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Mark 1-5 Continued...

Mark 4:21-34

Mark 4:21-34. "He said to them, 'Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don't you put it on its stand? For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.'

'Consider carefully what you hear,' he continued. 'With the measure you use, it will be measured to you--and even more. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.'

He also said, 'This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up; the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain--first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.'

Again he said, 'What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds of the air can perch in its shade.'

With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand. He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything."

Think of it this way. The spiritual truth is like we have this spiritual valve on our heart and God has the water pressure of his spiritual truth all the way up. But we control this spiritual water valve. For some of us he's standing there waiting to pour his love into our hearts, but that valve is closed shut. In some cases some people have cracked that valve all the way open. Most of the people God has used greatly started opening up to God at a young age. Charles Spurgeon gave his first sermon at age 16. Greg Lorie started a Calvary Bible study at age 19 which within a year was packing out the Anaheim Convention Center. Billy Graham was in his early 20's when he was president of a college, Joan of Arch was just 14 when God radically used her. Many young don't have a lot of baggage we old people do and just open that heart valve all the way open. Don't forget, Jesus said, "With the measure you use, it will be measured to you."

Mark 4:21, "He said to them, 'Do you bring a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don't you put it on its stand?'" John in his gospel said Jesus is the true light that gives light to every man. John 1:1-9. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made, without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world." John 3:19-21. "This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God."

Jesus is probably about the mid-point of his ministry, but the hearts of many around him have grown cold. As a result he's changed his teaching style--teaching in parables. The purpose of teaching in parables, as we learned, wasn't to hide the truth, but to draw attention to the truth. It's to draw the attention of his audience because their hearts have grown cold. This point he is making in verse 21 is that although he's sharing in parables, he is the light. He is the light of the world and he's come to give light. A parable does not hide the truth. But to those whose hearts are hard, it seems to hide the truth. To those who have dull hearts the truth seems to be veiled to them. But to those whose hearts are soft, a parable will draw you to the truth. Jesus says that in verse 22, "For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought into the open." I.e. If your heart is open, if you'll crack open that valve on your heart, the truth will come to you. The light will come to a willing heart. Solomon says the same thing back in the Old Testament. "It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings to search out a matter." Once again Jesus says "If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear." He says that many times in the Bible. He's talking about having a spiritual ear. Matthew quoted Jesus in Matthew 5:14-16, "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." In other words, whatever we've heard we should go out and preach. A healthy church body is a body that is evangelistic. In 1 John it basically says that if you love God, you'll love your brother. He says, 'If you do not love your brother, you do not love God.' Light and love go together. You've got to put your vanity aside, you've got to put your pride to the side when you evangelize--going out to care for people who you've never met before. That is not the normal human response. You will do this only if the light and love of God is in your heart. Then you begin to go out and to share the gospel. John is saying, 'If you love your brother, you're one of my [God's] kids.' God is saying that through John. In verse 20 of Mark 4 Jesus was talking of a fruitful Christian. Then he goes on in verse 21 and talks about light and love and evangelism. I think that's very interesting, just this order because there is no doubt that a fruitful Christian is a witnessing Christian. Every time you see a Christian who is bearing much fruit, one thing is for sure, he or she is doing a lot of evangelizing. The two indeed go together. When it comes to spiritual growth, one thing is for sure, you plateau spiritually if you do not overflow. You'll grow a little bit, but if you're not overflowing, if you're not evangelizing, you're going to plateau. You grow when you overflow. Have you opened your heart to the light of Christ? And are you reflecting that light to others? If you're not, you're effectively a lamp under the bed, and that's silly. Is that valve on your heart open to the light of God at all? There are hearts [in this world] that aren't even open, they're just shut tight.

How do we open that heart valve? Good question. You open that valve by faith and by belief. In John 12 Jesus said, "A little while longer, the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest the darkness overtake you. He who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of the light. (John 12:35-36)."

Verses 24-25, "'Consider carefully what you hear,' he continued. 'With the measure you use, it will be measured to you--and even more. Whoever has will be given more, whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.'" Consider his words carefully, he's saying. These words are the very words of life (spiritual life). The degree that you open up to the Lord is what you're going to get. If you open a little, you'll get a little, but if you open up wide he will just pour his love into your life. That's the truth that he's talking about. But be careful, the way you judge the Word of God is going to determine how you're going to be judged by it.

