Introduction: Welcome to Expound our weekly worship and verse by verse study of the Bible. Our goal is to expand your knowledge of the truth of God as we explore the Word of God in a way that is interactive, enjoyable, and congregational.
Skip Heitzig: Let's pray. Lord, we have just been singing how great you are, "how great is our God." So many of us need that kind of vision of you tonight because of recent things going on in our lives, experiences that we've been going through. We have forgotten how great you are, how powerful you are. The greatness of our problems, of our present situations that tend to bring us down and overwhelm us, they're getting all of the attention and all of the press.
And we need that vision like Isaiah that in the year that King Uzziah died, he said, "I saw the Lord seated on his throne, high and lifted up." So, Lord, show us the grandeur of yourself in the person of your Son the Lord Jesus Christ as we study this chapter of this gospel. Elevate us, Lord, to a place where we see you as great, as grand, as incomparable, we give you the rightful place of worship and control in our lives, we ask in Jesus' name, amen.
If you recall when we were in Mark's gospel, chapter 4, that the chapter ended with Jesus demonstrating his power over the natural world. They had been in Capernaum. They got in a boat, were going across the lake. Jesus fell asleep in the boat, and one of those sudden storms that are want to come to that area stirred up the waves. The disciples were afraid. They thought they were going to go under, even though the Lord Jesus told them, if you remember, "Let us cross over to the other side. And we remark last time, if Jesus says you're going to go over, you're not going to go under.
So he demonstrated his power over the natural world as he (after being woken up from sleep) commanded the waves to be still, and there was a great calm. Now we see Jesus' power and control over the supernatural world in the fifth chapter of the gospel of Mark. There is a supernatural world. We forget it much of the time, we just usually think about God sometimes, but we forget that there is a whole host of demons who are very, very active in our present age.
Paul said, "We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, rulers of wickedness in high places." They were very, very active in society at the time of Jesus, which is a remarkable thing, and we'll kind of make mention of that in a moment. They would love nothing more than to destroy you if they could. Now, they can't destroy you, "Greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world," but they would love to destroy you. They would love to dismantle your faith in Christ. Jesus said, "Satan comes to kill, to steal, and to destroy."
Before I was saved I had a best buddy named Richard Wilhite—crazy kid—and my mom couldn't figure out why I would even hang out with this kid. And I think we all had kids like that, didn't we? Did you ever have a few friends like that? My mom just warned me about this kid, "Stay away from him." And he was—he was trouble.
But I got a glimpse into the supernatural world in this guy's life when once he was on a substance, lysergic acid diethylamide to be exact, LSD, and he lost the presence of mind. He was in a room, we were in a room, and he decided he was invincible, and he ran out on into a street with oncoming traffic coming right at him, and ran toward a car coming directly at him.
Now, though I also had an altered state of consciousness at that time, I at least had the presence of mind to know what he was doing was wrong. So I ran out and grabbed him and pulled him back in. But I thought later on after I came to know Christ that it was Satan's design to destroy his life, to take it from him.
As the months went on, I gave my life to Christ; Richard Wilhite did not. He was put in jail for a pretty significant amount of a production of synthetic heroin. When he got out of jail, I got a hold of his phone number, and I called him, and I shared the Gospel with him. And he seemed mildly, emotionally touched, but then eventually he just hung up. I tried to call him back; he wouldn't answer the phone.
Two days later I read in the newspaper that somebody had a pistol and shot him in the head and killed him. And it was so tragic because he was so close; it seemed to me, to know the Lord, to being rescued. He was at that pivotal moment, that pivotal point when something grabbed hold of him and said, "Hang up the phone." It served as a mighty, hefty, life lesson to me that Satan wants to destroy people's lives.
In the ancient world—let me put it to you this way, the ancient world was a very spiritual world, but in many ways a superstitious world. The ancients believed that there were evil spirits that just swarmed around in the atmosphere, in the air seeking to enter into human beings and control them. They believed, the ancients did, even the Jews among them that in certain cases demons could attach themselves to food, and that if you ate that food, you would ingest a demon who once inside of you would control your motor reflexes, control your body; you would be essentially demonized, demon possessed.
That's why there were such elaborate washings among the Jews with their hands in one direction, and in another direction far and above what the law required. And that is the reason the scribes and the Pharisees would get down on Jesus and his disciples, because his disciples didn't wash the proper manner. They were paranoid of the possibility of demon possession.
