Topic: Faith Passage: Mark 5:21–5:43
Grace Community Church
April 28, 2019
Mark 5. The plan was to begin a series this morning called the Quest for Character. Chip had even designed a nice graphic for the series (btw, I really appreciate the great job Chip has done designing graphics for each the message series). But over the past two weeks I felt the Lord speaking a different message to my heart and a strong sense that it was the word God has for us now.
Ever notice when you go to the doctor that the receptionist gives you a questionnaire to fill out that asks all kinds of questions like, “are you currently experiencing pain anywhere?” “have you fallen in the last two weeks?” “have you experienced any dizziness or blurred vision?” “have you experienced any unexplained weight gain in the past 30 days?” Defined unexplained. All these questions are there to help the doctor assess our health through the eyes of what we’re experiencing.
Here are some questions that might help us to assess our spiritual health through what we’re experiencing:
- Do you feel spiritually dry?
- Do you read the Bible but get nothing out of it?
- Are your prayers pretty lifeless - if you pray at all?
- Does God seem distant to you?
- Are there things you’ve been praying for, or people you’ve been praying for, for years without seeing any change and now you’re ready to give up? Maybe you already have.
- If someone were to ask you, where are you currently experiencing God’s work in your life, would you have a hard time thinking of a way?
- Are you settling for less than you know God wants for you?
Many of these are questions I felt the Lord asking me and what the Holy Spirit has been showing me is that the issue is with my faith. Not the orthodoxy of my faith: I still believe in the truth of God’s word. I believe with all my heart that Jesus Christ is the Savior and tthe only way we can be saved. In these things my faith is strong and for that I’m grateful. But faith in terms of expecting to see God’s power work on a daily basis, my faith was low. In terms of praying with a strong expectation my prayers will be answered, my faith was low. Maybe most concerning, I realized I had come to see this as normal. I didn’t expect much from God and I didn’t mind that I didn’t expect much. But God has been getting my attention and I know He’s not done.
I suspect some of you may be in a similar place. If you are, I believe I have a message for you from the Lord: He loves you in that place. But He doesn’t want you to stay in that place. Jesus said, “My Father is always working and so am I” – there’s never a day, never a moment, when God isn’t working. Never a moment when Jesus isn’t working. The problem isn’t with God! If we’ve stopped expecting to see God’s work in our lives in big and small ways every day, the problem is with our faith. If we depend more on our planning than on our praying, the problem is with our faith. We need God to renew our vision of who He is, and who He is in us. I want to ask you to believe with me for God to refill, and renew, and reactivate our faith. Let’s go to God in prayer.
Jairus comes to Jesus a desperate man with a desperate faith. He falls at Jesus’ feet and implored him earnestly – that means he’s asking with all his heart. For Jairus faith isn’t just a set of beliefs that he holds to, it’s his lifeline!It’s all he has left. “My daughter is at the point of death” – that’s the need. Having a daughter myself I can tell you I can’t think of a greater, more heartfelt need than having a child facing death.
Jairus is a desperate man, but he’s also a believing man. He asks Jesus, come lay your hands on her so that she may be made well and live. Jairus’ faith brought him to Jesus and he’s asking big and asking confidently. Jesus, you have the power to make my daughter live! That’s faith!
Jairus had what I call “active faith”. A faith that led him to action, a faith that brought him to Jesus, a faith that asked boldly for a specific answer. We need to watch out for our faith becoming mostly passive. What I mean by passive faith is a “whatever God wills to happen will happen. I will trust Him” attitude. That can be a beautiful thing and in some cases a powerful expression of faith that rests in God. But our faith will grow unhealthy if the extent of our faith is resting and trusting. Like Jairus we need a faith that moves us to bring our requests to God boldly.
The next test of Jairus’ faith was delay. A woman whose faith also brought her to Jesus interrupted their journey. We love her story, how she pushed through the crowd saying, “if I can just touch the hem of Jesus’ garment I will be healed.” But she didn’t just push through the crowd: she pushed past Jairus place in line. Have you ever read her story through the eyes of Jairus? His daughter is on the brink of death and the slightest delay could mean her death. Every minute must have felt like an eternity. He must have thought, Jesus, hurry up! my daughter may die if we don’t get to her quickly! This woman has suffered for 12 years, can’t she wait a little longer? I know that’s what would have been pounding on my heart if one of my kid’s lives were hanging in the balance.
Faith doesn’t demand God do what we want, and it doesn’t demand that God meet our timetable. Faith asks. Sometimes asking boldly, but God is God. We don’t tell Him what to do or when to do it. Our faith, like Jairus’, will often be tested by delay. The solution? Do what Jairus did: stay with Jesus. Don’t interpret delay as denial. Stay with Jesus.
God always answers our prayers when we pray with faith, but He doesn’t always answer them the way we want Him to. We pray for healing and sometimes He heals instantly. Sometimes He chooses to heal over time using doctors. Praise Him for both types of healings! And sometimes He says, “no, My child. Not this time.” Praise Him for His promise to be with us in the fire. Faith asks but never demands – Jesus sets the pace and calls the shots.
