Behold the Lord of Life!
Topic: The Glory of Christ Passage: Mark 5:21–43
BEHOLD THE LORD OF LIFE!
An Exposition of Mark 5:21-43
By Pastor Brian Wilbur
Date: October 18, 2020
Series: Mark: Knowing and Following God’s Son
Note: Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
THE SCRIPTURAL TEXT
Holy Scripture says:
21 And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about him, and he was beside the sea. 22 Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet 23 and implored him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.” 24 And he went with him.
And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. 25 And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, 26 and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. 27 She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment.28 For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” 29 And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30 And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?” 31 And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’” 32 And he looked around to see who had done it. 33 But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. 34 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
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?” 36 But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” 37 And he allowed no one to follow him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. 38 They came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and Jesus saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. 39 And when he had entered, he said to them, “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping.” 40 And they laughed at him. But he put them all outside and took the child's father and mother and those who were with him and went in where the child was. 41 Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” 42 And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement. 43 And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat. (Mark 5:21-43)
We Live in a Death-Shadowed World
The long shadow of death hangs over our troubled world.
Three Sundays ago, on September 27, we looked at the end of Mark 4 and got a glimpse of Jesus as the Lord who has the authority to command the wind and the sea. This miracle on the stormy sea is actually the first of a four-miracle unit that runs all the way to the end of Chapter 5 – and the theme of a death-shadowed world runs through all fifty verses (Mark 4:35-5:43).
Before this first miracle (Mark 4:35-41), as the waves were breaking against the boat, the disciples were freaking out in the midst of the great storm. They were afraid “that [they were] perishing” (Mark 4:38). Over and over again, the destructive power of nature rears its head and threatens human life. It might be as big as a hurricane, volcano, or wildfire. Or it might be as small as a coronavirus.
Before the second miracle (Mark 5:1-20), we encountered a demon-possessed man who, although he was physically alive, actually existed in the shadow of death. He was controlled by unclean spirits who wanted to destroy him. “Night and day… he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones.” (Mark 5:5) “He lived among the tombs.” (Mark 5:3) He was alienated from human society, and he did not have fellowship with God. Like every other unconverted sinner, he was dead in his sin (Ephesians 2:1). Unconverted sinners are dead spiritually even if they are alive physically. Paul described a self-indulgent person this way: “she who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives.” (1 Timothy 5:6) Wherever sinners yield to the shaping influence of sin or succumb to the control of unclean spirits, the shadow of death is present. And the echoes of death are discernible in the anguish of psychological disorder and the tragedy of self-destructive and anti-social behavior.
As we come to the third miracle (Mark 5:21-34), we encounter a woman who had a chronic health condition. The echoes of death are discernible not only in the disordering of nature and the disordering of the human soul, but also in the disordering of the human body. Physical injury, physical birth defects, physical aging (in the negative sense of wearing out), and physical disease exist because we live a world that fell from its original goodness as a result of human sin. Now we have to deal with cancers and viruses and chronic illnesses. Such things rob life of their vitality and cause great suffering among us.
Ultimately, however much health we are granted in this present life, we are going to die. And so, looking ahead to the fourth miracle (Mark 5:35-43), we are reminded that time and time again we must come face to face with death. Except for the people who happen to be alive at the time of our Lord’s return, every human being has died or is going to die. Indeed, the death rate hovers near 100% – and the only reason it isn’t 100% is because Enoch and Elijah never suffered physical death, but were transported directly to heaven while they were still physically alive.
Death is the great equalizer – the great agent of humbling to each one of us on an individual level: “the wise [man] dies just like the fool!” (Ecclesiastes 2:16); “It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart.” (Ecclesiastes 7:2). Each and every one of us has an appointment with death.
But death isn’t just about the individual; it’s about the community in which the individual lives. Death is an overwhelming sorrow in terms of the breaking of human relationships. When Jacob heard that his son Joseph had died (even though he actually hadn’t died), Jacob was overcome with grief and his soul refused to be comforted. Now in Mark 5 another father “[implores Jesus] earnestly, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.”” (Mark 5:23) So much of our living is bound up with the living of others, and death violently tears apart the fabric of human relationships.
Human Beings Attempt to Minimize the Threat
In view of this long shadow of death that hangs over our troubled and vulnerable world, human beings attempt to minimize its effects. Through the use of reason, we seek after technologies and therapies and treatments that buy us time.
