Immediately… (By Lynne McCarthy)
Text Mark 5 and 6
Observe Jesus stilled a storm in the previous chapter. Now in the gentile Gerasene region, he immediately [that Mark word!] encounters another kind of storm raging in a soul possessed by a demonic “Legion”. They know Jesus; as He delivers the poor man, the demons, shrieking in protest, madden a herd of pigs into mass suicide. The townspeople come running, seeing their nemesis clothed and in his right mind (5:15). Their response? Go away, Jesus! But at Jesus’ word, the grateful, liberated man immediately becomes an evangelist.
Jesus, immediately responding to need, walks with Jairus to heal his daughter. Enroute, a timid woman, shunned for years as unclean, touches Jesus’ hem. Immediately healing her, He commends her mustard seed faith, forgives her and restores her life. But Jairus’ daughter has died. Undeterred, Jesus keeps walking. Dismissing scorn, He enters Jairus’ house. Quiet words and gentle touch immediately restore her. Death to life -- an immense journey for a little girl. Jesus adds a loving detail: she needs food.
Back in Nazareth, neighbours fill the synagogue to hear one of their own. Excitement immediately dies. Who does He think He is? His dad’s a local carpenter, His mum and siblings just like them – and He’s preaching to us? His family isn’t impressed either (3:21, 31-35). A prophet, Jesus finds no hometown welcome. He marvelled because of their unbelief (6:6).
He sends out His fledgling crew to have authority over unclean spirits. (7b). No luggage or lunch, stay with good people, bless them; if they aren’t so good, the blessing is yours. Heal, anoint, drive out demons, preach repentance – a beginners’ assignment? Ah, but He is with them.
A vengeful, twisted woman and her evil consort engineer a grisly execution. John Baptist, forerunner of the Messiah, His witness and baptizer, the first to behold the Lamb of God (John 1:29)…
A huge miraculous feast, and after, Jesus must pray. He sends the disciples ahead, into yet another storm. As it rages, a ‘ghost’ walks resolutely over the waves, shouting encouragement, doubling their terror. Jesus gets into the boat -- immediate calm. And they were utterly astounded … but their hearts were hardened. (52) A miraculous feast, and they still don’t get it. But faith-filled responses to Jesus in Gennesaret end Chapter 6.
Interpret Touch – Jesus touches the newly-freed man, holds him, helps him to dress (in His cloak?) and sit quietly. The good citizens are not touched by this event, only seeing drowned profits. Fear and anger push Him away.
A woman shyly touches Jesus; Jesus gently touches a little girl. Immediately He gives life to both. His touch brings deep, wonderful, effective change.
Power – Jesus feels it draining as He heals the woman. He gives His followers power to cast out demons, to discern true hearts, to heal. Jesus’ revealed power over creation follows a night of prayer to His Father. In his family, in his hometown, hard hearts quash His power. God’s power works at infinitely multiple levels; the power of evil is limited to darkness and death. Yet in Jesus, even darkness is as light to [Him]. (Ps. 139:17).
Apply Jesus, You make it so hard for us sometimes! No, no, sorry -- we make it hard for us, and You. We want miracles, revival! Immediately! Really? Giving up our selfish selves, yielding completely to Your purposes, seeking Your will above ours – that means change! When in pride or fear we run from Your life-giving demands, we need Your Holy Spirit to soften our hard hearts, for Your Kingdom’s sake.
Ask How often have I pushed you away, in fear and selfishness? Is my heart so hard that I can’t, won’t, acknowledge my sinfulness, seek You, and willingly change? Are You in the storm?
Pray Lord, give me eyes to see You, faith to follow You, courage to weather hard times, trust to immediately obey You. Bless my believing brothers and sisters, touch with gentleness those who hurt. You are always near.
Sing Ps. 111 The Lord Reigns Sons of Korah
Ps. 111 The Lord Reigns Ian White
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In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.