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Do Not Fear Only Believe

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Mark 5



Many times when we read the Bible, when we read a chapter of the Bible we pay attention to the parts (as we should) but we fail to take the parts and see how each individual part relates to the whole.  When we read the Bible we need to remind ourselves that the average chapter in the Bible is not simply a group of unrelated thoughts,  we need to realize that the various parts of a chapter are like the individual strands of a tapestry that once they are all woven together they make something beautiful.  Many times when it comes to the Bible we focus so much on the individual strands that we fail to grasp the beauty of the whole, we fail to grasp the big picture.

A case in point is the chapter that we have before us this morning.  It would be easy to look at the individual parts of the chapter but if we stopped there we would miss the gig picture.  We could look individually at a demented man, a desperate father and a diseased woman and we could certainly learn something from each one of their stories but we would run the danger of missing the beauty of the tapestry, we would run the danger of missing the big picture. 

There is a progression in this chapter; all the events build to a grand finale, to a grand climax.  There are common themes that all point to a single truth.  For instance there is the theme of fear that is woven throughout each one of these accounts.  There is also the theme of desperateness that runs through each of story.  Finally there is the common theme of a single solution for each situation. 

With those introductory thoughts in mind, lets read Mark 5.

“They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit. He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and bruising himself with stones. And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him. And crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” For he was saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. Now a great herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and they begged him, saying, “Send us to the pigs; let us enter them.” So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out, and entered the pigs, and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea and were drowned in the sea. The herdsmen fled and told it in the city and in the country. And people came to see what it was that had happened. And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. And those who had seen it described to them what had happened to the demon-possessed man and to the pigs. And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their region. As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. And he did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled. And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about him, and he was beside the sea. Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet and implored him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.” And he went with him. And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’ ” And he looked around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler’s house some who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” And he allowed no one to follow him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. They came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and Jesus saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. And when he had entered, he said to them, “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. But he put them all outside and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him and went in where the child was. Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement. And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat." (Mark 5ESV)

Just so you know where we are headed this morning all three accounts laid out before us in Mark five if we are paying attention bring us to the same destination point.

Let’s start with…


Our story begins this morning by reading like a script from a modern day horror film.  As soon as Jesus had steeped out of the boat he comes face to face with a naked demented man. 

The Bible gives us the reason for his dementia; he is filled with a great number of evils spirits.  Today we would describe this man as being demon possessed.  How demented was he?  The Bible says that he lived in the tombs; he inhabited the caves where the local townspeople buried their dead.  There weren’t really buried they were laid into shelves carved out of the rock a living man dwelling literally among the dead. 

Mark goes on to give us more information about this demented man.  The evils spirits, the demons were in control of this man and as a consequence this man possessed superhuman strength.  Apparently several attempts had been made in the past to subdue this man, to tame this man yet to no avail.  He must have been literally a raving maniac, the word translated for us as subdue was used in conjunction with the taming of a wild animal. He was untamable. 

Ropes couldn’t hold him, chains couldn’t hold him, and shackles couldn’t hold him.  Mark says he “wrenched the chains apart” and he “broke the shackles in pieces”. 

Let me try and illustrate how strong this man must have been, let me try and give an example of the power that was controlling this man. 

Matt had a little mishap on the ice Thursday night while driving to work and his car spun out and ended in the ditch along side 75.  The back tires had sunk down into the mud and with all of the horsepower the car possessed it was helpless to extract itself from the mud and the ice.  A two truck comes to his aid and hooks a chain to the front of the car and pulls the 2,000 pound car out of the mud and the ice.  One single chain was strong enough to pull a 2,000 pound car without breaking.  Could you break a chain that pulled a 2,000 pound car?  No?  Could you break a chain that pulled a 1,000 pound car?  No?  Could you break a chain that pulled a 500 pound car?  Probably not!  But this demented man was so strong because of the evil spirits that were tormenting him he could and he easily broke whatever restraints that tried to bind him with. 

Please make note of this, others couldn’t control him and he couldn’t control himself. 

Day after day, night after night he would wander through the tombs and through the countryside crying out literally shrieking like a raven.  Think about this poor man, screaming like a wild animal.  Why was he shrieking so and screaming so?  I believed it was because of the torment he was experiencing every hour of every day.  He would scream and he would cut himself with the rocks.  Why?  Because not only was he a demented man, he was also a tormented man. 

