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Mark 4:35-5:43: The Power of the Kingdom Print E-mail
Sunday, 19 August 2007

Let me begin with a question: Do you believe in the Jesus of Mark 4 or Mark 5, or to be more precise, the Jesus of Mark 4:1-34 or the Jesus of Mark 4:35-5:43?  Do you believe in the Jesus of parables or the Jesus of power?  Maybe you are comfortable with the Jesus who teaches and calls us to be obedient, while you are a little less comfortable with the Jesus who commands the sea to be still and raises little girls from the dead.  Or you could be the opposite.  Maybe you are more interested in physical healing and the casting out of demons than you are lessons about the Kingdom coming like a mustard seed.  So, which is it?  Do you believe in the Jesus of Mark 4 or Mark 5?

I would venture to guess that most of us would quickly answer the question by claiming to believe in both.  We would say that the Jesus of Mark 4 and the Jesus of Mark 5 is one and the same, which of course is the correct answer.  Yet, if I am honest, I find myself struggling at times with the Jesus of Mark 4 or Mark 5 (personally, I think I struggle more with Mark 5).  I, like many of you perhaps, will often pick and choose what I want to believe about Jesus.  Granted, I do not want to admit it and I do not always recognize it, but there are things about Jesus that make me uncomfortable at times.  Thus, I have a tendency to focus more on what I do find comfortable, or more acceptable, and less on anything else. 

Yet, the New Testament will not allow it.  I do not have the right to pick and choose what I want to believe about Jesus based on what makes me comfortable or uncomfortable.  I either believe what the Bible says about the Savior from Nazareth or I do not.  To deny Mark 5, or any part of the book for that matter, is to deny it all.  So, then, as we have done before we want to look at what Mark 5, or 4:35-5:43, teaches us about Christ and following Him.  We said last week that the Kingdom has been inaugurated with the coming of Christ.  In our text this morning, we see that the King has come with power.  Thus, I want to identify three lessons concerning the power of the Kingdom, as evidenced in the ministry of King Jesus.

First, the power of the King and His Kingdom extends over all.

In the four different stories that we find in our text this morning we see Jesusí power displayed.  First, in 4:35-41, we see Jesusí power over nature as He calms the wind and the sea.  Look at verse 39.  This is the first time in the book of Mark that we have seen such a display by Christ.  He simply speaks and the storm subsides.  Thus, we understand the amazement of even the disciples at this point, for even the wind and sea obey him.  Second, in 5:1-20, we see Jesusí power over the demons.  Now, we have already seen Jesus cast demons in the book of Mark, so what is so unique about the power demonstrated in this story?  In this story, Jesus does not just command one demon to come out of the man, but many. 

Jesusí power over them is clearly displayed with the destruction of the herd of pigs.  Third, in 5:25-34, we see Jesusí power to heal sickness and disease.  Again, we have seen this before, but this is unique in that the lady simply touches Jesusí garments and is healed.  Fourth, in 5:35-43, we see Jesusí power over death.  The synagogue ruler, Jairus, had come and asked for Jesus to heal his sick daughter.  Yet, the girl dies before Jesus can get to her.  However, this does not deter Jesus and He proceeds to go to the house of Jairus and raise his daughter from the dead.  As with the calming of the Sea of Galilee, this is the first time in the book of Mark that we Jesusí power to raise the dead displayed.

So, what does all of this mean to us as followers of Jesus?  Do we have this power?  I think the most faithful, biblical answer I can offer to that question is yes and no.  Let me explain.  We must as Christians recognize the uniqueness of Jesus, as well as the Apostles.  We are not the King, but followers of the King.  My words are not infallible and I never walked with Jesus physically while He was on the earth.  So, I think we can affirm a uniqueness to Jesus and the Apostles and the power that they displayed.  Yet, at the same time, there are others in the book of Acts whose ministries are accompanied with great power, namely Philip and Stephen, who are not Apostles. 

As I said last week, I believe that the Kingdom has already come and so I believe that there is power in the life of the believer.  At the same time, I believe that the Kingdom has not yet fully come, so there is a limitation, controlled by the sovereign work of the Spirit.  In light of all this, this text calls us to believe and expect the power of the Kingdom.  We see it continually being displayed in the Gospels and Acts and I cannot find any reason Biblically to believe that God has stopped moving in power in the Kingdom.  Thus, for the glory of God and the salvation of souls, may we long for and expect the power of the Kingdom in our day.

Second, the power of the King and His Kingdom demands a response.

