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Sunday, January 29, 2006

Matt's Messages - Desperate

January 29, 2006
Mark 4:35-6:6

Last week, in our ongoing study of Mark’s introduction to Jesus, we listened to Jesus teach. Jesus taught in parables about seeds, soils, and secrets. The Word of the Kingdom planted in rich soil will bear amazing fruit.

This week, Jesus goes back into action. The Gospel of Mark is an action-packed biography. We learn who Jesus is by what Jesus does. And in the next several stories, Jesus does an awful lot!

Each of these following stories presents Jesus responding to people in desperate situations. “Desperate.”

I’d like to read these stories with you, slowly, noticing the details and then drawing a few practical conclusions at the end.

And as we see what Jesus does, we will see Who Jesus is.

Mark chapter 4, verse 35.


‘That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, ‘Let us go over to the other side.’ Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him.”

Stop there for a second. Remember, the escape boat that Jesus had turned into a pulpit while he preached his parables? Well, the day is done, and Jesus wants to escape in that boat. He needs a rest. He is very human and needs a rest. So they take off for the other side of the lake with a few other boats along. But Jesus’ nap gets interrupted. V.37

“A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped.”

The Sea of Galilee is like that. It is shaped like a bowl and a big storm can form and sweep over it in a moment’s notice. It took these fishermen by surprise and made them “desperate.” But Jesus doesn’t seem to notice. He’s sleeping like a baby. V.38

“Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, don't you care if we drown?’”

“Don’t you care? What do you think you’re doing? Don’t you care? How can you just sleep? We’re going to die! Don’t you care?” They are desperate...and foolish. V.39

“He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.”

“He said to his disciples, ‘Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?’”

“They were terrified and asked each other, ‘Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!’”

You get the picture that Jesus wakes up, yawns, speaks the wind, “Cut out that racket!”, rebukes his disciples, and goes back to sleep.

And the disciples just stare at Him. And whisper among themselves, “Who is this?”

“Who is this? Demons are one thing. Sickness is one thing. But this is something else! This is scarey!”

The disciples were much more scared of Jesus than they had been of the storm.

“Who is this? Even the wind and waves obey him.”

Remember the disciples’ questions. “Don’t You Care?” and “Who is this?”


“They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. [There is no crowd here, but there’s no rest here, either.] When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an evil spirit came from the tombs to meet him. [How bad was he? V.3] This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him any more, not even with a chain. 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. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.”

This is one bad dude. And he is desperate, too. He is demonized and oppressed and unclean, has an unclean spirit, is undressed, lives in the graveyard and is a menace to himself and to society. He is in a desperate condition. And he knows it. V.6

“When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. [Notice how even the demons are subject to Jesus!] He shouted at the top of his voice, ‘What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won't torture me!’ For Jesus had said to him, ‘Come out of this man, you evil spirit!’”

Jesus had commanded the spirit, but he had not left yet. He is trying to get around Jesus’ authority. He is saying, “Mind your own business, God’s Son.” But Jesus is not deterred. Nothing stops him. He has come to bind the strong man. V.9

“Then Jesus asked him, ‘What is your name?’ ‘My name is Legion,’ he replied, ‘for we are many.’”

The Roman legion had some 6,000 soldiers in it. The demoniac is saying that there is an “army of demons” inside of him. But that entire army must obey Jesus! And he knows it. V.10

“And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area. A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. [This story gets more unclean as we go on. An unclean man in an unclean place with unclean animals. The Jewish reader of Mark would be shuddering at the thought. V.12] The demons begged Jesus, ‘Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.’ [They want bodies, I guess.] He gave them permission, and the evil spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.”

I don’t think they went to “hog-heaven.”

One preacher called this the first occasion in the world of “deviled ham.”

We make jokes, but can you imagine the sight?

Two thousand feverish squealing pigs rushing down the bank and drowning!

Pigs don’t have a “herd instinct.” But here they are committing mass suicide.

That’s what the demonic will do. Satan wants to steal, kill, and destroy. It was just a matter of time, until this would happen to this man, as well.

That’s how desperate his situation was. But not anymore. V.14

“Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. [The death of two thousand pigs was an economic disaster.] When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid.”

They were afraid. Just like the disciples after the storm. Not about the pigs, but about the man! Jesus had calmed his inner storm, as well. And now he’s sitting there, dressed and in his right mind. The “strong man” had been bound and defeated. And the demonized man had been set free.

