Friday, 15 October 2010
Mark 5: Seeing Him Better
My dog’s communication skills are entirely nonverbal. That leaves them open to interpretation.
“She looks sad,” I say. Mark counters, “No, you’re sad because you can’t give her table scraps.” Not convinced, I give her a dog biscuit. She wags her tail. At least she knows who to look at when she wants treats.
Because Sasha can’t talk, we pay attention to her. We watch her signals. On a walk this morning I noticed that she began to favor her right back paw. “Sit,” I commanded and stooped to probe for pebbles or burrs. Sure enough, a small stone had lodged itself between the pads of her paw. I flicked it out and she resumed trotting on all fours.
If we are that responsive to our beast, how much more is God to us?
Too desperate to cry for help
All three stories in Mark 5 present pictures of utter helplessness. The woman had exhausted all means to restore her health and ritual purity. The synagogue ruler was reduced to begging his religious enemy for help in saving his precious daughter. But it is the demoniac who strikes me as the most helpless of them all. He couldn’t even come to Jesus. He couldn’t even ask.
CS Lewis talks about hell as a place where evil overtakes us to the extent that there is nothing left of us. So the man who used to be a grumbler becomes no longer a man, but merely a grumble. The demoniac in Mark 5 was like this–barely recognizable as human. Tormented day and night, isolated, driven by uncleanness into further uncleanness, there was almost nothing of him left.
Seen by the only One who can help
If you can’t even call for help, are you beyond help? Not if the only One who can help you is paying attention. Jesus is clear about why he came: not to be served, but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many. Why then did he cross the lake? To get away from the crowds? To take a break, eat, and rest? Or was he looking for someone who couldn’t come to him?
The whisper of a man buried under the legion of demons could only go where they permitted him to go. But when Jesus stepped off the boat, they were out ranked. They had no choice, but were compelled to run to him in a rage of humiliation and grovel at his feet. The demons themselves brought what was left of the man to the Savior. Mercy saw the man. Power delivered him, both from demons and from the sins that had let them in.
Even when we can’t see the way out, he sees us.
Mark wants us to see him, and trust him
Jairus asked. The woman touched. But the demoniac shows us the extent to which God will go to deliver us. Do you see that? Do I?
“But what about faith?” we ask. “I thought Jesus wants us to believe?” Not quite. He wants us to believe Him. Our faith isn’t a commodity that somehow solicits a certain level of help from God. No, our faith is a response to seeing him. Jesus wants us to see, to keep seeing, to see him better. That’s how our faith will grow.
Jairus believed in a Jesus who could heal. Jesus wanted him to see and believe in a Jesus who could raise the dead.
What is he showing you about himself today? Fear not. Only believe.