A Punchline One Day

A Punchline One Day

37 He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. 38 When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. 39 He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” 40 But they laughed at him. Mark 5:37-40

Jesus took His Selected Three to see the inner workings of His miracles. Fortunately, they’ve recorded those inner workings for us.

As was customary, mourners hired professional wailers to cry and wail loudly at funerals. They were paid to do this. There were others in the room making arrangements for the daughter’s burial, and in walked Jesus.

When He told them the child was merely sleeping, they laughed. Did the people in the room know who He was or why Jairus brought Him? Probably not.

Certainly what Jesus said was a bold statement. It’s no wonder the people laughed. The punchline of the daughter rising, of course, would come minutes later.

Many people not familiar with Jesus laugh at him. They laugh at us and mock those who follow Him. You see it on TV and the movies all the time. The religious person is always naive, holier than thou, and condemning the actions of the progressive sinner. Or sometimes they’re overbearing and authoritarian towards women. Never are Christians painted as God-fearing and upright people.

In this they mock.

Just as Jesus gave those in Jairus’ household the punchline moments later, Jesus will once again reveal His punchline later.

And somehow I don’t think the mockers will be laughing.

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Just Believe

Just Believe

35 While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?”

36 Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” Mark 5:35-36

There are quite a few dynamics at play here. Recall, Jesus was en route to help Jairus’ daughter when the lady with bleeding issues interrupted the flow and He had to deal with her. I suspect Jairu, while grateful for the help, was a little annoyed that Jesus would stop to help someone even though his precious daughter was on death’s door. He, of course didn’t say that but if it were me, I would be thinking that.

“Lord, um, can’t this wait even another hour? My daughter’s in a bad way over the hill there!”

Then Jesus was interrupted yet again by Jairus’ people kindly informing the Savior that there was no need to rush since the daughter had already died.

Jesus would not have undertaken this little journey if that were the case.

“Just believe.”

It’s such a simple phrase, isn’t it?

That’s what faith is. He was telling them to have faith in the Only One in the world who could change this rotten incident around.

He tells us that today as well, no matter the issue.

Your child has gone wayward – have faith.
You don’t have a job and the prospects aren’t good – have faith.
The political world has gone crazy – have faith.
It seems like Satan is winning more than he’s losing – have faith.

If we put our faith in systems, job security, or children for example, we’ll be disappointed most of the time. Jesus is the object of that faith. Only He can change situations around. Only He has power over life and death. Only He has power over sin.

Glory be to God!

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Oppression and the Believer

Oppression and the Believer

They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. 2 When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an impure spirit came from the tombs to meet him. 3 This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. 4 For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. 5 Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.

6 When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. 7 He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In God’s name don’t torture me!” 8 For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you impure spirit!” Mark 5:1-8

Jesus once again went face to face with a demonic spirit. This one seemed to be more powerful than the others. He had possessed the man for years and was ready to see his death.

Did Jesus get the rest and prayer He needed on the boat after He was disrupted? As he will say elsewhere, these kids of demons can only come out through fasting and prayer.

But Jesus being “prayed up” all the time was ready. Notice the man approached Jesus and not the other disciples. He knew who Jesus was even though they had never met before.

Quick primer: Demon possession and demonic oppression are very real even in our society. Obviously possession is much more real and in your face, whereas oppression is the overall sense that something isn’t right. For example, ever notice that arguing heats up on a Sunday morning before heading off to church? That’s clearly oppression because the principalities do not want you to have a fulfilling worship experience. Possession, on the other hand, is much stronger. A demon possessed person lays into on a Christian for the lamest of reasons and continues until restrained. It’s very obvious to the Christian what is going on.

As mentioned, oppression is much more subtle and insidious than possession. It’s therefore just as dangerous because it can happen any time and in any place. Recognize it for what it is early to pray and combat against it.

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The Cost of Following Jesus

The Cost of Following Jesus

33 With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand. 34 He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything. Mark 4:33-34

The disciples had a let up, so to speak, on the common people. Well, they had many advantages because they got to walk and talk with the Creator of the Universe for three years. But they were special in that Jesus broke the parables down for them, especially if they weren’t understanding. I’m sure He went even further than Scripture records in explaining the stories. If they needed use cases or what ifs answered, He would have one or twenty ready.

This premium teaching came at a great cost. They didn’t know it but in a few years their lives would be turned completely upside down. They would be mocked, ridiculed, and tormented for their faith. These people would go down a very similar route Jesus walked down, but they didn’t know it yet.

He was preparing them for their road ahead. Yes, they had the awe-inspiring privilege of eating and laughing with Jesus, soaking in all his teaching, questioning Him, joking with Him. Their love for Him would be tested many time throughout the rest of their lives.

But in the end, they would build a church that the gates of Hell could not stand up against.

We, too, have the privilege of walking with Jesus every day. Whether we do or not is up to us. He only asks that we lay down our lives daily and follow Him.

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Faithful in the Little Things

Faithful in the Little Things

24 “Consider carefully what you hear,” he continued. “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you—and even more. 25 Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.” Mark 4:24-25

Good managers will notice how well their employees are working with the tasks they are given and reward them accordingly. If they feel they can handle additional responsibilities, they’ll give them that along with requisite pay raises and titles. Two thousand years ago, Jesus taught this principle. Quite probably, it’s been a sound managerial principle through the ages but only recently been codified.

Like the Air Force instructor I”ve mentioned plenty of times, “If you can’t do a simple task I give you, why would I let you do something that’s 1000 times more complex?

Jesus was training His disciples for bigger and better things, but they first had to learn the basics of faith and love and sowing seeds and harvesting. It’s what professional athletes do best, the basics. Master the basics, and you’ll be rewarded with more advanced activities.

The principle is still relevant in 2021 as I write this. Be faithful in the things God gives us and He may bless us with greater responsibilities in the Kingdom of God. Of course that looks different for each person but the principle still applies.

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