Among the ancient Egyptians, the Egyptians classified the human body in thirty-six different parts, and the demons could attach themselves to any one system or any one of those parts and eventually take control. And they would label certain activities as the activity of a demon. They believed that all illness was the result of demon possession. So if a person was deaf, they had the "spirit of deafness." If a person was blind, they had the "spirit of blindness." If a person had a fever, they had the "spirit of a fever," etcetera, etcetera.
It's not much different than the present-day false theology that seeks to cast demons out, even of Christians. I don't know if you've ever heard of this, but I have seen services, "deliverance services" where the demon of binge shopping is cast out of people [laughter], the demon of warts—I must have had that demon when I was younger—labeling almost any human activity whether it's a natural malady or a bad habit as a responsibility of a demon.
Now, all I can say is that when people have whole church services that are devoted to the activity of the devil, that the devil must be very pleased with that. He loves that kind of attention; he loves that kind of press. If he can get our focus off of the Lord and his greatness and his power onto Satan's pseudogreatness and his power, I think he wins a tremendous victory. Here we see how Jesus has control over the supernatural world, which is one of the reasons why he came. In fact, it could be summed up in First John, chapter 3, "For we know that the Son of God has appeared to destroy the works of the devil."
Now, let's go in our minds backwards and then forward and then hop into the story. In times past Satan was subdued by God and kicked out of heaven. Isaiah, chapter 14, "How are you fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!" He puffed himself up and said, "I will be like the Most High. I will be like God. I want grandeur. I want greatness." "You will be cast down," the Scripture says. And he was cast out of heaven, but still has access to heaven as we've seen in the past in our studies.
Now, let's go to the future. In the future we know from the Scripture and Satan certainly knows as well that his days are numbered. That eventually, Revelation, chapter 20, Satan will be bound and cast into a bottomless pit for a thousand years, after which time he will be released for a period of time, but eventually he'll be cast into the lake of fire.
He's been kicked out of heaven. He'll be eventually bound, incarcerated, and then cast into the lake of fire. Until then, he does have a tremendous amount of freedom. But here we see how Jesus handles somebody who is demonized, demon possessed, and it's remarkable. It's one of the most bizarre stories in all of the Bible. But we see how a man possessed with the devil reacts when he sees Jesus.
Verse 1, "Then they came to the other side of the sea." It's exactly what the Lord said would happen, "Let's cross over." They thought they were going under. Listen, if that boat would have filled completely with water, they wouldn't have gone under, because Jesus said, "You're going over." So he's true to his word.
"Then they came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gadarenes." Now, some of the Gospels say "Gergesenes," other translations say "Gerasenes." It's not too hard the figure this out; it's all is it same region. There was a little city on the shore called Garasa, which was part of a larger region called Gadara or the Gadarenes region. So you had a small city and a larger municipality, but it's all that same area. There are remains of that town to this day on eastern side of the Sea of Galilee.
If you ever come to us with to Israel, we'll take you to this spot. We'll start off in Capernaum six miles away, and go toward the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee, and you can just see the difference. The western side is pretty flat, and it's a beautiful, verdant valley where thing grow. But you get to the eastern side and the cliffs rise precipitously. So that you can imagine if there were a flock of pigs in that area, if they would take to flight, if they would run, that they could run easily and be killed in that sea. So that's where this area was.
"And when he had come out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit." That's a euphemism for a demon-possessed man. Well, keep reading and it'll say that he was demon possessed. So this is just another way of describing somebody who's demonized, somebody who's possessed with the devil, somebody in whom resides an evil spirit that is controlling the human victim or the human host.
So Jesus left Capernaum, a storm arose, they veered off course, they got back on course, and then on the placid lake they got to this area of the Gadarenes. It is now early in the morning. The other Gospel writers tell us that this man who is demon-possessed lived up from the shore of the lake. He lived in the tombs in a graveyard of that area. So a boat lands at the dock.
Maybe a place was there to tie off the boat, and that demon-possessed man could look down and see: "Oh, there's more people, there's more humans for me to torment." And immediately they—and I say "they," because Matthew says there were two men; Mark tells us there is one man. So you say, "Oh, there's a contradiction in the Bible." No, both are true; there was one plus one. One of them is more prominent.
And even if you read the Gospel accounts where the two demon-possessed men come, the more prominent one is the one with whom Jesus has the conversation with. And probably the only reason Matthew included saying that that were two rather than one—as Mark deals with the one who's most prominent, Matthew deals with two of them—is simply because Matthew is writing to a Jewish audience. And according to the law, by the mouth of two witnesses every word will be established. So in line with his audience he mentions that they were two who were demon possessed that Jesus dealt with.