Verse 26-29, "He also said, 'This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows; though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain--first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.'" The kingdom of God [that spiritually comes into a persons heart by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit] is as if a man scattered seed on the ground, and then he went to bed, and then he woke up in the morning, and he was surprised, he didn't do anything but sleep, but sprouts began to come up, as the seeds had been sown. And eventually it even matured and there was a harvest. And this is about the wonderful truth about the Word of God and the effect it will have on people when it is sown. There is incredible potential and power in the seed, the Word of God. The Word of God is supernatural. As a ministry we don't need gimicks to try to draw people here, we don't have to come up with these great little marketing pezaz things--just preach the Word, teach the Word, and it goes out, and the hearts that receive it will prosper there.

We don't receive when we lack faith. Sometimes we're like "No way man! Can't do it. Reading the Bible, it will not do it." But you're mocking God when you say that, because he will honor his Word above his name. He will bless his Word if we will receive his Word. If we preach his Word, he'll honor his Word. That's the way it works. And God's Word will go into your life, even though you don't comprehend sometimes how it works. And that light that's there will begin to shine, and it will push out the darkness. There are people that like the darkness. You've already read the verse, they like to stay in the darkness. Too bad they do, because there's light that God wants to share with them.

Jesus is sharing in parables with them now because people like the darkness. "I want the miracle, Jesus, I want you to heal my body, I don't necessarily want to hear this sermon" is what they're saying. So Jesus has gone to parables at least to try to grab their attention. Well maybe you're like somebody in the crowd around Jesus, and your heart has become dull to the Lord. That can happen, you can be doing great, then after awhile, you don't know how it's happened, you kind of become dull, dull to the Word of God--dull to his music, his overtures as he plays and tries to speak to you. Well, maybe what you need is some gardening. Jeremiah said, "Break up your fallow ground, and do not sow among thorns. Circumcise yourselves to the Lord and take away the foreskins of your hearts." He says, 'Break up the fallow ground of your heart.' If your heart is hard, if it has become dull, he says, "Break it up, you have the choice, go in, break up the fallow ground.' The Word of God can be planted there. Remove the thorns, ask God to circumcise your heart. We can get dull to the Word of God so it's not impacting our life. So Jeremiah says in essence, 'Break up that fallow ground, ask God to remove that hardened flesh, so it will be soft and receptive to his Word.' God says in Hosea, "Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap in mercy, break up your fallow ground, for it's time to seek the Lord, till he comes and reigns righteousness on you." At these times we need to pray and ask God, "Make me sensitive to you again." And then he says he'll come and he'll reign righteousness on you. He just pours it on, pours on the power and love. God uses broken vessels, he uses broken men and women, those are the ones who are receptive. A broken vessel is usable by God because a broken vessel is not attractive on the outside. An unbroken vessel can't be seen on the inside, but a broken vessel's contents flow out of it--God's love shines out to others from it. Breaking is sweet, but it hurts to be broken when God has to take you through that time. But in a most amazing way, a sweetness comes from it in your life.

Verses 30-32, "Again he said, 'What shall we say to the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds of the air can perch in its shade.'" A mustard seed was very tiny, but a mustard plant would grow to about the height of the head of a horse. You put this tiny seed in the ground and this big plant comes from it. ( Giant sequoias come from a very tiny seed also, and yet they grow to be the largest tree on earth. A company I worked for had the name of Sequoia. On their coffee mugs was a logo, "Sequoias Are Known For Their Size, But They Too Start Small.") The mass of that tiny seed is multiplied millions and billions of times over, and Jesus says that is like the kingdom of God. Just a small seed of the Word of God, what it can do in our lives. It'll just grow and grow. Maybe you're sitting there, looking at your spouse and thinking, "Wow, rough edges." But the seed of God is there, and it will grow and will begin to bring forth growth like you wouldn't believe. It's amazing, that little seed, and what can come from it in your life. When you read a parable, you need to read it and just pray, and the understanding will come to you. Not all the little details are there to have a spiritual truth to them. Some of them are there just to add color to the story, to help illuminate the central truth. Here in this parable you have this large mustard tree or bush, and now you have these birds in the branches. And some people have taught on the birds, but I think in this case when I read it in Mark I think the birds are there just to add color. But when you look in Luke the birds are also there, and Jesus is drawing attention to the birds and wanting to make a note. In Matthew this parable follows the parable of the wheat and tares, where Jesus says this guy goes out and plants this good seed and it starts to grow, but another guy in the middle of the night goes out and plants this bad stuff. They both grow. Now you have the good seed and the bad seed growing together. And right after that Jesus talks about this. Jesus shows the kingdom of God just growing and expanding. But sometimes there's even a natural growth, in a sense, where the birds of the air represent Satan and his buddies, moving in and beginning to nest in the tree in the kingdom. And that can happen, and we see it taught that way in the Scripture, where the kingdom of God is growing, but some bad seeds have gotten in there now, and in the parable of the wheat and tares it is the angels in the end who determine what the tares are. (Or who they are.) So in some cases we're not going to know what or who the tares are and what the birds are until we get to the end (and it is revealed for us). I know I'm not a tare, I know I'm wheat, personally. I hope you all know that. But ultimately God knows somebody else's heart, I don't. But that does happen, the growth comes and there's this great work of God starting in this little mustard seed--Boom!--and then the institution mentality sets it, and now we've got this religious system going, and the birds just come in and light on the branches and begin to move in. And then you have trouble. And that is something I think Jesus is trying to bring out too.

