Flashback Episode — Interrupted By Faith: Mark 5:24-34

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As we continue forward through the gospels looking at the miracles Jesus did to help people, we come to a set of miracles that are both completely unrelated, but also connected. During this episode and the next one, we will look at these two miracles. About the only reason these two miracles are connected is because of their proximity to one another. Other than this, these miracles are about as opposite of each other as we could find. About the only thing that connects these two miracles is the simple detail that Jesus does one miracle while on the way to do the other.

For this reason, I debated which miracle to focus on first. While the event and verses surrounding the miracle that happened second begin first, I ultimately decided to focus on the miracle that happened first. The first miracle to happen would otherwise be unknown if it weren’t for Jesus treating this miracle as a necessary interruption while on His way to help with the other situation in need.

Let’s read what happened. Our passage is found in the gospel of Mark, chapter 5, and we will be reading from the New Century Version. Jumping into this event in the second part of verse 24, Mark tells us that:

24b A large crowd followed Jesus and pushed very close around him. 25 Among them was a woman who had been bleeding for twelve years. 26 She had suffered very much from many doctors and had spent all the money she had, but instead of improving, she was getting worse. 27 When the woman heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his coat. 28 She thought, “If I can just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” 29 Instantly her bleeding stopped, and she felt in her body that she was healed from her disease.

30 At once Jesus felt power go out from him. So he turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”

31 His followers said, “Look at how many people are pushing against you! And you ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ”

32 But Jesus continued looking around to see who had touched him. 33 The woman, knowing that she was healed, came and fell at Jesus’ feet. Shaking with fear, she told him the whole truth. 34 Jesus said to her, “Dear woman, you are made well because you believed. Go in peace; be healed of your disease.”

In this miracle, we discover something amazing as we see what Jesus does here. While almost everyone present in this event is clueless to the thought that a miracle has actually occurred, and while this woman would rather remain anonymous, Jesus insists on shining the spotlight on this situation. If Jesus had ignored the sense that power had gone from Him, or if He had simply honored the woman’s desire to remain secret, we would never have this amazing example of faith.

When reading this passage, we discover that Jesus knew very well what was happening around Him, and we discover through the story of this woman that she had tried everything else she could think of before placing her hope, faith, and belief in Jesus. When the medicine of that era had failed her, this woman knew that Jesus could help.

In an interesting way, this woman’s desire to remain anonymous actually puts more emphasis on this miracle than if she had looked for a more normal opportunity to ask for healing. If this woman had come for help along with a crowd of others during one of the events when Jesus was teaching, preaching, and healing, we might also never know her story. If this woman had looked for a miracle in any other way, we might never know she was healed.

Through this woman’s healing, we discover that faith in Jesus doesn’t need to be extraordinary for it to result in a miracle. Instead, this woman’s faith in Jesus could be described as a persistent, determined faith. Granted, maybe in today’s culture and world, a persistent, determined faith actually is extraordinary when we look out at the culture of the Christian church. Unfortunately, we don’t see extraordinary levels of faith from people sitting in pews, or even from most of those standing up front, like we might have in previous years. When the church faced struggles and trials, faith was clearly present, but when the church gains status and comfort, the faith of Christian believers suffers.

This woman’s faith was so persistent and determined that she pushed through the crowd of people who were pushing to be near Jesus while Jesus was hurrying as best He could to help someone else who needed help. She had determined that all she needed to do to know whether Jesus could help her is for her to simply touch the edge of His robe. At this point in Jesus’ ministry, the crowds likely were well aware that any illness, defect, deformity, or even death could not diminish Jesus’ power from God for healing and helping others. The woman, knowing all of this, knew Jesus was well able to heal people of significantly worse diseases than she faced, and because of this, she knew that simply touching Jesus in the least significant way would be just enough to significantly improve her situation.

It is this faith that Jesus wanted to showcase, and the only way He can do this is if He stops everything and everyone to bring this miracle into the open. While the clock is ticking and the situation Jesus was on His way to help was growing more bleak by the minute, Jesus is more interested in focusing on the example that this woman can give all of us regarding faith in Jesus.

