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Bible Commentaries

J.D. Jones's Commentary on the Book of Mark
Mark 5

 

 

Verses 1-20

Chapter31.
The Gadarene Demoniac

"And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes. And when He was come out of the ship, immediately there met Him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains: Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones. But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped Him, And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with Thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure Thee by God, that thou torment me not. For He said unto him, Come out of the Prayer of Manasseh , thou unclean spirit. And He asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, my name is Legion: for we are many. And he besought Him much that He would not send them away out of the country. Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding. And all the devils besought Him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them. And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea. And they that fed the swine fled, and told it in the city, and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that was done. And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid. And they that saw it told them how it befell to him that was possessed with the devil, and also concerning the swine. And they began to pray Him to depart out of their coasts. And when He was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil prayed Him that he might be with Him. Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee. And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel."Mark 5:1-20.

A Wonderful Miracle.

The story of the Gadarene Demoniac follows, as you will notice, immediately upon the story of the stilling of the storm. Now that was a startling wonder. That a raging tempest should in an instant, at Christ"s behest, become a great calm—there is nothing more marvellous in the story of Christ"s life from first to last. It left the disciples filled with amazement that amounted to awe, and saying, one to another, "Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him" ( Mark 5:41, R.V.). And immediately after that amazing story comes the narrative of the healing of this demoniac. Does it strike you as a descent? As an anticlimax? Do you feel this story of the restoration of a man to his right mind is tame and commonplace, compared with the story of the stilling of the storm? I am prepared to maintain that, wonderful though the story of the stilling of the storm was, this story is more wonderful still. And amazing though the power was that subdued the wild storm and hushed it into a great calm, the power that swept this man"s heart clean of the foul brood that haunted it, and reclothed a raging maniac in his rightful mind, is more amazing still. When we learn to estimate things truly, we shall always see that the moral miracle far transcends in grandeur the mere physical wonder. The greatest miracle of all is the restoration to moral soundness and health of a Prayer of Manasseh , who has all his lifetime been "dead in trespasses and sins." People say sometimes that the age of miracles is at an end. The age of physical wonders may be, but not the age of miracles. Christ still works amongst us His most stupendous miracle of all, when He turns the sinner into a saint, when He restores and redeems the soul. And that is why I venture to regard the healing of the Gadarene Demoniac as a greater thing than the stilling of the storm. The one was a physical wonder; this is a great moral miracle.

—And its Critics.

Now, as you know, there has been a great deal of controversy and discussion about this incident. Some years ago our magazines were full of it Professor Huxley made a furious onslaught upon it, and with quite needless and offensive brutality spoke of it as, "The Gadarene pig affair." I mention that only to show how the great can be lost sight of in the little; how a man may get so absorbed in a detail as to lose sight of the central truth. These controversialists lost sight of the man while they wrangled over the fate of the pigs. But it was as an illustration of the redeeming power of Jesus Christ, over the most desperate of cases that the Evangelist presented this story. And for the present, I am going to confine myself rigidly and absolutely to this central theme.

The Demoniac.

Let me first of all call your attention to what the Evangelist says about this man"s abject and terrible plight. "There met Him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, who had his dwelling in the tombs... And always, night and day, in the tombs and in the mountains, he was crying out, and cutting himself with stones" ( Mark 5:2-3, Mark 5:5, R.V.). The other Evangelists add further touches to the ghastly picture. For Matthew says, that in his mad fury, the man was a terror to others; while Luke says that he wore no clothes. The picture we have is that of a mere wreck and hideous ruin of a man. And to what was the ruin and the wreck due? To sin. Trace back the suffering and misery of the world to its source—at the last you come to sin. Oftentimes we can see the connection between the two. We see the sin, and we see the hideous ruin it creates. The trembling hands and the shattered frame of the drunkard are the direct result of his sin. The premature old age and the death of the profligate are the direct results of his sin. In these cases we can trace the connection between sin and human misery and shame directly. In other cases you can only trace it indirectly. The suffering of the child may be the result of the sin of his father. Mental defect, moral twist in the offspring, may be the result of sin in the parent. Four-fifths of the physical wreckage with which our hospitals deal may, doctors tell us, be traced to moral evil, to sin, as the cause.

The Ruin Sin makes.

The probability is that this man"s calamity was the result of sin. It may have been his own. The narrative, indeed, seems to suggest that it was, for he had not always been the unclean and raving maniac he was when Jesus met with him. At any rate, this naked, brutalised madman may aptly stand as an illustration of the ruin sin makes. It degrades, defiles a man. It pollutes the soul. It turns what was designed for a temple of God into a haunt of devils. We go into raptures of regret over the ruin wrought by the vandalism of past ages. We mourn the destruction wrought in ancient buildings. We grieve to think of the Acropolis, with its priceless treasures of architecture and art, battered into ruin by the cannon of the Venetians. We can never think of the ruined Persepolis without lamenting the mad act that laid it waste. But, more melancholy far than the destruction of the most famous statue, the most renowned temple, the most splendid city, is the destruction of a Prayer of Manasseh , the ruin of the understanding, the perversion of the conscience, the wrecking of the soul. And that is the destruction that follows in sin"s wake. You can see that destruction all around you. Sometimes it is to be observed in all its naked horror, in wrecked manhood and polluted womanhood, in the criminal and the profligate and the harlot. Sometimes it is less conspicuous, though not less real. For while outward respectability may be preserved, there may be a dulling of sensitiveness, a loss of the finer feelings, a blight upon the soul. "When truth is lost, and honour dies," says Whittier, "the man is dead," and it is sin that does it. So I repeat that this demoniac, naked, maimed, a danger to himself and to others, a mere wreck and ruin of a Prayer of Manasseh , may very well stand as a type of the awful ruin wrought by sin.

The Failure of Human Remedy.

Now notice, in the second place, the failure of all human efforts to deal with this demoniac. Apparently they never attempted to cure him. They never tried to deal with the real mischief. They seemed to have realised that that was beyond their power. It was a more modest task they addressed themselves to. All they did was to try to keep the demoniac within bounds. All they tried to do was to restrain him; all they attempted was, to limit his power for mischief. So they had him bound with chains, and they made those chains strong; but it was all in vain. As often as they bound him, so often had this demoniac, with the convulsive strength of madness, plucked the chains asunder and broken the fetters in pieces. It seemed that no chain ever forged by blacksmith was strong enough for the task; and at the point at which our narrative takes up the story they seemed to have given up the effort to bind him as quite hopeless—"no man had strength to tame him" ( Mark 5:4, R.V.).

—As Seen To-day.

