Mark chapter 4 closes with one of the more dramatic events in the ministry of Jesus. The tension builds in verses 35-41 as the disciples are crossing the Sea of Galilee in a boat with Jesus. Jesus is fast asleep in the back of the boat as a massive storm breaks out. He is awaked by the shouts of his panicking crew, “Don’t you care that we are perishing!?!” Jesus responds by rebuking the storm, and then rebuking the disciples for their lack of faith. The passage ends in a familiar way. As with so many other powerful stories, Mark ends this scene with the stunned disciples posing the question of the identity of Jesus: “Who is this, that even the wind and the waves obey him?” As I said in the sermon I preached on this text a couple of weeks ago, their question demands our answer. Who is Jesus?
As Mark 5 begins, the travels of Jesus increase. For the first 4 chapters of Mark, Jesus’ ministry takes place in and around the region of Galilee, in northwestern Israel. As chapter 5 begins, Jesus lands in the region known as “The Decapolis,” a group of ten cities stretching north and south on the eastern side of the country. In chapters 5, 6, and 7 Jesus travels throughout this region, back to Galilee, then returns to his hometown of Bethlehem, then up to Tyre and Sidon (far northwest port cities on the Mediterranean Sea).
As he travels from place to place he encounters a diverse group of people, to say the least. Among these are a man possessed by thousands of demons, a woman whose very personal medical condition made her an outcast in society, a leader of the synagogue with a dying daughter, the religious elite, a blind man, thousands of hungry people flocking to him, a woman who compares herself to a dog wanting to lick up crumbs under the table, and a number of people in his hometown who knew Jesus and his family personally, but who doubted the reputation that was preceding him.
The people who encounter Jesus in these 3 chapters are radically different. They have very little in common when it comes to their circumstances, troubles, hurts, and needs. But after each one of them encounters Jesus, something changes. In every life he touches, Jesus leaves a footprint of grace and transformation. As he travels from city to city and region to region, his presence cuts through the stormy waters of thousands of lives. What is left is a wake of healing, salvation, deliverance, and freedom.
In his wake lives are made whole, the dead are raised, the outcasts are welcomed, the hungry are satisfied, and the prisoners are set free.
Over the next 10 weeks at LifePointChurch we will be diving into Mark 5, 6, and 7, in the hopes that we too will encounter the grace of the God in his wake.