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(Mark 5:21-43) Divine Delays

(Mark 5:21-43) Divine Delays

by Stephen Davey
Series: Sermons in Mark
Ref: Mark 5:21–43

Sovereignty is a word we need to put into our vocabulary, because it refers to someone who has total control. In Mark chapter 5 the disciples learn that Jesus Christ is sovereign. He doesn't just have power to sway masses of people or perform little miracles here and there. He commands nature and nature obeys. He is God in the flesh!




(Mark 5:21-43)

(Beginning of tape missing?)  To you and to me that whenever we are in a delay, it is indeed a divine delay because God has designed it.  No matter what you are waiting for or waiting on, the sovereign hand of God is behind it all.  We’ve been studying, this is the third part of a three part study on the sovereignty of Christ.  We have seen His sovereignty.  Ladies and gentlemen, I want you to take that word and put it into your vocabulary.  If there is nothing else that comes from this study, over these last few weeks, add the word sovereignty to your vocabulary.  We hear it less and less.  In fact, it’s a passing attribute of Jesus Christ.  Sovereignty means, simply enough, total control.  Jesus Christ is in total control.  So, add that word to your vocabulary and then live by it.

Now, let’s see how it takes place in the lives of these individuals.  Mark, chapter 5, and I want to take your attention to verse 22.  “And, behold, there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw Him, he fell at His feet, and besought Him greatly, saying, ‘My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray’” - beg - “Thee, come and lay Thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and” - not die, or that - “she shall live.”  Now, we need to be introduced to Jairus.  He is a ruler, the text says, of the synagogue.  That means that those synagogues, of course in that day, were governed by a board of these rulers or elders; sometimes translated, and these men.  The ruler then, would be an overseer of the entire service.  It doesn’t mean that Jairus necessarily did anything in the service but he oversaw all of the proceedings of that time of worship and the reading of the law, the Torah.  And so, he was a very religious man.  But yet, as I read this passage, it becomes very obvious that Jairus forgot a couple of things, by the fact that he came to Jesus.  First of all, Jairus forgot his prejudice.  You need to understand that, by this time in the ministry of Jesus Christ, the synagogues are closed doors to Him.  Do you remember, in the beginning, Jesus would walk into a synagogue and He would go up there to the front rostrum and He’d teach?  Not anymore.  You see, the rulers of the synagogues were dead set against the ministry of Christ.  But, here is a ruler of a synagogue coming to Jesus.  So, he must have forgotten his prejudice.  He also must have forgotten his pride.  Because Luke adds that Jairus came and he, literally, fell prostrate at the feet of this roving, itinerant, probably dusty feet preacher.  I mean, he just forgot his pride.  Here he is, robed in his dignity, Jairus, ruler of the synagogue, falling before this itinerant preacher.

Why, in the world, would Jairus forget his prejudice and his pride to come to the person of Christ?  I think he tells us here in the text.  He says, Jairus, his own words, “My little daughter” - is about to die.  Luke adds the point that this is his one and only daughter.  And he adds, I think, that she is around twelve years of age.  Now, the custom, of this day, was that when a little girl turned twelve years of age and one day, she was then a woman.  Now, we need to get into the skin of this setting.  We need to look at it realistically.  Here is a man who is about to lose his one and only daughter, right at the point when she is now becoming a woman, when she is now bringing more joy into his life than at any other time.  You know, all of the training has just about ended and now, as one man says, it’s turned to coaching.  And the rewards are beginning to come.  Here is a little girl who is entering womanhood.  I imagine this little girl was the pride of his heart.  He says, “My little daughter” - my one and only daughter - “lieth at the point of death.”

Now, Jesus says, look at the text, or it’s assumed Jesus says, “I will go with you.”  Because look at verse 24, “And Jesus went with him; and much people followed”.  So, evidently, Jesus said, “Sure, I’ll come along.  I’ll heal her.”  But then, at this moment, there comes a delay in the life of Jairus.  Jesus Christ, and all of that band of people, are walking with Jairus to his home.  And you need to just stop right there because now, introduced into his life, is a tragic delay.  When we read a passage of scripture, when we read one phrase, when we look at just one simple verse, to us it takes a moment of time.  But, represented in the life of Jairus, it was an eternity.  This woman, with the issue of blood, will interrupt his plan.  She will create a problem for him.  And, I imagine, that as Jesus deals with this woman and Jairus is kind of shuffled into the background, I want you to, in your imagination, think of him standing.  He’s shuffling his feet.  He’s thinking, “Good night, woman, why can’t you leave Him alone?  He’s coming with me.  My daughter is dying.”  And interrupting his life is a delay.