And is not this a parable of the way in which human society seeks to deal with those wild passions that still rage in the hearts of men? All that society seeks to do with these fierce passions and lusts of the soul is to curb and restrain them, to keep them within bounds, to prevent them from becoming dangerous, to limit their powers of mischief. All our laws and prohibitions are to us what his chains were to this wild man of Gadara. "Thou shalt not," says Law to us. It knows that the fierce fires of anger burn in the human heart, and it says, "Thou shalt not kill." It knows that unholy lusts surge in the soul, and it says, "Thou shalt not commit adultery." It knows that greed and covetousness are passions to which all men are prone, and it says, "Thou shalt not steal." You will notice Law does not attempt to deal with the anger itself, or the lust itself, or the greed itself. All that Law seeks to do is to prevent the outbreak of these evil passions into the sinful act and deed. All it does, in a word, is to bind the man. It does not try to cure the mischief; it does not attempt to clear the soul of these evil things that lurk there. Law, backed up by prisons and reformatories, and policemen and punishments, has rarely attempted anything more than to restrain men; and even this modest ambition it has failed to realise. Law has been powerless to restrain men. Again and again men have broken through the chains by which Law has thought to restrain their fierce passions. Every case in our police courts is an illustration of the failure of the restraints of Law. There has been a law against murder for hundreds of years, but murders still take place. In a score of ways Law has sought to penalise lustful passions; but in spite of everything adultery and fornication are daily sins. There has been a law against theft ever since human society was constituted, but, in spite of the Law"s restraints, thefts are of common occurrence. Nothing that man has been able to devise has been able to keep these wild passions of the human heart within bounds. No man has had strength to tame them; and what Law has failed to do, public opinion, fashion, custom, have failed to do also.

The Power of the Passions.

I do not say that these are not powerful restraining forces. They are. But in spite of them all, the unruly human nature will break out. Under the fierce impulse of passion men break through them all. There is no need to quote instances. History teems with them. Common life teems with them. The daily newspaper teems with them. Men can tame and control the wild beasts of the desert, the lion and the tiger, but no restraints he has been able to invent have been able to tame the insurgent passions of his own heart. The restraints both of philosophic maxims and the terrors of the law, and the customs of society, have all failed. They have proved weak and useless. They are of no more avail than are the sand mounds a child builds on the seashore to check the assaults of the inrushing tide. They are as useless in face of passion and appetite as were the new ropes with which the Philistines tried to bind Samson, and which to him were no stronger than wisps of straw. Nothing that man has been able to invent in the way of restraint has been able to curb human passion. You can say of these evil and sinful hearts of ours what the Evangelist here says of this demoniac, "No man had strength to tame him."

The Power of Christ

—His Method of Reform.

Now in contrast with the impotence of human efforts to tame this Prayer of Manasseh , look at the mighty power of Christ What all the chains of Gadara could not effect, Jesus accomplished by a look, a word. I need not go into the details of the cure. It may be, as some commentators suggest, that the sight of the swine dashing down the cliffs was necessary to deliver the man from the obsession that a legion of devils had occupied his heart. But that, after all, is a detail. The point to notice Isaiah , that Christ did what the Gadarenes had failed to do. Yea, and much more. For all that the Gadarenes attempted to do with their chains and fetters, was to restrain the sufferer. Our Lord, by curing him, restored him once again to his rightful mind. And here we come across the deep and radical difference between human methods of reform and the method of Jesus Christ Men are always intent upon checking and restraining the working of the evil passion they know to exist. Jesus, on the other hand, removes the evil passions themselves. Men devote their attention to the outward act. Jesus turns His towards the cure of the evil heart. And our Lord"s method is the only effectual method. We are pinning our faith in these days to the method of restraint. We are pinning our faith in the matter of the reform of the drink evil, to legislative prohibitions against the traffic In the matter of labour troubles we are pinning our faith to laws which shall prohibit greed and oppression. I do not say that these things will not help; but I do maintain they will never be an effective cure. For we are never going to have a sober England so long as you have men with the drink craving in their hearts. You are never going to have perfect happiness between class and class, so long as greed continues to exist in the soul. You are never going to have the millennium, so long as you have evil men. Christ"s method is the only effective method. He goes to the root of things. He looketh on the heart. He removes the lust, the passion, the appetite that is the cause of the mischief, and so does away with the need for restrains and prohibitions and chains. He creates a new Prayer of Manasseh , so making peace.

—Change of Heart.

That this is the right method, every one can see. To change the heart is the one sure way of restoration and reform. But can Jesus change the heart? Yes, He can. This story of this demoniac whom no man could tame, restored to sanity by a word from Jesus, is here to tell us He can change the heart, that He can accomplish this supreme miracle in the vilest and most desperate of cases. He did it in some desperate cases when He was here on earth. You could have discovered no more difficult cases than those of Zacchus, the woman who was a sinner, and the dying thief. And yet Jesus Christ gave them all a new heart. And He can do the same thing for men still. John Watson tells the story of a barge man giving his experience at a Salvation Army meeting. In his unconverted days he had been addicted to profane swearing. But he heard Christ preached, and this was his subsequent testimony, "I just "listed in His army, and look here, lads, I"ve never sworn since, and that was a year ago." Jesus had given him a clean heart and a clean tongue.

New hearts are what the world wants. And Jesus Christ can give them. He can give them to any one and every one. He can save to the uttermost. And when the new heart is given, everything else follows. "If any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things are passed away; behold, they are become new" ( 2 Corinthians 5:17, R.V.).


Verses 17-20

Chapter32.
The Gadarenes and the Healed Man

"And they began to pray Him to depart out of their coasts. And when He was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil prayed Him that he might be with Him. Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee. And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel."Mark 5:17-20.

Let us return to the story of the Gerasene (as the R.V. reads) demoniac. So far I have confined myself to the actual healing, dwelling more especially on the man"s pitiable plight; the failure of all human efforts to deal with him; and then the complete cure effected by the power of Christ All of this I have described as a parable of the inability of man to deal with the hurt and plague of sin, and of Jesus Christ"s power to save to the uttermost. Now, there are all kinds of curious questions raised by the manner in which the man"s cure was effected, all of which are learnedly and lengthily discussed by the commentators. I do not, however, intend to spend time upon those questions. Those who are interested in the problem of demonic possession, and wonder how devils can take possession of swine, had better refer to works discussing these things. My object is to get out of the narrative the lessons and truths that have some practical bearing upon our life to-day. And so I am going to pass by the method of the healing, in order to call your attention to what happened afterwards. There is food for study and thought; there are lessons of warning and inspiration to be derived from a consideration of the conduct, first, of the Gerasenes and secondly, of the healed demoniac.

The conduct of the Gerasenes.

First let us study for a moment the conduct of the Gerasenes as it is here described for us. When the swineherds had recovered from their first stupefaction at the sight of the herd rushing down the steep place into the sea, they fled, and began telling in the city and in the country what had come to pass. The result was that the people went surging and crowding out, to see things for themselves. The amazing sight that confronted them was the spectacle of him that had been possessed with devils sitting, clothed and in his right mind. The Prayer of Manasseh , who had made night hideous with his cries, who had made the road impassable by his fierceness, who had defied every effort made to tame and bind him—that man was now sitting there before their very eyes, obviously restored to moral soundness and bodily health.

