Understanding Parables According to the Gospel of Mark: Chapters 1 to 8

Mark 5:21-43 Jesus Heals an Issue of Blood and Raises a Girl From Death

Mark 5:21-43 NLTse Jesus got into the boat again and went back to the other side of the lake, where a large crowd gathered around him on the shore. (22) Then a leader of the local synagogue, whose name was Jairus, arrived. When he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet, (23) pleading fervently with him. “My little daughter is dying,” he said. “Please come and lay your hands on her; heal her so she can live.” (24) Jesus went with him, and all the people followed, crowding around him. (25) A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding. (26) She had suffered a great deal from many doctors, and over the years she had spent everything she had to pay them, but she had gotten no better. In fact, she had gotten worse. (27) She had heard about Jesus, so she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his robe. (28) For she thought to herself, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.” (29) Immediately the bleeding stopped, and she could feel in her body that she had been healed of her terrible condition. (30) Jesus realized at once that healing power had gone out from him, so he turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my robe?” (31) His disciples said to him, “Look at this crowd pressing around you. How can you ask, ‘Who touched me?'” (32) But he kept on looking around to see who had done it. (33) Then the frightened woman, trembling at the realization of what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and told him what she had done. (34) And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.” (35) While he was still speaking to her, messengers arrived from the home of Jairus, the leader of the synagogue. They told him, “Your daughter is dead. There’s no use troubling the Teacher now.” (36) But Jesus overheard them and said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith.” (37) Then Jesus stopped the crowd and wouldn’t let anyone go with him except Peter, James, and John (the brother of James). (38) When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw much commotion and weeping and wailing. (39) He went inside and asked, “Why all this commotion and weeping? The child isn’t dead; she’s only asleep.” (40) The crowd laughed at him. But he made them all leave, and he took the girl’s father and mother and his three disciples into the room where the girl was lying. (41) Holding her hand, he said to her, “Talitha koum,” which means “Little girl, get up!” (42) And the girl, who was twelve years old, immediately stood up and walked around! They were overwhelmed and totally amazed. (43) Jesus gave them strict orders not to tell anyone what had happened, and then he told them to give her something to eat.

This seems like a long day for Jesus, but He is doing what He loves, teaching and healing. The day before Jesus began His journeys and lessons on the shores of the lake. Crowds became so thick, He launched out a short distance in a boat. This also helped call attention to what Jesus was teaching, a parable about a farmer scattering his seed. Some landed on the road. Other seed landed on stony ground and among thorns, and of course the farmer made sure plenty of seed landed on good soil.

Later, the disciples asked Jesus to explain the meaning of the parable. Jesus told them what the symbols were and what they represented. The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message, only to have Satan come at once and take it away. The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word. The seed that fell among the thorns represents others who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things, so no fruit is produced. (Mark 4:15-19 NLTse). Of course Jesus also explained, seed represented God’s Word. He also explained how the good soil produced more seed.

Jesus also explained how important understanding God’s Word was to produce more seed. Jesus told a parable about lighting a lamp. When used properly, light makes everything visible. Light represents understanding God’s Word.

Once His disciples understood they had to understand God’s Word before they could see His Word increase, Jesus told them another parable explaining the process to follow. The disciples did not know it at the time, but the first lesson would be taught while crossing the lake.

In the middle of their trip they were caught up in a vicious storm, so fierce the four fisherman Jesus called cried for help. They found Jesus asleep in the front of the boat. They woke Him, asking if He cared anything about them. The disciples weren’t sure why they woke Jesus with such doubt in their hearts. Did they really believe Jesus was going to save them? Did their faith lead them to Jesus, or their fear? Jesus calmed the wind with His Word, which was part of the lesson. Wind represented ideas, concepts and words people would use against them once they began preaching God’s Word. Jesus showed them how to over come the wind. He also showed them how to handle the wind when it comes. He would illustrate this lesson again in the hours to come.

