Mark 5:1-20 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Jesus Heals the Gerasene Demoniac
They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. And when he had stepped out of the boat, immediately a man out of the tombs with an unclean spirit met him. He lived among the tombs; and no one could restrain him any more, even with a chain; for he had often been restrained with shackles and chains, but the chains he wrenched apart, and the shackles he broke in pieces; and no one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always howling and bruising himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and bowed down before him; and he shouted at the top of his voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” For he had said to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion; for we are many.” He begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. Now there on the hillside a great herd of swine was feeding; and the unclean spirits begged him, “Send us into the swine; let us enter them.” So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea, and were drowned in the sea.
The swineherds ran off and told it in the city and in the country. Then people came to see what it was that had happened. They came to Jesus and saw the demoniac sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, the very man who had had the legion; and they were afraid. Those who had seen what had happened to the demoniac and to the swine reported it. Then they began to beg Jesus to leave their neighborhood. As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed by demons begged him that he might be with him. But Jesus refused, and said to him, “Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and what mercy he has shown you.” And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed.
The first 20 verses of Mark tell a very interesting story. The first verse informs us that Jesus and his disciples “went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes.” The lake they crossed was the Sea of Galilee. Jesus took his disciples out of their known, Jewish world, across a treacherous lake, to the predominantly Greek town of Gerasa, part of the Decapolis. There, they met a man possessed by impure spirits. Jesus healed the man, sending the spirits into a herd of pigs where they promptly drowned themselves. To our modern ears it’s a very weird story, but notice this: Jesus called his followers out of their comfortable and familiar world, to go to an unknown place, where they ministered to the distressed and oppressed. Perhaps God isn’t calling you to cross a great sea, or be like Mother Teresa, who left her native land at 18 never to return. But maybe he’s calling you to show compassion to the least of these, to minister to the downtrodden, in the foreign and alien places right here in Central Florida. A few ideas? The Family Promise ministry offers help to the homeless. Restoration Circle serves those impacted by human trafficking. [anything else we want to add?]
Mark 5:21-43 focus on 5:25-34 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
A Girl Restored to Life and a Woman Healed
When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.” So he went with him.
And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?’” He looked all around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?” But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. When he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. Then he put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!” And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.
Jesus Raises a Dead Girl and Heals a Sick Woman
Key line: “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”
My Response: In Dr. Eben Alexander’s book, Proof of Heaven, he talks about the placebo effect, specifically how researchers have to overcome the 30% or so benefit attributed to a patient believing they were receiving helpful medicine. Often this is viewed as an obstacle to the study. What if we paused here instead and said, my goodness, look at the underlying power of belief! What if truly believing is like touching Jesus’ clothes? Jesus tells us that freedom from our suffering is not only possible, but something he deeply desires for us. Will it look the exact way we want it to? Maybe not, but if we truly believe in the healing peace only God brings, it is ours.
Mark 6:1-29 focus on 6:14-29 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
The Rejection of Jesus at Nazareth
He left that place and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. And he was amazed at their unbelief.
The Mission of the Twelve
Then he went about among the villages teaching. He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.
The Death of John the Baptist
King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known. Some were saying, “John the baptizer has been raised from the dead; and for this reason these powers are at work in him.” But others said, “It is Elijah.” And others said, “It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” But when Herod heard of it, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.”
For Herod himself had sent men who arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because Herod had married her. For John had been telling Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he protected him. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed; and yet he liked to listen to him. But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and for the leaders of Galilee. When his daughter Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it.” And he solemnly swore to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.” She went out and said to her mother, “What should I ask for?” She replied, “The head of John the baptizer.” Immediately she rushed back to the king and requested, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” The king was deeply grieved; yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her. Immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb.
Guarding Our Words
Mark 6:14-29 is a graphic scene that recalls what happens to John the Baptist as Jesus continues to grow in renown throughout the land. King Herod is put into an impossible situation and was “greatly distressed” when his respect of John comes into conflict with an oath made to a guest at his birthday banquet. This oath was unbreakable, and made under circumstances that were not the most righteous. What can we gain from this telling of John the Baptist’s death? Perhaps we can reflect on how what we say matters, and because it matters, we should guard our words carefully. At times we become caught up in an emotional response to a situation, and we may speak out of turn, or say something we didn’t intend. Other times we say things and never fully realize the extent or effect the words have on a person. Let us not fall into the same predicament as King Herod, and be mindful of the power words have, so that we might live into the fullness of what God has for us.
Psalm 141:3 “Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips.”
Mark 6:30-44 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Feeding the Five Thousand
The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. When it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now very late; send them away so that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy something for themselves to eat.” But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” They said to him, “Are we to go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread, and give it to them to eat?” And he said to them, “How many loaves have you? Go and see.” When they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” Then he ordered them to get all the people to sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups of hundreds and of fifties. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and he divided the two fish among them all. And all ate and were filled; and they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. Those who had eaten the loaves numbered five thousand men.
How often do we find ourselves exhausted and desire to withdraw and rest? Perhaps it’s just my personality, but I have this feeling all the time. Today, I read that God is a God of plenty. Even though Jesus and the disciples were heading for rest when the crowd waylaid them, God provided plenty with which to feed them and all the people. My prayer today is that we all experience even a taste of the abundance God holds for us, and in turn can share that grace with someone else.
~ David Witwer
Mark 6:45-56 focus on 6:45-52 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Jesus Walks on the Water
Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. After saying farewell to them, he went up on the mountain to pray.
When evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. When he saw that they were straining at the oars against an adverse wind, he came towards them early in the morning, walking on the sea. He intended to pass them by. But when they saw him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost and cried out; for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” Then he got into the boat with them and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.
Healing the Sick in Gennesaret
When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored the boat. When they got out of the boat, people at once recognized him, and rushed about that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.
This passage teaches us the lesson of faith during a storm. Everyone will experience times of adversity and hardship, and it may feel like God has abandoned us. But we have hope: Jesus is aware of and concerned about our struggles. He is present with us in the storm. All we need to do is invite him into our boat.
Photo: The Storm on the Sea of Galilee, Rembrandt
*The Scriptural passages are selected from the Lectionary on Mark, Year B. As a result some of the passages will be out of the normal order they are usually read.
Promiseland Toy Box
Serving During Lent
- #LunchBag – 10:00am-12:00pm
Working with Stacey Marini and her volunteer team, we will assemble 200-300 bagged lunches and deliver to the homeless in downtown Orlando. This is a great event for family members of all ages, truly acting as the hands & feet of Christ in serving others.
- Open House – 10:00am-2:00pm
Take a tour of our campus to see the new home for TCA.
- Free Lunch Food! – 11:00am-2:00pm