Jesus has just told four parables describing the nature of the kingdom of God. More importantly, he was teaching how our lives need to change to be part of the kingdom of God. It is still the same day as we notice in Mark 4:35. Some have suggested that now it was time to teach the disciples through the miracles that were about to be performed. In this lesson we are going to see Jesus perform four miracles which required faith.
No faith- the example of the disciples (4:35-41)
When Jesus finishes teaching his parables, he says to his disciples, “Let us cross over to the other side.” So they leave the multitude and they all get into the boat. In verse 37, we read that a great windstorm arose. Now we need to see how bad this storm was. The other gospel writers call this storm a tempest. The word used for “storm” here means, “a violent attack of wind, a squall; never a single gust nor a steady blowing wind, however violent, but a storm breaking forth from black thunder clouds in furious gusts, with floods of rain, and throwing everything topsy-turvy.” So when we read about this storm, we should not think that it got a little windy and the disciples are overreacting. This is a furious storm. In fact, verse 37 tells us that the waves are beating against the boat so badly that the boat with filling with water.
We need to envision that panic that you and I would have and likely these disciples are experiencing as the boat is being tossed about, the rains are pouring down, and the boat is filling with water. They are on the brink of disaster. Notice the panic in the words of the disciples in verse 38, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” The disciples declare that they are in the process of dying out on the sea. Meanwhile, what is Jesus doing? To the amazement of the disciples and to us as readers, Jesus is in the stern asleep. How is Jesus sleeping through this? I would be seasick at the very least, certainly not sleeping. Besides, water is filling up in the boat, the boat is being torn apart, and Jesus is sleeping! Jesus arises, rebukes the wind, and tells the sea to be still. Immediately there is a great calm in the sea. Imagine that. You are about to lose the boat and you are sure that you are perishing, and suddenly everything is calm again. In verse 40, Jesus says to the disciples, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?”
Reasons the disciples should have had faith
Jesus said they were crossing to the other side. In verse 35, at the beginning of our story, Jesus said to the disciples, “Let us cross over to the other side.” Let me ask us a question: When Jesus says something is going to happen, will it happen? Of course it will. If Jesus says that something will happen, then it will happen. Jesus said they would cross over to the other side of the sea. This should have given the disciples faith that they would make it to the other side.
Jesus was with them. The second reason the disciples had no faith when they should have shown faith is because Jesus was with them on the boat. Is a storm going to kill the Son of God against his will? Was Jesus going to be another casualty of the fierce storms that can suddenly arise on the Sea of Galilee? No. Jesus was with them, and therefore they had nothing to fear.
Jesus was peaceful and secure. The third reason the disciples should have had faith is because we do not see panic in Jesus. Jesus was not worried about the storm. He was asleep in the stern. Jesus showed tranquility and confidence in surviving. This should have translated to his disciples to have faith, since Jesus was not concerned.
Our lack of faith
You and I may look at this scene and think how foolish the disciples were for not trusting in Jesus that they would survive this situation. But how many times do we also show the same lack of faith! When our Lord says something in the scriptures, do we believe that it will happen? When he has promised eternal life, do we believe it? When he promised eternal torment, do we believe it? When he promised to answer prayer, do we trust in it? When the Lord says that he loves us, do we place confidence in that? When the Lord says it, it will happen. It is something that we place our full confidence upon.
Jesus is also with us. Hebrews 13:5, “For He Himself has said, I will never leave you nor forsake you. So we may boldly say: The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” We may look at the disciples and say that Jesus was with them and therefore they should not have feared. But Jesus is with us and we also should not fear. He has said that he will never leave us.
Finally, Jesus has already passed through this life. He knows what we are going through and tells us that we can make it through, as well. 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” Hebrews 2:18, “For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.” Also see Hebrews 4:14-16. All of these scriptures tell us that Jesus has gone through it too, and will help us through as well. We have no reason for a lack of faith. The disciples did not fully understand who was with them (vs. 41). In fact they seem to be more terrified about the calm that Jesus produced than the storm itself. We need to fully realize that God is with us. We need to fully realize that the power of God is on our side.
Rejected Faith–the example of the city (5:1-20)
Here we read of a man who is in bad shape, for he has an unclean spirit. This unclean spirit was very destructive to this man such that he could not live in the city. He is dwelling by the tombs. The people have tried restraining him with chains and shackles, yet he has broken them. The Luke account tells us that he was not clothed because of this unclean spirit and we also read here in verse 5 that he is crying out day and night and cutting himself. But, when he sees Jesus, he immediately comes and worships him. Already, this man with an unclean spirit is recognizing the authority of Jesus as God. He comes and worships him. Further, the man with the unclean spirit announces that Jesus is the Son of the Most High God. Also, in verse 10, the unclean spirit begs for permission to enter into the swine. The unclean spirit recognizes what the disciples did not fully understand in the boat on the sea.
Reactions to the authority of Jesus
We see two different reactions to the authority of Jesus. First, let us notice the reaction of the people in the city. In verse 15 the people of the city came to Jesus and saw the man who had the unclean spirit sitting, clothed, and in his right mind. Compare this scene to what we have just read about him in verses 2-5. One would expect that the city would be overjoyed to see this man returned to normal, no longer tormenting the area, wandering around the tombs and crying out and cutting himself. But note the reaction of the people in verse 15. They were afraid. Further, in verse 16, the people are told about what happened with the swine. Therefore, the people, as we read in verse 17, plead with Jesus to leave from their region. Jesus has just wiped out about 2000 swine (vs. 13) and the people are not too happy about this. They have lost their property and to some, a way of living. Of course, we must remember that swine were unclean and any follower of God had no business herding swine.
