Mark 1-5 Continued...
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
'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."
"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 http://www.amazon.com
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."