Verses 33-34, "With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand. He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything." So he explains to his disciples. They in privacy must have said, 'I don't quite get it.' And so the Lord shares it with them. That is what happens with us. If the light is in us, we want to know the truth. So we just get alone with the Lord, and the Lord will begin to illuminate these truths to us. Turn to John chapter 14. I want to share a thought with you I found in E. Campbell Morgan's commentary. Jesus says in John 14:16, "'I am the way, the truth, the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me you would have known my Father also. From now on you know him and have seen him.' Phillip said, 'Lord, show us the Father and it is sufficient for us.' Jesus said to him, 'Have I been with you so long and yet have you not known me Phillip? He who has seen me has seen the Father. So how can you say, 'Show us the Father?' Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in me? These words that I have spoken to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does the works.'" G. Campbell Morgan made the comment that "Jesus is the ultimate parable." Obviously as the Logos [cf. John 1:1-14] he's sharing these parables to draw people to the Word, to the Truth, but Jesus is the Logos, the Word. He is the Life, he is the Truth. And he says here, and has used the imagery here, "If you've seen me, you've seen the Father." That's kind of like a parable. He's saying, "If you look at me, if you've seen me with those spiritual eyes, then you've connected with the Father."

Mark 4:35-5:43

"No Reason To Be Afraid"

Mark 4:35-43. "That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, 'Let us go over to the other side.' Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, 'Teacher, don't you care if we drown?'

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, 'Quiet! Be Still!' Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to the disciples, 'Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?' They were terrified and asked each other, 'Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him?'"

"A number of years ago it was reported that the newspaper counselor, Ann Landers, receives an average of 10,000 letters each month, and nearly all of them are burdened with problems. She was asked "Is there any one problem that predominates the letters you receive?" And her reply was "The one problem above all others seems to be fear." People are afraid of losing their health, their wealth, their loved ones, people are even terrified of life itself. The dictionary says that "Fear is a feeling of alarm caused by expectation of danger, or a state of dread..." and in some cases, fear is a healthy thing God has created in us. You know when you're on the subway in Boston, you're going through a T stop that isn't that safe, and you think, as you're passing through this T stop, you get this sense of fear which overtakes you. And you sense you need to get off the subway as quickly as possible, and you get off. And you come to find out that God was leading you to get off the subway. There was a danger on the subway, some person that was going to mug you or something. I give that to you as an example because there are times when God puts that sense of fear in our hearts for a reason, to get us to move because of impending danger. That's a healthy fear to have. There's also other healthy fears to have. A fear of God--that's a healthy fear. Look in a concordance. There are hundreds of verses that speak of fearing God. In Psalm 111 we're told that "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." This is a fear that is being in awe of the Creator, in awe of God, of his presence and power. It's a healthy fear, a good fear to have, an awe of God. Another fear that is healthy to have is a fear of sin. Paul shares about confronting an elder in sin. He says in 1 Timothy "Those who are sinning" (this is talking about an elder) "rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear." We're exhorted in the Scripture to have a fear of sin, to fear sin and it's consequences.

So there are times where we are to have a healthy fear, but as the letters to Ann Landers show us, reveal to us, there's often fear in our lives that's very unhealthy. And this is what we're going to look at this morning.

Faith and fear, that is, unhealthy fear, cannot co-exist. You either have one or the other.

Either you're walking in faith or you're going to have fear. You can't have the two at the same time. If fear is in your heart, if you're afraid of the future, then you're not walking in faith. The two do not co-exist at the same time. When one is present the other leaves. John writes in his letter, in 1 John he says, "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. We love him because he first loved us." So John tells us that when you have that perfect love of God, that love casts out fear. And he says God first loved us. So I rest in that. It's a perfect love. And as I accept that in faith, the result of that is to cast out fear. The fear just subsides and goes away as my heart is filled with faith in his love and his power.