But he was the only one who was happy about it! V.16

“Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man–and told about the pigs as well. Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.”

They were scared. And they didn’t want to suffer any more loss of property like the pigs. So Jesus did leave. But He left someone behind to tell His story. V.18

“As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him [He probably didn’t need a Gentile disciple yet], but said, ‘Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.’ [Evangelism.] So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.”

“Does Jesus care? Who is this man?”


“When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake. [There’s that crowd again.] Then one of the synagogue rulers, named Jairus, came there. Seeing Jesus, he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, ‘My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.’ So Jesus went with him. A large crowd followed and pressed around him.” Stop there.

You can just about hear the pain in this community leader’s voice. “My little daughter is dying. Please some...” Jairus is desperate. And he hopes that Jesus can help. But there is an interruption. V.25

“And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years [as long as the dying child is old she has been bleeding. She is “unclean.”]. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. [She’s desperate. There’s not been much hope.] When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, ‘If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.’ Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering[!]. At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, ‘Who touched my clothes?’ ‘You see the people crowding against you,’ his disciples answered, ‘and yet you can ask, 'Who touched me?'’ [Again, Jesus’ disciples rebuke him. Again he ignores their ignorance. V.32] But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth.”

She is afraid of Jesus, too. Because He healed her! She trembles at this man who could heal her through her own touch. But Jesus is gentle with her. V.34

“He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.’”

“You faith has healed you. You trusted in me. And it was rewarded.” Wow! What a moment!

Think for a second now, about how Jairus must be feeling. The Miracle Worker was rushing with him to his daughter’s bedside. Then they got interrupted by this poor sick woman.

He is wealthy and important.
But this woman is poor and has no position in society. She has been perpetually unclean for twelve years.

Jairus might be feeling impatient. But then, he sees what Jesus can do and hope flickers up in him again. And then it gets dashed into a legion of pieces. V.35

“While Jesus was still speaking, some men came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. ‘Your daughter is dead,’ they said. ‘Why bother the teacher any more?’ [There is no more hope.]”

Oh. How painful. Can you imagine what that must have felt like? “Your daughter is dead.” There is no more hope. You must be desperate with death.


“Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, ‘Don't be afraid; just believe.’ He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. When they came to the home of the synagogue ruler, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. [They were already desperate with the death.] He went in and said to them, ‘Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.’ [I’m not sure why He says that. Perhaps He doesn’t want to attract attention to Himself as a resurrectionist, just as a healer. V.40] But they laughed at him. After he put them all out, he took the child's father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was.”

She’s lying there dead. No breath. No heartbeat. No brainwaves. No movement. Dead.

“He took her by the hand and said to her, ‘Talitha koum!’ (which means, ‘Little girl, I say to you, get up!’). Immediately the girl stood up and walked around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat.” She was hungry.

“Does Jesus care?” “Who is this that can raise the dead to life?!?”

One more story of desperation. Desperate in the worst kind–unbelief. Chapter 6, verse 1.


“Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. ‘Where did this man get these things?’ they asked. ‘What's this wisdom that has been given him, that he even does miracles! Isn't this the carpenter? Isn't this Mary's son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren't his sisters here with us?’ And they took offense at him. Jesus said to them, ‘Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor.’ He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. And he was amazed at their lack of faith. Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village.”

Desperate In Unbelief.

These people couldn’t see past their history with Jesus to see Who He really was. They could only think of Jesus as a hometown boy. And they didn’t realize how desperate their condition was.

They took offense at Jesus. And He was amazed at their lack of faith.

So much so, that Jesus–Who stilled the sea, cast out an army of demons, stopped the flow of blood without a thought, and raised the dead–“could not do any miracles” in His hometown because of their lack of faith.

That doesn’t mean that He stopped being omnipotent. It means that He has, in His wisdom and goodness, decided that He will not, morally cannot do much in the way of miracles when there is no faith present.

And that leaves Nazareth in the most desperate condition of all of these five stories.

Now, let’s draw some conclusions about Jesus from the portrait of Jesus’ actions that Mark has been painting for us. I have three.


When they were desperate in the storm, the disciples asked Jesus if He cared if they perished.

Did He?

Well, aside from the fact that they shouldn’t have been afraid in the first place because the Son of God was asleep in their boat, He did care.

And He did care for the man who was harassed and oppressed by an army of demons.