So notice, "Immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit." Satan our enemy attacks spiritually. He attacks emotionally. He attacks physically. He attacks spiritually mostly through false doctrine, through deception. Now, he does a great job with that, a grand job with that. He tells people lies, he deceives them with their worldview, with their outlook on life, with their philosophies—so he attacks people spiritually.
I think he also attacks people emotionally through a number of things: getting them to be depressed; getting them to doubt God; attacking people in the realm of their feelings, what people feel about me, what God might feel about me. But he also would desire to attack a person physically if he can, and in this case he can.
Now, here's what's interesting: we don't really read of demon possession in the Old Testament, we automatically turn to the New Testament and suddenly there's all of this demonic activity. You ever wonder why? Why don't we read about it in other places, and then suddenly we come to the gospel of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and we find people who are demon possessed?
For a very easy reason, an understandable reason: this is the messianic era. The One that has been prophesied in the Old Testament to come, the One in Genesis that says will come and "crush Satan's head" is here. So there is a disruption in the supernatural world. You might say it's gone out on the wire in the network of the demon world; they're all informed.
Something else that I do find interesting: you don't find a single case, at least in the Bible, of demon possession in the city of Jerusalem but in the more rural areas of Galilee, the more Gentile areas of Galilee, to be exact. Now, somebody might say, "Well, how come we don't see demon possession today?" That's a whole other issue. I believe we do see it today.
But I think Satan's primary activity on the earth isn't to cause people to be scared by a demon-possessed man or a woman in their midst, because that would be an obvious tip-off, on obvious giveaway: "Look, that's satanic."
He has chosen a more effective, subtle means, and that is deception. He puts people in churches who believe in false doctrine or lies about God and puts them in the church, or puts them in seminaries as teacher, or behind pulpits as pastors, getting them to compromise the truth. It's a far more effective way than just throwing a bunch of demon-possessed people in your midst. Get people who will come to you in the name of Jesus Christ, but tell you lies about God and deceive people with error.
Verse 3 says, "He had his dwelling among the tombs; and no one could bind him, not even with chains." Now this indicates that they had tried to bind him, and perhaps they had done it several times, but they were just inadequate in pulling this off. In fact, one of the other gospels talks about those who kept the man; that is, it was probably their job to monitor what's going on in the graveyard and to make sure that this guy doesn't get out and bother everybody in town.
"No one could bind him," it's superhuman strength, "because he had often been bound with shackles and chains. And the chains had been pulled apart by him, and the shackles broken in pieces; neither could anyone tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains and in the tombs, crying out and cutting himself with stones."
Note what Satan wants to do to a person: rob him of sanity, rob him of self-control, rob him of the joy of a home life, the peace of a home life, of friends and family. Notice also what society tries to do and how society tries to handle a person like this: isolation, incarceration: "We can't change a person, just put them away."
It wasn't too many years ago when people were put in padded rooms, padded cells. I worked at a hospital when I was doing radiology training called Ward B where people were kept simply incarcerated; I mean in restraints, on gurneys, in rooms, padded rooms, because they didn't know what to do with them. They were so mentally ill, and they didn't know how to handle them, how to treat them.
"When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped him." Very strong word in Greek—proskuneó. It's a word that is translated typically: to bow down and to give homage to, to recognize as one being greater than one's self, worship. These demons though they hate everything about God and everything that God represents, they are still powerless in his presence. This demonized man, this tormented individual filled with demons, as we will discover, in the presence of Jesus is reduced to bowing down. He has no power in the presence of Jesus.
Now, this is a preview of coming attractions. Paul says in Philippians, "That at the name of Jesus Christ every knee should bow, [and every tongue should confess] of those in heaven, on earth, and those under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Here we see this happening in our story.
Now, they had never seen Jesus before, but there is this instant recognition. And people have asked about that, "Why is it? Here's a guy running down from the tombs, seeing this boat dock, and running, running, and then all of a sudden bowing down and worshiping Jesus."
Probably the man was unsuspecting, not knowing who these visitors are in Gadara. "Didn't anybody warn them—you don't come here because I'm here?" He runs down, but now in the spirit there's this instant recognition, "This is Jesus, this is the One." As I said, it's gone through the demonic network, word is out: "Messiah, the One prophesied has arrived."
