Devotions on Mark 5:21-34
January 18-24, 2016
Monday, January 18, 2016
“Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jarius came and, when he saw him he fell at his feet” (Mark 5:22).
Jill entered the small hospital chapel and sat down. It had been a long time since she had visited a place of worship. Once she started settling into her college dorm room religion hadn’t seemed all that important. A diagnosis of cancer changed Jill’s perspective. She bowed her head and began to pray. Jamal’s wife had been blunt. If things didn’t change she would divorce him and take their three children. In the dark living room of his home, Jamal took account of his life. He had achieved the success and the wealth that he had craved. It had come at a high price, though, Jamal had neglected his wife and family and they had grown apart. His wife and children were not the only relationships he had neglected. Jamal had dropped away from church while he pursued his dreams. He hadn’t talked with God in a long, long time, but Jamal felt he needed to now.
As an official in the synagogue Jarius was most likely an opponent of Jesus. He would have been upset that Jesus had healed on the Sabbath and didn’t observe all of the rules that made a person righteous. Jarius had a need, however. His daughter was near death. In desperation Jarius ran to Jesus and begged him to come and heal his daughter. Without a moment’s hesitation Jesus followed Jarius to his home.
We may have wandered away from God for a long time. Things have become so messed up lately that we might wonder if God will ever forgive us. Perhaps like Peter, we feel that we have denied Jesus and we wonder what Jesus’ response to us will be. When we approach God we realize that God’s arms are wide open to embrace us. There is no condemnation only forgiveness and love.
Loving Lord, forgive us when we wander. Embrace us with your love and point us in the right direction. Amen.
Tuesday, January 19, 2016
“And begged him repeatedly” (Mark 5:23).
Mikey wanted a new bike. His was old and small. So, Mikey prayed daily asking the Lord to give him a new bike. Getting a new bike became the focal point of all Mikey’s prayers. Carolyn interviewed for a new position and a promotion. She really wanted to get them and Carolyn prayed fervently and constantly that she would be offered the position and promotion.
Jarius came to Jesus and begged him repeatedly to come and heal his daughter. Jarius was desperate. His daughter was near death. He needed to have Jesus come to his house immediately. Jesus turned and followed Jarius, but it wasn’t because of his begging.
We are much like Mikey, Carolyn and Jarius. When we want something or have a need it is frequently included in our prayers. We might think that God needs to be reminded of our situation. Perhaps we think that we will wear God down with our constant begging. God does answer our prayers and move in our lives. It isn’t because of the frequency or even the urgency of our prayers. God answers us because God loves us.
Precious Lord, thank you for your love. May it never cease to amaze us. Empower us to live and serve in the reality of your love. Amen.
Wednesday, January 20, 2016
“Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years” (Mark 5:25).
In Jewish eyes the woman was unclean. She should have separated herself from everyone until her bleeding stopped and she had gone through the process of purification. This was done regularly by the Jewish women. This woman, though, had been bleeding for twelve years—twelve years separated from family, friends and unable to worship.
Jesus had every right to push the woman away and ignore her pleas to be healed. Any religious person would have done so. Jesus, though, didn’t allow his “religion” to get in the way of his service. He saw the need and he heard the woman’s request. Affirming the woman’s actions, Jesus healed her. By doing so Jesus returned the woman to her family and friends and made it possible for her to worship again.
Jesus did not allow the pre-conceived notions of society limit his ministry. He healed people regardless of their standing in society or their agreement with his teaching. Jesus welcomed the outcasts, disenfranchised and ignored. Jesus heard the people’s cry for help and he met their needs. As those who have been called to carry on Jesus’ ministry we are challenged never to place limits on our service or constraints on God’s love.
Holy Spirit, Enable us to step out of our comfort zones and self-imposed restrictions in order to meet the needs before us. Amen.
Thursday, January 21, 2016
“If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well” (Mark 5:28).
As we read the verse today, it doesn’t seem too great an action by the woman to touch Jesus’ garment. After all, many of the crowd bumped into Jesus and touched him. They weren’t unclean, however. By touching Jesus the woman could have been severely punished. The woman demonstrated a certainty and boldness when she touched the hem of Jesus’ garment. The woman’s faith inspired her bold actions. She believed that Jesus had the power and authority to heal her. She also dared to trust that Jesus would not reject her, but would rather welcome her actions.