Now, let me introduce you to this delay.  Look at verse 25, “And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood”.  Perhaps some uterine disorder where there was a continuous flow of blood.  But do you notice, it’s almost poetic, how she is compared to Jairus, because you notice how long she has had this disease?  “Twelve years.”  So here, they are contrasting for us, tremendous joy, that’s about to end, and tremendous despair.  A woman, with this kind of disease, and I want you to jot down several things that will help us emotionally understand this woman.  She is ostracized from society.  She is considered unclean.  She’s excommunicated from the temple.  She can’t worship.  For twelve years, she’s been alone.  For twelve long years, she has, perhaps, prayed to God to heal her and the heavens are made of brass.  For every year of joy that Jairus has had with his daughter, she has had a year of agony.  If she was married, the Rabbis declared that her husband must divorce her.  If she had had children, she would watch her children grow at a distance, unable to embrace them.  Anything she touched was unclean.  Can you imagine the agony?  It says here in the text that she, “suffered many things of many physicians” - verse 26.

And, I’ve got to stop here, it says that she “suffered many things of many physicians”.  You know, let’s take a look at her emotionally after twelve years of this circle of despair.  If you had asked me to list 100 places I do not like to be, heading the list would be a doctor’s office.  Does anybody like that in here?  I think we’ve got some people who work in the medical field and one of them is gone, so I can speak freely.  He’s at the hospital today.  He told me he was going to listen to the tape!  I don’t like going to doctor’s offices.  And this lady, evidently, was sent to one doctor and then to another.  He would experiment and, back then, medicine was SO primitive.  In fact, when I looked at the word “physician,” I had to go to the encyclopedia and pull it off and take a look at the medical day that she lived in.  And let me give you some of the things that I discovered.  Babylonian medicine was so primitive.   In fact, Herodotus wrote that every Babylonian was an amateur physician, since it was the custom to lay the sick on the sides of the street so that anyone passing by might offer advice.  Imagine that, laying on the side of the street and everybody coming by, “You need to starve that one. - No, you need to feed that one,” telling them exactly what to do.  In fact, though, it’s not any better being a doctor because, according to Babylonian law, if a doctor caused a patient to die in surgery, the doctor’s hands were cut off.  I wouldn’t have wanted to be a doctor either.  In the Greek and Roman days, medicine was no better.  In fact, magic, myth, and medicine were all rolled up into one.  And there were a lot of superstitions.  Let me give you one of them.  Aesculapius, the god of medicine, was worshipped in hundreds of temples throughout Greece.  I’m having difficulty reading my notes.  My son, this morning, thought he’d add his thoughts to the sermon notes with a magic marker!  And to these temples, many sick persons came for the healing ritual known as incubation, or temple sleep.  You would go into the temple and you would lie down in the “aboton(?),” or the temple dormitory.  And then, during the night, Aesculapius was supposed to visit you and give you advice.  And the next morning you left with the cure, or at least with the advice to put the cure into practice.  In fact, if you go to some of the Greek islands today, they still follow the practice, if you are sick, to go to some church or some mosque or whatever, and lay there throughout the night in hopes that the next morning you would be cured.  The Talmud, which was the religious writings, of course, of that day, didn’t offer much hope either.  They had so many superstitions, it was unbelievable.  In fact, I read so many of them.  But, some of the more outrageous ones: if you had this particular disease that this woman had, you were supposed to go buy an ostrich egg, put it in a linen sack and carry it around with you.  That was the cure.  And then in the summertime, you were to replace the linen sack with a cotton sack.  Can you imagine walking around with a rotten egg for days?