"And he cried out with a loud voice and said, 'What have I to do with you, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore you by God that you do not torment me.' For he said to him, 'Come out of the man, unclean spirit!' "
Now, there's some key elements I want you to notice. First of all, the demons have faith. In fact, let me put it to you this way: the demons' faith is orthodox faith. It's as pure and right as any good theology school or church could ever be. Their theology of God is spot on. They traffic in heresy, they promote liberalism and false teaching, and cultish activity and teaching, but what they personally believe is right on.
Remember what James says in chapter 2? "You say you believe in God. You do well. Even the devils believe—and tremble!" First of all, they believe in the existence of God. They don't sit in hell and argue, "I wonder if God exists?" They were created by God; they know he exists. They're not that stupid.
Number two, they believe in the deity of Jesus Christ. "I know who you are, Jesus, Son of the Most High God," a term of deity. They know that Jesus Christ is God in a human body. Number three, they know that ultimately they're going to lose the battle; they know that. They know that their days are numbered. "Have you come to torment me?" Luke says that the demons pleaded with Jesus not to throw them into the abussos, the abyss, the bottomless pit.
Matthew says that the demons cried out asking him, "Have you come to torment us before the time?" See, there is a time coming when Satan will be incarcerated in the bottomless pit. And in recognizing this is that One that has been predicted: "I wonder if he's going to incarcerate us now?"
So they believe in God, they believe in the deity of Christ, they believe that they're going to lose; and number four, they know, they believe they can only operate by permission. They don't have total control. They don't have unlimited access in this world or in people's lives. They can only act under the sovereign control of God.
So you'll notice that it says, "I implore you." "I beg you, I bow before you, and I submit myself to you ultimately. And I'm asking you, my request is . . ." "I implore you that you do not torment me. For he said to him, 'Come out of the man, unclean spirit!' Then he asked him, 'What is your name?' And he answered, saying, 'My name is Legion; for we are many.' "
A Roman legion is approximately 6,000 men. Now, during the time of Caesar Augustus it was 6,826 men to be precise: 6,100 were foot soldiers, 726 were horse men. So, a large number—6,000 plus is a legion. That doesn't necessarily mean that this is an exact count by the demons. See, demons are liars. There were certainly more than one of them, but there could have been just a few of them. But I believe that one of their ploys is to make you and I think they're more powerful than they really are. The name is Legion. It doesn't necessarily mean that there were 6,826 demons residing in that person; that was the name, name that he had chosen, perhaps, and one used to intimidate and to scare.
"Also he begged him earnestly that he would not send them out of the country. Now a large herd of swine was feeding there near the mountains. So all the demons begged him, saying, 'Send us to the swine, that we may enter them.' " See, these demons knew if this is Jesus, and it certainly is Jesus, Son of the Most High God. He's already been on the scene for a while in this area ministering to the people.
They know since this is the Messiah, he's not just going to stand around and let us wreak havoc continually on this human host or these two fellows that we're inhabiting, that he's going to do something about it. And so they're already anticipating that and looking for a new home. To them it would it was better to go into this herd of swine than to be cast out into the abyss, the bottomless pit, which is their destiny in the future. It seems that demons long to have some kind of physical host. If not a human, then in this case an animal.
Question: Why did Jesus give them their request? Why didn't he say, "No, I am going to incarcerate you before the time." Why did he say, "Sure, go ahead; go into these pigs." Because it was a very costly thing to lose a couple thousand pigs. Well, think what kind of animals they are; they're pigs. According to Jewish law it's, like, the most unkosher thing you can raise. And sure, this is a Gentile region, but this is a Jewish nation. And if there are Jews that are raising these pigs, it's an illegal enterprise anyway; they shouldn't be doing it.
So he's going to deliver a man from demons and he's going to put an end to an illegal enterprise. So he said, "Sure," and he let them go in. "At once Jesus gave them permission." Notice, no hesitation, like, "Well, let me think about this." He—okay—"At once Jesus gave them permission. Then the unclean spirits went out and entered the swine (there were about two thousand); and the herd ran violently down the steep place," that's that eastern side of the Sea of Galilee, "and drowned in the sea."
Now I mentioned that demons, and for that matter Satan the prince of demons, that they operate by permission. They're powerful, but not all-powerful. When you get to the book of Job in the Old Testament, and Satan appears before the Lord and God says, "Have you considered Job my servant who is blameless, he's upright?" Job was a godly man, but Satan had been observing him, and he said, "Yeah, but that's because you put a hedge around him and you've blessed him. Remove that hedge and let me at him, and let me afflict him, and he will curse you to your face."
