Divine Encounters with the Messiah
Have you ever encountered the Messiah?
Everyone who encounters Jesus Christ, the Messiah, must make a decision. No one may be passive. Each person must decide, for himself, whether he will believe or disbelieve, follow or reject, embrace or scorn his Messiah.
Regardless the final decision, no one stays the same after a divine encounter with Jesus.
Mark 5 contains several such divine encounters. Jesus, living and serving among these people, chose to interact with them. His ministry put Him in contact with a variety of people from every economic class and social background. These people saw Jesus’ power and made a decision to believe Him or to reject Him.
So who are these people? Meet the following cast of characters from Mark 5 and read about their stories. If you were one of these people, or groups of people, which one would you be? Why?
1) The Demon-Oppressed Man
You remember this guy. He’s the demon-oppressed man who wandered around tombstones, cutting himself and crying aloud. Everyone who knew him was afraid of him. In fact, the people nearby had tried to restrict him by tying him with chains. Because he was demon possessed, he literally had superhuman strength and could break even chains and shackles.
Everyone was afraid of this man—but Jesus loved him. As it turns out, many demons were oppressing this man. Jesus commanded the demons to come out of the man, and He sent them into a herd of pigs.
After encountering Jesus, this man became free from the demons who had oppressed him. He was in bondage—and then he was set free. He responded by desiring to be with Jesus and to share with others all that Jesus had done for him.
2) The Hardened City
Remember the pigs? After Jesus sent the demons into the pigs, the whole herd went crazy. They stampeded down a hill and ended up drowning themselves in the sea. Unfortunately, the owners of the pigs–and the people of the city they came from–didn’t see the good that came out of Jesus healing the oppressed man. All they saw was a wasted source of profit.
After encountering Jesus, these people wanted nothing to do with Him. They begged Him to leave their region, demonstrating their self-centered hearts.
3) The Bereaved Father
Jesus and His disciples sailed to a different part of the country. Once there, a man named Jairus came to Jesus and desperately pleaded with Him to come save his daughter’s life. Jesus goes with him, but after a distraction along the way (see the next character’s story), Jairus receives word that his daughter has already died.
Jesus, overhearing that fact, tells Jairus, “Do not fear, only believe.”
After encountering Jesus, Jairus chose to believe that He could heal his daughter. His response demonstrates his great faith—even in the midst of death.
4) The Sick Woman
Meet the woman with the discharge of blood. She had spent twelve years of her life going from one physician to another, but no one had been able to heal her. Now, she was penniless and even worse off than she had been at the beginning.
Her last hope was this Jesus she had heard so much about. Even though the crowd thronged about Him, she pushed her way forward in the fearful, trusting hope that He would be able to heal her. She didn’t want a great show. She didn’t even want Him to know who she was. All she wanted was to touch the hem of Jesus’ robe.
But Jesus knew her and loved her. He felt her touch His robe, and He stopped what He was doing (following Jairus to his house) so that He could seek her out. Fearfully, this woman came forward and confessed that she was the one who had touched His robe.
After encountering Jesus, this woman believed that He could heal her. She had reached out to Him in faith, and Jesus did indeed heal her.
5) The Weeping Mourners
A crowd had grown outside of Jairus’s house by the time he and Jesus arrived. They caused a great commotion, weeping in anguish over the death of the little girl. Jesus turns to them and says, “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping.” The mourners responded in cruel, mocking laughter.
After encountering Jesus, these people mocked Him. They refused to believe that He could heal the little girl.
6) The Dead Girl
Jesus, along with His disciples and the girl’s parents, enters the room where the young girl lies. Only twelve years old, her still body is stretched out on a bed. Then Jesus takes her by the hand and says, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.”
This is the most astonishing encounter of all. This little girl couldn’t even choose to believe Jesus. She was dead! And yet after encountering Jesus, this little girl was raised to life.
Learning from the Encounters
So which person are you?
Are you enslaved to something? Maybe your own sin is holding you in bondage. Jesus is able to set you free!
Have you become hardened by your own selfishness and pride? Don’t let another day go by before humbling yourself before God. Don’t allow your relationship with Jesus to be cut off.
Are you sorrowing the loss of a loved one? Instead of despairing, have faith that Jesus is still completely in control. Have faith in His perfect plan and know that He is weeping with you.
Are you suffering from a long-term illness? Never lose sight of your Messiah. He is the great Healer, and even though His timing may not match yours, know that He welcomes you into His arms daily. Find perfect peace resting in Him.
Have difficult circumstances caused you to lose faith? Don’t respond by mocking Jesus. Learn from the foolish responses of the mourners and have the courage to take God at His Word.
Are you dead in your trespasses and sins? Jesus still gives new life, even today! Cry out in faith to Jesus, the Messiah. Ultimately, this is the single-most important encounter any of us will have with Jesus. This is the moment at which we choose to accept Him or to reject Him. Believe that Jesus died in your place, for your sins. You could never bring yourself back to life, but Jesus rose from the dead, and He has the power to bring you back to life as well!
Jesus is still at work today among His people. He still releases them from bondage, heals their diseases, and brings them from eternal death to eternal life. When I encounter Jesus every day, I want to be aware of how He is at work, and I want to believe He is able to do what He said He would do. He is such a great Savior!