And He did care for the woman who had been bleeding for 12 years.

And He did care for the family that had lost a pre-teen girl.

And He did care for his unbelieving hometown.

Jesus cares.

I don’t know if you are desperate right now.

But if you are, Jesus cares.

If you are facing a storm, a sickness, a death, or even a demon, Jesus cares right now about your situation. He cares about you. Jesus cares.

Jesus is not so busy running the universe that He is not attentive to your problems, your crisis, your suffering, your situation. Jesus cares.

And because He cares, you don’t need to worry. You don’t need to be afraid.

1 Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all your anxiety on [God] because he cares for you.”

You don’t need to worry. Jesus cares for you.

That doesn’t mean that He will still every storm for you, or heal every sickness, or raise the dead for you. But He will do what is best for you. He will take care of you. Because He cares for you.

You don’t have to worry.

Jesus cares.

What are you going through right now that has you all tied up in knots?

I’ve noticed that fear is a major temptation for people in our community.

What are you going through right now that you are wondering, “Does Jesus care?”

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

“Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

Alistair Begg preached at Moody once when Heather and I were students there. And he preached on that verse, 1 Peter 5:7. And he said the word for “cast” is “hurrrrl” and rolled his R’s for us. “Hurrrl.” And I’ve never forgotten it.

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

Jesus cares.


In the boat, the disciples were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him.”

What’s the answer that Mark gives? Chapter 1, verse 1.

“The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”

Jesus is God Almighty.

He does what only God Almighty can do.

We “Sing the Mighty Power of God.” And that power is resident in Jesus.

Listen to Psalm 107 which is a song about God. Verse 23.

“Others went out on the sea in ships; they were merchants on the mighty waters. They saw the works of the LORD, his wonderful deeds in the deep. For he spoke and stirred up a tempest that lifted high the waves. They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths; in their peril their courage melted away. They reeled and staggered like drunken men; they were at their wits' end. Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven. Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men.”

God did that.

And Jesus did it, too.

“Who is this?” Jesus is God Almighty.

The demon knew it! He said, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?”

And it was obvious from His miracles.

Casting out the demons, healing the woman, raising the girl.

Jesus is Almighty God.

Mark wants to introduce Jesus to the world as Almighty God come in the flesh.

And because He is God, He deserves our unending worship.

And He also deserves (and asks for) our faith.


Jesus deserves our faith.

The disciples had two questions back in the boat: “Do you care?” and “Who is this?”

Jesus had two questions, too. “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

Jesus wants us to believe in Him.

Faith was the issue with the Gerasene townspeople, as well. They didn’t want to trust Jesus, they just wanted Him to leave.

The man who had been besieged by a legion of demons believed. And He was sent to tell others so that they would believe, as well.

Faith was the key to the suffering woman, wasn’t it?

Jesus said, “Daughter, your faith has healed you.”

Jesus wants us to believe in Him.

What did He then tell Jairus? Chapter 5, verse 36.

“Don’t be afraid; just believe.”

Jesus wants us to believe in Him.

In His power, in His person, in His promises.

“Don’t be afraid; just believe.”

Do you believe in Jesus? He is so worthy of our faith.

If you have never put your faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior, He is calling for you to do so today.

“Don’t be afraid; just believe.”

Jesus is God Almighty, and yet He cares about you. He died on the Cross as the sacrifice for the sin of all who believe.

And He invites you, calls you, to place your trust in Him today as Savior and Lord, Rescuer and King.

“Don’t be afraid; just believe.”

All of us are prone to unbelief even after we have initially trusted Christ.

But Jesus is worthy of our trust.
Jesus is worthy of our faith.
Jesus is worthy of our belief.

Jesus wants us to believe in Him.

Are you trusting Jesus right now?

Not just for salvation. But for protection? For satisfaction? For provision? For being “enough” for you?

Are you trusting Jesus right now?

Or are you like the people Nazareth?

They were in the most desperate situation of all of these stories; they just didn’t know it.

They looked at Jesus and only saw “Mary’s son.”

And they went to Hell for it.

Jesus wants us to look to Him and see Almighty God and place our faith in Him alone.

“Don’t be afraid; just believe.”

Jesus cares. “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”

“Cast your cares on him, because he cares for you.”

Jesus is Almighty God. “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”

Jesus wants us to believe in Him. “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”

Jesus is the answer for all of our desperate needs. Let us trust in Him.