When seeing how persistent Jesus was on bringing this woman’s story to the spotlight, we discover that Jesus was just as persistent as this woman was at pushing her way through the crowd. Jesus focused on bringing this woman’s story to the spotlight because in this story, we discover a faith that God wants us to model in our own lives. While it is easy for us to live as lukewarm Christians with little to no faith in today’s world, God warns us that living without faith is significantly worse than we might realize.

Like the first disciples and the early church learned through this miracle, God is looking for a people who are determined, persistent, and won’t back down when their faith is challenged. God is looking for His people, living today, to be persistent, passionate, and determined to live our lives with a faith that will not be shaken by anything that comes our way. We are called to live with a faith that leads us into eternity.

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

Always seek God first and intentionally place your faith, hope, trust, and belief in Him. Choose to follow and obey God regardless of what the world, or even tradition, teaches. Choose to place your faith in Jesus and in what the Bible has revealed to us from His word.

To learn and know what this is, always pray and study the Bible for yourself and filter everything you learn through the truth the Bible teaches. While a speaker, pastor, author, blogger, or podcaster can give you ideas you can think about, only trust it if it aligns with the truth the Bible teaches. God plans to keep us safe through eternity, and this means that He is more than capable of keeping His truth alive in the Bible through a few thousand years.

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, chicken out of, or abandon where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Flashback Episode: Year of Miracles – Episode 20: While going to help someone, Jesus is interrupted by the sense that power had gone out from Him. If you do not know what happened, or even if you do, discover how this almost unknown event shapes how God wants His people to live their lives of faith in Him.

Join the discussion on the original episode's page: Click Here.

Faith Needed: Mark 6:1-6

Focus Passage: Mark 6:1-6 (GNT)

Jesus left that place and went back to his hometown, followed by his disciples. On the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue. Many people were there; and when they heard him, they were all amazed. “Where did he get all this?” they asked. “What wisdom is this that has been given him? How does he perform miracles? Isn’t he the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon? Aren’t his sisters living here?” And so they rejected him.

Jesus said to them, “Prophets are respected everywhere except in their own hometown and by their relatives and their family.”

He was not able to perform any miracles there, except that he placed his hands on a few sick people and healed them. He was greatly surprised, because the people did not have faith.

Then Jesus went to the villages around there, teaching the people.

Read Mark 6:1-6 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

During one of Jesus’ return trips to Nazareth, He visits and teaches at His home synagogue. The people were amazed and impressed with what Jesus had said, but this led them to be skeptical towards Him instead of believing in Him.

Mark tells us that those in the synagogue asked, “Where did he get all this? What wisdom is this that has been given him? How does he perform miracles?” (v. 2b)

These people had a dilemma. They knew Jesus (the boy) and Jesus (the carpenter’s apprentice) very well. They didn’t know Jesus the Messiah. With the group of followers Jesus brought with Him came Jesus’ reputation of being a miracle worker, and this didn’t fit with their picture of a former carpenter. Becoming Messiah was not the next step up above carpenter for these people.

These people were more interested in figuring out the trick Jesus must be pulling than on simply having faith. They wanted to discover the secret to how He could perform miracles rather than accept that His miracles were performed because there was faith present.

This passage concludes in a fascinating way: After the synagogue service, Jesus stayed to help people, but “He was not able to perform any miracles there, except that he placed his hands on a few sick people and healed them. He was greatly surprised, because the people did not have faith.” (v. 5-6)

The people rejected Jesus as being worthy of faith, and because of this, their desire to uncover the source of Jesus’ miraculous ability (the Holy Spirit) was hidden from them. Nothing Jesus could do would be able to break the preconceived ideas about Him that these people had in their minds, and because of this, only a few people out of the hundreds of people needing help were actually helped.

This wasn’t Jesus’ fault. It was the fault of the people present. These people didn’t think a former carpenter was capable of helping them. They lacked faith in God and faith in Jesus, and that is why we read that Jesus “was not able to perform” miracles. (v. 5)

While Jesus knew that God could heal those who were sick and hurting, He needed some faith from the people present, and in Nazareth, there was little to no faith.