In relation to Mark 4:35-41, human beings know that we live in a world where destructive windstorms and other natural devastations arise. So we have weather forecasters, forest rangers, firefighters and rescue workers, and emergency communication systems.
In relation to Mark 5:1-20, human beings know that we live in a world where people lose their mind. It is regrettable, though not surprising, that the secular world underestimates the role of unclean spirits in the disordering of the human soul. But in any case, we have psychologists and psychiatrists, therapists and counselors, and dispensers of psychotropics.
In relation to Mark 5:25-34, human beings know that we live in a world of sickness and disease. So we have doctors, nurses, physical therapists, and pharmacists.
In relation to Mark 5:35-43, human beings know that we live in a world of death. We do not treat death so as to undo it, but merely to come to terms with it. Hospice workers, funeral directors, cemetery managers, and grief counselors shall always have work to do in this present age.
But Who is Able to Deliver from Death?
I don’t mean to disparage any honorable folks who are humbly seeking to promote human flourishing through the occupations that I have mentioned. But I do mean to say this: none of them can deliver from death. No mere man can vanquish the power of death. No mere man can say to a world that is caught in the thick darkness of death’s long shadow: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
Our best efforts notwithstanding, death marches on. One way or another, death is coming for us all. I could tell you that in the year 2015, 2.7 million people died in our country and 57 million people died worldwide. I could tell you that the oldest person on the planet right now is 117 years old – this woman was born on January 2, 1903. The 1.6 billion other people who were alive when she was born, are all dead. Those are big numbers – too big, in fact – and they don’t hit home. What does hit home is that Armand died in July, Caroline died in August, Marion died in September. Most of us have multiple opportunities in the course of our life to “[weep] and [wail] loudly” because a loved one has died. And in due course, each one of us will be mourned by loved ones after we have departed this world.
This death-shadowed world is the world into which our Savior came. Jesus didn’t come to some imaginary world that is neat and tidy. He came to the fractured and fearful world in which we live. He brings peace into our panicky, perishing world. He brings mercy into our madness and frenzy. He brings hope onboard our sinking ship. This fifty-verse passage – Mark 4:35–5:43 – gives us a beautiful and big picture view of Jesus as the One who came to restore our disordered world. And as we behold Him – as we behold His ministry of mercy and His almighty power at work – the question that confronts you is: Do you trust Him? That is the question.
After the first miracle – the calming of the tempestuous sea at the end of Chapter 4 – Jesus rebuked the disciples: “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” (Mark 4:40) The choice is clear: afraid, or trusting. Then right before the fourth miracle – the raising up of the little girl who had died at the end of Chapter 5 – Jesus said to the father of that little girl: “Do not fear, only believe.” (Mark 5:36) The same clear choice: fearful of all that seems to be against you, or believing and resting in Jesus.
The choice before us is a very simple one on paper, but in reality our hearts will break apart as we seek to resolve that choice. On the one hand, there is the path of fear. On the path of fear, fear breaks us: we are afraid because our world is highly disordered and that disorder is profoundly unsettling to us and threatens us. But on the other hand, there is the path of faith – not faith in faith and not faith in anything but faith in the Lord Jesus. On the path of faith, our weakness is exposed and our self-reliance is shattered: we trust the Lord who alone has the ability and the willingness – the power and the grace – to re-order and restore our broken world. You will either follow your fears into the outer darkness, or you will follow Jesus into His eternal kingdom of peace.
Do you trust Him?
JESUS HEALS THE WOMAN WITH CHRONIC BLEEDING (v. 21-34)
Well, the “woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years” (Mark 5:25) – she trusted Him. Let’s look at what happens in verses 21-34.
As I have said before, the events of Chapter 4 took place in Capernaum, until the end of Chapter 4 when Jesus and His disciples journeyed across the sea to the other side, and spent a short amount of time in “the country of the Gerasenes” (Mark 5:1). But by the time we get to Mark 5:21, Jesus and His disciples are back on “the other side” of the sea, presumably back in Capernaum. Not surprisingly, “a great crowd gathered about him” (Mark 5:21) and one man in particular – a prominent man named Jairus, “one of the rulers of the synagogue” (Mark 5:22) – came to Jesus with great urgency on behalf of his dying daughter. Jairus demonstrated faith in Jesus – that Jesus was able to heal his daughter. As we come to verse 24, Jesus is accompanying Jairus to Jairus’ house, and yet the two men are not alone: “a great crowd followed him and thronged about him” (Mark 5:24).