God allowed Satan to have a certain amount of power with Job, but only up to a point. "Okay, you can afflict him, but you will spare his life." And on both occasions Satan appeared before God, he had to get permission, and it was given to him increments. So these demons operate by permission.
In the New Testament Jesus said, "You know Peter, he said to Simon Peter, "Satan has asking for you that he might destroy you and sift you like wheat. But I prayed for you. And when you are recovered, strengthen your brothers." So evidently there was a conversation between Satan and Jesus about Peter. Satan had his eyes on Peter. Jesus, of course, was keeping Peter by his power. Satan's desire in his life was to destroy, and to sift him. And certainly Peter did struggle and denied the Lord, but he was recovered, he was brought back, and he did strengthen his brothers.
So just remember this: Satan's going to come knocking on your door either through deception, or an emotional attack, or a number of ways, because he has studied you and he is going to craft some incessant temptation or attack in your life; he knows the weak spots. So when he comes knocking at the door, rather than for you to open the door and rebuke him—"Hi, Satan, I'm Skip. I rebuke you,"—let Jesus answer the door. Don't you bother doing it.
How do we defeat Satan? By us rebuking him? By us opposing him? By us yelling at him? No. James says, "Flee from Satan." Flee from him. Why have a conversation with him? I've heard people say, "Satan, I rebuke you," and "Satan I this." I go, "Whoa, whoa, whoa, wait a minute. You're talking to Satan? You're actually having a conversation? It sounds like you're praying to the devil."
I don't talk directly to Satan; I talk to God about Satan. Let him deal with it. He's better at dealing with it. He created him; he's going to ultimately destroy him. Let him take care of the riffraff. He's knocking at the door: "Jesus, would you answer that for me?"
"So those who fed the swine fled, and they told it in the city and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that had happened. Then they came to Jesus, and saw the one who had been demon-possessed," there it is, it describes him as a demon-possessed man, "and had the legion, sitting and clothed,"—I love this—"clothed and in his right mind."
Now, they were afraid of this guy before, but notice it says, "And they were afraid." They were afraid of this guy before, now they have a fear of it for a very different reason. They have just witnessed the exercise of ultimate supernatural power, and they're going, "Uh-oh."
"And those who saw it told them how it happened to him who had been demon-possessed, and about the swine. Then they began to plead with him [Jesus] to depart from their region." Now, just let that sink in for a moment. Here you've got a guy who is demonized, demon possessed, he's living, he's been shackled, he breaks the shackles, he has supernatural strength, he yells at people, he screams, he cuts himself, he cries out, he's like a deranged, demonized, tormenting—the worst neighbor you could ever have. [laughter]
Jesus comes to town, delivers a man from the demon, and they ask Jesus to leave. Now, in most neighborhoods if you were to ask people to choose between the two—a demon possessed, frothing at the mouth, naked guy who cuts himself, yells at people, breaks chain, or Jesus Christ. If you want one of those two neighbors gone from your neighborhood, which would it be? Most people, thinking people, would say, "Get rid of that demon-possessed guy. He's been a bad neighbor for years. We've been afraid of him for years; we hate to go on the road." They pleaded with Jesus to leave. Boy, humans can be so unhuman.
Now, for Jesus Christ it wasn't about the pigs. And for Jesus Christ it really even wasn't about the demons. For Jesus it was about delivering the man who was the victim of those demons. He was compassionate toward the man. He loved the person; they loved the swine. This was a considerable financial loss. And I'm going to spare the deviled-ham jokes tonight. [laughter] This was a considerable financial loss, and they said, "Jesus, um, would you please get in your boat and go away. Would you please get out of here? We don't want you here anymore."
The demons bowed before Jesus and gave Jesus better worship than the people who lived in the city. They also had a prayer of Jesus, but that was that he would go away. "That's my prayer, Jesus, just go away." Not a prayer of invitation, not a prayer of, "Wow! That was amazing! We have a few more bad people we'd like you to handle and deal with and clean up." Just, "Jesus, go away."
The death of the pigs and the sanity of that man were evidence of the power of Jesus Christ to change lives. Dead pigs and restored sanity prove God is at work. What "pigs" in your life have to be killed? What prevailing nasty habits are holding on in your life? The demonstration of God being at work in our lives is that he's killing the pigs, restoring sanity, giving us purpose—and they ask him to leave.
