“Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.” – Mark 11:23 (ESV)
The last couple of weekends, our pastors have preached through Mark 5:21-43 and 6:1-29. What I find so interesting is that these passages, placed back to back in Mark’s Gospel, each give startling contrasts of the tremendous power of faith, and also, the unfortunate lack of it as well.
Mark 5:25-34 gives the account of the unclean woman. Think about her circumstances. She has been dealing with a blood discharge for twelve years. During that time, she’s gone through many doctors, all of her money, and in addition to her physical issues, she’s regarded as an outcast where she lives. Leviticus 15 outlines the law surrounding her physical problems. So it’s probably not a stretch to say she’s reached the end of her rope. She’s desperate. But apparently she’s also connected enough to society to hear the great stories of Jesus’ healing. A glimmer of hope has appeared for her in her struggle. She figures that if she can just get close enough to touch him, it’ll be enough to get healed.
What do you think was going through her mind as she got closer to Jesus ? I wonder if she knew in advance that he would be traveling through her area that day. Can you imagine if she did ? Waking up with that kind of excitement ? “Today, finally, I have a chance to be clean. After 12 long years !” She must have been so nervous as she approached him, but probably unable to contain her excitement. You also get the sense that she wanted to touch Jesus, be healed and then fade away, not wanting to trouble him. She didn’t answer immediately when Jesus asked, “Who touched my clothes ?” And although she was afraid, he persisted in having her come forward, so that others in the crowd could see her faith. “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” (5:34)
I love this story.
On the other hand, Mark 6:1-6 explains how the folks in Jesus’ hometown disregarded him and his ministry. “Is not this the carpenter ?” they asked. The jealousy and envy was all around him, right outside his home. It’s here that Jesus declares he is a “prophet without honor”. But what he thinks of them is verse 6 is devastating.
“And he marveled because of their unbelief.”
Compare the hometowners with the unclean woman. Can you get more opposite in faith ? The hometown people’s own sinful and envious ways kept them from acknowledging the Savior right in front of them. And yet the unclean woman ventured out into society, knowing she was an outcast, but with such faith that she scrambled just to lay a hand on him, to be healed and made clean.
This woman sets quite an example for us. We should scramble every day just to get closer to Him, to fellowship with Him, to live out His Word. To be healed.
Heavenly Father, I pray that you never “marvel at my unbelief”.