It is at this point, amid the thronging crowd, that the emergency trip to Jairus’ house is interrupted, and another person enters the story. Here we meet a woman who is distressed on account of her disordered body. She has suffered chronic bleeding for twelve long years (v. 25). She has sought medical assistance for twelve long years – and while that succeeded at draining her bank account, it did not bring about any physical healing (v. 26). For all the efforts of “many physicians”, the woman “was no better but rather grew worse” (v. 26). Although her disorder was obviously physical, it also consumed her financial resources and would have complicated and burdened nearly every aspect of her life. Indeed, like the leper in Chapter 2 was regarded as unclean because of his leprosy, so this woman would have been considered unclean because of her continual bleeding. So in terms of Jewish religious life, she was on the fringe.
However, this hemorrhaging woman “had heard reports about Jesus” (v. 27). She had heard that Jesus had healed many others “who were sick with various diseases” (Mark 1:34). And she didn’t merely believe that these reports were true, but she went beyond that to believing that He could heal her. This woman had confidence that where the many physicians had failed, Jesus had the power to make her well:
“She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease.” (Mark 5:27-29)
Unlike the healing of the storm-tossed sea and the healing of the demon-possessed man, Jesus spoke no words when He healed the bleeding woman. But the spiritual power latent in His person was unleashed when the sickly woman touched His garments. Not by speaking but by simply being present in the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus brought a restoration of health to the woman’s diseased-wracked body.
The woman felt the reality of the healing in her body. She knew that she was well. And perhaps now she hoped to disappear back into the crowd, make her way back home, and get on with her life. But Jesus isn’t interested in brief, impersonal transactions. What Jesus wants with us is substantive personal relationships that transform us.
So even as the woman had “felt in her body that she was healed” (v. 29), so Jesus “[perceived] in himself that power had gone out from him” (v. 30). Take note: the power for healing was not in the garment that the woman touched. The power for healing was not in the garment, but in Him: “power had gone out from him” (v. 30, italics added). Divine power is not contained in icons, relics, or healing prayer cloths. Instead, divine power emanates from the Triune Godhead: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. If God chooses to display His power in conjunction with a physical object – such as this woman touching Jesus’ garment, or the Israelites of old looking at the serpent lifted up on a pole – that is His business, and we have no business questioning it. But we never forget the fundamental reality that the power comes from Him, and not from a thing. We are to have a Christian mindset, not a superstitious one.
So after the sickly woman was healed, Jesus wanted to know who had touched His garments. He asked, “Who touched my garments?” (v. 30). The disciples thought it was absurd to attempt to find this person in the midst of “the crowd pressing around [him]” (v. 31). Even so, Jesus “looked around to see who had done it.” (v. 32)
Any hope that the woman may have had to anonymously take the gift of healing and then run into oblivion, was dashed to the ground. She felt the gaze of the holy Healer, and she could not run from His presence: “But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth.” (v. 33) For twelve long years, the woman was uncomfortable because of a chronic illness. Now the healed woman was even more uncomfortable because she was having an encounter with the Lord of glory. One may legitimately question whether people who talk casually about their easy encounters with the Lord have any idea what they are talking about. And yet, I tell you an astounding paradox: the safest place in all the universe is to be bowed low in humility and honesty before the sovereign Lord. Listen to what the Lord says:
“Thus says the LORD: Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest? All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the LORD. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.” (Isaiah 66:1-2)
Blessed are those who come to Jesus “in fear and trembling”, for they shall not be turned away. Blessed are those who “[fall] down before [Jesus] and [tell] him the whole truth,” for they shall receive His peace.
And after the woman “told [Jesus] the whole truth” about what had just happened, Jesus pronounced blessing upon her.
