The Biblical account of the life of Jesus intrigues me. If Jesus is the Son of God, and what the angel Gabriel said to Mary is true, what was the early life of Jesus like? We know Mary and Joseph journeyed to Bethlehem by order of the Roman Emperor. We know that Jesus was born in a stable in the small village of Bethlehem. We know that there was no one at this event, other than Joseph, who was perhaps 18 years old. We also read that Mary “treasured these things in her heart”, knowing what the angel said, but not understanding the eternal plan of God, which she was part of.

So, I return to Luke’s account of this magnificent but unknown event. Luke is the only writer that gives us any history of this event. Mary had to go through the instructions given to women in the Levitical law. That would mean that for 40 days, Mary was basically secluded. She must have been with Joseph in Bethlehem. At the end of this 40-day period, they journeyed to Jerusalem for the rite of circumcision, again prescribed by the Mosaic law. It was at this time something interesting took place.

At the Temple, Joseph presented two Turtle doves and two young pigeons. If you were wealthy, the Mosaic law said you were to bring a lamb, and Joseph, offering two turtle doves and pigeons, speaks of the poverty. Luke then tells us that a man by the name of Simeon appears, He was a resident of Jerusalem. He was a very righteous and devout Jew, who had been waiting for “the consolation of Israel” that is, the coming of the Jewish Messiah. The Holy Spirit had revealed to him that he would not die until he held in his arm this Messiah. He came to the Temple at the same time Mary and Joseph were there and as Mary and Joseph were going through the rites prescribed by the Mosaic law, Simeon comes. He steps up to Mary and takes the baby Jesus in his arms and this is what he said; “Now Lord Thou dost let thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word; For mine eyes have now seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared in the presence of all people, a light of revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel”.

Luke tells us that Mary and Joseph stood there amazed at what Simeon was doing and spoke. Then, Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, “Behold this child is appointed to the rise and fall of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed and a sword will pierce even your own soul-to the end that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed”.

As if this were not enough, after Simeon was gone, an 84-year-old woman named Anna stepped up to Mary and Joseph. Luke tells us that this 84-year-old woman never left the Temple, and she spent her time in prayer and fasting. Standing by Mary and Joseph, she began giving thanks and she spoke of all that this child would do for Israel, including redemption.

I try to imagine how Mary felt about all of this. There had been the appearance of Gabriel, informing her that God had chosen her as the woman who He would use to bring His Son into the world. There are critical moments when she had to inform Joseph of this event and his struggle to understand it. There had been the journey to Bethlehem, from Nazareth, and the birth of the child that Gabriel had promised. There were the shepherds coming to worship. There were the angels, with their angelic message saying, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace and goodwill”.

Then, there was the journey to Egypt to escape the wrath of the Jewish King, whose name was Herod. Eventually, there is the journey back to Nazareth, and Jesus disappears for 30 years! We do not hear of Him again until he appears at the Jordan River to be baptized by his cousin, John the Baptizer.

The world that Jesus moved in did not believe that He was their Messiah. They called Him an illegitimate child knowing the circumstances of His birth. They called Him Beelzebub, the king of all devils. They watched Him raise the dead, and walked away, discussing how they might kill Him. They refused to believe Him and eventually one of His own Apostles betrayed him. With the help of the Roman leader Pilate, they led him to a hill outside of Jerusalem and killed Him by crucifixion. Standing beside that cross was a woman, who when she was 16, had been told by Gabriel that she would give birth to the Son of God. The word of Simeon echoed in her ears, “this child is appointed for the rise and fall of Israel…and a sword shall pierce your own soul”. There had been the angels and shepherds and the wise men. There had been the miracles, the dead raised, the teaching in His own village of Nazareth, where they had led Him to the brow of a hill to kill him, saying “is this not the son of Joseph, how dare He claim to be the Son of God”? Mary understood the pierced heart of a mother.

The world still struggles with Jesus. Who is He, really? Historically, the Story of Jesus can be told. We can read Him like we read the Iliad and the Odyssey, or study Him like we study the writings of Homer, but until you know Him as the Son of God, who takes away the sins of the world, you do not know Him any better than Pilate, or the very Jewish leaders who put Him to death. He is more than just another man. He is, as Paul says, “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation…in Him all things were created, both in heaven And on earth, visible and invisible…He is before all things and by Him, all things exist”. [Colossian 1:15-17]

The current health crisis has shown us that there are many people in our world that are in a serious health crisis today. The health crisis leads to economic crisis, which leads to social crisis. It is like a snowball going downhill, and the only way to stop it is a crisis of greater magnitude.