Also God says to us in Isaiah, as his children he says that we're not to have fear, and the reason why is because he is with us. He says, 'Don't fear, I am with you.' Isaiah 41, "Fear not for I am with you. Be not dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Yes, I will help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Maybe today you find yourself struggling with fear. There are things in your life causing you to be afraid. God just wants to remind us, as a child of God, we do not need to be afraid. There's no reason to be afraid as the children of God. God desires that we have peace and it's a peace that passes understanding. We'll see today in Mark, you know as we go to this gospel we see Jesus, the more we learn, as Paul says, we can count all things loss compared to knowing Christ. As we go to this gospel we see Jesus. And as we look today, it's clear, you and I have no reason to be afraid, because God, Jesus is with us. We don't need to fear the storms of life. We don't need to fear any bondage's of life, of the world. We don't need to fear suffering. We don't need to fear man, his failures, his rejections. We don't even need to fear death itself, as we look at this text this morning. And if there's no fear of death, then there isn't anything left to fear. We're told in Scriptures that you, as a Christian, don't need to fear death. David worships and says in Psalm 23, "Yeah though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil." And then he says why, "For you are with me, your rod and staff, they comfort me." He says, 'I have nothing to fear. You are with me God.'

Let's look at verse 35, chapter four of Mark, "On the same day when evening had come he said to them, 'Let us cross over to the other side.' Now when they had left the multitude they took him along in a boat as he was, and other little boats were also with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat so that it was already filling. But he was astern asleep on a pillow, and they awoke him and said to him, 'Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?' Then he arose and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, 'Peace, be still!' And there was a great calm. And he said to them, 'Why are you so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?' And they feared exceedingly and said to one another, 'Who can this be that even the wind and the waves obey him?'--Who can this possibly be?" As a child of God you and I don't need to fear the storms of life. It's been a long day here for Jesus and his disciples, as we kind of put all the events together as we've been studying, and it's evening and now he says, "Let's go to the other side of the sea." And it seems most likely that Jesus is very tired, there's a multitude if you remember from last week. He's already in a boat, the multitude was so vast he actually had to step into a boat to effectively communicate and teach this crowd, teaching in parables. And it's been a long day as you put all of the events together and probably he's physically tired. He is a man. He's God, but he is a man. And the disciples probably need some rest too, and so the only place they're going to get rest is away from the multitudes, so he says, 'Let's set sail to the other side of the sea.' And you read there as they do that, some other little boats, some other folks still want to follow, so they jump into their little boats and they follow him. So he doesn't completely get away from the crowd, but at least he got an opportunity here to find rest. But the multitude has taken its toll. And due to the exhaustion, I at least see a lot of exhaustion in Jesus' body, because you see there that he has fallen asleep on a pillow in the stern of this boat. And he sleeps through quite a situation there. As they begin to make this journey across the sea of Galilee--it's just a few miles, it's not a very large body of water--a storm begins, a windstorm suddenly comes down upon the vessel. The geography shows us storms can come quickly upon the sea of Galilee. There are very tall mountains right around the sea, they're very steep, rising up very quickly. Then you have the sea of Galilee 700 feet below sea level and you have the Jordan valley there. Wind storms can come in very quickly due to the thermal gradients in the air and things, and they can really come upon you surprisingly. That's what happens here to the disciples. I know when we were there last December and we were in a boat that set sail across the sea of Galilee, that I took a picture because the water of the sea of Galilee was like glass. It was like a mirror, perfectly still, a you saw the reflections of the mountains and things. But just moments later it began to be very choppy. Very quickly it changed. And that happens, and that's what happens here to these disciples and Jesus and the others as they have set sail across the sea of Galilee. The storm in this case is so intense that waves of water begin to come into the boat. And with that the disciples are now in fear. They begin to really question whether they're going to make it across, because the water is coming into the boat to such a degree. And all along now you see Jesus is so exhausted because he's been giving life, pouring out his life that he's sleeping through this storm as the boat is tossed to and fro as the wind is blowing and all the screaming, he's still sleeping in the stern. Well, in frustration the disciples go to Jesus and they awake him and say, "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?" Maybe you can relate to that. Maybe you've been there before. "Do you not care that we're perishing here, do you not care?" What a picture here in these verses of what happens to you and I sometimes. Life might be going along just fine and then this wind begins to pick up and then waves begin to increase and this storm is all of a sudden howling, and enters our life, sometimes very unexpectedly. Sometimes it's a ferocious storm. And as the waves come and the wind blows we begin to get afraid, asking, "What is going on here? Am I gonna make it through this storm? This is intense. I didn't expect this." Especially the storms that last awhile can really begin to put a fear in your heart. And in that state what often happens is that you begin to question God. "God, this isn't very fair. Why'd you allow this into my life?" "What is going on here?" "I didn't deserve this." You even question his character and say, "Are you really good? You say you're good, but this doesn't seem like a good thing that this would happen to me in my life." "I don't understand, what did I do to deserve this?" You begin to question even his love. "You say you're a God of love, but well, this doesn't seem like you're a God of love with the things that are going on here." [The Christians in Yugoslavia during World War II could have been saying exactly these same things, but many weren't. You can read there story in Marie Chapian's book "Of Whom The World Was Not Worthy", available online at for $7.99.] That's happened to me in my life. Sometimes those winds when they're blowing and howling can be very difficult. I remember one storm that came into my life awhile back. It was going and going and eventually I couldn't take it. This despair began to set into my heart. I just started to struggle. Each time I weathered the storm and thought the storm was over, the wind would howl again and the waves were bigger than before and would knock me down. That can really get you down, as it continues to happen. I was there once, it just kept getting worse. I'd say, "Hey, this is bad enough Lord." And the next day it got even worse. You know, at one time, I began to question whether I was even going to make it. I began to even be afraid of life. Despair was really deep in my heart...But you know God spoke to me (in my heart) and he spoke to me twice on two different occasions, and I finally had to stand one day and say, "Lord, you've told me twice you love me, you've told me twice that you're with me and you've told me that you're going to bless the future. I need to accept it by faith." And I stood up and walked and I went ahead and I pressed forward in faith. [And this particular pastor now has a congregation of over 100 people, a radio ministry, and they're desperately looking for a bigger building to meet in. It started out with about five people meeting in the tiny radio studio building.] You know, if there is fear in my heart, your heart, there's no faith. And it's hard to live a life of fear. But to walk in faith is to get up, to press forward, be strong and stand strong.

