Today’s Bible reading: Leviticus 11-12:8; Mark 5:21-43; Psalm 38:1-22; Proverbs 10:8-9
Clean and unclean animals are written into the law in Leviticus 11 today. Note that these were not new laws. Noah brought both clean and unclean animals onto the ark. God here is only codifying the law so the people will have a reference to go by.
Note that animals and sea life were identified as clean or unclean based on their appearance. But birds were identified by name. The birds that were considered unclean were mainly predators or scavengers. They would have more of a likelihood of carrying a disease.
The laws regarding disposal of animals were for hygienic purposes. There was no understanding of germs back then so God is giving instructions to the people to keep them healthy. We now know, for example, that the Black Death was caused by poor hygiene. But because Jews followed the hygienic procedures outlined in Leviticus, they were largely spared during this time. This lead to the Jewish population being persecuted, including being burned alive, as it was thought that, since they didn’t suffer the same mortality rate as others, they had started the epidemic. Evidence shows that the plague started in Asia and worked its way west to Europe where it was especially harsh due to the existence of crowded cities.
In Mark 5 a Jewish synagogue leader, Jairus, comes to Jesus to ask Him to heal his dying daughter. While other Jewish religious leaders were plotting to kill Jesus, Jairus puts his faith in Jesus. He evidently did not think that Jesus was empowered by Satan as the Pharisees did. While Jairus has faith, he doesn’t have complete faith or understanding as he believes Jesus must come to his home and touch his daughter for her to be healed. We know from other passages that Jesus does not need to be present to heal someone. Yet, Jesus goes to Jairus’s house. God doesn’t require full understanding or complete faith to answer our prayers. God can do amazing things with just a little faith.
On the way to Jairus’ home Jesus passes through a mob of people including a woman who has been suffering for 12 years. No doctors could cure her. Due to her condition she was not clean and had to live apart from the rest of society. This must have been as bad, if not worse, than the condition itself. She was probably very lonely, not to mention poor. She, too, had faith that Jesus could heal her. But since she was not supposed to be in a crowd of people she attempts to get healed in secret. She doesn’t ask Jesus face-to-face as Jairus did but simply touches Jesus’s garment. When she does so she is not only healed, but she can actually feel in her body that she has been healed.
In Mark 5:30 Jesus asks the question “Who touched my robe?”. Those who don’t believe Jesus was God point to this verse as “proof” that Jesus wasn’t God. Jesus was not asking this because He didn’t know. Of course He knew. If you are a parent you know about this type of question first-hand. Have you ever caught your child doing something he wasn’t supposed to and asked “What are you doing?”. Do you not know what he is doing? Of course you do — you’re looking right at him. You don’t ask because you don’t know. You ask because you do know and you want him to know that you know. Jesus asked this question aloud, so the crowd could be taught a lesson.
Think about this… Jesus was in a crowd of people. Lots of people were touching Him. The disciples even make such a comment in Mark 5:31. There were so many people around Him it was (humanly) impossible to know who exactly had touched Him. But Jesus wanted to use this event to teach to the crowd. He wanted them to know that this woman had been healed. And He wanted them (and her) to know that it was her faith that had healed her (Mark 5:34). I also think Jesus wanted the crowd to know that this woman took a big risk coming to Him. If she had been spotted (she was probably disguised) she would have been arrested. Doesn’t Jesus want us to take risks for Him today? I think He does. We should not fear governments, or authorities, or those who oppose Jesus. We should be bold in our faith and not back down from the truth. We benefit (as did this woman) but also those who see our boldness (like the crowd in this story) will learn something about Jesus and faith when we do.
Meanwhile, Jairus is probably sweating bullets because his daughter is near death and Jesus is stopping for this unclean woman. But, as we’ve learned all year long, Jesus (who was God) is always in control. He was in control in the boat in the storm yesterday and He is in control of Jairus’s daughter today.
Notice Jesus tells Him not to be afraid and to believe. You can’t be afraid and believe at the same time. Its one or the other.
Once in Jairus’s house the people there mocked Him. In the original Greek the verb “mocked” is in the imperfect tense indicating that they didn’t just do it once. They did it repeatedly. Jesus dismisses the mockers who don’t know what they are talking about. They are full of doubt so they have to leave. Jesus brings the girl back to life and everyone was amazed. After she gets up and walks around Jesus shows further understanding and concern for her by saying she needs to eat. She had been very sick and now dead for sometime. She needed nutrition. Jesus never stops caring.
In these two events we see Jesus answer the prayers of the wealthy and the poor. The well-connected and the outcast. One with a lot of faith, one with a bit less. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you are at in life… Jesus wants you just as you are. All you need to do is come to him as Jairus and this unnamed woman did. Then He will show you things you never thought possible.
Have you ever done something wrong that overwhelms you? If so Psalm 38 is for you. God has brought discipline on David (the author) for something David had done and now David is really in mental and physical pain. He is physically tired and mentally crushed. He has lost his friends, but his enemies are enjoying it! Yet David turns to God (Psalm 38:14-15). He confesses his sin (v 18) and expresses his regret.
We read again in Proverbs 10 that those who are wise love to learn. It is smart to try to get smarter. Obtaining knowledge is a wise thing to do. We also read that those who follow crooked paths will fall. This is certainly true. Those who cheat others are likely to be the objects of revenge. Its better to live a life of integrity. That way you won’t have to look over your shoulder all the time. You can walk in safety.
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