compacted crowd and touched Jesus’ robe.
I will focus on her story in my next focus point. But for now, I want you to put yourself in Jairus’ place. His daughter is close to death, and time is quickly running out. Jesus, his only hope, is now “side-tracked” by this woman who has an issue. Time is of the essence and Jesus, rather than continuing to his house, turns around inquiring as to who touched Him, which then leads to more precious time being lost as Jesus engages the woman.
Jesus, with great compassion, always seems to be ready to inconvenience Himself to help people in need. Are we prepared to do the same?
Jairus, like us, must have felt great apprehension in his soul when Jesus stopped to engage this woman. The fear of losing his daughter must have escalated as time appeared to be quickly passing by and hopes of healing were diminishing. And then, to have people come and tell you that your daughter has died while you were en route must have been deeply grievous to his soul.
BUT, Jesus knowing what was said, tells Jairus, “don’t be afraid, only believe” (v. 36).
We must remember, and this is VERY important to the story, that Jesus, by touching a dead person and being associated with blood, in their view, would Himself take on the uncleanness related to both of them (Leviticus 15:19-27; Numbers 19:11). BUT, rather than making Jesus unclean, the woman was instantly healed, and Jairus’s daughter was brought back to life!
25 A woman who had had a hemorrhage for twelve years, 26 and had endured much at the hands of many physicians, and had spent all that she had and was not helped at all, but instead had become worse— 27 after hearing about Jesus, she came up in the crowd behind Him and touched His [a]cloak. 28 For she had been saying to herself, “If I just touch His garments, I will [b]get well.” 29 And immediately the flow of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30 And immediately Jesus, perceiving in Himself that power from Him had gone out, turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched My garments?” 31 And His disciples said to Him, “You see the crowd pressing in on You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?'” 32 And He looked around to see the woman who had done this. 33 But the woman, fearing and trembling, aware of what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth. 34 And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has [c]made you well; go in peace and be cured of your disease.”
FOCUS TWO: The woman sneaks up in the crowd and touches Jesus’ garments
As I meditated on this text, seeking to understand why Mark would include this story sandwiched between Jairus approaching Jesus and then going to Jairus’s home, I tried to put myself in his position. Sometimes it is helpful to do that when we are trying to figure out the plotline within our text. Now we have, most likely in Jairus’s view, an unwanted delay in Jesus healing his daughter by this woman that sneaks up to Jesus in the crowd.
Jairus, now with Jesus, is walking home to his beloved dying daughter. This woman “interferes” with his expectations, and that subsequent time lost results in the death of his little twelve-year-old daughter. When they began walking, there was hope; she was only in the process of dying. Now, after this woman engages Jesus, his daughter is dead! He is weighed down with grief. This woman has been dealing with her ever-growing hopeless situation for twelve years. She tried every new thing she could. New doctors with new treatments and spent all her wealth but found no healing. Luke, the physician, tells us that nothing helped because her condition was incurable (Luke 8:43). It sounds like God had a plan in allowing her to suffer for so long. He would manifest His authority and power through her, under such circumstances for His all-wise and holy purposes! That’s how old Jairus’ daughter is (vv. 25,42).
Her faith was so great that she believed that she only needed to touch His garment and that she would be healed. Such faith was exhibited with Paul (Acts 19:12), the difference being Paul was not God; the Lord granted any power in Him to magnify His name and His gospel!
Jesus, wanting to draw the woman out of the crowd, asks, “who touched me?” He wanted her to have faith, not fear; praise, not trembling. She does come forward and tells Jesus everything (v.33). Jesus then makes this statement crucial for us to hear: “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed from your affliction” (v. 34).
From his sentence, we draw out three statements
Your faith has made you well
Go in peace
Be healed of your affliction
First, notice that her faith made her well, not touching His clothes. Second, Jesus was not angry at her for touching Him, and He granted her peace. And third, He heals her of her affliction.
*”The verb save (s’oz’o) in verse 28 can refer to deliverance from physical danger and affliction or deliverance from eternal judgment. It’s used in 10:26, where ‘being saved’ is par to inheriting eternal life and 10:17,30 “entering the kingdom of God (10:23-25). The primary meaning in this passage (5:23,28,34), however, relates to deliverance from physical difficulty since ‘being saved’ is par to ‘being healed from affliction’ (5:34). YET, even in his passage, (save) seems to point beyond mere physical healing from a particular affliction to a greater sense of wholeness and well-being, since the woman’s deliverance allows her to ‘live in peace.” So there seems to be a strong suggestion that her faith also led to spiritual salvation!