But more importantly, I believe, is that Jesus challenged their comfortable way of life. This miracle would cause the people to believe the impossible and therefore would have to change their lives. The people were clearly very comfortable with the way they were living and did not want to be confronted with the Son of God. It would mean accepting this miracle and changing their lives. They were unwilling to change their lives, so the easier thing to do is ask Jesus to leave. We must be warned against this attitude ourselves when confronted with the power of Jesus. What will we do with the commands of God? Accept that we need to change, or ignore God’s word and keep living how we want? The easy thing is to send Jesus away. Do not believe God’s commands concerning divorce and remarriage, the need for baptism, and the need for faithful living. When confronted with Jesus, we must be ready to change our lives. This is the reaction of the man who has just had the unclean spirit removed. In verse 18 we read that he wants to go along with Jesus. But Jesus leaves him with a mission to tell the people about the great things the Lord has done and how the Lord had compassion on him. This is exactly what the man does in verse 20. We must go and tell the good news of Jesus and the great things the Lord has done for us. Are we telling others about the great things he has done for us in our lives? Are we telling others how we have changed? There are only two reactions. Either we are sending Jesus away or we are telling others the good news. We must tell others about the compassion of Jesus Christ.
True Faith–Example of the Woman (5:21-34)
We are now introduced to two other people after Jesus crosses back over to the other side. One of the rulers of the synagogue named Jairus comes to Jesus, falls at his feet, and begs him to come lay his hands on his daughter who is sick to the point of death. So Jesus leaves with him and the multitudes are following. Meanwhile, we are introduced to a woman who has had a flow of blood for 12 years. She had been to all the doctors, but they did not help. In fact, according to verse 26, they had made things worse. But she says in her mind in verse 28 that if she could just touch Jesus, she would be made well. She touches Jesus and is immediately healed of the affliction. Verse 30 is a powerful statement. Jesus knew that power was going out of him. I do not know if we can truly comprehend the full implications of this except to know again that Jesus is God, as he knew his power was going out of him. Jesus asks who touched his clothes in verse 30. The disciples respond rather incredulously that there is a multitude thronging around you and you ask who is touching you. Everyone is touching you. But Jesus wants to find this person. In verse 33, the woman comes before Jesus in fear and trembling and explains the whole thing to Him. Jesus responds that her faith has made her well.
True faith exhibited in the woman
She knew the power of God. In verse 27 we find out that the woman had only heard about Jesus. But this was enough for her to know that she did not need to do anything but touch Jesus. No conversation or request needed. Just touch him. She knew the power of God. While the disciples in the boat did not know the power of God, she did. She understood that this is the way she could be cleansed.
She acted on that knowledge. But she did not simply acknowledge the power of God and think that was enough. It led her to action. She fights through the crowd to approach Jesus and touches his garment. Jesus uses her as an opportunity to teach the others about the faith this woman has shown. Jesus tells her to go in peace. Do not fear for you have been healed.
Tested Faith–Example of Jairus (5:35-43)
But before we can dwell too long on what has happen with the woman, while Jesus is speaking, some came from the house to tell Jairus that his daughter is dead. Further, they tell Jairus not to bother the Teacher anymore. It’s too late. Put yourself in Jairus’ shoes for a moment. Would you not be saying to yourself, “If we had only gotten here a little sooner.” If that woman had not interrupted us, we may have made it in time. As soon as Jesus hears the words of the people, Jesus tells Jairus, “Do not be afraid; only believe.” Jesus begins to tell Jairus it is not too late. Just believe. The word for believe in the Greek is in the continuous sense. Jesus is saying, Believe and keep on believing. Do not believe in the people; keep believing in Me. So they continue to the house and the mourners are there, weeping and wailing over the death of the girl. Jesus makes an unusual statement in verse 39. “Why make this commotion and weep? The child is not dead, but sleeping.” Now this sparks a roar of laughter and the people begin to scorn him. You can imagine they are saying that they know how to take a pulse, and the girl is dead. The faith of Jairus would be tested again. Would Jairus put his trust in the people who said the girl is dead, and join in the mocking of Jesus? Or would he continue to believe in Jesus–that he was about to save his daughter? Jairus continues to believe as Jesus takes Jairus and his wife and enters where the child is lying. Once there, Jesus says, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” Immediately, the girl arose and walked. And as we would expect, all the people are overcome with amazement.
Here we see a man’s faith put to the test. He already believed that Jesus could make his daughter well. But did he have the faith that Jesus could raise this girl from the dead? Faith must always be put to the test. How many of us would have given up at this point? How many would have walked away and said that it was too late? I believe we would have been more like the disciples at the beginning of this lesson than like the woman and like Jairus, showing great faith in the power of Jesus. Our faith will be tested. Our faith must be tested. 1 Peter 1:6-9 tells us that our faith will be tested by fire. James 1:3 says that the testing of our faith produces patience. Too many times we have trials and troubles that come, and we immediately cast off our faith. We are shaken and lose our confidence in God. But the Lord is testing us to see if we truly have faith. It is one thing to have faith when it is easy. The Lord checks to see if we have faith in the hard times. Will we stand the test, or will we fail?
Do we have faith or fear? Do we truly believe that God can work anything in our lives? We must believe that God has the power to do the impossible. The Lord is with us, he has made his promises and has gone on before us. There is nothing to prevent us but ourselves in reaching the goal of heaven. We must believe that the Lord will help us. In each of our stories the comparison is made between faith and fear. Mark 4:40, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” In Mark 5:15 we saw the people of the city afraid and did not have faith in Jesus. In Mark 5:25-34 we saw the woman have faith to touch the garment, and Jesus removed any fear she once felt to explain herself. In Mark 5:36 Jesus tells Jairus to not be afraid, only believe. 1 John 4:17-18, “Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.” Let us have faith and not fear.