Verse 39, He stands up and he rebukes the wind and says, "Peace, be still!" And as you read, the wind ceased and there was a great calm. Amazingly Jesus quiets the storm. Image being one of the disciples on this boat. Jesus has been able to heal, cast out demons. He's even indicated that he can forgive sin. But there's still a lack of understanding just of who is in the boat with them. They don't understand that the Creator of the universe is laying in the stern of that boat. That hasn't quite sunk in yet. So Jesus stands up, to them a man still, and he says, "Peace, be still!" And this storm stops. I mean, these guys are like stunned, they're in awe. I think then a healthy fear enters their heart, as you read there in verse 41. "They were exceedingly fearful." But I think now a good fear, as they're saying 'God is in our boat!' 'This is God that we've been walking with.' [cf. John 1:1-11.] Because Paul says in Colossians chapter one, "For by him"--that is Jesus--"all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers, and all things were created through him and for him." God used this storm to reveal to these disciples again who was in the boat. They needed to learn a little bit more about who he was--that God was with them--in the boat with them. And he was the one--the only one--that was able to stand up and stop the storm. Well now, the disciples were able to see that the Creator was there, the controller of all things. They saw omnipotent power, there, right before them. And that was going to help them later on in life with all the persecution and trials they would face. This experience, this reality wasn't just a head knowledge thing. Now they knew that Jesus could even stop the wind and stop the waves. He's omnipotent, he's God, he's Creator. So when the challenges that would come later arrived they'd be ready and could stand through that, and even extend faith and courage to others as the storms of life pass through. Storms come into our lives so you and I can learn more about the character of Jesus. You know, we can have the Bible study head knowledge, but God has got to bring those storms in so that you and I know it by experience and therefore can grab onto it and walk in it in faith that Jesus can stop the wind, he can stop the waves. Initially, when those storms come we begin to doubt his character. But when the storm is stopped and now we're there in the calm of the aftermath, we begin to just stand in awe of the beauty of his character and of his power. It increases our faith, and the life of faith is a beautiful life to live.