"And when he got into the boat, he who had been demon-possessed begged him." Now notice that word, that's been prevalent so far in this entire chapter. The demons "begged" him, the man of Gadara "begged" Jesus, now the previously demon-possessed man "begged" him. What did he ask him? "He begged him that he might be with him." You can understand that, right?
A man who has been tormented all of his life, suddenly he's delivered: "I just want to be with the guy who did that. I want to be close to that One. I have never experienced what I am feeling right now. I have never had sanity of mind, clarity of thought. Every day of my life has been physical, emotional torment, exposed to the elements, being cut up." Now, he's delivered.
When I was first saved, I couldn't get enough of going to church and Bible study and prayer meetings. I just wanted to be around the Lord and around God's people; I couldn't get enough. So I read this and I go, "I understand this guy." But Jesus does something and says something very interesting to him.
"However, Jesus didn't let him, but he said to him, 'Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you.' "That's a testimony: "Just go tell your testimony. Tell people what God has done for you."
"'And how he has had compassion on you.' "Sometimes God doesn't want us to just stay and praise; he wants us to go and proclaim. We have made Christianity; we have limited it to what we call a worship experience. "Let's go have a worship experience. We'll gather together, we'll sing some songs, we'll open the Bible, we'll read that, we'll feel good about what we read—that's good. Not knocking that at all, that's fundamental, that's necessary, but that's just the first step.
After you come and you praise, now go and proclaim. And what do you proclaim? Just tell people what God has done for you. You see, some of us are afraid and we think, "Well, they're going to ask me questions I can't answer." So, I get questions like that all the time that I can't answer. Most questions I can't answer. There's some that I can; I've worked my way through them.
But I'm called to be a witness. A witness is somebody who sees something. I've seen what God has done in my life. I've seen how he's changed me. I've seen what he can do for other people. I can tell you that. I'm not called to be the prosecutor, I'm not called to be the jury, I'm not called to be the judge, I'm called to be a witness. So just go tell people what he's done, go out and proclaim it.
"And he departed and began to proclaim in Decapolis all that Jesus had done for him; and all marveled." This guy probably had a reputation. The Decapolis, well, you know what that means. Deka means ten. Polis is the Greek word for city. Decapolis is a ring of about ten cities in the Greco-Roman Empire that was on the far eastern frontier.
Most of the cities of the Decapolis would be in present-day Jordan. One of them was a city called Bethshean, which is by the Sea of Galilee, and that was the capital of the Decapolis called the Scythopolis. So probably starting there in the area around the Sea of Galilee he went and proclaimed it.
And it says, "All marveled. Now, when Jesus had crossed over again by boat to the other side, a great multitude gathered to him, and he was by the sea. And behold, one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, came. And when he saw him, he fell at his feet and begged him earnestly, saying, 'My little daughter lies at the point of death, come. Lay your hands on her, that she may be healed, and she will live.' "
Now at this point in Luke's rendition of this story, he says that this girl was twelve years old. You're going to read that Mark will tell you the same thing, but he'll save it for the end of story. We have a twelve-year-old girl who's at the point of death. Jairus is the ruler of the synagogue in Capernaum.
The word ruler is the Greek word archón/archo. It once was the guy would who supervises the worship. He is the highest standing spiritual authority in the city of Capernaum. He was probably a Pharisee. Pharisees were the notorious enemies of Jesus Christ. So it's interesting that a man of this stature, of this standing, of this position in the community, in the religious Jewish community, knowing the animosity between his group and Jesus, came to Jesus to ask for his daughter to be healed.
You would have to overcome your prejudice. You would have to overcome your pride. You would have to overcome that animosity. But this guy is desperate. His daughter, the light of his life, is on her deathbed. And when you're desperate, you are more prone to overcome those kinds of prejudice. And he came to Jesus and he begged Jesus. "'My little daughter lies at the point of death, come and lay your hands or her, that she may be healed,' "notice this, " 'and she will live.' "He exercises tremendous faith in Jesus."So Jesus went with him, and," like every place, this is "a great multitude followed him and thronged him."
I don't know how you came to know the Lord, but I have met an awful lot of people who came to know Christ at the worst, lowest, most desperate time of their life, and that's because when people are suffering, or people are desperate, or people are in pain, or somebody they love is hurt, and it's an impossible situation, people are prone to look upward.