“And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”” (Mark 5:34)
The woman was made well, not by paying another physician to try a new strategy, but by trusting Jesus. Her faith-in-Jesus mindset is revealed in verse 28: “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” She believed that Jesus had the power to heal the disease of her body. If only His power would be at work in me, then “I will be made well”. Therefore I will go to Him, touch Him, lay hold of Him, and receive His power. What the woman did with respect to her physical health is what we all must do with respect to our spiritual health: if only His power would be at work in me, then “I will be made well.” Therefore I will go to Him and touch Him, as it were, through prayer, lay hold of His grace, and receive His power to save. It is not by trying, but by trusting Him that we enter into the Lord’s peace.
“[Go] in peace” – what wonderful words! Do you see the pattern? The sea was reeling in the storm, and Jesus said “Peace! Be still!” (Mark 4:39) The man was reeling in the storm of demon possession, and Jesus sent the demons packing and put the man “in his right mind” (Mark 5:15). Jesus brought the sea under the sway of His peace. Jesus brought the man under the sway of His peace. And now He brings the woman, who had been so diseased for so long and was bankrupt to boot, under the sway of His peace: “go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” Biblically speaking, “peace” denotes wholeness, rightness, goodness, wellness – always centered on fellowship with God and His undeserved kindness to us. Go forth – in peace. Go forth – with the peace of Christ upon you. Go forth – under the beaming smile of your heavenly Father. Go forth – in the comfort of the Holy Spirit. Go forth – “and be healed of your disease.” Of course, she was already healed! But Jesus bids her to go in peace and to henceforth and continually live in the blessedness of the healing that she had received.
JESUS RAISES A LITTLE GIRL FROM THE DEAD (v. 35-43)
So far we have met the perishing sailors who feared that death was near, the demon-possessed man who was dead even while he lived, and the hemorrhaging woman whose life kept slipping away for twelve years. All this represents the long shadow of death over our sin-cursed world. Now, finally, at the end of Chapter 5, Jesus comes face to face with a little girl who had just died.
You will recall that the woman who touched Jesus’ garment actually constituted, from a human perspective, an interruption to the emergency trip to Jairus’ house where Jairus’ little girl was dying. And during the course of that interruption, that little girl had died. Even as Jesus was pronouncing blessedness and peace upon the woman in verse 34, people came from Jairus’ house with very bad news:
“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?” (v. 35)
What a contrast! In verse 34, Jesus proclaims the good news to the woman He had just healed: “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace…” But in verse 35, some other people proclaim very bad news to Jairus: “Your daughter is dead.” This highlights the choice that confronts us: will we live in fear on account of all the bad news, or will we live in faith on account of the good news?
Jesus responds to the bad news by calling Jairus to trust Him: “But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” (v. 36) Of course, Jairus had already demonstrated faith in Jesus when he pleaded with Jesus back in verse 23, and now Jesus urges Jairus to remain on the path of faith. Do not fear on account of the bad news that your daughter has died, but instead have the calm assurance of faith on account of the good news that I am here.
Now at this point Jesus only allows Peter, James, and John to accompany him to Jairus’ house (v. 37), and alongside Jairus they go to the house. When they arrive, they behold profound grief – which probably included professional mourners in keeping with the custom of the day:
“They came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and Jesus saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. And when he had entered, he said to them, “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him.” (v. 38-40)
Now at this point it is necessary to say a few things in order to make clear that the child was, in fact, dead. When you read verse 39, on the surface it sounds like Jesus didn’t think the girl was dead – Jesus said, “The child is not dead but sleeping.” (Mark 5:39)
Notice that there are people saying to the father, “Your daughter is dead.” (v. 35) People are so convinced that the girl is dead, that when Jesus says “[she] is not dead but sleeping”, “they laughed at him” (Mark 5:40). When Luke recounts this same event in Luke 8, he adds an important phrase: “And they laughed at him, knowing that she was dead.” (Luke 8:53) So it is clear that the people in the house were convinced that the little girl had died. So on the surface there appears to be a disagreement between all the people who think that the girl is dead, and Jesus who says “[she] is not dead but sleeping.” Which is it?
Well, there is a decisive reason why we must understand that the child was, in fact, dead. It is found in Luke’s description of the miracle in Luke 8. Luke writes, “But taking her by the hand he called, saying, “Child, arise.” And her spirit returned” (Luke 8:54-55). Which means that her spirit had previously departed, thus indicating death.