What might have been.

Now what would you expect as the effect upon the observers of such a sight? Would you not have supposed that the vision of a human being saved, a human soul restored, would have stirred them to rapture and praise? If they had such a thing as a Doxology in those days, I should have expected that at the sight of this healed and restored man it would have broken spontaneously from their lips.

I should have expected next to read that these people at once proceeded to scour the city and the villages around for every possessed person, and every sick person, and every leprous person in their coasts and brought them to Jesus, in order that the saving power which had redeemed this demoniac might be exercised upon the others also.

That was what happened at Capernaum. Our Lord healed a lunatic man in the synagogue on the Sabbath day. The news of that gracious deed flew like wild fire through the town, and "at even, when the sun did set"—it was against their Sabbath law to do so earlier,—"they brought unto Him all that were sick, and them that were possessed with devils. And all the city was gathered together at the door" (i32 , R.V.). And that is what I should have expected to read about Gerasa.

—And was not.

But what a different story it is that the Evangelist tells! Instead of begging Him to wait until they brought to Him other sufferers, upon whom to exercise His healing power, the people besought Him to depart out of their borders. They begged Jesus Christ to go! Is not this an amazing, is it not, indeed, almost an incredible, thing? And yet it was by no means an unusual thing. Gerasa was not the only place where they wanted to get rid of Christ. "He came unto His own," says John , "and His own received Him not." ( John 1:11). That was literally fulfilled in our Lord"s experience. He went to Nazareth, eager to preach the Gospel to His townsmen, and to do amongst them the works He had done elsewhere; but the upshot of His visit was this, that His townsfolk took Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, in order that they might cast Him down headlong ( Luke 4:29). He went once to a Samaritan village; they would not receive Him, because His face was as though He were journeying toward Jerusalem (Luke ix, 53). He went to Jerusalem itself—they would have none of Him. So resolved were they to get rid of Him, that they nailed Him to the bitter tree. No; this was no unusual experience of Jesus. These Gerasenes were not alone in their folly. The Nazarenes, the Samaritans, the dwellers in Jerusalem, they all told Jesus to depart.

A Folly also of To-day.

Why our Lord was Rejected.

But I do not know that I need go back to New Testament times for any illustrations. This is not alone an ancient folly. It is a folly of to-day. There are men and women amongst us who prefer Christ"s room to His company, and who beg Him to depart out of their borders. They did that amazing and incredible thing in Gerasa long ago; and they continue to do that amazing and incredible thing still. Jesus comes with His offer of salvation. He comes offering to restore men to moral soundness and health. He is the only one who can do this great thing. And yet men beseech Him to depart, they turn Him out of their lives.

Now what was it that made the Gerasenes long to get rid of Christ? I think Mark 5:16 supplies the key. "And they that saw it declared unto them how it befel him that was possessed with devils" (R.V.). Now I believe, if this story had ended at that point, these people would have hailed Christ as a public benefactor, and would have besought Him to stay. But the story did not end there. "They declared unto them how it befel him that was possessed with devils, and concerning the swine." That settled the matter. As soon as they heard the news concerning the swine, they began to beseech Him to depart from their borders. The restoration of the man was as nothing to them, compared to the loss of the swine, and so they begged Jesus to go, because He interfered with their business. It is quite probable that the keeping of swine was forbidden to these people. For to the Jew, the pig, you all remember, was an unclean animal. If these people were Jews, as quite likely they were, they had engaged in a forbidden trade for the sake of the profit of it. And they were not going to have that trade interfered with. They preferred their chance of gain to their chance of the Kingdom; they preferred their swine to Christ. Like Esau, they preferred their mess of pottage to the birthright.

—A Cause Operative To-day.

These Gerasenes have had multitudes of followers. You remember how Demetrius and his fellow-craftsmen in Ephesus tried to kill the apostle Paul, and to prevent the preaching of the Gospel. It was interfering with their business. And they were having no Christ preached in Ephesus who interfered with their trade. And again there is no need to go back to New Testament times, for this same thing happens still. Preachers of Christ in the open air have again and again been obstructed on the ground that they interfered with trade.

Many a business man has bowed Jesus out of his establishment, because His presence interferes with his trade; many a merchant has bowed Him out of his office because He interferes with his profits; many a young fellow has bowed Him out of his life because He interferes with his pleasures. They have told Him to go. And if you enquire how it is men can be so foolish as to drive away One who has such blessings to bestow, you will find that the reason is always something sordid, unholy, unclean; it always concerns the swine. They think more of the world than of the soul, more of gain than of God.

The Appeal and its Result

"They began to beseech Him to depart" ( Mark 5:17, R.V.), and Jesus went. He will not force His presence upon people against their will. If He is to enter anywhere, the door must be opened for Him. If He is to stay anywhere, He must be made welcome. He will take possession of no man"s heart by storm. The puniest man behind the ramparts of his will can defy the Almighty Son of God. They besought Him to depart. They slammed the door in His face in Gerasa. So He went, and He never came back. Gerasa knew not the day of its visitation. It kept its swine, and lost its soul. O Gerasa, Gerasa, if thou hadst known, even thou, the things which belong unto peace; but now they are hid from thine eyes! Let us see to it that we ourselves recognise the day of our visitation. "Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation" ( 2 Corinthians 6:2).

The Healed Man and his Plea.

But if the Gerasenes wanted to get rid of Jesus, there was one man who wanted for evermore to keep by His side. "And as He was entering into the boat, he that had been possessed with devils besought Him that he might be with Him ( Mark 5:18, E.V.). The Gerasenes felt they would never be happy and at ease until Jesus was gone; this man felt he could be happy nowhere else, save in the presence of his Lord. What are we to make of this request? Some commentators suggest that fear is partly accountable for it. The man feared, they say, that, once out of the presence of Jesus, the foul spirits from whose power he had been emancipated would come back again. He felt it was only the Person who delivered him who could also keep him. And if the healed man did think Song of Solomon , he was perfectly right in so thinking. For all is not done when a man is "saved"; all is not finished by one act of deliverance; the saved man needs keeping, or else his last estate may be worse than the first. Just as a man is saved, so also he must be kept by the power of Christ. If this was the man"s motive, the only mistake he made was in thinking that to be near Christ he had always to be in His physical presence. Left alone in Gerasa, Jesus would be with him still, and he would find himself kept by the power of God unto Salvation.

The Prompting of Love.

