“Only Believe”

In the 5th chapter of Mark, we learn about three people with different problems. Each one had a personal encounter with Jesus. Each one’s life was forever transformed by that encounter.

Whether we struggle with demonic strongholds so fierce that no earthly power can bind them to keep us from self-destruction, whether disease has ruined our lives and livelihood, whether the one we love most has died despite our most urgent, specific prayers, Jesus’ answer is the same: “Do not be afraid; only believe.” Mark 5:36.

The demonized man of the Gadarenes (verses 1-20) was shunned by society. All who had tried to help him had failed, as the demons who ruled him broke off all the restraints anyone used to keep him from harm. His screams for help did him no good because he had taken up residence among the dead. His whole life was reduced to “cutting himself with stones.” (verse 5) He had no life except his addiction to the destruction of his life.

But Jesus came to him, from across the sea. The demons that had infiltrated and taken over his life immediately recognized Jesus as the Son of the Most High God and wanted nothing to do with Him, but the man, through his suffering, worshipped Jesus. And Jesus commanded every one of the demons to leave this tormented man. Because Jesus had such great compassion, the man regained his life and his “right mind.” (verse 15) Once Jesus had delivered the man from the demons’ stronghold over him, he was able to go back to his home town to proclaim all that Jesus had done for him. Because Jesus had set him free, all who saw and heard him now marveled instead of turning away in horror.

After Jesus delivered that man from the demons, He went back across the sea, where crowds of people followed and surrounded Him. A woman with a disease that had ruined her life and made her an outcast, a woman who had spent all of her money on doctors trying to find a cure, only to have the disease made even worse, came out into the crowd, where she was not permitted to be. She fought through the people who called her unclean, unfit to be near them because she knew, if only she could touch Jesus’ clothes, she would be made well. Jesus recognized her faith and pronounced to all that her faith had made her well. He told her, “Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction.” Her unrelenting faith secured not only a moment of relief but peace and healing that lasted for her life.

Before Jesus encountered that woman, a leader of the church sought out Jesus through that same crowd for healing for his dying daughter. This man had to break through not only the crowd but also the politics of the church to reach Jesus on behalf of his loved one. While Jesus was ministering to the woman, the church official learned that his daughter had died. All seemed lost, and his friends told him to give up, but Jesus told him, “Do not be afraid, only believe.” (verse 36) Then Jesus went to the little girl, took her hand, and told her to arise. She did, and Jesus told the astonished family to get her something to eat. Jesus wanted the girl to get back to her regular life right then and there.

Whether we are killing ourselves because Satan and his demons have taken over our lives, whether disease has ruined our lives and robbed us of our livelihood, whether all seems lost because our prayers for the one we love most have not yet been answered, the solution remains simple: only believe.

Amen and amen.