Looking back at the sequence of this texts and forward to what the disciples wrote in the New Testament, a question comes to mind. The seed of course produces more seed. The seed represents God’s Word in the parable of the sower. In essence the parable shows God’s Word produces more of God’s Word, just as the seed produced more seed. New Testament writers referred to and expounded on Jesus’ parables. The seed Jesus planted produced more seed, just like the parable pointed out.

Once they reached the other side of the lake, a man possessed by hundreds of demons threatened them. As the disciples hid behind Jesus, He stepped forward to confront the evil spirits. Although out numbered, Jesus sent the demons into a herd of swine. The scene seemed quite strange in both instances, those with the greater numbers feared the one they out numbered.

Once the demons left the man, the pigs ran off a cliff into the lake Satan tried to control just a few hours before. Once freed, the man, wanted to follow Jesus, who instructed him to return home to his family to explain what happened to him. He became one of the most successful evangelists in the Bible. Jesus links the next lesson to the previous by once again entering a boat. They cross the lake again. This time Jesus meet a rich young ruler.

Jesus could see the man coming from quite a distance. Jairus was dressed in rich robes showing his high status in the synagogue. The disciples looked at him, thinking it was strange for a young man to reach such a high status. They thought to themselves, it was all who you know, not what you know. The little bit of knowledge the disciple were learning was not yet complete. One of the most important lessons was still in the future, which is, when the Spirit provides a message, He also tells who to deliver the message to, when and how to declare the message.

Jairus ran out of options. A few days ago his wife sent a servant to the synagogue with the news his young daughter was seriously ill. He dropped everything and hurried home. Rushing into her room he found his wife kneeling at the bed, tears in her eyes. The physicians paced about with bewildered looks on their faces. The next two days were torture. Jairus could not think of a thing he would not give up as he walked the halls and courtyard of his home looking for peace while praying for an answer. After weighing all the options one of his servants decided to tell him about Jesus. She knew it may cost her a job and living. She knew if she were fired for telling a religious leader about Jesus, no one would considering hiring her. Watching the child suffer was more than she could bear. She decided to take the risk and talk with Jairus.

At first he was shocked to find one of Jesus’ followers working for him. But something touched him. He could see her sacrifice, the risk she took. Maybe there was something to this Jesus he heard so much about. Jairus took her by the hand. They walked to his daughter’s room. Standing at the doorway, he turned, asking his servant where Jesus was right now. She told Jairus, “I heard He was at the lake a few days ago, near the fishing village. Jairus went to the bed, held his daughter’s hand, kissed his wife and quickly left.

He ran as fast and far as he could, walked for a while, ran again past the point of exhaustion. His legs ached and lungs burned. It felt like his head was going to burst. Finally the lake came into view. From the top of the hill he saw a crowd gathered on the shore. “Thank you Lord,” Jairus cried out. He walked to the shore as fast as he could, thinking every moment counted.

Jesus could see the tormented look on Jairus’ face. The disciples also noticed the anguished look that reminded them of the demon possessed man. Jesus went straight toward him. Jairus didn’t know what to do. He didn’t know if it was a combination of exhaustion and the thought of his little girl in bed, or a hope, some sort of faith in Jesus that forced him to his knees. He pleaded with Jesus, “My little daughter is dying,” he said. “Please come and lay your hands on her; heal her so she can live.”

Knowing the situation was urgent, Jesus immediately went with Jairus with a number of people following them. Making their way through the crowd a woman began to weep. She suffered with constant bleeding for twelve years. Most everyone knew about her problem because she went to priest after priest, and a number of physicians and other healers. Not one could do a thing for her. Word got around and she was treated much like a leper. All the offerings and payments to physicians left her nearly penniless. Hearing about Jesus gave her a glimmer of hope. Something she lost a long time ago. Now she saw her last hope leaving.

She tried to push her way through the crowd, but it seemed the more she pushed, the further away the crowd pushed her. Her eyes filled with tears to the point she could not see. She wiped her eyes. Her view cleared just long enough to see Jairus pass by. She held out her hand touching a robe for only a moment. Immediately the bleeding stopped, and she could feel in her body that she had been healed of her terrible condition.

