Extra Thoughts on Mark 6:1-6

If you haven’t yet listened to this week’s sermon, find it here. In this week’s passage, we read, “Isn’t this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And aren’t his sisters here with us?” So they were offended by him.” (Mark 6:3, CSB).

Jesus Had Siblings

We find these siblings of Jesus elsewhere in Scripture. We know that James saw Christ resurrected (1 Cor. 15:7), became a believer, and wrote the book that bears his name. The brother “Judas” mentioned in this passage is also likely the author of the book of Jude. While these brothers eventually came to be Christ-followers, they were not always so.


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Additional Thoughts: Mark 5:21-43

 This Week’s Message

In this week’s message on Mark 5:21-43, we encountered two who needed a healing touch from Jesus. If you missed the sermon, you can find it here. Scholars debate whether these two demonstrated much faith by going to Jesus or little faith by believing that He had to physically touch the ill in order to heal them. I refuse to make such a judgment about the faith of others, knowing that my own faith is often weak. It is enough to say that both Jairus and this unnamed woman had the faith to seek Jesus to meet their needs.
 

 Touching His Garment

Note that the unnamed woman with an issue of blood for twelve years said, “If I touch even his garments, I’ll be made well.” (5:28, ESV). She was, in fact, healed immediately upon touching his garments. So, was the healing power in Christ’s garment? Seventeenth-century priest Cornelius a Lapide asserted, “There is here an example and proof of the use and efficacy of holy relics. For of such a nature was the hem or fringe of Christ which healed her that had the issue of blood.” Some might also use the case of Acts 19:12 where people were healed by cloths that had touched Apostle Paul’s skin. We cannot ignore, however, that the first part of the sentence, in verse 11, reminds us that “God was performing extraordinary miracles by Paul’s hands.” Was the power in Paul’s hands, or cloths that he had touched?
 

 Where is the Power?

We cannot assert that these cloths, or Jesus’ clothing, held some mystical healing power outside of God’s control. Mark reminds us that when the woman touched Jesus, He felt the power leave Him. The healing was not in his robe, but in Christ Himself. The same with Paul’s discarded handkerchiefs: the power was God’s all along. If the woman did not know that the power was in Jesus instead of His clothing, she certainly figured it out when He confronted her.
 

Avoiding Idolatry

We have to take care that objects and people God uses for His purpose do not become idols. Numbers 21 tells of a time when the Israelites were grumbling on their journey. God sent poisonous snakes into their camp. He commanded Moses to make a bronze serpent affixed to a pole. When a person was bitten, he/she could look at the serpent to avoid death. By the time of King Hezekiah, in 2 Kings 18, this serpent had to be destroyed. People were worshiping it instead of God. Something that had been preserved as a reminder of God’s providence impeded worship of Him. 

We must be careful that objects that are meant to help our worship of God do not become objects that we worship instead of God. Things like our church buildings, worship music, Bible translations, favorite devotionals, and even preachers can either point us to God or distract us from Him. The power is not in our objects; the power is in Christ. We do well to remember that.



More Thoughts: Mark 5:1-20

This week’s sermon focused on Mark 5:1-20, the Gerasene demoniac. If you have not listened to it, it is available here.  Matthew 8:28-34 and Luke 8:26-39 also cover this event, with slightly different details. While the details may not match exactly, we can be certain that Jesus really did cast many demons out of a particular man.

Where It Happened

Mark (along with Luke) mentions the region of the Gerasenes, which was a part of the Decapolis (ten cities). Matthew calls it the region of the Gadarenes. Both Gerasa and Gadara were cities in the Decapolis, although Gerasa was 30 miles inland. While some scholars will assume that Mark was incorrect with his location, Henry Turlington notes that a village named “Khersa” is found to have been located near to the shore and was subject to Gadara, which means that both accounts can be factually true. We know that after his demons had been cast out, the man told people throughout the Decapolis.

How Many Men

Matthew’s account gives two demon-possessed men instead of one. Does this mean that someone had their facts wrong? I’m of the opinion that two possessed men were present, but that one was much more violent. This is the one that Peter was telling Mark about. This one, dressed and in his right mind, was the one who begged Jesus to allow him to follow Him. This simply stood out more to Peter. Remember that we are reading the accounts of two eyewitnesses. No two people who see the same thing will tell it in exactly the same way, even if they are both telling the truth.

How Many Pigs

Mark records that the pigs were a “herd of about two thousand.” Matthew and Luke do not give this detail. Some would argue that Mark is prone to exaggeration, such as in 1:33 when he claims that “the whole city was gathered at the door,” for Jesus to heal them after casting out a demon in the synagogue. This likely was figurative. The two thousand pigs may have been Peter’s best guess of how many, or he could have heard one of the owners claim it was that many. This is not important to the story. What is important is that Jesus allowed these demons to enter the pigs, freeing the man from the demons that were tormenting him. As a result, Jesus had the witness there of the former demoniac and also those who had observed what Jesus had done. This helped to spread his fame throughout the Decapolis, even if the people there had rejected him. We can also spread the fame of Jesus in a land that has rejected Him. In fact, we must.




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