Martin Luther writes in his explanation to the Lord’s Prayer that we should approach the Lord with the same boldness that children approach their parents. Children believe that their parents are able to satisfy their needs. They also live in the knowledge that their parents love them deeply. With such a faith, children don’t hesitate to come to their parents. Neither should we be reluctant to enter into God’s presence with our requests as we place our faith in God’s power and love.
Oh God our Loving Parent, it is with thankful hearts that we rejoice in our ability to approach you with boldness. Prevent us from forgetting the expanse of your power and the steadfastness of your love. Amen.
Friday, January 23, 2016
“Do not fear only believe” (Mark 5:36).
Things were looking bad to Jarius. Some people came from his house to tell him that his daughter had died. The situation had suddenly turned hopeless for Jarius, but not for Jesus. Jesus turns to Jarius and speaks powerful words of encouragement and hope, “Do not fear, only believe.”
Many people think that the opposite of faith is doubt. Jesus, though, never says, “Do not doubt, only believe.” The admonition, “Do not fear,” however, is the most common command in the Bible.
Like Jarius we have all been in fear/faith situations. These situations may not have been life or death circumstances. The wolf was at our door, though, huffing and puffing and threatening to blow our houses down. We prayed and we prayed hard. Our dire condition was the sole subject of our prayers. We believed that the Lord would answer our prayers, but we were still scared. What were we afraid of? We were frightened that God would not answer our prayers or that God would answer them in a way different from what we wanted.
Jesus commanded Jarius to not dwell on the fate of his child or to lose hope because of other people’s words. Instead Jesus invited Jarius to look to him—to see Jesus’ love and power—and believe. Jesus invites us to do the same. When we look to Jesus our fear fades. We see God’s steadfast love and God’s power. We take comfort in the knowledge that no matter what happens—no matter how our prayer is answered—God is with us. Though what happens is beyond our control it is not greater than God.
God of All Creation, enable us to keep faith focused on you so that we may speak and act lovingly and boldly as we live in the reality of your steadfast love and power. Amen.
Saturday, January 24, 2016
“Little girl get up” (Mark 5:41)!
Without fanfare Jesus took the little girls hand and spoke four words that changed everything. “Little girl,” Jesus said, “get up.” Sickness and death were transformed by new life. Hopelessness was changed into a future that abounded in hope. Despair, discouragement and grief were changed into amazement. The little girl responded to Jesus’ command by getting up and walking around.
When Jesus touches our lives, his command to us is similar to the one he spoke to the little girl, “get up.” The situations have changed. We have been given new life. Rather than sit dazzled and amazed our response to God’s movement in our lives is to get up, love and serve. There is work to be done and needs to be met. We have been blessed so that we can be a blessing to others.
Gracious Lord, you have changed our mourning into dancing. May our dancing be an offering of thanksgiving and service that honors you. Amen.
Sunday, January 24, 2016
“’Why do you make a commotion and weep’” (Mark 5:39).
Doug look at the pile of medical bills on the table. There was no way that he was going to be able to pay them. Some of the bills were delinquent enough that they had been turned over to collection agencies. Doug was getting calls at all hours of the day or night threatening him with everything just short of bodily harm. Looking at the stack of bills Doug let out a tired sigh. The longer he looked at the pile the more depressed and discouraged he became. Lamar and Linda were at their wits end. Their son was in full stage teenage rebellion. He had become involved with the wrong crowd and was drinking and partying. He grades were in the pits. Lamar and Linda didn’t know what to do and the more they worried about their son the more hopeless the situation became.
When Jesus arrived at Jarius’ home there was quite a commotion. Family and friends were weeping and wailing over the death of Jairus’ young daughter. All they could see was the harshness of a child’s death. It wasn’t fair and it wasn’t right. The situation they saw was hopeless. They weren’t looking at Jesus.
There are times when the obstacles with which we are confronted appear to be insurmountable. Like the people at Jarius’ home, there are situations that we have experienced were all we do is make a commotion and weep. We are disciples of Jesus and children of God. There is no situation that is hopeless and no obstacle that is insurmountable. Jesus walked passed the weeping and wailing into the little girl’s room. There he brought new life. Jesus did that then and he does that now.
Lord of Life, enable us to turn our attention from our problems on to you. Bring new life into our lives. Amen.