At the same moment He was touched, Jesus stopped. Jairus also stopped, turned and looked at Jesus. He wanted to ask Him to hurry, but before he could speak, Jesus asked, “who touched me?” Jesus looked from side to side. Jairus was trying to find a way of politely asking Him to hurry. The disciples wondered what kind of an answer Jesus was looking for. Finally the frightened woman, trembling at the realization of what happened to her, came and fell at his feet and told him what she had done. Jesus said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.”

For a moment a peace, a bit of security came over Jairus. It only lasted a minute. His servants appeared from the crowd to tell him, “Your daughter is dead. There’s no use troubling the Teacher now.” Jesus heard the news and saw the expression on Jairus’ face instantly change. Filled with compassion Jesus said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith.”

Jairus wondered where faith fit into the scene. His daughter was dead. At least that was what he was told. His servant would never lie to him. Not about something so severe. Jairus felt like a knife was plunged into his heart. His legs still ached from the run, his head still pounded. He thought his heart was still pumping faster than normal, but now he wished it would stop. Why did God take his daughter? Why didn’t God take him?

Jairus headed home, with his head hung low, his servants arm around him. He didn’t think he could make it on his own. Once his home came into sight Jairus remember his wife. He had to appear strong for her. He knew his pain would be nothing compared to hers. Suddenly Jairus noticed Jesus and a huge crowd was still behind him. The last thing he needed was company. All he wanted to do was be alone with his wife for a time before sorting out the details. Then Jesus stopped the crowd and wouldn’t let anyone go with him except Peter, James, and John. They could hear the screams and cries from the mourners. It seemed word had gotten out and Jairus’ moment of silence would be impossible. As soon as Jairus stopped and turned to disperse the crowd, Jesus walked right past him, went inside and asked, “Why all this commotion and weeping? The child isn’t dead; she’s only asleep.” Of course everyone in the house laughed at Him. Almost everyone. Jairus’ wife and the servant comforting her held onto a spark of faith, which was dwindling fast. With the help of Peter, James, and John, Jesus cleared the house.

Once the house was cleared and silent, Jesus took Jairus and his wife by the hand, leading them into their daughter’s room. The three disciples followed close behind. Taking the young Girl’s hand, Jesus said to her, “Talitha koum,” which means “Little girl, get up!” She immediately stood up and walked around! Nothing could match or describe the joy in Jairus’ joy in him and his wife.

Going from the lowest of lows to a high beyond description is experienced by few. It is nothing short of a life changing experience, not only for Jairus and his wife, but the disciples, and all the people who saw the little girl lying dead.

Why did Jesus raise Jairus’ daughter from death? Did Jairus’ status in the synagogue have anything to do with it? What did the disciples learn from this? Was Jesus only displaying His power, or was there a deeper meaning involved?

When we look at all the of events as Jesus crisscrossed the lake, we not only begin to see a small portion of what Jesus was teaching, but the sequence Jesus used to teach. It began on the first journey across the lake. Satan used the wind to threaten the disciples much like he used wind to test Job. Mark clearly notes Jesus slept in the boat while it was tossed by wind and flooded by waves. When we see what wind represents, we understand why Jesus slept.

Ephesians 4:14 KJV That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

When we look at another storm Jesus faced we understand why Jesus slept. “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. (John 8:4-6 NLTse). When the Pharisees confronted Jesus with doctrine, He refused to debate with them. He refused to fall into the trap they set for him. Jesus knew the Pharisees had their own preconceived idea on every detail of the law and would rather die than concede one point. Changing their mind on any point would be like moving a mountain. Its not much different today. Religions hook members on doctrines, addicting them to the point they feel their salvation relies on not only knowing, but forcing their beliefs on others. They forgot the simple message Jesus gave to His disciples, to teach the prophecies He fulfilled.