We now begin to see the bottom piece of bread in this sandwich! Mark began with Jairus (bread), then entered the woman (meat), and now we have our next piece of bread (Jairus’ home) to complete the sandwich.
35 While He was still speaking, people *came from the house of the synagogue official, saying, “Your daughter has died; why bother the Teacher further?” 36 But Jesus, overhearing what was being spoken, *said to the synagogue official, “Do not be afraid, only [a]believe.” 37 And He allowed no one to accompany Him except Peter, [b]James, and John the brother of [c]James. 38 They *came to the house of the synagogue official, and He *saw a commotion, and people loudly weeping and wailing. 39 And after entering, He *said to them, “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child has not died, but is asleep.” 40 And they began laughing at Him. But putting them all outside, He *took along the child’s father and mother and His companions, and *entered the room where the child was in bed. 41 And taking the child by the hand, He *said to her, “Talitha, kum!” (which translated means, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). 42 And immediately the girl got up and began to walk, for she was twelve years old. And immediately they were utterly astonished. 43 And He gave them strict orders that no one was to know about this, and He told them to have something given her to eat.
FOCUS THREE: The little girl arises
While Jesus was speaking to the woman, news came of Jairus’s daughter’s death. How distressing for him to hear, how discouraging for him as he may have counted in his mind the precious minutes being lost as Jesus engaged the woman. BUT, Jesus encourages him to continue having faith in Him, even though his situation appears pointless now that his daughter has died.
Imagine the scene as they walk up to his house, hearing the mourners’ loud lament. They saw so many people weeping and wailing at the girl’s death. Imagine standing there as Jesus tells them all not to cry. The child did not die but is sleeping! Would you have laughed at Him too!
Jesus takes Peter, James, John, and the child’s parents into the room where the twelve-year-old girl lies. He speaks while holding her hand, and she arises!
What similarities and differences do these accounts share?
Both are in a hopeless situation (vv. 23, 25-26)
Both seek Jesus for healing (vv. 22, 27)
Both expressed fear (vv. 36,33)
Both exhibit faith (vv. 23, 28)
Both receive what they sought (vv. 34, 42)
Not in common:
Jairus is a male; the woman is, well, a woman (vv. 22, 25)
He is a synagogue official, she is a woman with a hemorrhage (vv. 22, 25)
Jairus boldly approaches Jesus, the woman sneaks up in a crowd (vv. 22, 27)
He exhibits fear and concern, she exhibits embarrassment and shame (23,36,27,33)
She endured much at the hands of others; Jairus is pleading for someone else (vv. 26, 23)
Jairus’s daughter dies and then is brought back to life; the woman remains alive (vv. 35, 34)
What do we learn from these things? We realize that they both needed Jesus, the king of the kingdom, the promised Messiah, Emmanuel, to heal their hopeless situation. And in so doing, Christ put on display His deity, authority, and power over all things natural or unnatural!
Jairus had many “why” questions, just like us, and he was able to get the answers, at least to some degree” through this experience. I think the story of the woman with the blood issue was placed in the middle because Jesus wanted Jairus to grow in his faith in Him. His circumstances did just that?
“But we may never know the answers to our why questions this side of heaven. Will you be willing to trust God during that most difficult moment?”
This account of Mark should encourage us to trust Jesus even when we have to wait longer than we would like.
*Exegetical guide to the Greek NT, Joel f. Williams, pg. 96
BRIEF INTRO: We have heard the testimony of John the Baptist declaring that Jesus is the Lord (v. 3). We have listened to the testimony of Mark regarding the voice of God from heaven proclaiming that Jesus is His beloved Son (v. 11). We have read the testimony regarding Christ’s teaching and how it was so unlike the scribes; it had authority behind it. We EVEN listened to the testimony of demons who knew Him to be “the Holy One of God!” And now we come to a place (and this is only chapter one!), where the attested deity of Jesus will be displayed privately to the few present in Simon’s house. Let’s take a look!