Once again in the four different stories we see how people respond to the power and authority of Jesus.  Although this may be an oversimplification, I think the responses can be grouped into two categories, namely, faithless fear and faithful fear.  For an example of what I am calling faithless fear, look at 5:14-17 and the peopleís response to the healing of the demon-possessed man.  These people were afraid of Jesusí power.  Seemingly ignoring the good that was done for the man, they begged Jesus to leave.  Their fear drove them away from Jesus.  Likewise, Jesus questions the disciples and their fear when they wake Him up in a panic.  Look at 4:40.  Jesus sees their fear as a lack of faith in Him. 

So, then, is fear a completely wrong response to Jesus and His power?  No, the fear of the Lord is wise and right, but it is a faithful fear and not a faithless fear.  I say it that way because there is a real emphasis on faith in these stories.  Jesus questions the disciplesí lack of faith in the boat.  He tells the women who is healed that your faith has made you well.  Finally, when the report comes to Jairus that his daughter is dead, Jesus tells him, Do not fear, only believe.  So there is a fear that drives us away from Jesus, which lacks faith altogether, and a fear that leaves us humbly at His feet, believing that He is indeed both Lord and Savior.

The only question that remains is this: how will you respond to the power of the King and His Kingdom?  Will your fear of man or your fear of the unknown or your fear of what you stand to lose drive you away from Christ?  Or will your fear of the Lord drive you to your knees before the King in humble adoration and heartfelt dedication to serving Him all of your days?  Will you respond with faithless or faithful fear of the King?  We see over and again in this passage (and we will continue to see it in Markís Gospel) the call to place our faith in Christ.  So I ask you: is your faith in the King?  Have you abandoned all to follow Him?  Will you respond like the crowds or like the man who had been set free and wanted to follow Christ at all costs?  May God give us grace to respond in faith to the power of the King and His Kingdom.

Third, the power of the King and His Kingdom displays Godís mercy to desperate people.

Something that we might miss from these stories if we are not careful is the fact that all of the people that Jesus rescues are in desperate situations.  The disciples were fisherman and they knew the difference between a little storm and one to worry about.  Look at how Mark relates the story in 4:37-38.  Jesusí rebuke of their fear is not necessarily because the storm was not great and threatening.  As we said above, His rebuke is for their lack of faith.  Thus, these were desperate men, certain that the storm would be end of them.  Look at how Mark describes the man possessed by the demons in 5:3-5.  Seemingly, no one could help the man.  They could not even restrain him to keep him from harming himself.  Not to mention the fact that he was living among the tombs alone.  In the story with the woman who was sick, Mark goes into great detail to tell us of her desperate situation.  Look at 5:25-26.  For twelve years she suffered with a disease that would cause her to be an outcast in her society.  She had spent all her money on physicians and had only gotten worse.  Finally, we see a ruler of the synagogue coming to Jesus, falling at his feet, and begging Him to come and help his daughter.  To make things worse, while Jesus is making His way to the manís house, Jairus gets the news that his daughter has already died.  Needless to say, all of these people are at the end of their rope.  Their knowledge cannot save them.  Men cannot help them.  Physicians cannot heal them.  And for Jairus, even Jesus does not get there in time.

Yet, Jesus has mercy on all of them.  Jesus cares for His disciples and saves them in spite of their lack of faith.  Jesus frees the man from the whole army of demons and sends him out as the first missionary among the Gentiles.  Jesus heals the woman and even when she approaches Him in fear after touching Him, He tells her: Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.  And even with Jairus, where death seems to have already conquered, Jesus raises the little girl from the dead and restores her to her parents. 

In all of these stories, we see Godís mercy displayed through Christ and His compassion for these individuals.  Jesus comes to broken, desperate people and meets their need with great power and mercy.  The Lord is not looking for people who think that He needs them.  Rather, He is looking for people who know that they are in fact desperate for Him.  Thus, admit your need for Him even today.  Be honest and confess your desperate state before the Lord.  If you are not a Christian, then repent of doing things your own way and put your trust and faith in Christ, who will meet you with great mercy.  If you are a Christian, then ask the Lord to continue in making Ďpoor in Spirití and aware of your constant need of Him.  Pray for compassion for the lost and hurting around you.  And pray that the Lord would indeed raise men from the dead through the power of the preached gospel and make them alive in Christ (see Ephesians 2:1-10).  God is so faithful to meet us with mercy.

In Mark 4 we see Jesus teaching us about the Ďalready, not yetí Kingdom.  In Mark 5 we see His power extending over all, demanding a response, and showing us great mercy in our need.  So, then, let me close with the question I started with:  What Jesus are you following?  I encourage you to follow the Jesus of the Bible, the whole Bible.  See and savor Him as the Savior and Lord that He is.  Expect Him to calm the storms, cast out demons, heal the sick, and raise the dead, for that is what we see Him doing in our passage this morning.  As we come to the table, may we remember the King that we are following and all that He has done to secure our redemption.  Amen.

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Thursday, 30 August 2007 )

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