All this helps us understand what Jesus actually meant when He said “The child is not dead but sleeping.” He was speaking with the full knowledge of what He was about to do – He was about to restore her to life. From the perspective of this restoration that He was about to perform, her ‘death’ did not mean that she was finally and irreversibly “dead”. Instead, from the perspective of the miracle that was about to take place, her ‘death’ only meant that she was temporarily “sleeping.” When people like you and me stand over a corpse, all we can say is that the person is “dead” – there is nothing we can do about it. But when the Lord of life stands over a corpse, He knows that it is a very simple matter for Him to restore that life in an instant. And when the Lord of life knows that He is about to restore life to that dead person, it is as if the dead person is only taking a short nap. It is easier for the Lord to wake someone up from the dead, than it is for you to wake someone up from a nap.
And by speaking, the Lord of life awakens the dead girl and tells her to rise up. It is a tender scene: Jesus “[takes] her by the hand” and then speaks to her, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” (v. 41) “And immediately” – as immediately as the stormy sea had been calmed and as immediately as the hemorrhaging woman had been healed – “the girl got up and began walking.” (v. 42)
The girl was walking, but Dad and Mom and Peter and James and John were shocked. When Jesus raised the little girl from the dead, the people around “were immediately overcome with amazement” (v. 42). Like the disciples who were gripped “with great fear” when Jesus calmed the sea (Mark 4:41), like the townsfolk and villagers who “were afraid” (Mark 5:15) and disoriented when they realized that Jesus had healed the demoniac and allowed the demons to destroy the herd of pigs, and like the hemorrhaging woman who “came in fear and trembling” (v. 33) when she realized she couldn’t escape the Lord’s gaze, so now the witnesses to this miracle of resurrection were awestruck to be in the presence of One who could bring the dead back to life.
As distressing as it is to behold the power of death, it is even more disorienting to behold the One who has the power to reverse death. And while they were struck with awe, Jesus “strictly charged them that no one should know about this” (v. 43). Immediate publicity about this dramatic miracle would have only succeeded at creating mayhem and misguiding people’s expectations. The miracle of resurrection can only truly be understood in the light of Jesus’ own death and resurrection – and the promise of believers’ resurrection unto life at the end of the age. The passage concludes with the Lord’s wonderful human touch and down-to-earth practical care, which may have snapped the parents out of their amazement as he “told them to give her something to eat.” At this point perhaps they thought: ‘O, that’s right, she probably does need to eat something!’
WHAT ARE YOU TRUSTING JESUS FOR?
Friends, we live in a death-shadowed, death-distressed world. Storm clouds threaten and nature erupts with convulsions. Demons lurk and demon-possessed people are on the loose. Diseases strike and money can’t pay them off. Death looms on the horizon and eventually takes us all. Sooner or later the disorder of the world hits close to home, and we find ourselves distressed and in fear.
But Jesus came into this broken and unruly world – and He came as the spring of healing and the fountain of life. Who can subdue the stormy sea? Who can subdue the unclean spirits? Who can subdue chronic disease? Who can subdue the power of death? Jesus, the Lord of life! Jesus, the Prince of peace! Jesus, the King full of mercy and grace!
Do you trust Him?
Which leads to a very important follow-up question: What are you trusting Him for?
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that the miracles of Chapter 1-2 and the miracles of Chapter 4-5 teach us to expect quick-fixes for all our worldly maladies. If you go down that path, you will go off track. The main purpose of the Gospel of Mark is to show us who Jesus is. This question is hinted at in Chapter 1: “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” (Mark 1:27) But the question is clarified in Chapter 4: “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” (Mark 4:41)
Who is Jesus?
Well, let me tell you. I love how the Holy Spirit, working through Mark, has structured the first five chapters. In Mark 1:16-20, Jesus calls the four fishermen. In Mark 2:13-14, Jesus calls Levi the tax collector. In between those two callings, we see Jesus’ activity – and the first round of miracles takes place from Mark 1:21-2:12. Jesus casts out many demons, heals many diseases, cleanses a leper, and heals a paralytic. But the emphasis falls on the final miracle, and there it becomes clear that something else is far more important: He forgives sins. He tells the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” (Mark 2:5) And to those who were shocked at His audacity to forgive sins, He said: ““But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” – he said to the paralytic – “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all.” (Mark 2:10-12) If all demons were banished, and all disease and leprosy and paralysis were healed, but we were still stuck in our sins, then so what? If we remain in our sins, then we remain under God’s judgment, and as long as we are under God’s judgment, there is no hope for the future. We are destined to perish. So the first round of miracles taught us that Jesus came in order to forgive our sins and restore us to fellowship with God.
