Rediscovering Jesus - Control of Life and Death — A Christian Growth Message - Hope 103.2

Rediscovering Jesus – Control of Life and Death — A Christian Growth Message

A series looking at our Saviour through the book of Mark, by Simon Manchester of Hope 103.2's Christian Growth Podcast.

By Simon ManchesterSunday 7 May 2023Christian Growth with Simon ManchesterFaithReading Time: 1 minute

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Father, we thank you for your grace and goodness. And we do commend ourselves to you and especially our friend, our brother in a time of weakness that you would help him and help those who help him. We ask that for ourselves as we turn to the study of your word you would give to us in your mercy. Eyes to see is to hear what is hard to receive and a will to respond and we ask it in Jesus’ name, amen.

The focus this morning is on that passage in Mark chapter five, which you have in front of you, I think which was just read for us. I do want to ask you to give your mind to the subject this morning. I have put my mind on Mark five in my preparation this week, not only what the passage says, but also how to say it.

And you need to put your mind to hear what is being not only read for us earlier, but also expounded. It’s a strange thing when you’re a preacher, because there is a weird disconnect between what you say and what so many people here you know, you can go to a plumbing course, and the plumber will say to you that the lecturer will say, I want all of your students to collect a tap and I want you to screw it onto the fitting and then watch what happens. And the students will come back and say We collected the tap. We joined it to the fitting. The water is flowing, this is wonderful.

Or a parent might say to a child, I want you to collect your lunch from the fridge before you go to school. Put it in the bag and the child may turn around. At the end of the day, this would be miraculous and say what a wonderful lunch that was.

But when the preacher stands up and says we need to collect eternal life from Jesus and then they start to live the life, people will come up afterwards and say, You know, I think you’re asking me to fly to the moon. But disconnect between what is being said and what is being heard is amazing. So do put your mind to this as much as you are able. The passage we have is Mark 5:21 to 43.

We’re in this little book of Mark, being only 20 pages long, and yet the more we study it, the more we see the riches. It continues to bless us, feed us and in many ways amaze us. What we’ve seen so far is that Jesus Christ, coming into his ministry in the world, has announced his power by announcing his kingdom. And then we have seen him begin to prove his power or his kingdom.

So when people come to him with problems in body, he heals them. When people come to him with problems in soul, he frees them.

If the problem is external, like the storm we saw a couple of weeks ago, he is able to calm it. If the problem is internal demons, he is able to liberate and solve the problem. And we might say to ourselves at this point, as we get to Chapter five, Okay, we’ve got it.

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He can solve problems that covers it. We don’t need to say anymore, but Mark has added the reading, which we have today for a specific purpose.

He wants to give us two more vital things for us to know he’s not repeating themselves, I assure you that you’ll find this relevant. I found it extremely relevant, I hope, and I trust you will as well. Two things happened on the same day in Jesus’ ministry, and they teach the kindness and the power of Jesus Christ. There’s a man who came to get his daughter healed, and there’s a woman who came to get herself healed. Now again, I want to say, we know Jesus can heal people. Why are we being told? He healed to more people?

Well, because this man is going to learn something which is bigger and better than anything he could have imagined.

And this woman is going to learn something bigger and better than anything she could have imagined. And we need to learn these things as well this morning. Now we know the two events intertwine. We start with the man and he’s coming to get his daughter healed. And then we move to the woman and she’s come to get herself healed. And then we go back to the man and there is this intertwining. Why do the two intertwined? Well, because that’s how the day worked.

This is not artificial. That’s what happened. A man came a woman came. Then he went on to the man. But there’s a lot of parallels between the two incidents. I don’t know if you noticed it as it was being read, and they’re hard to miss. The man is concerned about a female.

The woman’s concern. She’s a female. There are two females. They’re both sort of ritually unclean one because of blood and one because of death. They both involve the little phrase 12 years. Both of them are called daughter. In both cases, somebody falls at Jesus’ feet. In both cases, somebody receives a word from Jesus. In both cases, there is a more remarkable outcome.

And I want to tell you in a few minutes time why, I think the two, uh, intertwined. But you might like to think about why this day happened as it happened. I want to look at the two incidents under two headings, a word for life. These are the 11 versus 12 to 30 for Chapter five verses, 24 to 30 for a word for life and then a word for death.

The first few verses in the last 10 or so Yesterday I spoke at a wedding in two days time. I’m speaking at a funeral. Which of those two events most needs the word of God? Well, they both need the word of God. The wedding couple need the word of God and the funeral family need the word of God.