But once he encountered Christ, once he came face to face with Christ he would no longer be a demented man, no longer would he be a tormented man.  He would be a completely different man.  Look at verse 14 – 15

"The herdsmen fled and told it in the city and in the country. And people came to see what it was that had happened. And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid." (Mark 5:14-15ESV)

This demented man was now a completely different man.  He had his clothes on; he was in his right mind.  Those who knew him before couldn’t believe their eyes.  Now let’s read verses 18-20

"As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. And he did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled." (Mark 5:18-20ESV)

He is no longer a demented man; he is no longer a tormented man, now he is a DEVOTED man!  He has no become a devoted follower of Christ.  How did this change take place?  We will come back to that.

Mark takes us from a DEMENTED MAN to…


Once again the story begins with Jesus getting out of the boat.  This time instead of being confronted with a single man, the Lord is confronted by a great crowd.  Literally the crowd and the press around Jesus was such that he was swallowed up in the crowd. 

In the crowd was a man on a mission.  He was a desperate man; in fact he was a desperate father.  His name was Jairus and his little girl was sick.  Perhaps just the night before he and his wife had been up all night with their sick little girl.  Perhaps Momma had been doing her best to cool the little girls fever by keeping a cool cloth on her forehead.  Daddy had rushed out into the night to find the Doctor.  The daddy and the Doctor hurry back to the bedside of the little girl.  The diagnosis is made and the prognosis is bleak.  Unless something miraculous takes place the little girl won’t make it, she won’t live for even another day.

I imagine that the distressed mother and this desperate father were crying out to Jehovah to come to the aid of their little girl.  The prayer is finished and Jairus bolts out of the house and rushes to the seashore he is going to look for Jesus.  When he gets to the shore all he can see is a great mass of people, but he is not going to be stopped he begins to push his way through this great mass of humanity until finally he comes face to face with Jesus and immediately upon recognizing Jesus he drops to the ground and lays with his face in the dust before the Lord.  He pleads with Jesus to come to the aid of his little girl, she’s sick and the Doctor says unless something is done she won’t live through the day!  Jesus will you please come with me!

I imagine in my mind Jesus reaching down and picking up this desperate father, and while brushing the dust of his clothes and out of his hair, he say’s let’s go.  A desperate father facing a hopeless situation now has hope. 

But there is someone else in the crowd that day and she is determined to get to Jesus as well.  Now we are introduced to…


As Jesus and Jairus begin to move forward so too does the crowd.  Jairus just wishes they would all get out of the way, another one in the crowd wishes they would get out of her way. 

Have you ever been in a crowd like this?  I have.  Last summer the boys and I went to Cincinnati to see the major league debut of the Reds number one pitching prospect Homer Bailey.  The park was sold out that night and electricity was in the air.  After the game there is always a mad dash for the parking garages.  As the game ended the boys and I along with 43,000 other people all headed for the exits, we had to ride down the escalators.  I remember how tightly packed we were as we all tried to move forward I remember how slow the progress was.  That’s the kind of crowd that Jairus found himself in and it was this same crowd that a diseased woman who desperately wanted to get to Jesus found herself in.  Like Jairus she was not going to be deterred, she had been suffering for twelve long years with some kind of blood disease, possibly some kind of hemorrhage that she had spent all of her money on all of the doctors and all of their suggested cures and nothing had worked.  She too like the demented man was tormented by her condition.  Because of her disease she was considered to be unclean in her culture she was like a leper to those she lived around.  Like Jairus she too was desperate and she too like Jairus was not going to be deterred.  She was going to get to Jesus because like the demented man, and like the desperate father this diseased woman knew that Jesus was her last hope! 

So what did she do?  Though she was as determined as Jairus was, she was not as bold as Jairus was.  Perhaps because she was considered to be unclean, perhaps because she was a woman and Jesus was a man she was afraid to come face to face with Jesus.  But she was not going to be denied. As the crowd begins to move forward perhaps she saw her chance at healing begin to slip away so she begins to push her way to the crowd until finally she recognizes Jesus she is close enough to touch him, but she doesn’t want him to know who it was that touched him and so she drops to her hands and knees and crawls through the dust to the Lord until finally she is close enough to touch him and so with a shaking arm and a trembling hand she reaches out and just as Jesus is about to take the next step she touches just the very hem of his robe. 

Two things happened in a flash.  First of all the Bible says that she was immediately healed.  Her fingers had not even separated from the Lord’s robe and she was healed and she knew she was healed!  Second Jesus immediately stopped and turned around and wanted to know who it was that had touched him. 