Are you currently in the midst of a storm? Has fear or despair set in? Sometimes that happens. It's happened to me. Is Jesus asking you "Why are you so fearful? Why do you have no faith?" If you don't have faith, the fear just comes right in. Jesus wants to remind you that HE IS WITH YOU. HE IS THE CREATOR OF ALL THINGS. His love toward you is a perfect love. He wants to remind you today of that. Receive his Word in faith, and when you do, the fear begins to subside, you get up and you press on. If you believe in his power, if you believe in his love and faith, that is a conquering faith. That's the type of faith God wants to give you. So he takes you through these storms so you can come to believe in his power, and believe in his love. You don't just have this head knowledge but you believe in it. And then you can conquer in faith as things come, you can stand strong and even extend faith and encouragement to others. And with every storm that comes into our lives, every storm will one day pass. And the calm will come. God has allowed storms in your life for a purpose. And in the calm of the passing storm we learn what we're exhorted hundreds of times in the Bible--to fear God, and that's an awe of him.

Let's look at Mark 5:1-20, "And they came to the other side of the sea to the country of the Gadarenes. And when they had come out of the boat immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit who had his dwelling among the tombs. And no one could bind him, not even with chains. Because he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but the chains had been pulled apart by him, and the shackles broken in pieces. Neither could anyone tame him. And always, night and day he was in the mountains and in the tombs crying out and cutting himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from afar he ran and worshipped him, and he cried out with a loud voice and said, 'What have I to do with you Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore you by God that you do not torment me.' For he said to him, 'Come out of the man, unclean spirit.' And he asked him, 'What is your name?' And he answered saying, 'My name is Legion for we are many.' Also he begged him earnestly that he would not send them out of the country. And a large herd of swine was feeding there near the mountains. So all the demons begged him saying, 'Send us to the swine that we may enter them.' And at once Jesus gave them permission and the unclean spirits went out and entered the swine. There were about two thousand. And the herd ran violently down the steep place into the sea and drown in the sea. So those who fed the swine fled, and they told it in the city and the country. And they went out to see what it was that had happened. And they came to Jesus and saw the one who had been demon-possessed and had the Legion sitting and clothed, and in his right mind. And they were afraid. And those who saw it told them how it had happened to him who had been demon possessed, and about the swine. Then they began to plead with him to depart from their region. And when he got into the boat, he who had been demon-possessed begged with him that he might be with him. However Jesus did not permit him, but said to him, 'Go home to your friends and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you and how he's had compassion on you.' And he departed and began to proclaim in Decapolis all that Jesus had done for him. And all marveled." With Jesus, when he's with us, you and I don't need to be afraid. We don't need to be afraid of the storms and we don't need to be afraid of the bondage's that we find in the world.

Sometimes that can be the most fearful thing in life. You have this thing, this grip of evil on your life that you're in bondage to, and you can be afraid of even the next day. This thing consumes you and controls your life. Well, the disciples have been through a storm and then they had quite an experience watching Jesus kick out a legion of demons out of a man they'd possessed for years. It must have been exciting being with Jesus. You go from the storm to deviled ham with all the pigs jumping into the water. This man comes to Jesus as they come to the shore. He comes running, he sees Jesus. And this man is a man that is a picture of great bondage, a tremendous bondage. Nobody could help this man. Many tried to shackle him and to hold him, but nobody could help this man. He was in such bondage. In fact as he says who he is when Jesus asked for the name of the demons, they say, 'My name is Legion for we are many.' A Roman legion of soldiers was over six thousand soldiers, six thousand eight hundred and twenty six men. Is there six thousand demons in this man? It's bad enough having one demon in your life, let alone six thousand dwelling there. I wonder if anyone else has been possessed with so many demons and been in such bondage as this man. We're given this story so we can see somebody in the greatest depth of bondage, yet we see him encounter God. Look at the anguish of soul. Also you see what bondage's do as he's cutting himself with stones. Hating even his flesh and what's going on. But, in this story, he comes and falls at the feet of Jesus. And Jesus does a work. Maybe you feel the grip of evil in your life. Maybe you're afraid, because of that bondage. Sometimes we are, living in some kind of bondage and fear. You can see what we need to do, and that is to go and fall at the feet of Jesus. He is the only one that can deliver us. So we can see somebody in the greatest depth of bondage, yet we see him encounter God. Look at the anguish of soul.

Alcoholics Anonymous points people to seek a higher power, but you can miss by a mile if you don't get Jesus. If you don't get Jesus, you do not have a higher power to rely on. He is the only one who is going to deliver you from the bondage you may find yourself in. Buddha's not going to do it for you, Mohammed's not going to do it for you, the New Age meetings aren't going to do it. You may have a little success on your own, but when it's bondage, the bondage of the world, the grip of evil, there's only one, and that is Jesus. You have drug addiction, alcohol addiction, the mind begins to change and the chemistry that goes on with alcohol addiction. Pornography can work the same way, different things the enemy can bring into our lives that can just be a bondage to us. Jesus Christ is the power that can keep you from stumbling, remove the bondage. In AA, some people find that power, but many don't.