So let’s think about first of all, a word for life. Chapter five, Verse 24. We read, first of all, in Verse 21 that Jesus has come back to the promised land. Remember, he crossed the lake, He met with that man legion and the demons. He’s now come back across the lake. He’s in the promised land, and in the promised land, a synagogue ruler called Gyros comes up to him and begins to beg for help. And he falls at Jesus’ feet.

If a synagogue ruler falls at Jesus’ feet, he must have run out of options. This is a very embarrassing, costly thing to do, and it is a terrible thing, isn’t it? For a father to face the decline of his child. It’s a terrible thing for a father to watch a 12 year old daughter slowly die, and he must have heard that Jesus had power.

And he’s prepared to put away all his prejudices and all the cost and come and fall at Jesus’ feet. And he begs him to come and to heal him, which he does now. Jesus agrees to go with him. Could he have just spoken? And the man the little girl would have been? Well, could he have just said something? And the man could have just walked home, found his daughter Well, well, the answer is yes.

Jesus on other occasions just said, Go home. The person is well, but he doesn’t do that here because gyrus is going to learn something that he would not learn any other way. And suddenly we come to the interruption in verse 24. An unnamed woman causes Jesus to stop in the crowd.

And this would have been very stressful for gyros because time is running out for his daughter. And powerful men don’t like delays at the best of times. So I’m told. But Jesus does stop because somebody in this massive crowd has touched him. Now we’ve all seen on television what it is like for a celebrity to be surrounded, whether it’s a great sportsman or a great rock star or whether It’s somebody who’s in the news because of some more sinister cause, and we’ve seen them completely surrounded and Jesus is completely surrounded and people are pushing and shoving him. But someone touches him.

Why is there a huge crowd around Jesus? Well, because he’s really doing things. He’s really changing people. He tended to avoid publicity, but he got more publicity than he wanted. People who don’t deserve publicity often have to drum up publicity. But Jesus didn’t have to because things were really happening. And there are masses of people around him. Why did the woman pushed through the crowd to touch him? Well, because she was desperate and slightly superstitious, and she had this idea that if she touched his cloak, all would be well. She went to the right person and God honoured her, and she went to him because she was ill. Were told she was unclean. She was suffering. She’d spent all her money and she was no better. I’m tempted at this point to make some rude jokes about doctors, but they have been so helpful this morning it would be unfair.

What is the effect on this woman when she pushes through she makes contact by touching Jesus. She immediately Verse 29 knows she’s well. She’s healed.

What is the effect on Jesus? He knows somebody has come trusting him.

Lots of people are bumping him, but somebody has come trusting him. And that strange phrase in verse 30 Power had gone out from him means that among all the shoving and all the pushing, he recognises that somebody has come. Who really needs his help is not a wonderful thing that in what would have been a very chaotic moment, God so sovereign Lee rules over the chaos that someone is being miraculously helped in the middle of it.

I remember speaking once at a beach mission and talking to a group of very rowdy teenagers in a big tent, and I don’t think anybody was listening. And I actually said at the end of the talk, I don’t think anybody was listening, and I went back to my little bunk and sat on my bed, and a boy pulled the tent curtain apart and he stuck his head in. He said you didn’t think anyone was listening, but I was listening and he said, I would like to become a Christian, and I rang him last night just to see how he is going 43 years later, still pressing on with the Lord that God would cause somebody to listen and be interested in what was really a piece of chaos.

The disciples scoff at Jesus for wanting to stop. They say Verse 31. Lots of people are bumping you. What are you talking about? Their ignorance. You see, they don’t understand the realities, and I love it that Jesus ignores them. In fact, in our passage, if you noticed, as it was being read, there are three times where people say things or react, and Jesus completely ignores them.

We have to factor this into our view of Jesus. There are things that we say which are complete rubbish, and they don’t interest him.

They interest us, but they don’t interest him. The disciples say, Look, nobody especially touched you and Jesus effectively says That’s rubbish and then gyros as friends come and say, Your daughter has died and Jesus effectively says That’s rubbish.

And later they laugh at Jesus for suggesting that he will be able to raise her, and he effectively says, That’s rubbish.

So in the middle of the Gospel, where Mark is teaching us to trust the word of God. He’s also teaching us to be deeply suspicious of the word of man.

Well, Jesus causes the woman to come forward, which must have been excruciating for her. She shouldn’t really have been there. And why does he do this? And he does this because he wants to give her a promise. He wants her to go home with a promise, he says in Verse 34. Your faith, trusting me has healed you.

