IIT UBF - University Bible Fellowship at IIT




Just Believe

Date: Jun. 17, 2007

Author: Bob Henkins

Mark 5:21-43

Key Verse: Mark 5:36

“Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, ‘Don’t be afraid; just believe.’”

In today’s passage we learn about 2 very different people, a wealthy synagogue ruler and a nameless woman. They were separated by society but tied together by Jesus. In acts of desperation they come to Jesus and experience his amazing healing power. Through this they learn personally what it means to “Just believe.” Through these 2 events in this passage we see Jesus is a wonderful shepherd, full of love and power to solve the most chronic and impossible problems. May God help us to hear Jesus’ voice to don’t be afraid and just believe. 

I. A Desperate Plea (21-24a)

In the previous passage Jesus was kicked out of the Gerasenes but when he returns to Galilee he is welcomed by a crowd. Let’s read verses 21-23. “When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake. Then one of the synagogue rulers, named Jairus, came there. Seeing Jesus, he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, "My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live." The crowd had been expecting Jesus and they could not wait for his return. I don’t know how the people knew that Jesus was coming, but they came to him to hear his teaching and be healed of their sicknesses. They loved Jesus because he loved them. Everyone tried to get as close to him as possible. As Jesus was addressing the crowd just then a man named Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue, came and fell at Jesus’ feet. Why would a ruler of the synagogue come and throw himself at the feet of a local carpenter? It was a surprising scene.

The synagogue was the center of the Jewish community and Jairus was the local synagogue ruler. He was a man of wealth with many servants and influence in the community. People usually came to him if they needed help but now he needed help. Jairus’ daughter, a girl of about 12, was dying. This was his only daughter, the apple of his eye, and he was losing her. What could he do? Oh how he loved his little girl and he smiled as he remembered how she played with her Becky doll. ( because the Jews didn’t have Barbie dolls) When he looked at his daughter’s dying body his heart sank as he was over whelmed with fear and sorrow.

At that moment he remembered a story he heard about Jesus who healed the sick and preached the kingdom of God. In his final act of desperation he rushed out to find Jesus in hopes of saving his only daughter. When Jarius found Jesus he fell before him and pleaded with him to come to his house. Jairus was a proud man not used to begging for anything. He had to overcome his pride to throw himself to the ground and plead in front of the whole community. It must have been humiliating but it did not matter to him now. The only thing in his mind was the image of his dying daughter and he was willing to do anything, anything at all, if only she could be healed.

Here we see the deep love Jairus had for his daughter. This love bond could not be broken. This love enabled Jairus to do things he never imagined. This love gave Jairus strength to overcome all the things that keep us locked within our cells of limitation. It was not easy for a synagogue ruler to come with Jesus. First of all he risked his career to come to Jesus for help. The Pharisees had publicly slandered Jesus and were planning to kill him. By going to Jesus, he would appear to be siding with Jesus and opposing the religious establishment. And secondly, it was undignified for a synagogue ruler to be on the ground, or to beg, but his deep love helped Jairus to go beyond his limitations. Look at verse 24 a, “So Jesus went with him.” When Jesus saw Jairus’ love for his daughter and his humbleness, Jesus’ heart was moved and he accepted Jairus’ plea and started for his house. This love that Jairus demonstrates is the same love that God has for each of us. God loves us as Jairus loved his daughter. God was willing to do anything to demonstrate his love for us, even though it meant sacrificing his only Son. God went to the extreme so that we could come back to the kingdom of heaven with him. Thank God for his love for us.

II. Healed By Faith (25-34)

When Jairus learned Jesus had accepted his plea, he must have been elated. First of all to find Jesus was not an easy thing to do because Jesus was constantly moving from here to there with his disciples and withdrawing to lonely places to pray. And back then they didn’t have Google maps or a GPS to locate Jesus. But Jairus found him and Jesus was on the way to his house. There were still so many people gathering around Jesus and Jairus that the crowds almost crushed them. Then something happened to stop their trip. Let’s read verses 24b-29 ”A large crowd followed and pressed around him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, "If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed." Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.” As the crowds pressed closer and closer an unseen person, a woman in the crowd, stretched out her hand and just touched the edge of Jesus’ cloak. There is so much commotion and it happens so fast it almost goes unnoticed. But at that instant a miracle happens and at the same time Jairus groans in agony.