These demons, in other gospels you get the sense they don't want to get sent into the abyss, so these demons ask to be sent into the swine that are there. And then as you read later, this man goes to the Decapolis. If you're in bondage, Jesus can help you from stumbling, he's the power. There's no need to be afraid. Fear is because you don't understand the power and love of God. But he wants to bring power into your life and deliver you.

Verse 17 is a sad thing. The guy who is taking care of these pigs is thinking, 'What is going on here?' as he sees the pigs running into the water. So he goes back to town and tells them about everything that happened. So the whole region came out to see this event. But what a sad verse, they come out and plead that he would depart from their region. They're more concerned about the money and pigs and things of this world than the things of God. [The Roman's would vacation when off duty in the area of the Decapolis. They had recreation areas in this region and the demand for pork products must have been very high making the raising of pigs a very profitable business. And this would explain why this region, a part of the Jewish nation bordering on the cities of the Decapolis, grew whole herds of swine.]

This man was naked, cut up and scarred, a sad picture of a man. And now he's dressed and sitting there in his right mind. Not strange or bizarre, just very healed before them. And that same man said, 'Hey, I want to go with you.' But this time Jesus does something different. Up until this point he always told the people not to say anything. But in this case he says 'Go home to your friends and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how he's had compassion on you.' And that's what Jesus tells this man to do. [This is an essential key or part of spreading the gospel on a personal level, telling others, your friends and acquaintances what Jesus has done for you.] And this man goes and does what Jesus told him to do, and many people hear and marvel in the cities of the Decapolis.

Last couple of points. Verses 21-43, "Now when Jesus had crossed over by the boat to the other side a great multitude gathered to him. And he was by the sea. And behold, one of the rulers of the synagogue came, Jarius by name. And when he saw him he fell at his feet and begged him earnestly saying, 'My little daughter lies at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her that she may be healed and she will live.' So Jesus went with him and a great multitude followed him and thronged him.

Now a certain woman had a flow of blood for twelve years and had suffered many things from many physicians. She had spent all that she had and was no better but rather grew worse. When she heard about Jesus she came behind him in the crowd and touched his garment, for she said, 'If only I may touch his clothes, I shall be made well.' Immediately the fountain of her blood was dried up as she felt in her body that she was healed of the affliction. And Jesus immediately knowing in himself that power had gone out from him, turned around in the crowd and said, 'Who touched my clothes?' But his disciples said to him, 'You see the multitudes thronging you and you say 'Who touched me?' And he looked around to see her who had done this thing. But the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what had happened to her came 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 affliction.' While he was still speaking some came from the ruler of the synagogue's house who said, 'Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?' As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken he said to the ruler of the synagogue, 'Do not be afraid, only believe.' And he permitted no one to follow him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. Then he came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue and saw the tumult of those who wept and wailed loudly. When he came in he said to them, 'Why make this commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.' And they ridiculed him. But when he had put them all aside he took the father and mother of the child and those who were with him and entered where the child was lying. He took the child by the hand and said to her, 'Talitha Koum!' which is translated 'Little girl, I say to you, arise.' Immediately the girl arose and walked, for she was twelve years of age, and they were overcome with great amazement. But he commanded them strictly that no one should know it, and said that something should be given her to eat."

What a contrast. You have a 12 year overlap. This young girl is 12 years of age and this lady with an issue of blood has been suffering for 12 years. Initially when it started, she started going to the doctors, saying, 'What's going on in my life?' She tried to get some help and time passed and more time passed, and eventually it turned out to be years of suffering. And when all this started, this girl was born, born to this Jarius, a very significant person in the community, some would say even the chief person in the synagogue, wealthy, influential. So she's had a blessed life, you could say of just being in a prosperous and blessed home. But recently she's had a change of events in her life as well. She was near the point of death. God will allow suffering into people's lives that will last for years. And God has it for a purpose to his glory. But for some of us life is easier. But the day does come when the storm does blow. God has a purpose in it. Sometimes life can be easy and then the phone will ring and a real grave storm will come and you'll drop to the floor when you hear what's being told to you. Something can happen so quickly in some of our lives. And you see the contrast here with these two women. Well, with Jesus you and I do not need to fear suffering. We don't like pain, but we don't have to fear it. We don't have to be afraid of men. We don't even need to fear death. Paul said in 1 Corinthians, 'Death? Where is the sting of death?' We don't fear it as a Christian. We're told in the Psalms that 'precious is the death of saints in the eyes of God.' And that's because we're going to be with him. He's waiting to welcome us into his kingdom. The death of the wicked he looks on in pain as we read in Ezekiel 33, hoping that they would turn.