Until then, people typically live their lives looking inward or outward, but rarely upward. But when something happens like this, people often will call upon God; nothing else has worked. That's why C. S. Lewis said, "God whispers to us in our pleasure, but he shouts to us in our pains. Pain," he said, "is God's megaphone to rouse a deaf world." Pain gets people's attention, suffering gets their attention, and so he comes to Jesus.
Now this brings up an issue. We live in a world filled, I mean filled with this kind of stuff, with pain and with suffering. The typical question, the most frequently asked question is: "How could there be a God of love who would allow this world so filled with suffering?"
I remember the first time I saw a little baby on a table in a hospital with hydrocephalus, enlarged head, water on brain, huge; so helpless; broke my heart. And I noticed not just one, but several cases. As a young Christian this troubled me greatly. Why? Lord, it says in your word that you love people. "For God so loved the world." How can a God of love allow this to happen?
And it's indiscriminate; pain and suffering doesn't just happen to unbelievers, and then if you're a Christian you'll never have a baby that's hydrocephalic, or that has spina bifida, or that gets a disease. If you're a Christian you're immune from it. I know there's a false theology camp that teaches that. They just make matters worse. But it's troubling and it's probably the most frequently asked question.
Let me answer it in part by saying, number one, God did not create evil, but he created the potential for evil; there's a big difference. The Bible says God is good and only does good things, does not commit evil acts, but he creates the potentiality, the possibility of evil by giving people free choice.
God doesn't tell nations, "Go out and kill that other nation." He allows people to make decisions and that's necessary. There could not be a world where there is genuine freedom and thus the ultimate value, which is love, unless there were volition, human choice. You can't have human choice unless you give people an actual choice between the highest good or the highest evil.
So if people do certain activities, take certain substances, incur certain consequences, that's because God has allowed free choice. "Well, then why would God allow free choice?" Because there couldn't be genuine love, which is the highest value, unless there were absolute freedom of choice—number one.
Number two, God has a purpose for suffering, a purpose for it. It can actually be helpful. I didn't say it feels good, I didn't say it's enjoyable, but it's helpful. You say, "How is it helpful?" Well, first of all, it keeps us pure. I have not seen people who are believers going through periods of suffering who don't come out the other end very, very purified and very clear.
Peter said in First Peter, "These trials have come so that your faith, which is of greater value than gold, even though refined by fire, may be proved genuine." Your faith is proved genuine and you are pure when you come out the other end. It purifies you.
Number two, it keeps you humble. It keeps you humble. It deflates a cocky, arrogant attitude very, very quickly. Paul the apostle in Second Corinthians 12 said, "Unless I be exalted above measure by the abundance of revelation [that I have received from Lord], I was given [by God] a messenger of Satan, a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure." "I saw so many great things; I had so many wonderful revelations, that in order to keep me humble, God allowed that in my life."
So, it'll keep you pure; it'll keep you humble; number three, it'll keep you dependent. Paul said, "I prayed three times for this, over and over and over again. I went to the Lord, and finally he said, 'My grace is all you need; it's sufficient for you.' "It keeps you coming back. It keeps you depending on the Lord. So it can be helpful.
Let me add a third thing to it. Suffering—well, let me rephrase it, God has a desire that he would love to see in suffering, and that's what we see here. This ruler of the synagogue came and bowed before the Lord. The demon did intellectually, he was under the control of Jesus; this man willingly came and he bowed before the Lord. Pain will move people in different directions. It'll bow your knee, or it'll break your back. It'll move you away from God, you become angry at God, or it'll move you closer to God. God would love to see the net end result is that you are moved toward him.
Some people become bitter: they turn inward; they become resentful, angry at God. Some people become battered. They just grit their teeth: "Okay, I hate this, but I'm just going to grit my teeth and go through it."
Other people become actually better people—not bitter, not battered, but better: they turn upward, they become dependent, they become humble, they have those rough edges taken off them. Do you have any rough edges in your life, or am I the only one? Yeah, I have got a few, and the Lord keeps reminding me, "Gotta deal with that," and he has his ways.
"Now, a certain woman," verse 25—let's get through this chapter at least. "A certain woman had a flow of blood for twelve years." Now this I find a fascinating contrast, and I believe it's here by contrast. Jairus had a twelve-year-old daughter; this woman had a twelve-year-old disease. For twelve years this daughter brought nothing but joy to Jairus; for twelve years this disease brought nothing but torment to this woman. Watch how Jesus can control both.
