Monday, July 14, 2008

Just Believe!

Healer of diseases. Master of nature. Conqueror of demons and death. Jesus not only preached the kingdom of God in word, but He demonstrated it in power through his miraculous deeds. As we begin this new study over the summer we will take an in depth look at the miracles of Jesus. It will open our eyes to the way He impacted the lives of those He touched. This study will also reveal God’s heart and how significant that is to us today.

Read Mark 5:21-43

Be ready for supernatural breakthrough!

At this point in Jesus’ ministry, He is very popular with the crowd and is swarmed wherever he goes. A desperate synagogue ruler approaches him and pleads for the life of his little daughter. Jesus is moved by his request and begins to make his way with him to visit his daughter.

As He walk with him, a divine interruption takes place and we have the story of the encounter with this ‘unclean’ woman.

What strikes me first is what might have been going through the mind of the synagogue ruler. If he worked in the synagogue, he would be familiar with all the customs and teaching associated around ‘clean’ and ‘unclean’. For Jesus, the one that you want to touch your daughter, to be touched by an ‘unclean’ person would make you ‘unclean’ for a period of time and would disqualify you from any religious or spiritual ceremony.

Breakthrough on understanding of what it means to be clean...

However, Jesus makes the point of teaching the crowd through even the healing of this woman that He was the one to all of us who are unclean must come to be clean.

We are all so easily fixated on this idea of ‘cleaning up my act’ and yet just like Eustace in C.S. Lewis’ book, Voyage of the Dawn Treader, we try to peel the layers away of our own dragon like sinful selfish tendancies when we need his powerful claw in our lives.

Welcome the unwanted

In a time when you did everything possible to separate yourself from not being contaminated by impurity and so much emphasis was placed on the sterilization of the spiritual environment and the outward person, it was impossible for such a person as her to have any hope.

The fact that she was bleeding meant that she was unclean and therefore unable to have any contact with people in a public place. She could easily have been divorced on account of this or be permanently single. No one would marry an ‘unclean’ woman. The fact that she was bleeding in this way meant that she would be unable to have any children which was a huge scourge on a woman. She was marginalized, an outcast from society.

Who are the marginalized in our world, who are the outcasts in our community?

Mardi Dolfo-Smith, of the 10th Avenue Church on the west side of Vancouver, says that twice a week, people come in to her church for free food and sometimes shelter.
When the church started to renovate three years ago, the city's planning department said it needed a social services permit, because helping the poor is not in the church-use permit. The church has since applied for a social services permit, but not all churches have the same resources to meet the permit's onerous conditions, she says. "We're concerned that the city is separating our faith into different areas. We're also concerned that this will be too onerous for other faith communities, smaller ones, ones that maybe don't have the resources that we have."
The real issue is that churches are called to help the poor, and always have been, says Dolfo-Smith. "We have people eating here and then in the winters, we have up to 25 people sleeping here at night."

Dolfo-Smith says some neighbours worry that means the area isn't as safe and they have complained to the city"Part of our religious worship is actually caring for the poor. It's not a separate thing that we kind of do if we feel like it. It's something we're actually commanded to do."

Last week Sharon was getting really down about the Good For Nothing store because of the overwhelming work involved. A lot of clothes were soaked because of the rain as the bin was overloaded. As she was sorting the verse kept popping in her head...'don't be weary in well doing...don't be weary in well doing...' After a time of prayer with Rebekah and Erin a lady comes into the store who found us on the local dateline. It turns out that she was in such desperate need of clothes after losing her place and only with the clothes she was wearing. They were able to minister to her, find lots of clothes and surprise her with food certificates. Later that morning a store called to give the store their slightly damaged merchandise and so much was great stuff. It really blessed her day and reminded her why it is so worth it to see this ministry happen. After the morning was over she looked up the partial verse she remembered to discover the rest of the due time you will reap a reward!

Expect Jesus to show up and do the unexpected!

She knew who He really was! She knew exactly what she was doing. This was not just a random reaching out for Jesus. It was specific in what she knew about the promised Messiah.

Tzitzit – Numbers 15:37-41 refers to tassels (the fringe) on the corners of your garment…prayer shawl

The word in Hebrew for corners is ‘kanaf.'

She believes that there is healing power in the corner of his cloak. Malachi the prophet wrote that the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. (4:2) The word that Malachi uses for wings is also ‘kanaf’ – the edge of the garment where the tassels would be attached.

Jesus response to her is also really significant. He calls her a daughter. There is no distinctions for Jesus, He teaches the sanctity of all human life and no one is an outcast with Him. There is nothing that can keep you from touching Jesus, no sin, no disease, no pain that He cannot bring healing to.

He tells her to go in peace – shalom…it is the presence of the goodness of God. It is the presence of wholeness, completeness. He does more than provide physical healing for her, He places the blessing of the presence of God all over her. To be saved or healed is more than just getting something, it is being someone – it involves all of you as Rob Bell writes in his book, 'Velvet Elvis'.

However the story on this miracle is really the inside story of a miracle yet to take place which we cannot miss the significance of. Jesus is still teaching, still calling people to faith, still ready to do the impossible.

Don’t bother the teacher anymore…. v35 Imagine being the father in that moment...

What a death sentence that statement was. It was more than just knowing your daughter is dead, it is the loss of hope, loss of faith, loss of courage. How often do you feel like giving up? How often do you feel like, ‘why bother’!

That is the voice of the enemy and when you get into that pit, remember the voice of Jesus – don’t be afraid, just believe.

The Takeaway

Ignore what they say, don’t be afraid and believe that Jesus will show up! v36

Jesus calls the father to incredible faith and teaches the all important truth that when God is involved, never give up, never lose hope...yes bother Him as He wants to hear us, He wants to save, He is ready to do the supernatural in our lives!

Questions For Discussion

Share about a time when God brought a divine interruption into your life and how you recognized it.
Why are we so easily fixated on trying to ‘clean up our own act’?
Why is it hard to welcome the unwanted?
How do you practically ignore the ‘voices’ in your head that tell you to not bother, it’s not worth it when it comes to believing or serving God?

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