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus "Reflective Bible Study" package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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Looking for Faith: Mark 7:31-37

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As we continue our journey through Mark’s gospel, we come to a miracle that only Mark includes in his gospel. For one reason or another, Matthew, Luke, and John don’t include this miracle, but when we look a little closer at what happened, we discover some fascinating details within this event.

With that said, let’s dive into the passage and discover what we can learn. Our event and passage for this episode is found in Mark’s gospel, chapter 7, and we will be reading from the New International Version. Starting in verse 31, Mark tells us:

31 Then Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and went through Sidon, down to the Sea of Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis. 32 There some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged Jesus to place his hand on him.

33 After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue. 34 He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means “Be opened!”). 35 At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly.

36 Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone. But the more he did so, the more they kept talking about it. 37 People were overwhelmed with amazement. “He has done everything well,” they said. “He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

Within this miracle and event, I find it fascinating that Jesus takes this man aside, and away from the crowd. On the surface, this detail and decision doesn’t seem that practical or very relevant. After all, who cared if Jesus healed the man with a crowd around or not. What mattered more than anything else is that Jesus could and did heal people like this man.

However, if we write Jesus’ actions off as being unnecessary, especially since the crowd does learn of this healing at the end of the passage, then we will likely miss some key details that lead us to the most likely reason in my mind for Jesus to take this man away from the crowd.

Actually, there are two reasons that I can think of for pulling the man away from the crowd.

The first reason is that nothing in this passage suggests that this man came on his own. Instead, the opposite is described. The passage opens very clearly saying that a group of people brought this man to Jesus. While this man likely had trouble communicating from his set of disabilities, the impression I see when reading this is that this group of people wanted to see Jesus perform a miracle even more than this man wanted to be healed.

Don’t misunderstand this idea. I believe this man did want to be healed, and he likely wanted to be healed really badly, but everything in how Mark describes this event when setting the stage for it focuses us on the detail that other people initiated this event rather than the disabled man himself. Because of this, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the group of people who brought this man to Jesus were more interested in seeing a miracle than on seeing this particular individual be healed.

When this group found Jesus, Jesus ultimately has a dilemma. Jesus sees the disabled man and He wants to help this man be restored. However, Jesus also knows that a simple healing miracle will satisfy selfish-desires on the part of the crowd, and this miracle could be held up as an example of Jesus seeking His own glory for this healing.

The path Jesus takes is a brilliant one. Instead of healing this man directly, with the crowd present, which would have been the simplest and easiest option, Jesus decides to help this man, but do it away from those who are selfishly wanting to see a miracle. This decision results in the man being healed and shown God’s love while those who brought the man to Jesus only get the satisfaction of knowing they helped the man receive Jesus’ help.

I believe this group of people wanted to glorify Jesus apart from glorifying God, and Jesus wanted to avoid this as much as He could. This may be one reason He repeatedly asked certain people to stay quiet after healing them. If Jesus knew that people would spread the word about what He had done, He didn’t want this to happen if God wasn’t going to receive the glory.

Instead, Jesus wanted God to receive the glory for this miracle, and even while He tried to help those present see and understand this was God working through Him, those in the crowd don’t seem to give God the credit that God is due for this miracle. Those in the group who brought this man to Jesus appear to be more focused on what Jesus, as a human individual, was accomplishing.

The other big reason I see in this passage for Jesus to pull the man aside and away from the crowd is to highlight the presence or lack of presence with regards to faith. When we look at this miracle, can we see faith displayed?

On the surface, I don’t see any faith clearly being displayed. However, just below the surface, there are plenty of examples of faith. First, we have the group of people bringing the man to Jesus. While they don’t appear to be interested in giving God the glory for this miracle, they easily have faith that Jesus can heal this person, otherwise they wouldn’t have brought this man to Jesus. Even with selfish-motives, those who brought this man to Jesus display faith that Jesus could heal this man’s deafness and muteness.

Another place faith is subtly displayed in this passage is with this man who was healed. While this passage doesn’t draw our attention onto his faith, there would have needed to be enough faith in this man’s life to at the very least not say no to the group’s offer to take him to Jesus. The implication in this passage is that this man had a tiny bit of faith, but not enough that prompted him to seek out Jesus earlier or on his own.

