Tag Archives: Mark 5

Would I Kneel?

Young Man Kneeling by Sam Loggie

Posture can be used to emphasize power and importance. Kings had high, imposing thrones to signify their power over their subjects. Visitors to ancient and medieval courts had to kneel and kiss the ring of their Lord. Even in our democratic society, leaders can be distinguished by their corner office or imposing title. Power demands attention.

In the gospel of Mark, the reader sees people posturing. In chapter five the Gerasene demon-possessed man, the leader of the synagogue (named Jairus), and a woman who suffered from chronic bleeding each knelt before Jesus and begged for his help. They all acknowledged with their kneeling posture that Jesus was Lord, a person with authority and status. They recognized the power of Jesus.

I am not one who kneels easily. I’ve come to realize that I prefer to see Jesus as my friend and guide, who accompanies me, rather than as Lord and Master who commands me. I acknowledge his Lordship verbally, but I wonder if that is more ritual than deep conviction. Am I willing to “beg” Jesus for his assistance, like Jairus (Mark 5:23)?

The question of posture comes into sharper contrast at the end of the chapter. When Jairus heard the news, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher (Jesus) any further?” Jesus intervened. He told Jairus not to fear, but to trust in him. Jesus is Lord and has power. When they entered the room of the girl, the scripture says, “He took her by the hand.” I must assume that Jesus knelt down, since all beds were floor level. What an incredible act of tender love!

With love, Jesus knelt to meet the girl’s need. The whole incarnation is a form of God’s kneeling to meet the needs of humanity. Jesus’ birth, ministry, and death was God’s way of kneeling down before us, not to acknowledge our rebellious “power,” but as a way to enter our pain and suffering and lift us up.

As the Philippians hymn states

Jesus who emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Therefore God highly exalted him and gave him the name above that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth (Phil 2:7-10)

Lord Jesus, as you knelt to save me, now teach my knees and my heart to bend towards you.

Go Where I Send You

Why would Jesus turn someone away? Someone who begs to follow him?

In Mark 5, Jesus casted out the demon named Legion from a man who lived in Gerasenes, a Gentile region of northern Palestine. When he was restored to his right mind, he sat with Jesus. His neighbors were in an uproar and begged Jesus to leave. As Jesus entered his boat, the man begged to be with Jesus, to be a disciple. Jesus refused.

But his refusal had a purpose. This man was given a very special mission. Jesus said to him,

Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and what mercy he has shown you (Mark 5:19).

This is quite similar to the mission that the apostles are given in the next chapter of Mark. I find it both ironic and hopeful that this Gentile, recently-possessed man is given the mission of proclamation prior to the carefully selected twelve. I also find it highly instructive that he would be given this task to go to his friends and neighbors, not some distant land or foreign culture. Also as one who has recently experienced mercy of Jesus, he is a passionate advocate for Jesus. New converts are often the most passionate and assertive regarding their faith in Christ.

As a Lutheran pastor, I know that some people are specifically called to be pastors and teachers of Jesus’ message. I am thankful for those who answer that specific call. Yet, as this story bears witness, we can all bear witness to what Jesus has done for us, how we have experienced the Lord’s mercy and joy. God may send us to a new location, but the more probable is that he will send us to our friends and neighbors to give witness.

The Gospel of Mark never mentions this man’s name nor reports on his mission, except that all are amazed at the man’s testimony. Let us together rejoice in God’s mercy and amazing grace towards us.

Lord Jesus, help me to be attentive to your voice and to be willing to use my voice to speak of your mercy.

Breaking Free of Chains

No one could restrain him any more, even with a chain. (Mark 5:3)

In Mark 5, Jesus crossed the Sea of Galilee into Gentile territory. He was outside of his native Jewish land and his first encounter is quite symbolic, a demon-possessed man. The encounter with the unclean spirit is described in rich detail. He is living among the tombs (the dead) and totally alone. People had tried to bind him with chains, but failed due to the strength of the demons. The man must have been in great pain, howling at night and bruising himself with stones. He would not be someone I would be excited to meet. My first reaction would be to build a fence to keep him out.

The story may sound bizarre and strange to our ears, but the reality of people caught in destructive behavior is real. To be possessed by Satan should not be restricted to horror movies or distant lands. While I believe in demonic possession and the power of Satan, I also believe that the demonic is more cloaked and hidden in our modern culture.  Addiction, cutting, pornography, and abuse are some of the means that Satan uses today to bind us in chains. Drew Jonell’s photo reminds me that our chains can try to keep us from the light.

As C. S. Lewis once cautioned there are two dangers with a Christian’s understanding of Satan. One is to deny his existence and thereby open the door to his temptations. The other danger is too become overly obsessed with Satan’s affairs.  The Gospel writers see both dangers and steer clear of either. Demons are confronted, but Jesus always wins. The scriptures show us that demons, like death,  may distract us from Jesus, but they will ultimately be defeated. We are to keep our eyes on Jesus.

C. S. Lewis also wrote in Screwtape Letters, “Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one–the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”

The cross and empty tomb are our signposts on the way to God’s kingdom.

Lord Jesus, continue to save us from the time of trial and to deliver us from evil.