Mark 5 (New Living Translation)
Jesus Heals a Demon-Possessed Man
1 So they arrived at the other side of the lake, in the region of the Gerasenes. 2 When Jesus climbed out of the boat, a man possessed by an evil spirit came out from a cemetery to meet him. 3 This man lived among the burial caves and could no longer be restrained, even with a chain. 4 Whenever he was put into chains and shackles—as he often was—he snapped the chains from his wrists and smashed the shackles. No one was strong enough to subdue him. 5 Day and night he wandered among the burial caves and in the hills, howling and cutting himself with sharp stones.
6 When Jesus was still some distance away, the man saw him, ran to meet him, and bowed low before him. 7 With a shriek, he screamed, “Why are you interfering with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In the name of God, I beg you, don’t torture me!” 8 For Jesus had already said to the spirit, “Come out of the man, you evil spirit.”
9 Then Jesus demanded, “What is your name?”
And he replied, “My name is Legion, because there are many of us inside this man.” 10 Then the evil spirits begged him again and again not to send them to some distant place.
11 There happened to be a large herd of pigs feeding on the hillside nearby.
12 “Send us into those pigs,” the spirits begged. “Let us enter them.”
13 So Jesus gave them permission. The evil spirits came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the entire herd of 2,000 pigs plunged down the steep hillside into the lake and drowned in the water.
14 The herdsmen fled to the nearby town and the surrounding countryside, spreading the news as they ran. People rushed out to see what had happened. 15 A crowd soon gathered around Jesus, and they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons. He was sitting there fully clothed and perfectly sane, and they were all afraid. 16 Then those who had seen what happened told the others about the demon-possessed man and the pigs. 17 And the crowd began pleading with Jesus to go away and leave them alone.
They cared more for their swine than for their souls, more for bacon than for true belief.
18 As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon possessed begged to go with him.
“That is a striking name for a man, ‘he that had been possessed with the devil.’ It would stick to him as long as he lived, and it would be a standing sermon wherever he went. He would be asked to tell the story of what he used to be, and how the change came about. What a story for any man to tell!”
–C. H. Spurgeon
19 But Jesus said, “No, go home to your family, and tell them everything the Lord has done for you and how merciful he has been.” 20 So the man started off to visit the Ten Towns of that region and began to proclaim the great things Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed at what he told them.
Jesus Heals in Response to Faith
21 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.”
Matthew 9:20 says she touched the hem of His garment, and that actually means one of the borders of the outer garment that all Jews wore. Barclay says, “Every devout Jew wore an outer robe with four tassels on it, one at each corner. These tassels were worn in obedience to the command in Numbers 15:38-40, and they were to signify to others, and to remind the man himself, that the wearer was a member of the chosen people of God.”
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?’”
St. Augustine said of this story, “Flesh presses, faith touches” — and Jesus can tell the difference.
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 to her knees in front of him 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.”
(During Mark, portions of this book will be presented to help us understand our faith more deeply than perhaps we have before. I hope you enjoy learning more about Jesus as a Jewish man — and through these passages, see and appreciate more clearly the Jewish roots of our Christian faith.)
THE MEANING OF TASSELS
Why did God decree that Jewish men were to wear tzitziyot (tassels)? They seem meaningless—and so odd, such a negative fashion statement. What earthly purpose could they serve? But there it is in Scripture: “Throughout the generations to come you are to make tassels on the corners of your garments, with a blue cord on each tassel. You will have these tassels to look at and so you will remember all the commands of the Lord” (Numbers 15:38-39).
By wearing tzitziyot, a Jewish man was signifying that he was trying to become obedient to all the laws of God. How fitting, I thought—an arbitrary law to symbolize all the arbitrary laws God had given them. And to think that Jesus wore them too!
My attitude toward the tzitziyot and the rest of the law finally began to change when I realized that Jewish scholars posed a far wiser question than I had, asking, “What good purpose would a loving God have for giving us this command?” The rabbis agreed that some laws seemed to lack an obvious purpose, and they called them hukim (“decrees”). Obeying such laws, they believed, displayed one’s love for God because it showed you trusted him regardless of whether you understood his intent . . .
Though the command to wear tzitziyot makes no sense to modern people, it made perfect sense to those who first heard it. In ancient times, the garments people wore indicated their status in society. The hem was particularly important because it symbolized the owner’s identity and authority. Legal contracts written on clay tablets were actually “signed” by pressing the corner of one’s hem into the clay . . .
Tassels were also a sign of nobility; in the ancient world kings and princes decorated their hem with tassels. Remember how the high priest’s blue robe was decorated? From it hung an elaborate border of bells and pomegranates (Exodus 28:33). The blue thread in the tzizit that ordinary Jews wore was dyed with the same expensive royal blue dye as the robe of the high priest. It signals the entire people of Israel are to become a nation of priests.
By means of the tzizit, God was encouraging his people to be obvious about their commitment. In a world where other nations prostituted themselves to idols and sacrificed their children to demons, the Jews stood out. The tassels were a visible reminder that they belonged to God in a special way. Whatever they did, good or evil, was a witness to the God they served . . .
Now think of the scene with the woman with chronic bleeding in terms of the significance of the hem of a person’s garment. The hem would have signified Jesus’ authority and identity. What’s more, the place where the tassels were attached would have been considered the holiest part of his garment. So it seems like that the woman knew exactly what she was reaching for. Jesus’ purity was so great that instead of becoming defiled by her touch, it healed her impurity. What a beautiful picture of the power of Christ’s holiness to heal and to bless.
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.
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The account of Jesus raising the little girl is a story with great personal meaning to me. Twice I have sat at my daughter’s bedside in a hospital, fearing that she would die, thinking of this story, praying to the Lord to “heal her, so she may live.” The first time Maureen was 11 months old and required open-heart surgery. The second time she was in first grade and had contracted Toxic Shock Syndrome. Both times the Lord heard my cry and answered with kindness. How grateful I am that now my daughter is alive and well, married to a man who loves her and mothering two lovely children! Here’s a picture of Maureen, my miracle child, and their little Liam.
God, there is none like You! Because of You and Your grace, we are alive! HERE is “You Alone” by David Crowder.
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.