But I think what prompted this request was not so much fear as love. You remember how in his gratitude to Peter and John the lame man whom they had healed clung to them. In the same way this man clung to Jesus. He felt he was no longer his own. He felt the manhood and strength which had been restored to him belonged now to the Saviour who restored them. He wanted to dedicate his recovered faculties and sanity to the service of Jesus. "He besought Him that he might be with Him." Yes, I believe it was love, overflowing gratitude and love, that prompted this request. You can understand it, can you not? Have you never sung in a rapture of thankfulness, as you contemplated the Cross, "For ever here my rest shall be, close to Thy bleeding side?" Have you never sung, when you have thought of Christ"s amazing love, "Take myself, and I will be, ever only, all for Thee!" It was exactly the same feeling that prompted this healed man to beseech Christ that he might be with Him. It was the request of a grateful and adoring love. Yet, though the request beyond doubt brought joy to the heart of Jesus, because it spoke of love, it was a request He did not grant. "He suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go to thy house unto thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and how He had mercy on thee" ( Mark 5:19, R.V.).

The Lord"s Command: Its mercy.

What shall we say about this command of our Lord? (1) Well, to begin with, what a revelation it is of His mercy! The Gerasenes had besought Him to depart. But He will not leave without leaving a witness behind. Usually He laid upon the objects of His healing power the command to tell no man. It is the opposite command He gives to this healed demoniac. "Tell," He said to him, "how great things the Lord hath done for thee." And I believe the variation in the command is due to His desire to give the Gerasenes another chance. They were driving Him away. He will leave this man behind, a monument of His redeeming mercy, and bid him tell the people the amazing story of his restoration. Perchance some would listen and repent. So the healed man became Christ"s evangelist. He "began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him; and all men did marvel" ( Mark 5:20). And, as Bishop Chadwick says, when all men did marvel, we may hope that some were won.

—Its Call to Action.

(2) I see in this command a hint that the Christian life is not one of rapture and communion simply, but one of action and service also. This healed man asked for a privilege. Christ laid upon him a duty. He asked that he might be "with Him"; instead, He sent him forth to preach to his family and his friends and neighbours. The Christian life is not simply something to enjoy; it is also something to do. It is not rapture simply, it is service also. Peter, when he saw the Lord"s glory on the holy mount, cried, "It is good for us to be here," and he was for building three tabernacles, that they might abide there for ever. But in a short hour or two Jesus was leading the way down from the mount to the plain, with its surging crowd and its human suffering, and its crying need for help. To sit at the Lord"s feet and hear His word is a great and blessed privilege, but it does not sum up the whole of Christian duty. We have not only to receive, we have also to give. Christ will not suffer us to be always with Him; He will have us go and tell. Go and tell—that is the duty He lays upon the healed and saved soul. "Go and tell how great things the Lord hath done for thee and how He had mercy on thee." It is not fine sermons He expects of us; for that work He has His own called and chosen men. What He wants of us is testimony, the simple statement of what He has done for us, and how He has had mercy on us.

The Appeal to Ourselves.

Have we given this testimony? If some doctor had healed you of a great and terrible disease, you would make it your business to trumpet that fact abroad. Have you published the fact that you know of One who can restore the soul? Have you gone and told? And where shall you begin your telling? Where this man began it Go to thy house unto thy friends. That is the place to begin—at your own fireside, under your own roof-tree. You need not wait for some great opening to occur, for some special opportunity to offer. The opening you need is to your hand. The opportunity you require is at your door. Begin at home. Not all the preaching in the world will have such effect upon the children as the simple recital by father or mother of the great things God has done for them, and how He has had mercy on them.

"They besought Him to depart out of their borders... He besought Him that he might be with Him." What contrasted feelings Christ does inspire! The Gerasenes and the healed demoniac stand between them for all mankind. For some hate Him, and some love Him. Some say, "We will not have this man to reign over us," and others say with adoring hearts, "Thou, O Christ, art all I want." Which do we?


Verses 21-24

Chapter34.
The Raising of Jairus" Daughter

And when Jesus was passed over again by ship unto the other side, much people gathered unto Him and He was nigh unto the sea. And, behold, there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw Him, he fell at His feet. And besought Him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay Thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live. And Jesus went with him; and much people followed Him, and thronged Him... While He yet spake, there came from the ruler of the synagogue"s house certain which said, Thy daughter is dead: why troublest thou the Master any further? As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, He saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe. And He suffered no man to follow Him, save Peter, and James , and John the brother of James. And He cometh to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and seeth the tumult, and them that wept and wailed greatly. And when He was come in, He saith unto them, Why make ye this ado, and weep? the damsel is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed Him to scorn. But when He had put them all out, He taketh the father and the mother of the damsel, and them that were with Him, and entereth in where the damsel was lying. And He took the damsel by the hand, and said unto her, Talitha cumi; which Isaiah , being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, arise. And straightway the damsel arose, and walked; for she was of the age of twelve years. And they were astonished with a great astonishment. And He charged them straitly that no man should know it; and commanded that something should be given her to eat.— Mark 5:21-24, Mark 5:35-43.

Having dealt with the healing of the woman with the issue of blood, we can consider the story of Jairus" daughter as a whole, from the moment her father came to Jesus with his prayer for help, to that glad moment when the little one was restored sound and well to her parents" arms.

The Father

Of Jairus we know nothing beyond what the Evangelists tell us in connexion with this incident. They all make a point of emphasizing his position. "He was a ruler," says Matthew. "He was a ruler of the synagogue," say Mark and Luke. Perhaps Jairus" social and ecclesiastical position is thus emphasized, because it was not many of his class and rank who sought the help of Jesus. It was amongst the poor and the outcast that Christ found the majority of His hearers and friends. "Not many mighty, not many noble, are called" ( 1 Corinthians 1:26). If Scribes and Pharisees were to be found in Christ"s congregations, they usually came, not as suppliants, but as critics. It was an unusual thing, it was an unprecedented thing, to see one so high in official and ecclesiastical position as Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue, falling down at the feet of Christ.

—His Difficulties.

I can quite believe that it cost Jairus a good deal to make this public appeal to Jesus. "How hardly," said our Lord—"with what difficulty"—"shall they that have riches enter into the Kingdom of God!" ( Mark 10:23). It is always harder for the man who is rich in this world"s goods, who is high in this world"s place, to enter in by the strait gate, than it is for those who are poor and of lowly station. It was more difficult for Jairus to seek Christ"s help than it was for the blind beggars and palsied persons upon whom He lavished His healing grace, or even for this Gentile woman, whose story is embedded in the heart of the Jairus narrative. Jairus had more to give up. He had more to face. He had to humble himself. Jairus was one of the chief men, if not the chief Prayer of Manasseh , of the town, while Jesus was, in the public eye, only a carpenter from Nazareth; then, all Jairus" friends and colleagues, the Scribes and Pharisees of Capernaum, had already taken up an attitude of hostility towards Him, and therefore to seek His help meant to challenge their hatred and contempt. It is easy to realise how much it must have cost Jairus to fall at Jesus" feet and beg His aid. How hardly shall they that have riches or place or station enter the Kingdom of God.