Twelve years earlier this nameless woman was a very different person. She was young, vibrant and full of hope. But then her problem began. We don’t know exactly what it was, only that she had been subject to bleeding. At first she thought it was nothing and that it would stop soon. But days turned into weeks, weeks into months and months into years. She went to one doctor after another but no one could heal her. This went on for twelve long years. A lot happens during that time, for example, twelve years ago my son David wasn’t even born yet. All the while this woman suffered from unstoppable bleeding. Now, she was no longer a young woman. She had no money and was running out of hope. Not only was she weak from loss of blood, but her illness made her a shameful social outcast, as she was regarded as unclean according to the Jewish law. Because of her bleeding problem she could not go out into public and secluded herself. She felt incredibly lonely wondering if God cared about her. She almost gave in to her doomed fate but she remembered a story about Jesus who heals the sick and preaches the kingdom of God. And like Jairus she sets out in search of Jesus to be healed.

In order for her to come to Jesus she had to overcome many obstacles. She had to overcome her self consciousness, self condemnation and fear. This woman is like a lot of people who have a secret problem that they never want anyone to know. Not only that, she tried everything to solve her chronic problem and nothing worked. Why would Jesus be any different? When this woman heard about Jesus, something happened in her heart. Faith came in and began to take root. Faith came through hearing about Jesus. It produced action in her life. The power of faith compelled her to leave her house, fight through the crowd and touch Jesus’ cloak. It was not easy to get through the crowd. Many big, strong men were pushing to be close to Jesus. Yet, somehow this woman broke through and touched Jesus. It was the power of faith. She decided to secretly sneak in, from the back, that way no one would see her. That way she could slip in, touch him, and get out of there as fast as she could. This was her plan. It seems so small, almost nothing, but it was her act of faith and the result was miraculous. Her act shows she really believed Jesus could heal her. Verse 29 says that immediately her bleeding stopped. Jesus’ divine healing power went out to her and amazingly she was completely healed. Her blood stained body was made as white as snow. The beauty of her youth shone bright, like the dawn of a new day and she felt like a new woman because Jesus healed her. Like this woman, we all have obstacles that keep us from coming to Jesus. Things like, self reliance, peer pressure, or unbelief. But we can’t let these things rule our life. We must learn from this woman and overcome our obstacles by the power of faith.

Now she hoped that she could get out of there with out anyone noticing. Let’s read verses 30-31. “At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, "Who touched my clothes?" “You see the people crowding against you," his disciples answered, "and yet you can ask, 'Who touched me?' “ Maybe the disciples thought it was a silly question, because probably all of them touched him. His disciples tried to play it off but Jesus would not let the issue go. Even though many people touched him his power only went out to this one woman. Her touch was unlike all the rest, her touch was special. Many people may hang around Jesus. But only the touch of faith releases Jesus’ power. Jesus pays attention to those who have faith. Jesus was determined to find her.

Let’s read verses 32-34. “But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. Jesus knew that the woman was not completely healed. She had been healed physically, but not spiritually. If her inner person was not healed she could not be made whole she would still suffer inwardly. After all those years of suffering she must have had really low self esteem. She received Jesus’ power to heal her body but she needed to receive Jesus’ love. A personal love relationship with Jesus would heal her soul. To the world, this woman was unimportant, she didn’t even have a name, but she was so important to Jesus that he was willing to stop everything to meet her.

This time was more difficult for her to come to Jesus. The first time she snuck in like a shop lifter, got what she wanted and left. Now she was trembling as she fell in front of him. She was in the presence of all the people something that terrified her. Not only that, she had to confess something that was so shameful. She had to tell why she touched Jesus. If she was so fearful, how could she come to Jesus and expose her shame? Partly because of Jesus’ authority and partly out of her thankfulness of being healed. She sensed Jesus’ shepherd love for her, and he wanted to hear her story. When she had a love relationship with Jesus she was completely healed. This was her confession of faith. Jesus said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” It was her faith that lead her to Jesus. It was her faith that helped her overcome those obstacles. It was her faith that healed her. At Jesus’ words peace flooded her suffering soul.

Here we see the amazing grace of Jesus. Even though Jesus was on an urgent mission he stopped to help this lonely suffering woman. Jesus was willing to spend time with her. Through Jesus we can see the God’s mighty power. With a touch she was completely healed. Through this we learn that we must have faith to bring our problems to Jesus and believe that he can help us. No matter what we are suffering from, Jesus is willing to help and he loves us personally. He has power to heal us if only we come to him with faith.

III. Just Believe (35-43)

All the while Jesus was healing this woman Jairus was waiting wondering, “When are we going to get moving again?!” To Jairus it must have felt like an eternity. Like being stuck in traffic when you are late for something. Then came the words he never wanted to hear. Let’s read verse 35. “While Jesus was still speaking, some men came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. "Your daughter is dead," they said. "Why bother the teacher any more? " This must have hit Jairus like a ton of bricks. This was his worst fear. He tried his best but he would have to live with the fact his daughter was dead. At this, Jairus fell into fear and unbelief. Let’s read verse 36. “Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, "Don't be afraid; just believe." (read it again)

Jesus ignored what they said and challenged him to believe. How could he believe right after he heard that his daughter was dead? This was a crucial moment, there was a battle going on in his heart. Was he going to believe Jesus or was he going to fall into despair? The evidence told him she was dead and at the same time Jesus told him to “just believe.” Still the question remained, how? Illness is one thing but death is so final. Did Jesus want Jairus to turn his brain off and not think? I don’t believe so. What I think Jesus wanted Jairus to do was to overcome his circumstances and experience the power of God.