A third place faith is seen in this passage is with Jesus. Jesus did not hesitate when stepping in to heal this man. Jesus did not timidly comment to try to heal this man while also giving no guarantee that He would be successful. Instead, Jesus pulls the man aside with full confidence that with God’s help, this man would be made well – which tells us that Jesus had faith too.

This passage demonstrates faith on several levels. While the passage doesn’t say whether or not Jesus left both the crowd and His disciples to be alone with this man, or whether Jesus and His disciples together separated this man from those who brought him, we can assume that whichever way this was, the faith that was present in this event was not exclusive to the one being healed.

Part of me pictures Jesus and the man stepping away from the crowd and around the corner where they could be alone. Jesus perhaps shared the details of this event with one or two of His disciples following this event.

If this is what happened, it would mean that Jesus used His own faith to demonstrate God’s love for this man, and when we lean on Jesus’ faith, we see not just one disability being healed at once, but two. In one event, the man could both hear again and talk again easily.

In our own lives, when we lean on Jesus’ faith, we discover that we will have more than enough faith to experience and see miracles in our own lives, and we will also fully know that through Jesus, His faith, and His sacrifice on the cross, we have been saved for eternity! Our faith is limited; Jesus’ faith is limitless!

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

As I always challenge you to do, intentionally seek God first and place Him first in your life. Also, be sure to always give God the glory and the credit He is due. In case you are uncertain, we give God the credit when we do well, and we take the blame onto ourselves when things go poorly. This is how we are called to be humble, and it helps remind us that we need God’s help and Jesus’ life to replace our own.

Also, continue praying and studying the Bible for yourself to learn and grow closer to God each day. God wants a personal relationship with you, and the only way your relationship with Him can be personal is if you are personally spending time with Him. Don’t fall into the temptation of letting your spirituality be dependent on anyone else. God loves you and I so much that Jesus came to repair what sin broke, and this repair allows us to approach God with our requests, our thanks, and our praises. God loves us so much that nothing would stop Him from repairing the gap that sin caused.

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, chicken out of, or be tempted into leaving where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Year in Mark – Episode 19: When a disabled man is brought to Jesus, discover why Jesus might have taken the man away from the crowd to heal him, and why this is important for us living over 2,000 years later.

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Jesus First – The Poor Second: John 12:1-11

Focus Passage: John 12:1-11 (NIV)

Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.

“Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”

Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, 11 for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in him.

Read John 12:1-11 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

In today’s journal entry, we’ll be looking at a phrase Jesus says to conclude one of the most famous events in His life. Mary has just anointed Jesus with a very expensive oil, and the disciples are upset (specifically Judas Iscariot) about the amount of money that was just spent.

In validating Mary’s gift, Jesus makes an interesting and profound statement: “You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”

Jesus says that we will always have the poor among us. This tells me that poverty as a global issue is not a solvable problem. Spending money to solve a money problem doesn’t usually fix the issue over the long term. Instead, poverty seems to be an emotional problem. Some might even say it’s a spiritual problem as well.

Instead of looking at the emotional or spiritual nature of poverty, let’s simply look at the source of poverty — which we could define as “the lack of wealth.” Just as darkness is the absence of light, poverty can be contrasted with wealth in a similar fashion.

But this brings us to the problem: Wealth is relative. Wealth is always defined through the eye of the person making the definition. Rarely do we ever feel wealthy, or “rich”, because we are always able to see people who are richer than we are. By looking up at those who have more, we miss the millions and billions of people who have less — people who see us a wealthy when they are looking up.

Jesus however isn’t making a statement on wealth or status as much as He is making a statement on perspective. There will always be poor people we can help (which is good), but we (specifically those living in the first century) will not always be able to be with Jesus in person. Jesus is helping us realign our perspective: Seek Jesus first, help the poor second. It is only when we have the foundation of a relationship with Jesus that we are able to truly care for those in need, and help them in ways where we are helping them for the long-term.

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus "Reflective Bible Study" package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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