—Difficulties Overcome.

Yes, it is hard, it is terribly hard, but, thank God, not impossible. It was hard for Jairus, but not impossible. His own ecclesiastical position, and his friendship with the Scribes and Pharisees of Capernaum, were tremendous obstacles in his way. Nevertheless, he went. "There cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and seeing Him, he falleth at His feet" ( Mark 5:22, R.V.).

A Triumph of Grace.

What a triumph of God"s grace, what a revelation of God"s power is this1We speak sometimes as if the final and capital revelations of God"s power were to be found in the saving of the poor and the fallen and the degraded; but if I understand our Lord"s teaching at all rightly, we are rather to see the final evidence of His power in the salvation of those who are rich, and increased with goods, and whose worldly station is high and splendid. It was a greater triumph of grace to save a Joseph of Arimathæa, or a Nicodemus than it was to save the woman who was a sinner; it was a greater victory to save this ruler of the synagogue than it was to rescue the dying thief. "How hardly!" yes, but even to that hard task the grace of God is equal. He can break down the barriers in every man"s path. He gathers His saints out of every rank and station. He can save kings as well as beggars; princes as well as peasants. He can save to the very uttermost those—whatever their rank or means—who come to God through him.

Had our Lord and Jairus met before?

The narrative contains a hint of a previous meeting. I turn to St Luke vii, and find that, at an earlier stage in our Lord"s history, certain elders of the Jews came to Jesus, begging his help on behalf of a centurion who had built them a synagogue, and who had a very dear servant sick, and at the point of death. Jairus may have been, and in all probability was one of the deputation that pleaded the centurion"s cause that day. At any rate, he must have been cognizant of that mission. And the memory of what happened then—our Lord"s ready response to the appeal for His help, and the proof of His power in the healing of the centurion"s servant—may all have come back to him now, in his own hour of need, and impelled him to beg Christ to come to the help of his little daughter, who was also at the very point of death.

Love Overcoming Pride.

What enabled Jairus to act as he did? Love. Dr. Maclaren has a great sermon on Naaman"s refusal to wash himself in Jordan—to do such a simple and paltry thing for his own healing—entitled, "Pride overcoming want." If I had to find a heading for this paragraph, which shows us this proud ruler of the synagogue falling down at Jesus" feet, I think I should suggest this one, "Love overcoming Pride." Pride and Love both tugged at the heart of Jairus that day: pride in his position, and love for his child. Pride whispered, "Don"t demean yourself. Think what your friends will say." Love whispered, "Your little daughter is at the point of death." It was a battle royal between these two mightiest forces in the human soul—pride and love. But a look at his little daughter"s face, with the pallor of approaching death spreading over it; the sight of her little frame shaken by her gaspings for breath; the thought of what his home would be if his little daughter, the light of his eyes, his only child, were taken away—that settled it. Love triumphed, and, throwing his pride to the winds, this Prayer of Manasseh , this personage in Capernaum, made his way into the midst of the crowd of "common people," of publicans and sinners who surrounded Christ, and before the eyes of them all flung himself at the feet of Christ, sobbing out his prayer. In the Greek you can almost hear his sobs, in his broken phrases. "My little daughter is in extremity—that Thou come and lay Thy hands on her—that she may be saved, and live."

Jairus" Prayer.

The Prayer of Love.

Now what shall we say about this prayer of Jairus? It is a good prayer, says Dr. Glover. It does not show, perhaps, the magnificent faith of the centurion whose cause Jairus had pleaded some weeks before. Still, it is a good prayer, a proper prayer. First of all, you can feel love throbbing and thrilling through it. "My little daughter," he sobs; and the term used is a fond diminutive, a term of endearment. What a world of pity and pathos there is in that appeal! It was love—the bleeding love of a parent"s heart—that brought Jairus to Jesus!

The Power of Love.

How often a similar cause has sent men to seek Christ"s help! That was what brought the man about whom we read in the ninth chapter of this Gospel to Jesus. "Master," he cried, "I have brought unto thee my Song of Solomon , which hath a dumb spirit.... If thou canst do anything, have compassion on us, and help us" ( Mark 9:17, Mark 9:22). That was what brought the Canaanitish woman to Jesus, of whom we read in Matthew 15:22. "Have mercy on me, O Lord, Thou Son of David," she cried; "my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil." That is what has brought many a man and woman since their day! I have myself known many a father and many a mother driven to seek Christ"s help by the power of love for their child. Perhaps they had not given a thought to Christ in their days of prosperity and ease, but when trouble threatened, when a little child lay sick, they went, like Jairus, to Jesus with the cry, "My little daughter is at the point of death." And the cry of love is one Jesus never disregards. God is love. And though perhaps He may not answer the prayer of love exactly as love asks, He will surely come to the succour of every heart that calls for Him. "My little daughter," sobbed Jairus. "And Jesus went with him." That was our Lord"s practical response.

The Prayer of Faith.

Again, in this prayer I see faith. Jairus remembered what Jesus had done for the centurion"s servant, and he argued that He could do as much for his little child. And so there is no suggestion of doubt or hesitancy in his prayer. He believed that Jesus had only to come down and lay His hands on her, and she should be saved from the grave, and live. "According to your faith be it unto you" ( Matthew 9:29), said Jesus. He could do none of His mighty works in Nazareth because of their unbelief. He could not answer the prayer of the father of the demoniac lad for his child so long as there was an if in his petitions. But this prayer of Jairus He was able promptly and swiftly to answer. "I pray Thee," he said, "that Thou come and lay Thy hands on her, that she may be made whole, and live" ( Mark 5:23, R.V.). And faith won the answer. Straightway Jesus went with him.

The Delay of Jesus.

I can imagine that a great hope sprang up in Jairus" heart when Jesus bent His steps towards his house, but "hope deferred," we say, "maketh the heart sick." And with Jairus it was a case of "hope deferred." When he left home his little daughter was in extremity. Unless succour came soon, it would be too late. If ever there was an urgent errand, it was the errand on which Jairus came. If ever there was need for haste, there was need for the Healer to hasten, if He wanted to snatch the little girl from the jaws of death. But instead of haste there came stoppage and delay. For on His way to the house Jesus was arrested by the action of the woman with the issue of blood. I do not know how long the incident took, but to Jairus the minutes must have seemed ages. For his little daughter was at the point of death, and Jairus seems never to have thought that the power of Christ reached not only up to death, but beyond it. Time was to him of the essence of the case. Unless they hurried, they would be too late. Yet, instead of hurrying, Christ stopped—stopped until, as Jairus thought, He placed the recovery of his little child beyond hope. For, just as the Lord was giving His benediction to the woman, a messenger came from Jairus" house with the heart-breaking news that all was over, that his little daughter was dead, and that there was no need to trouble the Master any further.

