Mark 5.21 thru 43 Do Not Fear. Only Believe
“Don’t be Afraid; Just Believe!”
Mark 5:21-43 When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake. Then one of the synagogue rulers, named Jairus, came there. Seeing Jesus, he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, "My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live." So Jesus went with him.
A large crowd followed and pressed around him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, "If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed." Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.
At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, "Who touched my clothes?"
"You see the people crowding against you," his disciples answered, "and yet you can ask, 'Who touched me?' "
But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering."
While Jesus was still speaking, some men came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. "Your daughter is dead," they said. "Why bother the teacher any more?"
Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, "Don't be afraid; just believe."
He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. When they came to the home of the synagogue ruler, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. He went in and said to them, "Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep." But they laughed at him.
After he put them all out, he took the child's father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, "Talitha koum!" (which means, "Little girl, I say to you, get up!" ). Immediately the girl stood up and walked around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat.
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
On this weekend we celebrate our independence from the tyrannical rule of another country (that shall remain nameless out of respect for our Pastor). We celebrate our freedom… This is the freedom from any other entity outside of our country…except one. We knew at our foundation that we must “trust” in God even in our infancy. Our founding fathers knew that our freedom was a gift from God and that without His blessing this “great experiment” would surely fail. Yet we have lost this awareness of who is in control. We no longer trust in God but trust in man. We see ourselves as the ones who are in control and therefore we are left with a rule of the people. Yes, this is not a good thing. The founders knew then that this would become “mob rule” and to safeguard against that they designed our government as a Republic under God. So that this great nation would be subject to principles that never change, the understandings that came from the Word of God. Our determination to move away from God as a country stems from our sinful human desire to be in control ourselves.
This need to be in control spills over into our church as well and we want to be in control there too. The problem is we aren’t in control! We are “under God” and his control. Nevertheless, we seek out ways to be in control and mock God in doing so. We make our own plans without consulting God and asking for His direction. Instead of seeking God’s will, we seek our own will. When we do this our spiritual life becomes hollow and there is no hope to be found within it. This is the road that is paved by the culture around us seeping into the church and with it comes a loss of the trust in God that is tantamount to our Christian faith. This gives us no hope nor does it release us from the fear of death that is caused by sin. This is why the fear of death is all around us. We, as a people, do not have this faith in God anymore and, unfortunately, this is to the point of letting this fear creep into our church. This fear is not a fear that we, as Christians, are called to have. We are called in Romans not to “receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship.” And in Hebrews we are told that, “…He too shared in their humanity so that by His death He might destroy him who holds the power of death…that is, the devil…and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” We are called not to fear death!
We see this same kind of understanding of death in our gospel message in the book of Mark. We are introduced to Jairus, the “Synagogue ruler,” whose daughter is dying. The human perspective of death and our physical world’s restrictions permeates this text. This perspective is contrasted with the divine perspective of Jesus and the power of faith. Our understanding of death is devastatingly final… In our text we are told what God wants us to do. He tells Jairus not to be afraid but to “just believe.” Jairus was a man of consequence in Capernaum society. Yet he has abased himself by falling to the feet of Jesus. He has shown that he has faith in this recently arrived itinerate teacher in town. Yet it seems he only has hope while his daughter is alive. The men that came from the house tell him that his daughter is dead. This could easily be seen as a result of the delay that took place because of Jesus healing the sick woman. We don’t know whether Jairus has lost all faith now that he hears this news in that he does not get a chance to respond. Jesus does respond to this though. Jesus, at this darkest of moments, expects faith! He tells Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe!” He overcomes death in the face of it.
Then Jesus puts “the scoffers” out as he raises the girl from the dead. These scoffers have “laughed” at Jesus to the point of scorning Him. The Greed translates “laughed Him to scorn…” What Jesus does is a miracle no doubt, and it points to the one person that can do such a thing. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the only one that has power over death! Those that believe in Him are told that they also have this same immunity to death through Him. He has told Jairus just to believe and the permanence of death is no longer something to fear. He shows the disciples that He is the King of Kings and can raise the dead at His command. They also are called to believe through the witnessing of this miracle. Yet there are those that have been sent outside and do not believe… He has been sent for all, but there are those that will not believe and are left outside. They are the scoffers that laughed at Jesus and his assertion that death is not permanent.
These scoffers are all around us today. They are in our government stamping out God wherever they can find Him, they are in the ACLU, they are in our public schools furthering this agenda, they are writing our television shows like the recently cancelled “Daniel,” and writing movies like “The Davinci Code”, they are writing our secular songs such as “Dust in the Wind” and “”.These scoffers are entering the psyche of our American society and with it the church itself! With this constant bombardment is it any wonder our faith sometimes slips. Is it any wonder we sometimes question our faith and don’t trust in God completely? We too are letting Jesus down when we don’t trust in Him. When we falter, even when we fear death as Jairus did. Well, we have good company. Jairus seems to have faltered in his faith and fears the death of his daughter. This is understandable, not all of us can be heroes of the faith like Paul or Steven.
This scoffing in our text predicts a similar future public reaction to Jesus when He was at the point of death. Just ten chapters later Mark depicts people again, laughing Jesus to scorn, in a context of death and resurrection…Jesus’ own. Soldiers mockingly dress Jesus in purple, crown Him with thorns, smite him on the head with a reed, spit on Him, salute him as “King of the Jews,” and bow their knees in a pretense of worship. In short, the soldiers laughed Him to scorn. Moments later, spectators taunt Jesus, who is now nailed to the cross, “So, You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself!” The chief priests join the spectators in laughing Jesus to scorn by jeering, “He saved others…but He can’t save Himself!” Were they perhaps thinking of Jairus’s resurrected daughter when they spoke of His saving others? Mockingly, they offer to believe in Jesus if He descends from the cross. Even the criminals crucified with Jesus laugh Him to scorn.
They laugh Him to scorn at Jairus’s house, they laugh Him to scorn at the cross, and they still laugh Him to scorn in the world today. Yet in each of these contexts Jesus gives us miracles: replacing death with life. The daughter arises from the deathbed; Jesus arises from His tomb; and He is still risen in the world today! Who has the last laugh but “He that sits in heaven.” The raising of Jairus’s daughter is a microcosm of the ultimate miracle and foreshadows this with the words "Little girl, I say to you, get up!" echoing, “He is risen; He is not here.” He overcomes death in our world today. He allows those that scoff to be lost but saves those that believe on Him. We, here in this sanctuary know this Jesus as the Son of God. We know through the miracle that would take place later in the last chapter of Mark. We know that even if Jairus doubted for a moment Jesus raised his daughter from that bed. We know that He too is resurrected and now sits at the right hand of God. This is why we know that death has no power over us even if we falter. We need only to repent and forgiveness is ours. We know that we share in His resurrection and have victory over death…you might even say we have independence…or better yet freedom from it. And so brothers and sisters, I encourage you all not to fear, but to believe...
Now may that peace which surpasses all understanding guard your hearts and minds unto life everlasting. Amen.