Mark 5:24 – 32. You surely know this story of one needy woman in a large crowd following Jesus. With one timid touch her life is changed forever after years of suffering being unclean because of bleeding that no amount of doctoring or money could cure. She was left unable to participate in any of the life affirming rituals of Jewish law. And Jesus says…
30b “Who touched my clothes?”
34b “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”
There was a life and death principle to the Jewish purity laws. This woman wasn’t unclean because of anything she’d done. She was impure because her years of continual bleeding were viewed by law as the loss of potential life and kept her perpetually separated from the ritual practices that could connect her to God.
Her need was so great that she was willing to take one timid step to reach out and secretly touch Jesus’s clothes. She knew Jesus would be defiled by her touch and that act could be punishable by death. A timid step and a secret touch was enough for her new beginning!…but when Jesus stopped and turned around to ask who’d touched him she was terrified. Now what had been one secret touch became a far more public risk she had to take…confess. She “came and fell at his feet “and trembling with fear, told him the whole truth.” He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”
We don’t subscribe to ritual purity anymore but this woman’s story is the story of faith today as well. Faith still begins by taking one timid step in belief Jesus has the power to respond to our need. It’s in confessing the whole truth of our need for that relationship with Jesus that we are freed to enjoy the potential of life God intends for us, without depending on ritual.
You probably know the story in Mark 5:1 – 20
Jesus is confronted by a demon possessed man of great strength. This man lived in the tombs, and had broken free of his chains and irons. Night and day he wandered among the tombs and in the hills crying out and cutting himself with stones. The demons begged Jesus to let them come out and go into the pigs and they all rushed into the lake and drowned. Those tending the pigs ran off and reported to the town’s people who went out to see what had happened. They saw the healed man sitting there, dressed and in his right mind and they were afraid. They pleaded with Jesus to leave but the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus tells him “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.
Jesus knows when evil is present and evil is clever enough to try to use God’s name in an effort to play on Jesus’s sympathy. Jesus is interested in more than just confronting evil – he must destroy it in order to save a man from the demons that bedevil him and give him the courage to speak of how much the Lord has done and the he has shown.
Mark 3 The Red Thread – Rag Tag Unity
•“Stand up in front of everyone.”
•“Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?”
•“Stretch out your hand.”
•“How can Satan drive out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. 26 And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come. 27 In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house without first tying him up. Then he can plunder the strong man’s house. 28 Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.”
•33 “Who are my mother and my brothers?”
•“Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”
1. untidy, disorganized, or incongruously varied in character.
“a ragtag group of idealists”
What an varied assortment of characters there are in this chapter. First and foremost is Jesus, a carpenter turned itinerant minister from an obscure background causing a stir everywhere he went. The ragtag list continues: a man with shriveled hand, the “them” watching to find a way to accuse Jesus, crowds from all over, impure spirits, 12 ragtag men we call disciples, some of Jesus’s own family who are worried about his behavior and teachers of the law who find him both irritating and threatening. It doesn’t sound like the makings of a book that is still the world’s best-selling and most widely distributed according to Guinness World Records.
That’s the story though. God assembling his own ragtag community of people then…and now…for the essential purpose of keeping them close to himself. Essential ragtag people who manage to live together in ragtag unity because of one essential person, Jesus, the son of God, our Savior.
There’s an argument still made today those essentials are fine, “if you need them.” Recently I asked my pastor about how to respond to that. He gave me an answer I’ve never even considered before – embrace the need. I can’t give you proof that God exists or that Jesus can really change you. I can tell you about the need of one woman with a ragtag history who’s heart is being rebuilt with these red letter words of Jesus. It’s a ragtag unity I share with other “untidy, disorganized, or incongruously varied” people who find red letter words filling in the blanks of their lives too.
“In Essentials Unity, In Non-Essentials Liberty, In All Things Charity” Rupertus Meldenius, author of the 17th century tract in which the quote first appeared.
Posted in Mark, Sunday, The Red Letter Version
Tagged Community, Essential, Heart, Jesus, Need, Ragtag, Rebuilt, Story, Unity
NASB Romans 8:Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.