The Discipline of His Delays.

I wonder did hard thoughts about Jesus rise up in Jairus" heart? I wonder did he reproach Him for the delay? I should not be at all surprised if that were so. Christ"s delays are puzzling and perplexing oftentimes. We raise an urgent cry to Him, and instead of hasting to our help, He tarries.

"Master," was the message the sisters of Lazarus sent to Him, "he whom, Thou lovest is sick" ( John 11:3). And He abode still in the place where He was two days. What bitter thoughts may have filled the sisters" minds during those days of delay! "Lord," they said to Him when He came at length, two days too late, "if Thou hadst been here, our brother had not died." Similar thoughts may have risen up in the heart of Jairus. "If he had not stayed to discover and talk with the woman, He might have been in time to heal and save my child." But Jesus knew the temptation, and, turning to the broken-hearted father, said, "Fear not, only believe" ( Mark 5:36).

The Call for Faith.

"Fear not, only believe!" So simple are the words! So hard and difficult is the lesson they inculcate! "Fear not," He said to Jairus, when all Jairus" worst fears had been confirmed. "Only believe," He said, when there seemed to be no longer any room for faith or hope. And He speaks the same word to us, in our dark and troubled days; in the days when sorrows threaten us, and all our hopes seem thwarted and broken; in the days when our prayers seem to go unanswered, and Heaven seems deaf to our appeal. "Fear not, only believe." For in spite of all apparent silence and neglect, God never forgets. In spite of seeming delay, no prayer goes unanswered. "Fear not, only believe." Stick to your faith in God. Even though He slay you, continue to trust in Him, and your righteousness shall come forth as brightness, and your salvation as a lamp that burneth. The discipline of delay is hard to bear. But the delay is not due to the fact that God grudges to bless; it is because He has other and better blessings in store for us than those for which we ask. "Only believe," He said to Jairus, when his last hope seemed shattered. And was not Jairus" faith justified? Was it not worth while to believe? Was not his child, raised and restored, the justification of this appeal? And Song of Solomon , if in our darkest days we still hold to our trust, we too shall one day be gloriously justified. "I waited patiently for the Lord"—it is not easy to wait patiently—"and He inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And He hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God" ( Psalm 40:1-3).

Christ"s View of Death.

And so they pursued their way to Jairus" house—and who shall say what thoughts filled the father"s desolate heart? Arrived there, Jesus hushed the hired wailers, who were already making the house resound with their shrill lamentations. "Why make ye a tumult, and weep? the child is not dead, but sleepeth" ( Mark 5:39, R.V.). The mourners, with their false and narrow literalism, thought that Jesus was doubting the reality of the child"s death, and they laughed Him to scorn. But Jesus was not doubting the reality of the child"s death. He was giving His view of death. What was death to Jesus? A sleep. "Our friend Lazarus sleepeth," He said; "but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep" ( John 11:11). Jesus never talked of death. In His view "all live unto God." That was all that death meant to Him—a going to sleep, a closing of the eyes upon this world, to open them upon a better world and a fairer morning. "She is not dead, but sleepeth." Is there then no such thing as "death"? Yes, there is. "The wages of sin is death" ( Romans 6:23). "The sting of death is sin" ( 1 Corinthians 15:56). Jesus knew what death was, for He Himself bore our sins. He submitted to all the shame and curse and horror of it. In a sense, Jesus is the only one Who knows fully what "death" means. He tasted death for every man. But, in a measure, every Prayer of Manasseh , with sin on his soul and haunted by the fears sin always brings, knows what death means. But the Christian does not die, he falls on sleep. Stephen, "when he had said this, fell asleep" ( Acts 7:60). The very place where the dust of the believer lies is no longer a graveyard, but a cemetery—a sleeping-place.

Christ"s Lordship over Death.

A sleep implies a waking. "The damsel is not dead," Jesus said, "but sleepeth." And He proceeded to show that the little one was not beyond the reach of His voice. For, taking her by the hand, He said, "Little lamb, Arise." "And straightway the damsel rose up, and walked" ( Mark 5:42, R.V.). "Little lamb, Arise." How beautiful and tender! This is a revelation of the mother-heart of Jesus, says one commentator. Yes, it is that. But it is much more. It is a revelation of the lordship of Jesus. We want a mother-heart. But we want more. For what can the mother-heart do in the face of grim death? The mother-heart is powerless; the mother-heart cannot save or redeem. The mother-heart breaks, as it sees death marching on its remorseless way. But there is more than mother-heart here. There is infinite Power. Here is One Who made even death unclutch his bony fingers. Is death the strong man who despoils our homes and goods? Here is One stronger than the strong. Here is One Who takes death and captivity captive. Here is One Who can redeem from the power of death and the grave. "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death" ( 1 Corinthians 15:26), says the Apostle. He has been destroyed. What Jesus did for Jairus" daughter He will do for us all. "Death hath no more dominion over us." "O death, where is thy sting?" "O grave, where is thy victory?" ( 1 Corinthians 15:55). "I am the Resurrection, and the Life: he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die" ( John 11:25-26).


Verses 35-43

Chapter34.
The Raising of Jairus" Daughter

And when Jesus was passed over again by ship unto the other side, much people gathered unto Him and He was nigh unto the sea. And, behold, there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw Him, he fell at His feet. And besought Him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay Thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live. And Jesus went with him; and much people followed Him, and thronged Him... While He yet spake, there came from the ruler of the synagogue"s house certain which said, Thy daughter is dead: why troublest thou the Master any further? As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, He saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe. And He suffered no man to follow Him, save Peter, and James , and John the brother of James. And He cometh to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and seeth the tumult, and them that wept and wailed greatly. And when He was come in, He saith unto them, Why make ye this ado, and weep? the damsel is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed Him to scorn. But when He had put them all out, He taketh the father and the mother of the damsel, and them that were with Him, and entereth in where the damsel was lying. And He took the damsel by the hand, and said unto her, Talitha cumi; which Isaiah , being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, arise. And straightway the damsel arose, and walked; for she was of the age of twelve years. And they were astonished with a great astonishment. And He charged them straitly that no man should know it; and commanded that something should be given her to eat.— Mark 5:21-24, Mark 5:35-43.

Having dealt with the healing of the woman with the issue of blood, we can consider the story of Jairus" daughter as a whole, from the moment her father came to Jesus with his prayer for help, to that glad moment when the little one was restored sound and well to her parents" arms.