And here’s the promise. Go in peace and be freed literally. Behold from your affliction. He wants to make sure that this woman who has come with a certain amount of superstition does not go home as ignorantly as she came.

He wants to make sure that when she goes home, her feet are standing on the word of God on a promise. If she went home without the promise, she would have no guarantee that anything had really changed, she might say to her husband, and I’m sort of inventing this, you know, I’m free, I’m healed. I’m whole all’s well and he says to her, well, this has been 12 years.

Don’t forget that. Some years ago you went to see Dr So and so and he seemed to be effective and everything was good for a while. But then it all came back again, did it? And her son says to her And remember those pills you took? They seemed to work for a while, but then it all came back. No, Jesus has given her a promise. Go in peace. Be continually free, be continually whole from your affliction. So he gives her This is the point. I’m making a word for her life. He gives her a word to stand on for her life.

And we need his word to stand on for our life, not just for the day we die. The scripture says that we don’t live just on bread alone. But we live on every word that comes from the mouth of God. And I hope dear friends, you are learning to live on the word of God. I hope you’re learning to live on the promises. We need promises stored up in our head and heart to bring back to our memory again and again and again. You think of the person who’s here this morning wants to begin the Christian life. You need a promise.

You need the promise that says, Come to me and I’ll give you rest so that you can then say I will come or think of people who are believers. You’ve been believers for a long time, but you still think that God will love you when your discipleship improves. Astronomically, as soon as I really get my life terrific, he’ll start loving me. You need the word of God. You need to know that he loves sinners to save sinners, and he sticks with sinners.

Or think of people who struggle with their reading and they’re praying. We all talk about our reading and are praying. But actually many of us struggle with our reading and are praying. We need God’s word, don’t we? To increase our delight in talking to him and to lift our confidence in what he says to us.

Maybe you’re very heavy hearted about your Children. You need a promise that he is interested in your Children, and there are promises that he’s interested in your Children.

Or perhaps there’s a physical ailment that’s worrying you. You need a word, don’t you? Of his goodness that he will carry you. He will help you.

Or when anxiety takes over or temptation knocks you over. We need a promise, don’t we? What about when you’re heading home from church? Today you’ve sung really well. But then the conversation in the car goes really sour.

What do you do at that particular moment you need, don’t you go back and remember that God is committed to sinful people? His steadfast love endures forever. He calls us to repent. Yes, but he stays with us. What about when your emotions convince you that your life is useless? You need a promise, don’t you?

Or when your ministry that you’re trying to exercise to your family or your small group or your congregation has got so many setbacks. You really wonder whether it’s worth keeping on going. We need a promise at that point, don’t we?

We need God’s word for life. And this woman walks home well with a promise, A promise for life. And Jesus in his kindness, has saved her not just from her sickness, but he saved her from her gloom.

Now we come. Secondly, to a word for death. There’s a word for life, and there’s a word for death.

If you’ve ever got to the end of the Pilgrims progress, you may know that there comes a lovely moment where Mr Valiant for truth comes to the time of crossing the river of death.

And it’s beautifully put by John Bunyan. Mr. Valiant for truth said, I’m going to my father’s, and though with great difficulty I’ve got here yet now I do not repent. Of all the trouble I’ve been at to arrive where I am, my sword, I give to him that she’ll succeed me in my pilgrimage and my courage and skill to him that can get it. My marks and scars. I carry with me to be a witness for me, that I fought his battles. Who will now be my reward? Er, when the day that he must go hence was come, many accompanied him to the riverside, into which, as he went, he said, death, where is thy sting? And as he went down deeper, he said, grave, where is thy victory?

So he passed over and all the trumpets sounded for him on the other side and then a page further on Mr Stan Fast comes to his death. He’s about to go into the river and he says This river has been a terror to many. Yet the thought of it has often frightened me. But now I stand easy.

The thought of what I am going to and of the convoy that waits for me On the other side lies a glowing coal in my heart I see myself now at the end of my journey my toil some days are ended I’m going to see that head which was crowned with thorns and that face which was spit upon for me I have formerly lived by hearsay and faith. But now I go where I shall live by sight and shall be with him in whose company I delight.

Now that confidence, that assurance, that joy, that peace is built on the promises of God that Christ will carry his people through the river to the other side. And those promises are built on the work of Christ, his death and his resurrection.

And here in Mark, Chapter five, there is a little preview of the resurrection as Jesus conduct one of three New Testament miracles of raising somebody from the grave.

