The Price Of Righteousness: Mark 6:14-30


King Herod heard about it, for his fame had become widespread, and people were saying, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead; that is why mighty powers are at work in him.” Others were saying, “He is Elijah”; still others, “He is a prophet like any of the prophets.” But when Herod learned of it, he said, “It is John whom I beheaded. He has been raised up.” Herod was the one who had John arrested and bound in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, whom he had married. John had said to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” Herodias harbored a grudge against him and wanted to kill him but was unable to do so. Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man, and kept him in custody. When he heard him speak he was very much perplexed, yet he liked to listen to him. She had an opportunity one day when Herod, on his birthday, gave a banquet for his courtiers, his military officers, and the leading men of Galilee. Herodias’s own daughter came in and performed a dance that delighted Herod and his guests. The king said to the girl, “Ask of me whatever you wish and I will grant it to you.” He even swore (many things) to her, “I will grant you whatever you ask of me, even to half of my kingdom.” She went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?” She replied, “The head of John the Baptist.” The girl hurried back to the king’s presence and made her request, “I want you to give me at once on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” The king was deeply distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests he did not wish to break his word to her. So he promptly dispatched an executioner with orders to bring back his head. He went off and beheaded him in the prison. He brought in the head on a platter and gave it to the girl. The girl in turn gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb. The apostles gathered together with Jesus and reported all they had done and taught.

I’ve often thought, would I have become a Christian, if I’d known what all it entailed? The short answer is yes, because I haven’t renounced my faith or turned away from God. But there are times (like now) when I seriously think of throwing in the towel for the seeming injustices in my life, yet Peter’s words hauntingly return to me, “To whom shall we go?” [Jn. 6:68]

John the Baptist followed God. He did and said all that God had given him to say and do. He was the first to recognize Jesus for who He was, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” (Jn. 1:29) With all the righteousness and truth in his life, he suffered the death of a criminal.

It seems John had not only been “preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Mk. 1:4). He pointed out the specific sin of Herod and Herodias, “It is not lawful for you to have your brothers wife.

You can not tell the story of Christianity without recounting the deaths of those who told the truth….. and died.

God gives us His Spirit for strength in this journey, I know that, and yet I feel abandoned, though I know I’m not.

When John the Baptist was in prison we see that he sent some of his disciples to Jesus, to ask Him, “Are you the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?

We all have bouts with doubts in our faith, but this is starting to take a toll on me. Please pray for me my brothers and sisters.

Keep the faith.

Amen.

The Hem of His Garment: Mark 5 : 42-34


He went off with him, and a large crowd followed him and pressed upon him. There was a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years. She had suffered greatly at the hands of many doctors and had spent all that she had. Yet she was not helped but only grew worse. She had heard about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak.  She said, “If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured.” Immediately her flow of blood dried up. She felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction. Jesus, aware at once that power had gone out from him, turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who has touched my clothes?” But his disciples said to him, “You see how the crowd is pressing upon you, and yet you ask, ‘Who touched me?'” And he looked around to see who had done it. The woman, realizing what had happened to her, approached in fear and trembling. She fell down before Jesus and told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.”

Last week we looked at how Jairus’ faith affected his daughters life. This week we look at the woman with an issue of blood or as stated above with hemorrhages, and this went on for twelve years.

Just what is this hemorrhage? Let’s look to the Old Testament book of Leviticus, chapter 15, verses 19 – 30:

“When a woman has her menstrual flow, she shall be in a state of impurity for seven days. Anyone who touches her shall be unclean until evening. Anything on which she lies or sits during her impurity shall be unclean. Anyone who touches her bed shall wash his garments, bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. Whoever touches any article of furniture on which she was sitting, shall wash his garments, bathe in water, and be unclean until evening.  But if she is on the bed or on the seat when he touches it, he shall be unclean until evening. If a man dares to lie with her, he contracts her impurity and shall be unclean for seven days; every bed on which he then lies also becomes unclean. “When a woman is afflicted with a flow of blood for several days outside her menstrual period, or when her flow continues beyond the ordinary period, as long as she suffers this unclean flow she shall be unclean, just as during her menstrual period. Any bed on which she lies during such a flow becomes unclean, as it would during her menstruation, and any article of furniture on which she sits becomes unclean just as during her menstruation. Anyone who touches them becomes unclean; he shall wash his garments, bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. “If she becomes freed from her affliction, she shall wait seven days, and only then is she to be purified. On the eighth day she shall take two turtledoves or two pigeons and bring them to the priest at the entrance of the meeting tent. The priest shall offer up one of them as a sin offering and the other as a holocaust. Thus shall the priest make atonement before the LORD for her unclean flow.

This woman, who we assume knew the Law, was taking a great risk by coming out into the crowd. Her family, friends, her doctors and the rabbis in her religious community, all knew of her uncleanness. So you can see the desperation in her action. What did she have to loose? Her existence was in total isolation – as if she were dead. She sure wasn’t living, was she?

