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!

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. Share your thoughts on this passage.

Looking Back: Luke 9:57-62

Focus Passage: Luke 9:57-62 (GNT)

57 As they went on their way, a man said to Jesus, “I will follow you wherever you go.”

58 Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lie down and rest.”

59 He said to another man, “Follow me.”

But that man said, “Sir, first let me go back and bury my father.”

60 Jesus answered, “Let the dead bury their own dead. You go and proclaim the Kingdom of God.”

61 Someone else said, “I will follow you, sir; but first let me go and say good-bye to my family.”

62 Jesus said to him, “Anyone who starts to plow and then keeps looking back is of no use for the Kingdom of God.”

Read Luke 9:57-62 in context and/or in other translations on!

In this passage, as potential disciples give excuses for delaying to follow Jesus, Jesus gives one of His most challenging statements. Perhaps this is because I am an easily distractible person, or maybe it is because it is a challenging truth to really apply, but either way Jesus’ remark in this passage would be one of the top challenging statements if I were to write out a list.

After the third person has expressed interest in following Jesus, Jesus responds in verse 62 by saying, “Anyone who starts to plow and then keeps looking back is of no use for the Kingdom of God.”

In the context of this passage, the man had simply asked to go say good-bye to his family, but knowing Jesus, this request revealed a deeper truth about this individual, and Jesus responds to this underlying issue: commitment.

It is as though Jesus is saying, “Anyone who chooses to follow Me, but who keeps looking at what their missing out on is of no use to the Kingdom of God.”

Some people might think this statement means we should disconnect from those who are sinful in the world. If so, then this would be a very difficult challenge in today’s media-centered world.

However, I don’t believe that Jesus’ words mean that we should be disconnected from others, or that we shouldn’t be friends with those who think differently from us. Instead, this statement is like Jesus saying He wants us to be 100% committed to our future with Him, and to leave our past hurt, past mistakes, and past regret in the past.

Jesus’ words say that once we have chosen Him, there is no point in looking back at the past because the present and future are what matter most of all. The present and future are what hold our relationship with Him.

Also in this statement is the idea that we should not delay following Jesus. By saying, “I’ll follow Jesus after I do this, or after something happens,” we are really saying that Jesus is not the most important thing in our lives. If Jesus is not number 1, then we end up with divided focus and are “of no use to the Kingdom of God” and we are not guaranteed future moments in time to make that decision.

God calls us to be committed to Him first, and to focus on following Him above everything else. That is how we can be most useful to helping His Kingdom move forward.

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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Thanking God: Mark 8:1-10

Focus Passage: Mark 8:1-10 (NLT)

About this time another large crowd had gathered, and the people ran out of food again. Jesus called his disciples and told them, “I feel sorry for these people. They have been here with me for three days, and they have nothing left to eat. If I send them home hungry, they will faint along the way. For some of them have come a long distance.”

His disciples replied, “How are we supposed to find enough food to feed them out here in the wilderness?”

Jesus asked, “How much bread do you have?”

“Seven loaves,” they replied.

So Jesus told all the people to sit down on the ground. Then he took the seven loaves, thanked God for them, and broke them into pieces. He gave them to his disciples, who distributed the bread to the crowd. A few small fish were found, too, so Jesus also blessed these and told the disciples to distribute them.

They ate as much as they wanted. Afterward, the disciples picked up seven large baskets of leftover food. There were about 4,000 men in the crowd that day, and Jesus sent them home after they had eaten. 10 Immediately after this, he got into a boat with his disciples and crossed over to the region of Dalmanutha.

Read Mark 8:1-10 in context and/or in other translations on!

While reading Mark’s gospel where he describes Jesus feeding the crowd of 4,000, a detail stood out to me that seems obvious, but it was one I had never picked up on prior to this reading. This detail is very easy to miss, because it gets lost in the other details of the verse it is included in.

After receiving the bread from the disciples, Mark tells us, “So Jesus told all the people to sit down on the ground. Then he took the seven loaves, thanked God for them, and broke them into pieces. He gave them to his disciples, who distributed the bread to the crowd.” (v. 6)

The phrase that stood out to me as I read this verse was the four-word phrase “thanked God for them”. Jesus thanked God for the seven loaves of bread (and later on, He thanks God and blesses the few fish when they were found).

This detail is significant because Jesus thanked God before any miracle had happened. Jesus thanked God for the tiny, insignificant number of seven loaves of bread before distributing them. Jesus didn’t wait for God to multiply the seven loaves into 700 baskets of bread before giving thanks.

We can learn from this detail that we should be thankful and grateful for the things God has blessed us with, regardless of whether the blessings are large or small, and we should trust that God can multiply these blessings to be as impactful as is needed. Jesus was thankful for just a tiny amount of bread, and God multiplied it into a satisfying meal for over 4,000 people!

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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Flashback Episode — Answering the Insult: Mark 7:24-30

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In today’s hypersensitive society and culture, it’s hard to imagine Jesus being intentionally offensive towards someone. After all, since God is love, and Jesus came to represent God, shouldn’t Jesus love everyone equally?

In my mind, the answer to this question is a yes, but with this answer, we find several examples where Jesus simply is not overly interested in being kind or nice to everyone. When reading the gospels, we quickly discover that Jesus reserved some harsh comments for the religious leaders. I can understand challenging those who claimed to represent God on earth when they were doing a bad job, however, the passage we will be focusing on in this episode is not about Jesus insulting the religious leaders.