Now the fifty-verse passage that runs from Mark 4:35-5:43 presents us with a second round of miracles. Jesus calms a threatening storm, casts out a legion of unclean spirits, and heals a hemorrhaging woman – all miracles that take place under the long shadow of death. But once again, the emphasis falls on the final miracle – and the fourth and final and climactic miracle of this second round is the undoing of death. The whole passage, which shows us the long shadow of death, teaches us that Jesus came in order to deliver us from death.
Now put these two lessons together. Who is Jesus? Jesus is the One who rescues His people from sin and death. Biblically speaking, sin and death always go together: “sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (Romans 5:12); “the soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4); “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23); “I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins” (John 8:24).
One of the great tragedies of human folly is that we often don’t want to address our deepest problems. We look for safety from physical danger. We look to the medical community to treat our anxieties and diseases. We look to technologies, therapies, diets and workouts in order to make life a little safer, a little healthier, and a little longer. We look to politicians to solve complex social and legal issues which are complex precisely on account of our sinful and disordered hearts. All of these things have their place, but you need to reckon with the fact that none of these can deliver you from sin and death, and none of these can put within you the assurance of a hope that will never fail.
Don Carson wrote what is one of my favorite quotations:
“If God had perceived that our greatest need was economic, he would have sent an economist. If he had perceived that our greatest need was entertainment, he would have sent us a comedian or an artist. If God had perceived that our greatest need was political stability, he would have sent us a politician. If he had perceived that our greatest need was health, he would have sent us a doctor. But he perceived that our greatest need involved our sin, our alienation from him, our profound rebellion, our death; and he sent us a Savior.”
So the heart of the question is: will you trust the only Person in the universe who is able to save you from sin and death? Will you believe in Him? Will you have faith?
Jesus said to the frightened disciples: “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”” (Mark 4:40)
Jesus said to distressed father: “Do not fear, only believe.”” (Mark 5:36)
Jesus said to the woman who reached out to Him because she trusted Him: “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”” (Mark 5:34)
Sometimes in our proclamation of the gospel, we get overly concerned with the method of our presentation. We might have ‘the Romans Road’ or ‘the four spiritual laws’ or ‘a diagram that shows how the cross bridges the great divide between sinners and God’. We might have an evangelistic tract to hand out or certain points of doctrine that we want to communicate or a series of classes that we offer to someone who is seeking answers. Any of that or all of that may be useful, and we certainly must faithfully proclaim the content of the gospel. But in the midst of all that, let’s not lose sight of the main thing: we proclaim Him – not a system or study or diagram or formula, but Him. We proclaim Him who was crucified for our sins and thereby satisfied God’s perfect justice. We proclaim Him who rose from the dead on the third day and thereby vanquished the power of death forever.
Would you have peace? Go to Jesus, the Lord of peace. If He speaks “Peace! Be still!” over your soul, you will be well! Into our convulsing world, Jesus says to those who trust Him, “[Go] in peace.”
Would you have life? Go to Jesus, the Lord of life who reversed a girl’s death – and reversed a family’s grief – by raising her from the dead. If He speaks “Arise” over your dead soul, you will live! When the Lord of life shows up, He gives joy in the place of weeping, comfort in the place of grief, calm in the place of commotion, a sound mind in place of fear, forgiveness in the place of judgment, life in the place of death, and hope in the place of despair. These are not handouts to people who want quick-fixes. They are Himself, offered to us in love, and received by faith.
If you have Jesus, then you have all that you need – forever.
“Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” (1 John 5:12)
Let us pray.
 See, for example: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_the_oldest_living_people
 D. A. Carson, A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul and His Prayers. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1992: p. 109.
James R. Edwards, The Gospel according to Mark (The Pillar New Testament Commentary). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002.
William L. Lane, The Gospel of Mark (The New International Commentary on the New Testament). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974.
Eckhard J. Schnabel, Mark (Tyndale New Testament Commentaries Vol. 2). Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2017.
James W. Voelz, Mark 1:1–8:26 (Concordia Commentary). St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2013.
Ben Witherington III, The Gospel of Mark: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2001.