From one of my commentaries, it states the following (from the Rabbinical books):

The remedy for a female hemorrage: Let them dig seven ditches, in which let them burn some cuttings of vines under four years old. Let her take in her hand a cup of wine; let them lead her away from this ditch and make her sit over that. Let them remove her from that and sit her over another. At each removal you must say to her, ‘Arise for thy flux.'” That’s not medicine, is it? Well, it was at this time. No wonder her patience – not to mention her money – had expired.

She had heard about Jesus, His healing of others, the casting out of unclean spirits. Saying to herself, “If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured.” What an act of faith! As St. Paul himself would later write in his letter to the Romans, “Thus faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.” (Rom. 10:17)

Her faith caused her to act. To seek Christ and His healing. Just as Jairus’ faith had caused him to act, on behalf of his daughter. One faith, one Lord, expressing itself differently an yet, the same.

“Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.” These are His words to us today. Our faith – our active faith – will save us. For it sends us to Him.

So this week, let us turn to Him in faith, seeking to do what pleases Him. Have a great week and enjoy this song by Sam Cooke, “The Hem of His Garment.”

Amen.

“Do not be afraid” A Parable Realized: Mark 5:21-24,35-43


When Jesus had crossed again (in the boat) to the other side, a large crowd gathered around him, and he stayed close to the sea. One of the synagogue officials, named Jairus, came forward. Seeing him he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, saying, “My daughter is at the point of death. Please, come lay your hands on her that she may get well and live.” He went off with him, and a large crowd followed him and pressed upon him. While he was still speaking, people from the synagogue official’s house arrived and said, “Your daughter has died; why trouble the teacher any longer?” Disregarding the message that was reported, Jesus said to the synagogue official, “Do not be afraid; just have faith.” He did not allow anyone to accompany him inside except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they arrived at the house of the synagogue official, he caught sight of a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly.  So he went in and said to them, “Why this commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but asleep.” And they ridiculed him. Then he put them all out. He took along the child’s father and mother and those who were with him and entered the room where the child was.  He took the child by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise!” The girl, a child of twelve, arose immediately and walked around. (At that) they were utterly astounded. He gave strict orders that no one should know this and said that she should be given something to eat.

We discussed last week in A Man Reborn , how possibly Jesus used this incident to prepare the disciples for His own resurrection. This week, as we look at the healing of Jairus’ daughter we will see that it’s much more than a healing…it’s a resurrection! It will also be the first of the eye witnessed resurrection’s for the disciples (at least for Peter, James and John). This would help the disciples to understand fully what Jesus meant when He said, “I am the resurrection an the life..” (John 11:25).

So let us look at the details that Sacred Scripture provides.

Our text tells us that Jairus was a synagogue official (or ruler). He is not described as a Pharisee or a Sadducee. Neither is he described as a scribe. There is one reference in Sacred Scripture as to the duties of the position (Acts 13:15). It’s believed that he was an elder who presided over Sabbath services and other weekly activities. We shouldn’t confuse their leadership, with that of the Temple leadership. That is were the Pharisees and the Sadducees “hung out.” The synagogue provided teaching and life application; the Temple was the place of sacrifice. Anyway, the point is, Jesus had influence  with a great cross-section of people. The rich and the poor, the educated as well as the uneducated. With the religious and the nonreligious. Jairus must have been aware of Jesus’ ministry, having heard or even seen some of His miracles, after all, he had the faith to seek Jesus out as the only hope  for his daughter.

Can we make that claim? Can we truly say, “Jesus is my only hope “? OK, maybe we can say it, but do we live it ? When crisis arise in our lives, is it Jesus we go to first? Is He our only hope? Do we rush to the presence of our Savior, praying, seeking His word for guidance and direction? Or do we exhaust all our other resources, using our own strength and wisdom only to reach a dead-end  and say, “I guess all I can do now is pray.” It should be the first, middle and last  thing we do!!

I mean, this man Jairus, a leader of worship to the one true God of Israel, himself fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him. Is this our testimony?

On the way to Jairus’ house, another incident occurs (which we will examine next week) and while Jesus addresses that situation, the news comes to Jairus that his daughter has died. “Your daughter has died; why trouble the teacher any longer?”

Sacred Scripture then tells us that Jesus disregarding the message that was reported said to the synagogue official, “Do not be afraid; just have faith.” And this is still His message for us today! Do not be afraid; just have faith.

Jairus had just heard that his daughter had died. What grief, disappointment and a sense of having failed  in his quest to help his daughter, must have filled his heart. But Jesus offers comfort and hope with His words, Do not be afraid, meaning that He was in total control of the situation. Yet, He invites him (as well as us) to respond accordingly, just have faith.