The Father

Of Jairus we know nothing beyond what the Evangelists tell us in connexion with this incident. They all make a point of emphasizing his position. "He was a ruler," says Matthew. "He was a ruler of the synagogue," say Mark and Luke. Perhaps Jairus" social and ecclesiastical position is thus emphasized, because it was not many of his class and rank who sought the help of Jesus. It was amongst the poor and the outcast that Christ found the majority of His hearers and friends. "Not many mighty, not many noble, are called" ( 1 Corinthians 1:26). If Scribes and Pharisees were to be found in Christ"s congregations, they usually came, not as suppliants, but as critics. It was an unusual thing, it was an unprecedented thing, to see one so high in official and ecclesiastical position as Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue, falling down at the feet of Christ.

—His Difficulties.

I can quite believe that it cost Jairus a good deal to make this public appeal to Jesus. "How hardly," said our Lord—"with what difficulty"—"shall they that have riches enter into the Kingdom of God!" ( Mark 10:23). It is always harder for the man who is rich in this world"s goods, who is high in this world"s place, to enter in by the strait gate, than it is for those who are poor and of lowly station. It was more difficult for Jairus to seek Christ"s help than it was for the blind beggars and palsied persons upon whom He lavished His healing grace, or even for this Gentile woman, whose story is embedded in the heart of the Jairus narrative. Jairus had more to give up. He had more to face. He had to humble himself. Jairus was one of the chief men, if not the chief Prayer of Manasseh , of the town, while Jesus was, in the public eye, only a carpenter from Nazareth; then, all Jairus" friends and colleagues, the Scribes and Pharisees of Capernaum, had already taken up an attitude of hostility towards Him, and therefore to seek His help meant to challenge their hatred and contempt. It is easy to realise how much it must have cost Jairus to fall at Jesus" feet and beg His aid. How hardly shall they that have riches or place or station enter the Kingdom of God.

—Difficulties Overcome.

Yes, it is hard, it is terribly hard, but, thank God, not impossible. It was hard for Jairus, but not impossible. His own ecclesiastical position, and his friendship with the Scribes and Pharisees of Capernaum, were tremendous obstacles in his way. Nevertheless, he went. "There cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and seeing Him, he falleth at His feet" ( Mark 5:22, R.V.).

A Triumph of Grace.

What a triumph of God"s grace, what a revelation of God"s power is this1We speak sometimes as if the final and capital revelations of God"s power were to be found in the saving of the poor and the fallen and the degraded; but if I understand our Lord"s teaching at all rightly, we are rather to see the final evidence of His power in the salvation of those who are rich, and increased with goods, and whose worldly station is high and splendid. It was a greater triumph of grace to save a Joseph of Arimathæa, or a Nicodemus than it was to save the woman who was a sinner; it was a greater victory to save this ruler of the synagogue than it was to rescue the dying thief. "How hardly!" yes, but even to that hard task the grace of God is equal. He can break down the barriers in every man"s path. He gathers His saints out of every rank and station. He can save kings as well as beggars; princes as well as peasants. He can save to the very uttermost those—whatever their rank or means—who come to God through him.

Had our Lord and Jairus met before?

The narrative contains a hint of a previous meeting. I turn to St Luke vii, and find that, at an earlier stage in our Lord"s history, certain elders of the Jews came to Jesus, begging his help on behalf of a centurion who had built them a synagogue, and who had a very dear servant sick, and at the point of death. Jairus may have been, and in all probability was one of the deputation that pleaded the centurion"s cause that day. At any rate, he must have been cognizant of that mission. And the memory of what happened then—our Lord"s ready response to the appeal for His help, and the proof of His power in the healing of the centurion"s servant—may all have come back to him now, in his own hour of need, and impelled him to beg Christ to come to the help of his little daughter, who was also at the very point of death.

Love Overcoming Pride.

What enabled Jairus to act as he did? Love. Dr. Maclaren has a great sermon on Naaman"s refusal to wash himself in Jordan—to do such a simple and paltry thing for his own healing—entitled, "Pride overcoming want." If I had to find a heading for this paragraph, which shows us this proud ruler of the synagogue falling down at Jesus" feet, I think I should suggest this one, "Love overcoming Pride." Pride and Love both tugged at the heart of Jairus that day: pride in his position, and love for his child. Pride whispered, "Don"t demean yourself. Think what your friends will say." Love whispered, "Your little daughter is at the point of death." It was a battle royal between these two mightiest forces in the human soul—pride and love. But a look at his little daughter"s face, with the pallor of approaching death spreading over it; the sight of her little frame shaken by her gaspings for breath; the thought of what his home would be if his little daughter, the light of his eyes, his only child, were taken away—that settled it. Love triumphed, and, throwing his pride to the winds, this Prayer of Manasseh , this personage in Capernaum, made his way into the midst of the crowd of "common people," of publicans and sinners who surrounded Christ, and before the eyes of them all flung himself at the feet of Christ, sobbing out his prayer. In the Greek you can almost hear his sobs, in his broken phrases. "My little daughter is in extremity—that Thou come and lay Thy hands on her—that she may be saved, and live."

Jairus" Prayer.

The Prayer of Love.

Now what shall we say about this prayer of Jairus? It is a good prayer, says Dr. Glover. It does not show, perhaps, the magnificent faith of the centurion whose cause Jairus had pleaded some weeks before. Still, it is a good prayer, a proper prayer. First of all, you can feel love throbbing and thrilling through it. "My little daughter," he sobs; and the term used is a fond diminutive, a term of endearment. What a world of pity and pathos there is in that appeal! It was love—the bleeding love of a parent"s heart—that brought Jairus to Jesus!

The Power of Love.

How often a similar cause has sent men to seek Christ"s help! That was what brought the man about whom we read in the ninth chapter of this Gospel to Jesus. "Master," he cried, "I have brought unto thee my Song of Solomon , which hath a dumb spirit.... If thou canst do anything, have compassion on us, and help us" ( Mark 9:17, Mark 9:22). That was what brought the Canaanitish woman to Jesus, of whom we read in Matthew 15:22. "Have mercy on me, O Lord, Thou Son of David," she cried; "my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil." That is what has brought many a man and woman since their day! I have myself known many a father and many a mother driven to seek Christ"s help by the power of love for their child. Perhaps they had not given a thought to Christ in their days of prosperity and ease, but when trouble threatened, when a little child lay sick, they went, like Jairus, to Jesus with the cry, "My little daughter is at the point of death." And the cry of love is one Jesus never disregards. God is love. And though perhaps He may not answer the prayer of love exactly as love asks, He will surely come to the succour of every heart that calls for Him. "My little daughter," sobbed Jairus. "And Jesus went with him." That was our Lord"s practical response.

The Prayer of Faith.