This is not a new event if you study history or read the Bible. The second gospel, Mark, gives us sufficient evidence that this crisis existed in the days of Jesus.

If you will open your Bible, you will find three people in this chapter. In verses 1-10, there is an account given us that is hard to believe in the day we live in. It gives us the story of a man living among the tombs, running wild and incorrigible.

The second person we meet is in verses 25-34. Here we meet a woman who is in a hopeless situation, facing an impossible physical problem. Mark puts her problem this way, “she had endured much at the hands of many physicians; she had spent all that she had, but was not helped but was worse”. Mark further shows us the desperate straits she was in; “…she thought ‘if I could just touch His garments, I will be whole’ “.

The third person we meet in verse 21. This person does not live among the tombs, nor is this person carrying a disease, but is a person of prestige and power. Mark gives us his problem in verse 23: “My little daughter is at the point of death…”. He fell at Jesus feet, entreating his help. [The word “entreat” is used three times in this chapter]
This chapter, more that any other chapter, shows the supernatural side of Jesus. This is something we must believe in. This is something our culture is failing to see.

In verses 1-20, we observe Jesus facing a most tragic person. A man met Jesus that society had been unable to turn into a useful person. We are told he was under the control of evil spirits, that is Satan had control of his life. He had been rejected by society; he lived among the tombs; society had tried to physically control him with ropes and chains, but he broke them all. What could society do with such a man but reject him and allow him to live apart from them. They feared him.

The evil spirits that controlled this man recognized Jesus, and plead [Entreated] with Jesus not to destroy them. Jesus released the man from their control, and by the time the area people came to see what was happening, “they observed the man who had been demon possessed sitting down and clothed, in his right mind…”.

Jesus still has the power to rehabilitate lives.

Our current culture has a hard time with this. David Garland, in his commentary on Mark says, “the passage reveals something about the societal nature of evil. Societies are no less possessed in their angry punishment of poor wretches who are discarded on the waste heaps of humanity. At some point in life, we give ourselves to someone. Who is it that controls your life?

In verse 21, we meet another desperate person. She has a disease that has made her unclean among the Jewish people. She has not been able to live a normal life. In her search for wholeness, she had sought out what medical help was available. She had spent all that she had, and tragically, she was worse not better. Then she heard of Jesus. She said to herself, “if I can just touch the hem of His garment, I will be made whole”. She heard that Jesus was nearby. She searched Him out, pressing through the crowd and, stooping down, touched His hem. Immediately, she was healed. It is interesting to observe the response of Jesus. Though the crowd was pressing on Him, He perceived that someone had touched Him in faith. Sometimes, touching Jesus involves pressing through alot of preconceived ideas of who He is, but Jesus is still Jesus.

Finally, we meet a man who is a Synagogue official whose daughter is dying. He finds Jesus, and in verse 21, he “entreats Jesus earnestly” to come to his house and heal his daughter. While Jesus is on His way to this man’s home, news comes to him that his daughter has just died. Jesus overhears what the synagogue official is being told and says to the official, “do not be afraid, only believe”. Interestingly, Jesus takes three of his Apostles and enters the room of the dead girl. People are weeping and wailing. The parents are upset. But Jesus takes the dead little girl by the hand and says, “little girl, I say to you, get up”. She got up and began to walk. “And all the people were completely astounded”

One man writes: “as He moves about, He leaves behind Him a trail of transformed scenes and changed situations. Fishermen are no longer at their nets. Sick people are restored to health. Critics are confounded. A storm is stilled, hunger assuaged, a dead girl is walking around. Jesus is never merely an observer but is a transformer.”.
From this one chapter out of the Gospel of Mark, I observe four things.

First, I observe that Faith opens the door to the power of God. The man from the tombs comes running, the woman with the hemorrhage comes pleading, and the synagogue official comes seeking. Faith is active not passive.
Secondly, I observe, Faith shows persistence in overcoming difficulty. Very seldom is the work of God dumped into our laps.
Third, Faith is embodied in action.
Fourth, faith has an element of desperation. It becomes a priority in our search for life.
Sometimes we do not see the results of our faith; the search goes unanswered. Martin Luther’s daughter, Magdalena, was stricken with the plague that swept through Germany. In spite of their prayers, Magdalena died. Luther, brokenhearted, knelt by her bed as she was dying and begged God to release her from her pain. And when she was dead and the carpenters were nailing the lid to the coffin, Luther cried out, “hammer away-on ‘that day’ she will rise again”.

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