"She suffered many things from many physicians. She spent all that she had," that is, on doctors, "and was no better, but rather grew worse." So all the medical treatment of that day and age didn't help a bit; it was rendered an incurable disease. "When she heard about Jesus, she came behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, 'If only I may touch his clothes, I shall be made well.' Immediately the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of the affliction."
I don't know if you've ever experienced physical healing. Now, let me just put on record that I believe in physical healing. I believe that what Jesus did two thousand years ago, Jesus can do the same today. "Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever." That wasn't just something that happened two thousand years ago, it can happen, and does happen today. I don't know if you've ever felt what it's like to be healed, but when you're healed, you know it.
I had, years ago, an accident. I suffered a consequence of my own choice. I was skateboarding in a swimming pool, fell off up at the deep end when I was trying to do a turn around. I wasn't really good at it, and I just proved that I wasn't. And I fell off from the lip of the pool, fell backward, and hit my shoulder on the cement of the pool, and I had what's called an acromioclavicular separation. An AC joint that's right up here separated. I went and got x-rays of it; sure enough it was separated. They put it in a sling.
I was at a friend's house that night, and we were praying for different things. And he just very casually—I mean, it wasn't even like this, "Oh, God, we come be—" Just very simply, "Lord, and it would be awesome if you healed Skip's shoulder too. Would you do that? in Jesus' name." Instantly I felt cured, healed. The pain was gone. I had articulation, movement in my arm. The very next day, because I wanted to document, I went and got it re-x-rayed. Because there was a separation of that joint before, now the joint was no longer separated. It was back down what doctors called "within normal limits."
I knew what it felt like. This woman felt like it. Now, she "touched the hem of his garment. Because she said, 'If only I touch the hem of his garment, I'll be cured.' "Was there something magical about Jesus' garment? No, Jesus' garment was like anybody else's garment. But she had observed something. She had been watching Jesus touch people, and whenever Jesus touched people, people got better. So she naturally thought, "If he can touch people and they get cured, I bet it'll work in reverse. If I touched him, I'd be cured."
So she set as point of contact that robe, and in particular the tassels, probably one of the four blue tassels on a Jewish man's robe. "If I touch one of those tassels, if I touch the hem of his garment, the border of his clothes, I know I'm going to be healed."
So when she touched the hem of his garment, since she made that as her point contact, she released her faith. She was cured. She felt it. She knew it. "Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that power had gone out of him, turned around in the crowd and said, 'Who touched my clothes?' But his disciples said to him, 'You see the multitude thronging you, and you say, "Who touched me?" ' "
You get the picture? There's multitudes of people pressing him, crushing him, he can't move, and then he stops, he goes, and "Who touched me?" "Wha-what? Everybody's touching you." But Jesus could tell the different between the touch of fame and the touch of faith.
You know, rock stars have people that want to touch them. Athletes have people that want to touch them. Politicians have people that want to touch them. It's very different then if their son or daughter or wife or friend touches them. It's a very different kind of a touch. "Who touched me?" This was a different touch. This was a touch of faith and believing; he perceived it.
"He looked around to see her who had done this thing. But the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell down and told him the whole truth. And he said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace; be healed of your affliction. While he was still speaking, some came from the ruler of the synagogue's house who said, 'Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?' Because we're out of time, we'll have to see how Jesus handles both situations.
So, Father, we're so grateful to know that you control the natural world and it only makes sense, since you made it. You spoke it into being, you spoke it into existence, and you have absolute and sovereign control over the supernatural world, Satan, and all of his host of demons in high places. Lord, it's amazing when we read this just how right down the line, how orthodox Satan and demons' belief system about you is; only stands to reason they know the truth. They know of their ultimate demise.
Lord, this man, this demon-possessed man bowed before you out of sheer and absolute submission, being powerless in the presence of Jesus. Knowing intellectually what was true, but not worshiping you affectionately, because true worship, true affection is a matter of the will. And when we willingly bow before you, we willingly pour out our worship to you, that's a touch you recognize.
Lord, even as this man exhibited a change of life, sanity of mind, clothed and in his right mind, Lord, I pray that our lives would experience the touch of Jesus Christ. That those things which we shouldn't be a part of, which we shouldn't be raising up, we shouldn't allow in our lives, that we would eradicate them by the power of the Holy Spirit living within us. That there would be the evidence of Jesus moving in us, in Jesus' name we pray, amen.