Instead, against all politically correct, hypersensitive advice, our passage focuses in on Jesus insulting a gentile woman who came asking for His help. While this sounds very un-Christlike, I wonder if this insult and the conversation that surrounded it, can teach us something about God’s character.

Our passage for this episode is found in Mark’s gospel, chapter 7, and we will read it using the New International Reader’s Version of the Bible. Starting in verse 24, we learn that:

24 Jesus went from there to a place near Tyre. He entered a house. He did not want anyone to know where he was. But he could not keep it a secret. 25 Soon a woman heard about him. An evil spirit controlled her little daughter. The woman came to Jesus and fell at his feet. 26 She was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter.

Pausing our reading briefly, so far, this event is normal. Jesus goes to a place, wants to keep a low profile, but was unsuccessful. When word spreads that He was in the area, people came requesting help. It would not be logical to think that only Jews would come if Jesus is capable and willing to help everyone, so here we have a Greek mother coming to ask for help for her daughter.

So far, this event is pretty straight forward. But in the next verse, Jesus shocks everyone present, and His response should shock us living over 2000 years later. In verse 27, Jesus replied saying:

27 “First let the children eat all they want,” he told her. “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”

This might just be the most offensive statement Jesus ever made in His entire ministry. In just a few words, Jesus lowers the status of all non-Jews to be equal to dogs – at least that is how our hypersensitive world today would interpret this statement.

Part of me wonders if this is not Jesus’ analogy. While it certainly seems as though Jesus is validating this prejudice by repeating it, I wonder if the Jews, as an unwritten national rule, believed themselves to be God’s only children, and every gentile person was equal to dogs. I don’t believe there is a different scripture in the Bible to support this exact idea, but we do know the Jewish leaders had a very clear “us vs. them” attitude and that they believed themselves to be superior.

I wonder if Jesus made this statement, not for the woman herself, but for those standing around witnessing this request. The implication in Jesus’ words is that this woman should wait in line till the very end – specifically after all the Jews who had come to be helped were through – and if there was time left, and perhaps a little bit of Holy Spirit left after everyone else had been helped, then maybe Jesus would help her. This interpretation of Jesus’ words doesn’t really sound like Jesus, except that Jesus might simply be speaking the thoughts of those witnessing this event.

Perhaps there was a long line of Jews needing help, and first-century culture didn’t say first come, first served, like our culture today. Instead, they had a Jews first, no exceptions mentality.

Once Jesus had everyone’s attention with His harsh response, we discover the woman’s quick reply. Continuing in verse 28, the mother responds:

28 “Lord,” she replied, “even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”

29 Then he told her, “That was a good reply. You may go. The demon has left your daughter.”

30 So she went home and found her child lying on the bed. And the demon was gone.

In this event, if we can step back from Jesus’ insult, we see some amazing themes at work. While it would be easy to focus exclusively on Jesus’ insult and ignore the rest of the event, we would miss an amazing truth that is contained within this passage.

While the woman’s response to Jesus’ insult might have had a feeling of sarcasm, her response displayed an impressive amount of faith. Her response basically says that any crumb or sliver of help will be enough. She isn’t interested in the scraps after the meal, if any “food” is left, but instead she is content with the crumbs that might fall during the meal. Pulling the idea outside of the meal metaphor, this woman tells Jesus she is fine with any help He can offer, and if one of the upcoming miracles doesn’t need all of its required elements, she is happy to have the leftovers.

This level of faith is amazing when we think about it. Looking at the faith of this woman, and the centurion that Jesus helped earlier in His ministry, I get the impression that Jesus’ gentile miracles displayed more profound faith than His miracles for those of Jewish ancestry.

But this isn’t the only theme we see hidden within this short conversation. Within this conversation is the idea that God came to bless the Jews, but that the Jews were to bless others with their blessings. The woman’s response challenges this ideal, saying that this bless-it-forward attitude is not happening. If anything, the Jews give them – the gentiles – crumbs, but generally nothing at all.

This gentile woman exposes the failures of the Jewish people in her response. While Jesus alludes to how God intended for the Jews to model God’s attitude and bless others, the woman’s response shows how this original plan was failing. I wonder if Jesus used this event as a teaching point later in His ministry with the disciples, telling them that they were to help and bless those that God brings their way, regardless of the person’s nationality or ethnicity, or even their race, gender, or beliefs.

The big truth for us living today is to not mess up this plan like the Jewish people did. God loves all people, and He has called His people to love others and bless others. In God’s eyes, His people will not display an “us vs. them” attitude, but instead God’s people will display an “us blessing, helping, and loving them” attitude. This is God’s ideal for His people, and as followers of Christ, it is our challenge living 2,000 years later.

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

Be sure to intentionally love and bless those who God brings into your life. Believe that God wants you to be a blessing to others like He has blessed you, and intentionally choose to be loving, kind, and compassionate to those in the world around you because God has been loving, kind, and compassionate towards you.

Also, always pray and study the Bible for yourself to grow your personal relationship with God and your connection to the Holy Spirit. We grow closer to God through praying and studying His Word, and while a pastor or podcaster can give you ideas, and things to think about, only through prayer and personal study will you grow your personal relationship.

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 give up on where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Flashback Episode: Year 4 – Episode 19: What happens when Jesus insults a mother who came asking for His help? Discover some truths about God and His calling for our life from this thought-provoking event.

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