When the people come Verse 35 they say to gyros, Don’t bother Jesus any longer because your daughter is dead. That is true. His daughter is dead. She has died.

These men would not have come and told gyros his daughter was dead. If she were not dead, she is dead. But in the very next verse, this is also true. Jesus says, don’t fear. Trust me. In other words, gyros. You’ve got a choice. You can either listen to these men and they’re telling you the truth. She’s died and you can leave it at that.

Or you can listen to me. And I will speak something more wonderful, more powerful than even the news that she has died and gyros decides that he will trust Jesus. And that is a very good decision. Because when Jesus gets to the house and he says, Invest 39 she’s not dead, but she’s asleep. He doesn’t mean she’s not dead in human terms. She is dead.

He means that she is not dead on his terms. He is able to get her up. She is out of the reach of her parents. She’s out of the reach of her friends. She’s out of the reach of the doctors, but she’s not out of reach for Jesus. He can and he will get her up and he does it with a word he says. Little girl, I say to you, Get up. These are very loaded words, aren’t they?

Get up because he is getting her up from death to this world.

And that’s why he gives a very practical instruction, which is to give her something to eat Verse 43. Because she is weak and she’s come back to a weak world, she needs to be given something to eat.

The other shocking comment that he makes in Verse 43 is ‘Don’t tell anyone’. That must be the most challenging thing Jesus has ever said to anyone. I’ve just raised your daughter. Keep this quiet. I can’t imagine how difficult that was.

How could they keep that to themselves? How could they not tell the mourners who are outside that the little girl had been raised? Were they expected to go out and say, you know, Jesus was right. She was only sleeping.

I’m sure one commentator is right. Cranfield. When he says that Jesus is asking them to minimise the news, he’s asking them to make it as private as possible. Why? Because he’s not come into the world to bring people backwards.

He hasn’t come into the world to bring people out of cemeteries back to this dying world. He’s come into the world to take people forwards from this world to the next and the secret of the journey from this world to the next. Being a safe journey for the believer is because he took a dangerous journey.

He’s going to do something for this little girl eventually, which is to take her from this world to the next world. And he’s going to do it because of the caring of her sins.

And he’s going to take every believer from this world to the next world because of the caring of their sins. It’s because he put himself into the firing line of God’s justice and took what we should get that he’s able to put us into the firing line of God’s mercy so that we get what he should get.

That’s how Jesus is going to do this, although he speaks a word and says, Little girl, get up. And of course she gets up. This is a preview of resurrection. The real resurrection is going to come about because of his death and resurrection. Somebody has to pay. It’s fairly easy. I might say this as carefully as I can. It’s fairly easy to say, Get up. It’s expensive to pay Martin Lloyd Jones said. This once, he said, I say it with reverence and on the authority of Scripture, that God cannot forgive sin just by saying I forgive.

If he could, he would have done so. Do you imagine that God would ever have sent his only begotten son to the cross if there had been any other way? But there was not.

A word is enough to create the world, but it is not enough to forgive sin. The son had to leave the courts of heaven and come down and take on human nature stricken upon that cross. That’s the quote of Martin Lloyd Jones.

And so the death of Jesus and the Resurrection underwrite the promise that we will share in the resurrection. That’s why I think these two events intertwined because we’re being taught. You see so cleverly and so carefully that we need the word of God for life as well as for death.

I need the word of God at the end of this service. I need to go on believing that the word of God preached has not been in vain. I need the word of God to keep directing me in the way I think speak and live from the next hour and the hour after that and the day after that and the week after that and so do you. And Jesus gives us a word for life as well as a word for death. And therefore we see how very kind he is, very gracious, and very powerful because the words that he gives to us our foundation on which we can stand as we live in this world.

And as we get ready for the next, he delivers us from the gloom and the darkness of this world, and he delivers us from the gloom and the darkness of death. And that’s why, as we sing our last time, we might sing with great thankfulness and gladness. But before we do that. Let’s pray together.

Let’s bow our heads

Heavenly Father, we lift up our thanks to you that the Lord Jesus came into this world not only to live and to die and to rise and to provide that most wonderful gift of eternal life, but that you’ve also given to us your promises on which we can stand hour by hour, day by day. And then when the end comes that we can stand on your sufficient word, your faithfulness, your mercy and cross over the river to the other side.

We thank you for the great love, the great care, the great grace that has been shown to us in giving to us all that we need for this world and the next through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.