You see, these were the kinds of cures that this woman had been given.  That didn’t work so they sent her to somebody else.  And that particular cure didn’t work until, finally, she is financially broke.  She is physically exhausted.  She is emotionally drained.  And I don’t think there is any lonelier person than this woman who confronts this scene.  I want you to notice, though, her simple faith, in verse 27.  “When she had heard of Jesus,” - worlds are implied in that phrase - “came in the press behind, and touched His garment.”  The word “garment,” is “kraspedon.”  Any devout Jew would wear an outer garment that had two tassels on the front, he’d sling it over his shoulder, and there would be two tassels on the back, called the “kraspedon.”  And this woman and, more than likely, Jesus, obviously being a devout Jew, a follower of God, wore a “kraspedon.”  This woman came up behind Jesus and, literally, did not touch it but, grasped the “kraspedon.”  Now, it was a superstitious reach because, in that day, they believed that the aura or the power of a person was transferred through his clothes.  And if you could simply touch the clothing, you could be healed.  Well so, she comes up behind Jesus, somehow that weak woman, touching all kinds of people, defiling them, perhaps they even made room when they saw her coming, and she reaches out and she grabs it for just a second in desperation  and then let’s go.

Notice what happens, verse 29, “And straightway” - or immediately - “the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague.” - or that “scourge,” a Greek word that implies that this is from God, this is punishment from God.  That’s how she viewed it.  She thought that, “Since God hasn’t heard me for twelve years, He must not want me.  He’s given me the scourge.”  But she knew, immediately, that it was healed.  “And Jesus, immediately, knowing in Himself that” - power, the word is “dunamis,” or “dynamic” - “had gone out of Him, turned Him about in the press, and said, ‘Who touched my clothes?’”  Now, you’ve got to understand the ridiculousness of this question.  In fact, his disciples are a little embarrassed for the Lord.  Perhaps, they’re going to look for a shade tree or a glass of water for Him because He says, “Who touched me?”  And all of these people are around Him.  And Jesus immediately stopped and says, “Hey, who touched me?”  And, it says the disciples, probably spoken by Peter himself, says, “Lord,” - “Thou seest the multitude thronging Thee, and sayest Thou, ‘Who touched Me?’”  But you notice, verse 32, Jesus ignores that statement, and says, “He looked round about to see her that had done this thing.”  You see, Jesus Christ is not just interested in healing this woman.  He’s interested in saving this woman.  He is interested in giving her hope.  And so, He brings her to a fore.  He brings her to center stage.  And, I imagine, when she came forth trembling, that everybody just kind of shrunk back and gasped.  “She’s not supposed to touch anybody.  She’s defiling Jesus.”  And there they are, she’s on the ground, trembling.  Notice what Jesus says, verse 34, “And He said unto her, ‘Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole’” - the tense is, be permanently whole - “of thy plague.”

Why did Jesus call her up?  Why didn’t He just let her go back into the crowd, healed, excited, rejoicing?  Because, I think, He wanted to do three things for her.  Perhaps you can jot these down.  Number one, I think He wanted to correct her thinking.  Because, you notice, He says, “thy faith hath made thee whole;” - not, that superstitious touch.  It wasn’t My clothing.  There wasn’t any kind of magic about Me.”  And the problem is, the people didn’t hear Him because, in chapter 9 of Mark, it says that people were always coming now to Jesus trying to touch His clothes.  They’re pressing, just trying to touch Him, they didn’t get the message.  It wasn’t His clothes.  It was her FAITH.  It was the object in her touch.  And, even though her faith was so small and so mingled with superstition, Jesus Christ still honored her faith, though it was so small.  He wanted to correct her thinking.

Secondly, He wanted to declare her clean.  You see, before this woman could enter society, before she can go back into the city and live and walk and work and touch and go to the temple and all of that, she has to go to a priest and the priest has to declare her clean.  Well, Jesus Christ, THE PRIEST, says to her, “Daughter, you are cleansed.”  He declares.  He takes the place of a priest, as the eternal priest, and declares her whole.

Thirdly, I think He wanted to encourage her heart.  He says, “go in peace”.  But, in fact, you ought to underline the thing that He calls her.  He says unto her, “Daughter”.  You know, that is the only time, recorded in the gospels, that Jesus ever called a woman “daughter.”  And, I think, in that little compassionate word, there is a world, and there is no way we can even get into all of it, but I think, perhaps, Jesus was telling this woman, “Listen, I know that your family has ostracized you.  I know that the world has cast you aside.  I know that you’re lonely but I want you to understand, you are My daughter.  There’s a place in My family for you.  You belong to Me.”  You know, we are not sure that this woman was immediately accepted back into society.  Probably not.  If she’d been divorced, perhaps her husband had been remarried.  Perhaps her children had already been raised by another woman.  Perhaps all of these things were to add to her continued agony.  We don’t know, but she could be encouraged that Jesus Christ called her “daughter.”  End of delay.  That’s it.  She goes back, now, into her life.