Jarius comes, he's been a strong man, successful, but God is going to do a work in his life and has brought him to his knees. God works through broken vessels, so he breaks us sometimes to teach us about his character and power and love. If you think you're standing on your own, woe to you, because you are going to fall.

So God keeps us broken. We'll Jarius pleads with Jesus, 'Jesus, come. My little girl.' And this is close to home for a Mom or a Dad when a child is near the point of death. So he is just hurting, you can imagine. That's Jarius, he just burdened. So Jesus goes with him. Jesus has more to teach him. But now he's finding hope as Jesus is walking with him. And then the crowd stops, I would image, much to the frustration of Jarius. But there's this lady and she's quite the picture of suffering, has this blood flow for 12 years. She was ceremonially unclean because of that so she was kept outside away from people because anyone she touched would become ceremonially unclean (for 24 hours). She's a lonely lady who's been seeking answers for 12 years. She's gone to people to get help and they've taken advantage of her, taking all her money for cures that didn't work. The Talmud had all these recipes for healing and none of them worked. They were just goofy if your were to read them, strange and bizarre, and none of them have worked. So she's suffered a long time. And now maybe she's in fear of man, untrusting, because of all that's happened to her. She presses through this crowd understanding that if she touches Jesus, he will heal her. And Jesus does. (Jesus can heal you at this very moment if you have an affliction. If he's not decided to do it, it's because he loves you and he's doing a work in you. But you are right in his loving control.) Well, this lady touches him and she is healed. And you see the situation where he turns around and says 'Who's touched me?' And the disciples are like, 'Hey, there's people all around. What are you talking about?' But this lady comes and says 'I've done it, you've healed me.' And he says to her, 'Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace.' The two go together, faith and peace. You walk in faith and you experience peace. If you walk in fear you miss out on the peace.

Well now Jarius, you can just imagine, he's so frustrated. If I were Jarius I would be throwing Jesus in the back seat of the car and doing 90 down the highway! We wouldn't be wasting time here for red lights or anything, we're going. But they stop. You can just image the struggle going on in his mind. And then the worst things comes, the people come from his house and say, 'Hey, it's too late. You've taken too long. Your daughter has died.' But Jesus has allowed that for a reason because he has something very important to show Jarius, and to show us. He says to Jarius, 'Don't be afraid, only believe.' Well as Jesus continues on, he takes a few of the inner guys and they go into this house. They actually have to go past this group who in that culture have been hired to just weep and wail. And he goes by and says 'Hey guys, why make all the commotion? The child isn't dead. The child's just sleeping. [And Paul calls death a sleep. Many might wonder if Jesus were telling a lie here, but he wasn't. Paul called death a sleep when he spoke of the resurrection, because to God, death is merely a sleep. To the very One who can raise the dead, death is nothing more than sleep. Jesus was speaking of a higher reality which this hired crowd couldn't comprehend.] And if you put the gospels together and in the Greek tense and everything, they ridiculed him and they continued to do it as he goes in the house. But he takes the family and this inner circle of disciples and they go to this bed, and he reaches to this little girl and he says 'Talitha Kuom,' which is 'Little girl, I say to you arise' or 'little lamb, arise.' And he speaks and this little girl who was dead gets up. And they fear, and people just marvel, overcome with amazement as Jesus raised this dead child back to life again.

You know, you and I don't have to fear death as God's kids. God wants to remind you here that there's nothing at all in your life, ever, to be afraid of. There's some healthy fear--fear of God, fear of sin, maybe a little fear for a moment where there's impending danger and he wants you to realize that. But afraid type fear where you don't have faith, you don't have to have that fear anymore. When you walk by faith you don't have to fear the storms, you don't have to fear suffering, you don't have to fear man, his rejections, we don't have to fear bondage's of the world, and we don't even have to fear death itself. And if you don't have to fear death, you and I can walk by faith. And to walk by faith is a life of peace. God wants you to have a peace that passes understanding."


content Editor Peter Benson -- no copyright, except where noted.  Please feel free to use this material for instruction and edification
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