Jesus wanted him to learn that faith is not a matter of seeing but of believing. Most people have to see to believe but the Bible says faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. If something is already tangible then we don’t really need faith to believe it. So to “just believe” is a decision we have to make. It is not based on emotions or evidence or what we can see with our eyes. It is simply a decision to trust God. To do so we have overcome our fear.

That’s why Jesus said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid.” Jairus’ real enemy was the fear in his heart. This fear comes from Satan, who gives the spirit of fear. If Jairus had succumbed to fear, he would become Satan’s prisoner. Jesus challenged his fear saying, “Don’t be afraid.” Jesus does not want us to be afraid no matter what the situation may be. President Roosevelt said, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” He understood that we must fight against the fear in our hearts first, before we can win the victory over the world. We must realize that fear is like spiritual poison. We must never give in to the devil’s fear under any circumstance.

A modern day example of just believing faith can be found in a Ukrainian UBF shepherd named Vladimir Point Levitsky. He prayed that God would send him as a missionary to the Muslim world. But he had no way to do it. He made a decision of faith and moved his young family to Istanbul Turkey. He had no home, no job and getting into the university seemed impossible. In addition, Muslim rejection of the gospel seemed even more daunting. He had no coworkers, but with Just believing faith and invited student to Bible study. Now God has granted him a discipleship ministry among Muslim students. There are many others who have done the same, James Hwang and the Peaces.

What happened when Jairus overcame his fear and unbelief and believed in Jesus’ words? Let’s read verses 37-40a. “He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. When they came to the home of the synagogue ruler, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. He went in and said to them, "Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep." But they laughed at him.” When Jesus arrived at Jairus’ house all the people were wailing and mourning. It was a heart breaking scene. The house was filled with the spirit of death. It must have been especially hard to believe at this time. Jesus rebuked the crowd saying “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” But the crowd laughed at him because they knew she was dead, for they saw it with their own eyes. The crowd could not believe because they only trusted what the saw. They did not have any faith in Jesus.

Look at verses 40b-43. “After he put them all out, he took the child's father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, "Talitha koum!" (which means, "Little girl, I say to you, get up!" ). Immediately the girl stood up and walked around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat.” We know that Jesus is a good shepherd because he knows young people are always hungry. He also seems to use food to prove that people are ok. Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat. Her parents were astonished, but he gave them strict orders not to tell anyone what had happened.”

Here we can see that Jesus revealed the glory of God. Jesus has power to raise the dead. Jesus wants us to learn to have faith in an impossible situation. Jesus wants us to overcome our fear and unbelief and put our hope and trust in him. Jesus wants us to have “Just believing faith.” No matter what kind of problems we have we can bring them to Jesus and he will help us. One of my first big tests of faith came from a court case that I was involved in. At that time I was involved in a car accident when I was driving my car. A woman hit my car and my friend was almost killed. As a result there was a law suit. My future was at stake. It was a time to have faith in God but it was not easy. I still remember sitting out in the hallway while the attorneys and judge were debating the case. My lawyer came out and said, “It looks bad for you,” then he went back inside. I was so afraid and began to pray to God in earnest. After a few minutes he returned and said, “now it looks better.” Then I stopped praying. After a few minutes he came back and said, “now it looks bad again.” In fear I started to pray again. He returned and said, “It looks good again.” This happened about three times, back and forth, before I realized that I needed to keep praying to the end. This is a true story. I think God was trying to teach me to just believe and my prayer was a measure of my faith. In the end God protected me and saved me from certain doom. But to continue to live with “just believing” faith is not easy. Still even now when I am challenged to “just believe” even in my job situation fear tries to hold me. Even now, many of us face personal problems in our life or ministry. These problems stand before us like a giant. How are you going to react? Jesus wants us to over come our situation, whatever it may be, and believe in him. Lets hear Jesus’ words today, “Don’t be afraid, just believe.”

In today’s passage we see what a wonderful shepherd Jesus is. He takes time to stop and heal a lonely suffering woman restoring her completely. In the process he helps one man to over come his fear and unbelief. And finally we see the awesome power Jesus has to raise the dead. Jesus is full of love and power to solve the most chronic and impossible problems if we only come to him in faith. We have no reason to fear or doubt just believe. May God grant us faith that overcomes fear and unbelief. Let’s read verse 36 again, “Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, "Don't be afraid; just believe. "


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