Now, notice what happens.  Verse 35, “While He yet spake, there came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house certain which said, ‘Thy daughter is dead’”.  Boy, how cruel they were.  Just to walk up and say, “Hey, Jairus, your daughter is dead.  Don’t bother Jesus anymore.”  And there is almost a suspicious element here, like they didn’t want Jesus at the house anyhow.  You know, “Jairus, we’re trying to protect you.  And you shouldn’t have gone to Jesus anyhow.  And don’t bother Him, He doesn’t need to come any further.  She’s dead.”  I don’t know what Jairus did.  And perhaps you have experienced the death of a loved one.  We have a member of our church that now is on the road because his grandmother died.  They say that when someone very close to you dies, the first step is denial, almost a rage.  There is an anger.  And, I imagine, that when Jairus heard the news, maybe, he clenched his fists and he immediately looked at Jesus like, “Why did you wait?  Why did you stop?  You could have healed her later.  You could have put her on hold.”  Anticipating that thought, Jesus quickly says to Jairus, verse 36, “Be not afraid, only believe.”  The tense is, “Be not afraid, just keep on believing.”  Here’s the delay.  Here’s your dilemma.  “Don’t lose hope, keep on believing.”  You’re in a delay?  You’re facing a dilemma?  Don’t lose hope but keep on believing.  For a woman, it took her twelve years.  For Jairus, perhaps less than an hour.

Notice next, verse 37, “And he suffered no man to follow Him, save Peter, and James, and John . . . And He cometh to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and seeth the tumult,” - interesting word, “chaos” - “and them that wept and wailed greatly.”  Now, in this day, if you had a person die in your family, it was customary to hire professional mourners.  They could care less about your situation.  In fact, the mourning of these people will turn to laughter at the drop of a hat.  But they are paid to mourn.  And it’s a tragic scene.  As I studied it, I tried to imagine, these mourners would lay on the body of the deceased and they would beg a response from the lips of the dead person.  They would wail and the word that they would wail was, “Ah la la. Ah la la. Ah la la.”  They would wail at the top of their lungs.  They’d rip their clothing and pull out hair.  Tragic scene.  They would hire flutists, as well.  In fact, playing the wailing of the reed flute was part of every burial service.  So, Jesus enters the scene and there are these people wailing and crying and screaming and ripping their clothing and their hair and the flutists playing morbid music.  Jesus enters that scene and He says, “What’s all the noise about?  She’s not dead, she’s sleeping.”  “And they laughed Him to scorn.”  The tense is, they kept coming back at Him with waves of mocking laughter.  Oh, their tears dried up, didn’t they?  Why, this would be good news, this would be hope!  “Really?  Are you sure?”  Instead, “You’re out of Your mind.”  And so, “He . . . put them all out”.  And He takes His closest disciples.  Verse 40, the last part, He - “entereth in where the damsel was lying.” - there are the Mom and Dad looking on - “And He took the damsel by the hand, and said unto her” - an Aramaic phrase of deep emotion, translated, “Little lamb, get up.”  Boy, I would have loved to have seen that.  Here’s a Mom and Dad, tears in their eyes.  They’ve lost their only child.  And Jesus, this itinerant, this evangelist, this preacher comes into the room, takes this little girl by the hand and says, “Little lamb.”  And immediately she gets up and starts walking around.  And the Lord says, “Why are you so shocked?  Give her something to eat.”  You see, that proved that she was not only well but she was able to continue functioning.  She was able to eat.  “And they were astonished” - the text says - “with a great astonishment.” - the Greek word is “ekstasis,” ecstatic.  They were ecstatic!  Wouldn’t you be?  With a great ecstasy.  “And” - the Lord - “charged them that no man should know it; and commanded that something should be given her to eat.”