The whole chapter of Romans 8 and especially these verses are part of the treasure of my life of faith. They are the reality of a very special dream I had. I don’t know how much credence you give to dreams but this one changed my life as a relatively new believer more than half a lifetime ago.
Jesus had come to take me to see something with him. I felt secure. I was with him and he held my hand as we looked together at a grotesque museum-like head and shoulders statue on a pedestal sitting alone in the room. It wasn’t until we were leaving and I turned to look again at that ugly thing…one last time…that I saw it was me.
I awakened from the dream with an actual physical feeling of love for Jesus. He loved me enough to hold my hand until I understood that ugly statue was no longer me. That dream became My Love Song for him. There are more lyrics and I hope I still have them written down…somewhere…but this verse and chorus are the response of a full heart I will always remember.
My Love Song
You came to me in a dream and showed me what I could be
You taught me that I could love myself because of your love for me
And now I’m ready to share what I’ve learned
Of how filling your love can be
Through the miracle of love set to music
Flowing from you through me.
This is my love song for you Lord.
I sing it for the joy of loving you.
The words and the music you have placed in my heart
Are the gift that I give now to you.
You are the beat and the rhythm.
You are the lyric and tune.
You are the music singing in my heart
You are the song.
2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
The other minor prophets are going to have to wait. I need a break after Hosea. Something like going back to New Testament basics. I did learn valuable things about the character of God and his enduring love and desire to teach, train and correct us despite, and because of, our circumstances. I learned first and foremost his heart is to equip us to be able to walk on our own two feet…but always with him…never alone. It’s a total picture of what righteousness training looks like.
It’s good to know that the Word is more than one book. It’s not just a long list of painful reminders of the results of bad choices, hard lessons and needed corrections so we’ll be afraid to step out of line. God has chosen Jesus to provide that independence for each of us. Jesus gives us a personal, independent identity with God that reveals our unique spiritual gifts “that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
5:8 And even though Jesus was God’s Son, he had to learn from experience what it was like to obey when obeying meant suffering. 9 It was after he had proved himself perfect in this experience that Jesus became the Giver of eternal salvation to all those who obey him.
The Bible gives us a magnificently big picture of God in our world. Here’s the good news for today; Jesus is God’s application for our daily experience. When it comes to obedience we need both
1. Noun – practical contact with and observation of facts or events.
2. Verb – encounter or undergo (an event or occurrence).
1. It’s a big thought that Jesus had to learn what obedience was like from his practical experience. He was fully divine and he proved it, but he was also fully human and that is what he has to share with us. What if obedience is the remedy that cures us from the dis-EASE of being human? I know it’s sometimes hard to swallow. That’s the “noun” part.
2. Life is the “verb” part of experience. It requires undergoing Continue reading
Matthew 5:10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Recognizing that people could be persecuted because they pursue righteousness is hard to bring to a daily level for me. I need some definition.
• pur·sue seems pretty positive – to follow (someone or something)…: follow, run after, chase…
• per·se·cute seems pretty negative – to subject (someone) to hostility and ill-treatment, especially because of…religious beliefs; oppress, abuse, victimize…torment, torture; martyr…
Those are dictionary definitions but here’s a third word I checked too. The surprise for me was that the Greek word the Bible translates as persecuted [#1377 diṓkō] included both those first two words. Strong’s Greek Concordance says:
• used positively (“earnestly pursue”)
• used negatively(“zealously persecute, hunt down”).
• In each case, 1377 (diṓkō) means “pursue with all haste (“chasing” after), earnestly desiring to overtake (apprehend).”
It was that word diṓkō and that last point, that brought the fullness of Jesus words into perspective for me. Life is both positive and negative.
…When the negative side is circumstances, events and people that “pursue with all haste (“chasing” after), earnestly desiring to overtake (apprehend)” and persecute you…or
…When the positive side is that you continue to “pursue with all haste (“chasing” after), earnestly desiring to overtake (apprehend)” righteousness.
There is the promised blessing In Each Case – the kingdom of heaven.