In Mark 5, we encounter three familiar characters: Legion, the woman with the issue of blood, and Jarius’ daughter. All three are in hopeless situations that can only be handled by the Savior. All three see their circumstances change in an instant. All three experience total, complete deliverance from the things that held them in bondage. All three of them had an encounter with Jesus!
The chapter opens with a demon-possessed man living among the graves. He was living in the very place of death. His physical and emotional torment was constant. Mark tells us that he was “crying out and cutting himself with stones” (verse 5) night and day. He was unrestrained among the tombs because no one had the strength to subdue him and he broke the chains and shackles that tried to hold him. Despite his physical ability to move about freely, he was spiritually bound — subject to the whim of the many demons that possessed him. (Notice that the herd of pigs that the demons enter in verse 13 numbered about 2,000. No wonder this poor soul was in constant torment!) His future seemed hopeless; without a major change, he would forever be living — if this can be called “living” — among these monuments to death and defeat.
A nameless woman had suffered from a malady that caused her to bleed for 12 years. Can you imagine how weak she must have been from all of that blood loss? Living in a Jewish society, her perpetual bleeding would have meant that she was unclean — an outcast from society. She was undesirable, untouchable, and alone. She had sought treatment repeatedly that had brought her to financial ruin according to verse 26. The verse goes on to say that her condition was growing worse. After 12 years of blood loss, it is not too great a stretch to suppose that death was possibly imminent for her. She had no more money to spend…..she was broke! She had no more energy to invest…..her body was broken! After seeking help from so many specialists who offered no help, she was at the end of her rope and completely hopeless.
Jarius was a ruler of the synagogue, a religious leader. Surely help must be available for him. His 12-year-old daughter lay sick at home, close to death. Jarius was so desperate that he sought out the help of a Jewish teacher whose reputation and teachings were at best questionable to many of Jarius’ colleagues. When he finally found the Teacher and asked for help for his precious little girl, Jarius received the news that she had finally died. It was too late. All hope was gone. There was no reason to bother the Teacher any further.
But in an instant, their hopeless situations changed because they encountered the Giver of Hope! When Legion saw Jesus in the distance, he ran to him and fell at his feet (verse 6). Jesus would not simply settle for being acknowledged as the Son of God by a multitude of demons; He would bring hope and life back to this man who had dwelt among the dead for far too long. On this day, Jesus immediately brought deliverance and sent the demons into a doomed herd of pigs (verse 13). The nameless woman attracted very little attention to herself as she pushed through the crowd so she could simply touch the hem of Christ’s garment. Through that simple act of faith-filled contact with the Creator of the Universe, the illness that had baffled doctors and plagued her for far too long was immediately cured (verse 29). With just a couple of words whispered to a child now cold and dead, life and laughter replaced the hopelessness that had filled a darkened room of grief (verse 42).
These individuals were precious in the sight of their Heavenly Father. His desire was to bring them hope, life and liberty in an instant….and that’s what happened! Legion encountered Jesus and found deliverance and hope offered to replace his grave clothes. An inconsequential woman stumbled into the path of the Great Physician and received healing and restoration. A father sought out Heaven’s Hope so that his daughter might be restored and Jesus brought life and hope for the future where tears and sadness had once been. These encounters were brief, but the effects were lasting!
In today’s church, those with the greatest needs can sometimes have difficulty encountering the Hope Giver. Why? Because the church doesn’t always want to allow for the interruption to the service agenda. The worship hour is so packed that there is no room for adjustment. Our modern society is so time-sensitive that there is no option to extend beyond the scheduled dismissal — even if people need to hear from God. The three healings recorded in Mark 5 were not on the Savior’s agenda that fateful day. Jesus and the disciples had just come through a massive storm on the water (Mark 4:35-41) and I’m certain that they would have appreciated an easy day, free of any interruptions and inconveniences. But the needs of these individuals mattered…..and Jesus stopped to meet their need at the moment and place of encounter; it didn’t matter if he found them among the white-washed graves, along the dirt-strewn streets or on their death bed, He met them at their point of need and offered them deliverance and hope. The Church of the Savior could do well to learn a lesson from the One whose name we carry.