You know, I come to a passage like this and it is so easy to apply.  But, by way of application, I’ve got to ask the question, Why did Jesus Christ put these individuals through utter agony?  Why?  Why did He make them wait?  Why did the woman with the issue of blood have to wait TWELVE years?  If God was going to heal her, why didn’t He just scoot it up about eleven and a half years?  Why wait?  And for Jairus, why interrupt this procession so that his daughter dies and they have to go through the agony of bereavement?  Why?  I honestly believe, it is for the same reason that Jesus Christ has you and me wait.  Let me give you two.  First of all, delays deepen our understanding of Christ’s sovereignty.  You know, for this woman, she was sick, she had been sick for years.  If God had answered her prayer, now listen carefully, if God had answered her prayer eleven and a half years ago, she may have never met Jesus Christ.  If she had been able to be healed by some other earthly physician, she would have never met the Great Physician.  And, even more than that, He brings her into His family.  She understands that, not only is He a healer, He’s a Savior as well.  You see, that delay created the opportunity for Jesus Christ to reveal to her that He is much more than some healer, much more than some magician.  He’s the sovereign Lord.  For Jairus, why, in the world, have him go through that agony?  Why, in the world, have he and his wife experience such pain?  Because the Lord wanted Jairus to know that He was much more than a healer.  You see, all that Jairus thought Jesus could do was heal his daughter.  He didn’t have any conception that He had power over the grave.  And so, if Jesus had gone immediately and just raised her from her sickness, why, He’d been doing that many, many, many times.  But Jesus chose to teach Jairus and his wife that, He is not only a healer, He is not only a Savior but, He is the sovereign over the grave.

You see, these delays deepen their understanding of who Jesus Christ is.  And that is the way that God wants to work in your life and mine.  What is your perception of Jesus Christ this morning?  Who is He to you?  “Well, He’s a giver of good gifts.”  That’s great.  He is.  But, when He turns the gifts off, He then makes a way whereby He can teach you that He is something else as well.  You see, I believe that our conceptions of Him are so trite, so small.  And one of His objectives is to deepen our understanding of all of His character, all of His characteristics, all of His attributes.  So that, you go through a delay and He reveals to you that He is everywhere, that He is all-powerful, that He is all-knowing.  And He acts that out on the stage that we consider delays and interruptions.  Delays deepen our understanding of Christ’s sovereignty.

Secondly, delays develop our trust in Christ’s sovereignty.  For Jairus, the Lord said, “Look, don’t throw in the towel now, just keep on believing.”  They deepen our trust.  A couple of months ago, I did what every young father has to do, at some point, in his fatherhood.  I put my child in the kind of situation where they had to trust me.  You know, you do that, you put them on the edge of the bed and you say, “Now, jump.”  And your ego is on the line.  I mean, if they don’t trust you, you’re a failure, right?  We have a tree, out on the corner of our yard right by the street.  We live on an intersection.  And one of my boys loves to hang on things and can hold himself up, if I can just get a branch just small enough.  And so, on this particular day, I thought, “Now is the time to put all of what I’ve been doing for the last year and a half or so on the line.  Does he really trust me?”  It’s a scary thought.  You know that he’s going to hang there until you let him drop of shear exhaustion.  So I found a limb and I put him up there and we’re playing, . . . and I stepped back.  And he’s looking down at me, you know, his eyes are wide!  And I said, “Let go.  Let go.”  And he’s hanging on, he’s not about to let go.  And I noticed that there were two cars that pulled up to the intersection there and they weren’t moving.  And I looked over there and they were all watching me.  Do you know, if he doesn’t drop, every time they drive by my house they’re going to say, “There’s the house where the kid lived that doesn’t trust his Dad.”  So my pleas, you know, they turned to threats.  “Let go.  Let go.  (whisper) Or I’ll spank you.”  Finally, I don’t know if it was exhaustion or trust, his eyes got real wide and he, kind of, let out a whimper and he let go and I caught him.  And we just both laughed.  You know, it was wonderful, for that sheer second of terror to my son, was to me a second of sheer delight because he trusted me.  What, for him was a terrifying experience, from that branch to my arms, was for me a wonderful experience.

Oh, isn’t that the truth with our heavenly Father?  We feel like, at times, we’re out, literally, on a limb.  And all we get from Him is this thought, “Hey, let go.”  And we’re saying, “No way.  I’m hanging on.”  But, when we finally trust the Lord that He is, in fact, a sovereign God, and we let go.  What for us is a terrifying experience, perhaps you’re right in the middle of a fall this morning, what for Him is a wonderful experience.  When He must say, “That child of mine, really trusts Me.”  Delays develop trust in the sovereignty of Christ.                                                          




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