When they arrive at the house, the people ridiculed Him. But Jairus isn’t swayed by that unbelieving crowd, he clings to Jesus’ promise, Do not be afraid. They enter the room and Jesus takes the hand of the lifeless twelve year old girl and says to her, “Talitha koum,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise!”

I think one aspect of the story that we often times miss, is that of a third party faith. The daughter was sick, and this sickness lead to her death. The father took his faith  to Jesus, to restore his daughter, since the daughter couldn’t do it for herself – and the love for his daughter compelled him to action. This is a lesson we need to put in the front of our minds. This applies to our prayers and our actions toward others as well. For our faith should lead us to action.

So this week, let us imitate Jairus’ faith. No matter what our religious background, or our leadership position; let us see Jesus as our only hope. Not to be swayed by a crowd that may ridicule us for our faith, but to cling to Jesus’ words of encouragement, Do not be afraid.

May God bless you this week as you seek to live out the gospel.

Amen.

A Man From The Tombs: Mark 5:1-10


They came to the other side of the sea, to the territory of the Gerasenes. When he got out of the boat, at once a man from the tombs who had an unclean spirit met him. The man had been dwelling among the tombs, and no one could restrain him any longer, even with a chain. In fact, he had frequently been bound with shackles and chains, but the chains had been pulled apart by him and the shackles smashed, and no one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the hillsides he was always crying out and bruising himself with stones. Catching sight of Jesus from a distance, he ran up and prostrated himself before him, crying out in a loud voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me!” (He had been saying to him, “Unclean spirit, come out of the man!”) He asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “Legion is my name. There are many of us.” And he pleaded earnestly with him not to drive them away from that territory.

Because of my tendency to be long-winded (or in this case, long-versed.)  I had to break this section of Sacred Scripture  into two parts. But, I wondered if I did that, if I could keep the continuity of the whole story. Where would be a good stopping point? Well, since the story has twenty verses, I looked right in the middle and thought, “Yeah, we could stop there and continue on with verses 11-20  next week.”

As I concentrated on the first half of the story, asking God for direction  and understanding of what was being taught here; He helped me see something I’d never seen in this story before.

Hopefully, we are all familiar with the story here, it appears in St. Luke’s gospel account as well (8: 26-39). It is indeed another story of Jesus’ authority, and not just over a demon possessed person; but a person who is possessed by many demons, for his name is Legion. So that we may have an idea of what this means, legion was a military term used by the Roman Empire, that equaled six-thousand (6,000) soldiers. As we see, Jesus displays not only His superiority by casting out a single  demon, but by casting out legions  of them!

As amazing  as all that is, that wasn’t what God led me to expound on. No, what I was shown was something a little bit different. A man from the tombs; a simple enough statement. But, think on it a moment. What kind of man would you meet in the tombs? The only kind of man I should think of was….. a dead man !

Yes, that was it. A dead man . I saw it clearly. This man was in a sense dead, was he not? He was dwelling in the tombs for some while, separated from his family and friends . He had no occupation, no communal responsibilities – he was as good as dead .

As I pondered this, for most of a day, two more thoughts came to mind:

  1. this is us  before receiving the Gospel message
  2. this is a parable of Jesus’ own life

OK, Tim. You’ve just lost it!  I can see how this could be us before receiving the Gospel but, come on! This man was indwelled by many demons! You speak sacrilege !”

Let me explain.

In the sense that Jesus (God the Son) gave up His heavenly glory to take on the form of a servant (taking on the form of a man, Ph. 2:7) it confined Him. In a similar way, the unclean spirits confined the man from the tombs. Jesus also cried out over His mission  in the garden of Gethsemane (Lk. 22:39-44). The man from the tombs, was always crying out; could it have been over his situation ?

“So? What’s your point, Tim? What does this have to do with living out the gospel?”

I’m so glad you asked!

If we can’t see Jesus  in the circumstances of Sacred Scripture, then how on earth, can we see Him in our own circumstances ?

This week, why not dare to see Christ  in our everyday circumstances; recognizing Him, for who He is, prostrating ourselves and allowing Him to change those circumstances we’re facing?

And next week, we will conclude this section of Sacred Scripture, looking at A Man Reborn.

May God bring you every blessing through Christ this week!

Amen.

A Day To Remember: September 11, 2001


I had pre-ordered Bob Dylan’s Love and Theft, it’s release date was…..you guessed it. September 11, 2001. The store I had ordered it from closed and I had to wait until the next day to get it.

MississippiLove and Theft

Here’s a tribute to those who never got to hear it, who gave their lives, to a cause greater than themselves.

May God bless those families who lost loved ones.

Let us never forget.

God Bless America

Think about it…..


I heard this on the radio today. From this guy.

“Everyone who supported slavery was free. Everyone who supports abortion is born. That’s how opression works.”

Good Friday


Today we remember the beatings, the death and the burial of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Thank you Father for your Son. Thank you Jesus for your sacrifice.Thank you Holy Spirit, for your leading us to yourself.

Amen.