Sunday 20th February 2022

MARK 5

If he had lived today, he would simply have been ‘sectioned’ as insane.  He spoke in a multitude of different voices and claimed that Jesus was torturing him – clearly some kind of religious mania?  He seriously self-harmed and spent nights without sleep, wandering around graveyards and howling in despair.  But we know that the man on the other side of Lake Gennesaret had a different affliction: he was demonised.  He was superhumanly strong and could break any kind of restraint.  When Jesus caught up with him, the man and the demons both bowed low and recognised someone with greater power and authority than they had.

Jesus had already commanded the evil spirit, or spirits, to leave the man’s body and they seemed to realise that they had no choice – and yet, they still craved the need to inhabit SOME kind of body; even a pig!  Since pigs were ceremonially unclean animals and shouldn’t have been kept for food, Jesus obviously had no problem with allowing the demons’ request.  The pigs went crazy, hurtled down the hillside, and were drowned in the lake.  The man suddenly found himself in his right mind again, possibly the first time in years, talking to Jesus and finding that now everything made sense.  There is no hint in scripture that demonization was just for those days, which implies that there are numbers of people in OUR day who need deliverance from evil spirits too.  It is interesting that one of the marks of a disciple was the power to drive out demons in those who were so afflicted!

Then Jesus encountered a woman who had suffered twelve years from a serious gynaecological condition – and one that made her automatically socially unclean and untouchable!  Imagine no-one even hugging you for twelve years!  In faith, she crept up to Jesus and touched his robe; instead of HER touch making HIM unclean, his touch made her clean and well.  It is interesting that he realised that healing power had gone out from him, but he didn’t immediately know whom the recipient was!  Equally interesting that most of the crowd must have jostled him during the day and not received any spiritual blessing!  It was important that he DID find out, since the woman and the crowd needed to hear that she was indeed ceremonially clean again.  Our own faith touches God and releases power from him too.

Coincidently, Jairus’ daughter was twelve years old when she suddenly died.  Jesus arrived as his house and first of all removed all the mourners and doubters from the room.  Only his closest disciples, plus the girl’s parents were allowed to remain as Jesus did his work of raising her from the dead.  It was important to allow faith to flourish and not to be opposed by cynics and unbelievers.  “She isn’t dead; she’s only asleep”, he said.  Giving her a simple command – the kind of thing you would say to a sleepy teenager – Jesus raised her from death and gave glory to God.

EXODUS 28

The purpose of a priest was (and is) to act as a mediator – a go-between – on behalf of two parties.  In this case, God and mankind.  His job is to facilitate the covenant between these two parties and to draw them together.  In representing God, he explains and interprets the terms of the covenant to mankind, demonstrating a holiness that comes from God himself and teaching how man’s failure to meet this standard of holiness can be remedied.  In representing mankind, he offers prayers for forgiveness on their behalf, and receives the animal sacrifices from them that are to atone for their sins. Since he is human himself, and fallible, he must also atone for his own sins and pray for his own forgiveness.

The priest’s majestic clothing carries a message itself: it conveys the character and holiness of God, and it represents the people TO God.  For example, the precious stones on the shoulders of the ephod were engraved with names of the individual sons and therefore families of Israel; the breastpiece had 12 precious stones on it – across the heart – which again signified the sons and tribes of Israel.  This tells us that God is concerned completely with us as named individuals, and not just with the general mass of humanity; however, he also recognises our family ties and blesses them on our behalf.  We are made as the image of God – one by one – and our own lives and actions, plus even our thoughts, are precious to him.

The mysteriously named Urim and Thummin were a kind of decision-making system (before the days of individuals being routinely filled with the guiding Holy Spirit) and were used to determine the specific will of God where the question was not covered by the scriptures.

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