Again, in this prayer I see faith. Jairus remembered what Jesus had done for the centurion"s servant, and he argued that He could do as much for his little child. And so there is no suggestion of doubt or hesitancy in his prayer. He believed that Jesus had only to come down and lay His hands on her, and she should be saved from the grave, and live. "According to your faith be it unto you" ( Matthew 9:29), said Jesus. He could do none of His mighty works in Nazareth because of their unbelief. He could not answer the prayer of the father of the demoniac lad for his child so long as there was an if in his petitions. But this prayer of Jairus He was able promptly and swiftly to answer. "I pray Thee," he said, "that Thou come and lay Thy hands on her, that she may be made whole, and live" ( Mark 5:23, R.V.). And faith won the answer. Straightway Jesus went with him.

The Delay of Jesus.

I can imagine that a great hope sprang up in Jairus" heart when Jesus bent His steps towards his house, but "hope deferred," we say, "maketh the heart sick." And with Jairus it was a case of "hope deferred." When he left home his little daughter was in extremity. Unless succour came soon, it would be too late. If ever there was an urgent errand, it was the errand on which Jairus came. If ever there was need for haste, there was need for the Healer to hasten, if He wanted to snatch the little girl from the jaws of death. But instead of haste there came stoppage and delay. For on His way to the house Jesus was arrested by the action of the woman with the issue of blood. I do not know how long the incident took, but to Jairus the minutes must have seemed ages. For his little daughter was at the point of death, and Jairus seems never to have thought that the power of Christ reached not only up to death, but beyond it. Time was to him of the essence of the case. Unless they hurried, they would be too late. Yet, instead of hurrying, Christ stopped—stopped until, as Jairus thought, He placed the recovery of his little child beyond hope. For, just as the Lord was giving His benediction to the woman, a messenger came from Jairus" house with the heart-breaking news that all was over, that his little daughter was dead, and that there was no need to trouble the Master any further.

The Discipline of His Delays.

I wonder did hard thoughts about Jesus rise up in Jairus" heart? I wonder did he reproach Him for the delay? I should not be at all surprised if that were so. Christ"s delays are puzzling and perplexing oftentimes. We raise an urgent cry to Him, and instead of hasting to our help, He tarries.

"Master," was the message the sisters of Lazarus sent to Him, "he whom, Thou lovest is sick" ( John 11:3). And He abode still in the place where He was two days. What bitter thoughts may have filled the sisters" minds during those days of delay! "Lord," they said to Him when He came at length, two days too late, "if Thou hadst been here, our brother had not died." Similar thoughts may have risen up in the heart of Jairus. "If he had not stayed to discover and talk with the woman, He might have been in time to heal and save my child." But Jesus knew the temptation, and, turning to the broken-hearted father, said, "Fear not, only believe" ( Mark 5:36).

The Call for Faith.

"Fear not, only believe!" So simple are the words! So hard and difficult is the lesson they inculcate! "Fear not," He said to Jairus, when all Jairus" worst fears had been confirmed. "Only believe," He said, when there seemed to be no longer any room for faith or hope. And He speaks the same word to us, in our dark and troubled days; in the days when sorrows threaten us, and all our hopes seem thwarted and broken; in the days when our prayers seem to go unanswered, and Heaven seems deaf to our appeal. "Fear not, only believe." For in spite of all apparent silence and neglect, God never forgets. In spite of seeming delay, no prayer goes unanswered. "Fear not, only believe." Stick to your faith in God. Even though He slay you, continue to trust in Him, and your righteousness shall come forth as brightness, and your salvation as a lamp that burneth. The discipline of delay is hard to bear. But the delay is not due to the fact that God grudges to bless; it is because He has other and better blessings in store for us than those for which we ask. "Only believe," He said to Jairus, when his last hope seemed shattered. And was not Jairus" faith justified? Was it not worth while to believe? Was not his child, raised and restored, the justification of this appeal? And Song of Solomon , if in our darkest days we still hold to our trust, we too shall one day be gloriously justified. "I waited patiently for the Lord"—it is not easy to wait patiently—"and He inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And He hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God" ( Psalm 40:1-3).

Christ"s View of Death.

And so they pursued their way to Jairus" house—and who shall say what thoughts filled the father"s desolate heart? Arrived there, Jesus hushed the hired wailers, who were already making the house resound with their shrill lamentations. "Why make ye a tumult, and weep? the child is not dead, but sleepeth" ( Mark 5:39, R.V.). The mourners, with their false and narrow literalism, thought that Jesus was doubting the reality of the child"s death, and they laughed Him to scorn. But Jesus was not doubting the reality of the child"s death. He was giving His view of death. What was death to Jesus? A sleep. "Our friend Lazarus sleepeth," He said; "but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep" ( John 11:11). Jesus never talked of death. In His view "all live unto God." That was all that death meant to Him—a going to sleep, a closing of the eyes upon this world, to open them upon a better world and a fairer morning. "She is not dead, but sleepeth." Is there then no such thing as "death"? Yes, there is. "The wages of sin is death" ( Romans 6:23). "The sting of death is sin" ( 1 Corinthians 15:56). Jesus knew what death was, for He Himself bore our sins. He submitted to all the shame and curse and horror of it. In a sense, Jesus is the only one Who knows fully what "death" means. He tasted death for every man. But, in a measure, every Prayer of Manasseh , with sin on his soul and haunted by the fears sin always brings, knows what death means. But the Christian does not die, he falls on sleep. Stephen, "when he had said this, fell asleep" ( Acts 7:60). The very place where the dust of the believer lies is no longer a graveyard, but a cemetery—a sleeping-place.

Christ"s Lordship over Death.

A sleep implies a waking. "The damsel is not dead," Jesus said, "but sleepeth." And He proceeded to show that the little one was not beyond the reach of His voice. For, taking her by the hand, He said, "Little lamb, Arise." "And straightway the damsel rose up, and walked" ( Mark 5:42, R.V.). "Little lamb, Arise." How beautiful and tender! This is a revelation of the mother-heart of Jesus, says one commentator. Yes, it is that. But it is much more. It is a revelation of the lordship of Jesus. We want a mother-heart. But we want more. For what can the mother-heart do in the face of grim death? The mother-heart is powerless; the mother-heart cannot save or redeem. The mother-heart breaks, as it sees death marching on its remorseless way. But there is more than mother-heart here. There is infinite Power. Here is One Who made even death unclutch his bony fingers. Is death the strong man who despoils our homes and goods? Here is One stronger than the strong. Here is One Who takes death and captivity captive. Here is One Who can redeem from the power of death and the grave. "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death" ( 1 Corinthians 15:26), says the Apostle. He has been destroyed. What Jesus did for Jairus" daughter He will do for us all. "Death hath no more dominion over us." "O death, where is thy sting?" "O grave, where is thy victory?" ( 1 Corinthians 15:55). "I am the Resurrection, and the Life: he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die" ( John 11:25-26).

 


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Jones, J.D. "Commentary on Mark 5:4". J.D. Jones's Commentary on the Book of Mark. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jom/mark-5.html.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, October 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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