29 And immediately after they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with [a]James and John.30 Now Simon’s mother-in-law was lying sick with a fever, and they immediately *spoke [b]Jesus about her. 31 And He came to her and raised her up, taking her by the hand, and the fever left her, and she served them.
Luke says: “and standing over her (He rebuked) the fever and it left her, she immediately arose and served them” (Luke 4:38-40).
Matthew calls Simon Peter—”when Jesus had come into the home he saw Peter’s mother in law lying in bed sick with fever, he touched her hand, the fever left, she arose and served them (Matthew 8:14-15).
I only parallel these scriptures here to get the fullest idea of what is going on. This is a more personal and private miracle then will be witnessed in a bit.
A personal case
Jesus enters Simon’s (Peter) and Andrew’s (brothers) house to find Simon’s mother-in-law sick (we learn that Simon is married; cr. 1 Corinthians 9:5), so she was lying down. They are concerned for her and speak to Jesus. Jesus listens to them, goes to her, He raised her by taking her hand, and she was healed and served them! Again we witness the fast-paced testimony of Mark (immediately twice).
This is one instance in which Jesus healed by rebuking and physical touch. But He does not always choose to heal in this way (Matthew 9:6 speaking). As these new disciples began to follow Jesus, they were given an up-close and personal display of the power of the person they had only started to know. Without hesitation, He provided the healing that she so desperately needed. Take notice that when Christ heals, He heals completely! It is not done in stages, or with the help of big Pharma, or with physical therapy, not at all. His healing is perfect!
What does she do after Jesus raises her by the hand? She serves them! She gets them food, drink, and whatever was customary for the occasion. The facts attest to this.
These men would witness Christ do many astonishing miracles for others in their town and elsewhere, but how impactful must this have been on these men as they are only in the elementary stage of their walk with Christ. They have witnessed His authority and power on display with the demons being cast out (v. 24), and now they have observed this same authority being manifested in the healing of Simon’s mother-in-law! But wait, there is much more to come!
32 “Now when evening came, after the sun had set, they began bringing to Him all who were ill and those who were demon-possessed. 33 And the whole city had gathered at the door. 34 And He healed many who were ill with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew [c]who He was.”
Mark tells us that when Jesus entered Capernaum, it was the Sabbath (1:21). So the cleansing of the man with an unclean spirit and the healing of Simon’s mother-in-law took place on the Sabbath. That fact makes the statement “now when evening came, after the sun had set,” very informative! Why? Because he is telling us by this double-time reference that the people of Capernaum waited until the Sabbath day was over (sunset) before moving the sick so they wouldn’t break the law (cf. Exodus 20:10). Restrictions such as carrying anything, like stretchers.
In these verses, we have a beautiful picture of Jesus. He heals as many as come to Him with great compassion for the people! Reports of what Jesus had done became more widely known (v. 1:28; Luke 4:37), so naturally, people came to him in hopes AND faith that He would do the same for them or their loved ones. The term “whole city gathered at the door” is in the sense of hyperbole, an exaggerated sense of what happened. In other words, it feels as if the whole town came to the door simply because there were A LOT of people there.
He healed the sick, which revealed His authority over sickness, and He cast out demons (in the plural), which displayed His sovereignty over the spiritual realm. All of which teaches us that:
Jesus is God (Philippians 2:6; John 10:30)
He existed on earth in the “likeness of men” (Philippians 2:6)
He has total authority (Matthew 28:18) in heaven and earth
We also should notice that He healed those who came to Him without prejudice. Young or old-irrelevant! Social standing did not matter, rich or poor-no issue.
Jesus again does not permit the demons to speak because they know who he was. “Again silencing their cries of recognition, showing that they were powerless before Him” (Bible Knowledge Commentary).
John MacArthur makes a great observation regarding these demons: “The demons theology is orthodox (James 2:19), but though they knew the truth, they reject it and God who is its source.”
How sad that is. The rejection of Christ and His teaching is done by untold millions every day in our world. Next time we will read about Jesus seeking a lonely place to pray. Let us follow His example and find a place in which we can have quietness and alone time, and then pray for those we know personally who are rejecting Christ, that he would break through their hard hearts and seared consciousness and regenerate them through the working of His Holy Spirit.