There’s one thing that we can all agree on: Our world has problems!
Historians have labeled the period 1830-1850 as an “age of reform.” Quickly following that was a religious social reform movement called the “Social Gospel” from about 1870-1920.
One thing that all of these reform movements had in common was the belief that mankind could improve themselves; that through mere physical change that we could make the world a better place. As explained in the Encyclopedia Britannica, these various “reform” movements...
“...rested on the conviction that the future could be controlled and improved. Life might have been cruel and harsh on the frontier, but there was a strong belief that the human condition was sure to change for the better...”
Although historians have placed arbitrary time periods around the “age of reform” and the “social gospel” movement, we continue to here calls for reform in the 21st century:
Just about any activity or institution can have the word “reform” added to it!
In many ways, all of these “reforms” continue to have the same foundational belief: Mankind has the ability to improve itself and to make the world a better place for everyone.
Does mankind have the ability to improve itself? Does mankind have the ability to make the world a better place? Through the years have these various attempts of “reform” resulted in lasting change and results for the better?
I believe that everyone - if they were completely honest - would have to say, “No,” and the events surrounding the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota over the past several days have proven. As one news headline read on Saturday morning: Outrage Spills Across America
Below that headline, it read:
Anger boils over in more than 30 cities leaving a man dead in Detroit and an officer dead in Oakland after George Floyd’s death.
Atlanta mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms said...
"What I see happening on the streets of Atlanta is not Atlanta. This is not a protest. This is not in the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr. (a social reformer) This is chaos.”
So, if “reform” is not the answer to all of mankind’s problems, what is?
In our Journey with Jesus through the book of Mark, let’s listen to the testimony of three individuals which are recorded for us in Mark chapter 5 as they answer that question for us.
The Demon-Possessed of Gadara
Much in the same way as with the woman at the well (in John chapter 4), Jesus goes “out of His way” to cross over the Sea of Galilee for this encounter with this demon possessed man. Praise the Lord that Jesus went “out of His way” when He left Heaven to come to this earth to have an encounter with the old rugged cross!
Notice, in these verses, how this man, and his condition are described:
He had an unclean spirit.
He dwelt among the tombs.
He could not be controlled. The prison system could not help this man.
Mark 5:4 Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him.
No “man” could help him. Night and day this man cried and cut himself.
Now, of all the ways in which this man was described, what would you say was his worst problem? How would you help him?
Again, as I have already pointed out, there was no “man” who could help him. There was no prison that could hold him; there was no psychiatrist who could help him; there was no medication that could calm him; there was no group therapy that could help him change. They couldn’t even change his environment. Habitat for Humanity couldn’t build him a house nice enough; he chose to sleep amongst the dead.
No social program could help this man because no social program or social reform could address this man’s greatest problem; he was possessed of devils! Until that “problem” was addressed, nothing else mattered.
I love how vs. 6 begins...
Mark 5:6 But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him,
When this crazed man saw Jesus, he immediately knew what he needed to do; he needed to worship the Son of God! The only One Who could help him!
Mark 5:7 And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not.
But the demons wanted nothing to do with Jesus. They wanted to be left alone. It’s “interesting” to me that these devils said, “I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me no.” Isn’t that exactly what these devils had been doing to this man?
Ladies and gentlemen, understand this - the devil does not care about you.
John 10:10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
And that is exactly what Jesus did for this man; Christ gave him his life back!
Mark 5:8 For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit.
A little side note: There is nothing good, pure, holy, beneficial - and the list could go on - about the devil. Christ referred to this spirit as “unclean.”
Notice the change in this man after he met Jesus:
Mark 5:15 And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid.
The testimony of this former demon-controlled man? That which no “man” could do was accomplished in an instant by Jesus Christ, the Son of God!
Next, we hear from...
The Diseased Woman
I praise the Lord for our doctors and nurses and those who work in the medical profession. My mother worked as a nurse throughout my entire life as I was growing up. I have a sister who is a nurse. I thank God for the medical profession.
I need to preface what I am about to say. I am in no way advocating that you should not seek medical help. (I’m thankful for the medical help that I have received through the years.)
But, for all the work and dedication of those in the medical profession, “they” can’t give health to anyone. In fact, at times, those in the medical profession are at a loss to know what to do; at times, those in the medical profession reach a point where they have done all that they can do for an individual.
Such is the case of this woman.
Mark 5:26 And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse,
Physically, she had seen every doctor that she could. They could not help.
Physically, she had spent all that she had to find a cure for her disease but had found none.
Praise the Lord, though, for vs. 27:
Mark 5:27 When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment.
“When she heard of Jesus...”
I don’t know how she heard; I don’t know from whom se heard; but praise the Lord that she heard of Jesus. (Aren’t you glad that you heard about Jesus?!)
This woman had heard about a lot of doctors. This woman had heard about a lot of cures. But it wasn’t until she heard of Jesus that her life - and health - took a turn for the better!
When she heard, she came. She touched His garment. She was immediately healed. Why? How?
Mark 5:34 And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.
Thy faith? Yes, she exercised faith in Christ. She believed that Christ could and He did.
Ephesians 2:8–9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
There are those who say that a person cannot exercise faith in God until God gives them that faith. No, that is not the case; that cannot be the case. We see that in this woman’s example. When she heard; she came.
Mark 5:28 For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole.
She exercised what faith she had. Christ took it from there.
The testimony of this diseased woman? Only Jesus can make you whole - spiritually and physically!
The Distraught Dad
Did you know that religion is one of the biggest lies that has ever been told?
In this passage of scripture we have a very religious man - he was a ruler of the synagogue. However, his “religion” could not help his daughter. I’m sure that Jairus was a good man. But his “goodness” was of no use in healing his daughter.
What is interesting about Jairus, though, is that he apparently did not fall prey to one of the most debilitating effects of religion and that is pride. Most all of the other religious rulers that Jesus came into contact with were filled with pride. They did not need Jesus. They didn’t like Him! They didn’t want Him! In fact, most of the religious leaders and rulers in Jerusalem were trying to get rid of Jesus!
John 11:53 Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death.
In their pride, they - the religious crowd - certainly would not go to Him for help!
But Jairus humbled himself.
Mark 5:22 says, “…he fell at his (Christ’s) feet.”
The following verse says, “And besought him (Christ) greatly...” He begged for Jesus to heal his daughter.
Well, we all know “the rest of the story.” Jairus’ daughter did die but Christ brought her back to life!
The testimony of Jairus? Religion cannot give life. All it can do is remind a person of death. Only Christ can bring life!
So, what should we do?
Mark 5:27 When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment.
Come to Jesus
Whatever your need; whatever your problem; come to Jesus. It doesn’t matter what you have tried to solve your problem; to meet your need; come to Jesus.
As Jairus did, humble yourself before God. Beg for His healing. He is kind and compassionate. He is waiting for you to come to Him and to call out to Him.
Romans 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Not only that, but again, in vs. 27, it says, “When she heard...” She heard about Christ from someone. Someone told her about Christ.
We must heed the instruction given to the demon possessed man in vs. 19-20:
Mark 5:19–20 Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee. And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel.
Go and Tell
We must go and we must tell! Those who have experienced the “great things” of the Lord have a responsibility to tell others of what the Lord has done for us!
Will you go? Will you tell?
Mankind does not have the ability to improve itself. No physical change - no reform - in our behavior, our environment, or our circumstances will ever be able to address and meet the needs of mankind. Only Jesus. Come to Him today. Then, go and tell!