The disciples knew that probably dozens of people had probably touched Jesus; he was surrounded by perhaps hundreds of people.  They say to Jesus “You want to know who touched you?”  What was Jesus doing here?  Let me give you two things to consider.  One he was giving this lady a chance to make her faith in Christ public.  He was giving her the opportunity to publicly acknowledge him.  Notice what she did, she too came with fear and I’m sure a bit of apprehension and she like the demented man and like the desperate father she fell at his feet.  And the Bible says she told him the whole truth.  How did Jesus respond?  Did he berate her?  Did he belittle her?  No, quite the opposite!  Notice what she says to her, “DAUGHTER your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your disease.”  Jesus calls her “daughter” that is a term of affection that is a term of relationship.  I believe that Jesus was communicating to her that not only had she been healed physically, she had also been healed spiritually.  No longer was she unclean, no longer would she be an outcast.  No longer would she be looked down upon, she was part of the family; she was part of the group again.

The second thing I’d like for you to consider is that what I’m sure Jairus considered to be a delay was in a reality a means that the Lord was going to use to strengthen his faith.   The Bible says that even as Jesus was speaking to this woman others had pushed their way through the crowd and began to relay the sad news to Jairus.  “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?”

Can you imagine what Jairus must have begun to feel at that moment, the grief over losing his daughter, his anger over the delay and the fear of what the days ahead were going to hold? 

Jesus was a good listener.  While he is talking to his new Daughter, he overhears what these men had said to Jairus.  Jesus says to him “Do not fear only believe.” 

Now let’s slow down just a little bit and ask the question on what basis does Jesus make that statement?  Certainly Jesus makes that statement because of who he is.  He is the Son of God he is God in the flesh.  He was all powerful and all knowing.  But we must also factor in what had just happened right in front of Jairus.  What had Jairus just witnessed?  He had witnessed a diseased lady, who was just as desperate as he was being healed right before his eyes.  Therefore when Jesus says to him “Do not fear, only believe” he knows that Jairus has a solid basis to listen to what Jesus said.  When Jesus stopped and turned around to talk to the woman who had touched him he was not being unkind to Jairus, he was helping Jairus increase his faith.  The delay was a means that the Lord used to strengthen his faith!  The Lord’s delays are not denials; they are an opportunity for our faith to be strengthened. 

Are you waiting for God to answer a prayer?  Don’t be discouraged keep praying.  Are you waiting for the Lord to work?  Keep praying.  Continued prayer is both an expression of faith and an act of faith. 

Are you fearful of a situation in your life?  Are you uncertain of a situation in your life?  Are you facing what seems to be a hopeless and impossible situation in your life?  What Jesus said to Jairus he says to you this morning, “Do not fear, only believe”.  Perhaps you are not a disciple of Christ, you are not a follower of Christ and it is fear that is keeping you from coming to Christ.  Jesus has the same words to say to you.  “Do not fear, only believe”.

Having gone through each one of these accounts let me ask you what Mark 5 is all about.  Is it about a demented man?  No , I don’t think so.  Is it about a desperate father? No I don’t think so.

Is it about a diseased woman?  No I don’t think so. 

Mark 5 is all about Jesus Christ.  Mark 5 is pointing to Jesus Christ as the solution that each one of us is seeking and that each one of us desperately needs. 

The demented man, the desperate father and the disease woman are not unlike us at all today.  Each one of these characters were suffering from sin.  The results of their sin, the consequences of their sin manifested itself in different way in each of their lives.  Sin manifest itself in different ways in each one of our lives.  But regardless of how sin is revealed in us the solution is the same.  The solution is to be found in one place and one place only and that is in Jesus Christ!

The demented man is an example of the power of sin in our lives.  Whether we realize it or not, sin before we come to Christ has us in its grip, it is far more powerful than we are and unless we are delivered by Christ we will never escape its power. 

The desperate man is an example of the ultimate consequences of sin.  Death is the ultimate consequence of sin.  Who had the power of death?  Did Jairus?  Or Jesus?  Jairus didn’t but Jesus did and still does.

The diseased woman is an example of the hopelessness and the cost of sin.  Her disease cost her everything that she had, her disease left her without hope.  Every other thing that she tried failed her.  Every other cure was insufficient.  Who was it that released her from her hopelessness?  Who was it that gave her back what the disease had stolen from her?  It was Jesus. 

The common theme throughout this chapter and throughout all of the Scriptures is Jesus Christ.  There is no escaping the power of sin apart from Christ.  There is not avoiding the sting of death apart from Christ, there is no escaping the hopelessness and the high cost of sin apart from Christ. 

Have you come to Christ?  Do you trust Christ?  If not why not?

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