But sometimes when an answer is delayed we revert to passive faith, trusting God, but not asking God. I think this is one of the areas God frequently needs to help me with: I tend towards passive faith, but here’s the problem if we don’t stir up active faith: passive faith drifts towards que sera sera faith, whatever will be will be. (I don’t know Spanish, that’s an old Doris Day song) Even our trust can become stagnant –trusting God for great things becomes trusting God for OK things becomes trusting God for whatever. What starts as resting in God can turn to rusting in God if we don’t stir up an active faith. There may be a delay to God’s answer. We may not get the answer we want. We need both: a deep trust when things don’t go the way we wanted, and an active faith that brings us to Jesus asking boldly.
This brings us to the critical point of the story in verse 35.35 While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler's house some who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?”
Jairus’ heart must have sunk as he heard those words, your daughter is dead. She’s gone. Don’t bother Jesus anymore. The faith that brought Jairus to Jesus, the faith that stayed with Jesus when they were delayed isn’t strong enough to handle this crisis. His faith is sinking fast, ready to die with his daughter.
Jesus catches him: 36 But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” 37
Don’t fear, Jairus, only believe! There will always be voices that whisper the opposite of faith to our souls. Those voices may come from our family, our friends, even well-intentioned people in our church. Most often, those voices come from our own hearts. We hear do not believe, only fear. Only doubt. Only be cynical. Only give up.
Jesus encourages Jairus in the moment when he needs it most: only believe. I know fear is knocking on your heart, only believe. Jesus encourages us in the same way: believe in him. Everything else in this old world is uncertain, but Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Let your faith take you to the one who is faithful, who will never leave or forsake you, who loves you and has your best in mind. Be encouraged to only believe in Jesus.
In this critical moment, why does Jesus reduce the situation down to two words, only believe? Why not say, just wait, Jairus, I’ve got a surprise for you? Why press Jairus to keep believing at the moment when all hope seems to be gone? The answer to that goes to the core of why it’s so important for us to ask God stir fresh faith, active faith, bold faith in our hearts: because where there’s faith God works powerfully and where there’s not, God doesn’t work powerfully.
Church we need to get the idea out of our heads that everything is going to happen the same whether we pray or not, whether we believe or not, whether we obey God or not. Wasn’t Jesus going to do what he was going to do regardless of whether Jairus believed or not? In this case, I really don’t know. I don’t know what Jesus would have done if Jairus had listened to his friends and abandoned his faith. I do know it was important to Jesus that at that moment Jairus only believe.
When Jesus visited his hometown Nazareth, the Bible says 5 He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them.6 He was amazed at their lack of faith. He could not do…not he chose not to do any miracles. So many times when Jesus healed, he would say, “your faith has made you well.” When the Roman Centurion came to Jesus saying, “you don’t even need to come to my house. Just say the word and my servant will be healed” Jesus responded saying, I haven’t seen the kind of faith this Gentile has in all of Israel. When the Canaanite woman came and asked Jesus to free her demon possessed daughter and Jesus said, sorry, I can’t help you, you’re a Gentile and I was sent to Israel, it’s not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs, she responded, “Yes Lord, but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table”, Jesus said, O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” Even the woman with the bleeding condition that delayed their journey to Jairus’ house, Jesus said “your faith has made you well.” Jesus is the healer, but faith was a key component to his power working powerfully in their situations.
God has, in His sovereignty, chosen to match the level of His works to the level of faith operating in His people. Churches that don’t believe God does miracles anymore don‘t see miracles which they think confirms that God doesn’t do miracles anymore. Jesus refused to let the doubting voices come with them to Jairus’ house. He took only Jairus, Peter, James, and John. When they got there the voices there were even more devastating to faith: they mocked and laughed at Jesus. He sent them outside. Those who choose not to believe Jesus still works powerfully will have it done according to their faith – they won’t see Jesus work powerfully. It’s not that Jesus isn’t working, just means they won’t be in the room when he does. Active faith is saying, Jesus I want to be in the room when you do what only you can do.
Please don’t think this is meant to bang you over the head or threaten you: if you don’t have enough faith then God won’t bless you. Jesus knows the fear that’s banging on Jairus’ heart and he’s speaking into that fear with love and courage: do not fear, only believe. He wants to speak loving encouragement to your soul this morning. Do not fear, only believe. Active faith that takes action: bring your need to Jesus, ask boldly, ask specifically. Stay with Jesus, stay believing, when there’s delay. And when the answer isn’t what we wanted or hoped for, only believe.
- Only believe in Jesus! Believing isn’t where the power is, Jesus is where the power is.
- Only believe when guilt and shame condemn your heart and convince you God is distant and angry. Believe that Jesus’ blood paid the price and covered your guilt and shame.
- Only believe when you read the Bible that God will speak to you through His word
- Only believe when we gather together to worship that God inhabits the praises of His people
- Only believe that Jesus will save that loved one you’ve been praying for
- Only believe Jesus will draw that wayward one back to himself
- Only believe that Jesus still heals diseases and infirmities
- Only believe that Jesus will provide for the financial need you have
- Only believe that Jesus will use your life to be a blessing to others
As the band comes up to lead us in worship, what’s the need on your heart this morning? Maybe you’re like me. The thing you’re having trouble with is your faith – you need a fresh touch from God to renew your faith. As we worship, if there’s something you need to ask Jesus to do, or have been asking Jesus to do, I want to encourage you – actively bring it to Jesus this morning. If you are dry and need a fresh touch from heaven, as we worship the Lord, ask.If you so desire, I invite you to come up to the altar to lay your need at Jesus’ feet. Sometimes taking an outward physical step can help strengthen an inner step of faith.
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