When they reached the other side of the lake, they were faced by a man possessed by a legion of demons. This was the last person on earth anyone would have expected to see teaching about and leading people to Jesus. This man lead countless people to Christ.

Jesus and the disciples got back into the boat to cross the lake one more time. This time they met a leader of the synagogue, dressed in his spectacular clothing. At first it appeared to be quite a contrast to the man on the other side of the lake, but each had their problems. Jairus’ daughter was in bed dying. He would have changed places with anyone at that point. The fact Jairus was a leader in the synagogue taught the disciples another lesson. Jesus came to reach out to everyone.

A woman with an issue of blood was also involved in this story. Jesus met her on the way to Jairus’ house. She may have delayed Jesus while Jairus’ daughter died. The woman tried everything to end the dreaded disease before she heard of Jesus. He was her last hope. She touched Him in faith and was instantly healed.

Understanding Parables According to the Gospel of Mark: Chapters 1 to 8
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All of these teach one lesson after another. Jesus did not stop teaching when he finished His parables. The Holy Spirit established a sequence of events, one after another to fill in some of the details missing from the parables. Jesus taught this application in His parables. First He introduced the parable of the sower. At the end Jesus explained the seed in good ground produces new seed. Later Jesus told His disciples a parable about another farmer sowing seed. This time Jesus added details about the life cycle of the seed, to a plant which produces more seed. “The earth produces the crops on its own. First a leaf blade pushes through, then the heads of wheat are formed, and finally the grain ripens. And as soon as the grain is ready, the farmer comes and harvests it with a sickle, for the harvest time has come.” (Mark 4:28-29 NLTse). Jesus then began to fill in other missing details from the parable of the sower when He began showing them how far Satan will go to distract people from God’s Word, the seeds planted in their hearts.

Satan tried to destroy Jesus and His disciples with wind. Jesus rebuked the wind with His word. Peter proved he learned the lesson when he wrote: “These people are as useless as dried-up springs or as mist blown away by the wind. They are doomed to blackest darkness. They brag about themselves with empty, foolish boasting. With an appeal to twisted sexual desires, they lure back into sin those who have barely escaped from a lifestyle of deception. They promise freedom, but they themselves are slaves of sin and corruption. For you are a slave to whatever controls you.” (2 Peter 2:17-19 NLTse). By sleeping in the boat, Jesus taught them to ignore people who seek salvation through their doctrines. By rebuking the wind, He taught them to rely on His word.

The man possessed by demons was chained by men, but escaped. No matter how hard the demons tried to hold him, he made his way to Jesus. People have their own way of dealing with demons. In this story they tried to chain him. If they had succeeded, they would have kept him from Jesus. Did the man hold a grudge? No! He went back to show them what Jesus can do. In this lesson the disciples learned not to judge anyone by their appearance. A few words from Jesus changed this man as quickly as the wind changed.

The disciples learned another lesson about judging people. This time it was a leader in the synagogue. The man came to Jesus in faith. He was able to put away his doctrine to come to Jesus. He came to Jesus to heal his daughter, but Jesus provided much more. Jesus provided life.

The woman with an issue of blood faced some of the same problems as Jairus, the young leader. She tried everything to rid herself of the disease, but nothing worked. Man made cures made matters worse. She went to priests, doctors, and who knows what else. She put her trust in everything she knew, spending all of her money until it was all gone. She went to Jesus as her last hope. A quality she shared with Jairus. It didn’t matter to Jesus, as long as they came to Him. Jesus was happy to heal the woman and raise the young girl back to life. Jesus didn’t ask Jairus what be believed. He never questions about the doctrine Jairus believed and taught. Neither did Jesus ask the woman why she put her trust in priests and doctors instead of God. Jesus accepted them where they were when they came to Him.

We can see James understood these lessons when he wrote his letter to the Jewish believers. “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.” (James 1:2-6 NLTse).

Understanding Parables According to the Gospel of Mark: Chapters 1 to 8
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