As the boat approached the shore after the terrible storm, the disciples saw the man running their way. He was hard to miss! Naked and unkempt from years of living amongst the tombs and wandering in the wilderness - he hurried to where their boat was landing. Even as Jesus climbed out of the boat the man ran towards Him. And at seeing Jesus, he shrieked, threw himself on the ground and started screaming! ‘Why are you bothering with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Please, I’m begging you – don’t torture me!’ He was pleading with Jesus because already Jesus had started to tell the evil spirits to come out of the man and leave him alone.
The evil spirits had often taken control of the man. When people had tried to put him in chains to control him, he simply smashed the chains and ran out amongst the tombs or into the wilderness screaming and shrieking and hurting himself with rocks, totally under the power of the demons.
‘Tell me,’ Jesus asked, ‘What’s your name?’
‘Legion,’ replied the man, ‘Because there are many of us inside this man’. And then they started to beg Jesus again and again not to send them to some far off place. (PAUSE)
Just nearby was a very large herd of pigs. ‘Send us into those pigs instead,’ the demons begged, and Jesus gave them permission.
So, at Jesus’ command, the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs. (P) As they did, it looked as if the whole hillside was moving. The herdsmen watched in horror as the whole herd of two thousand pigs stampeded down the hillside and drowned in the lake!
The herdsmen were terrified and ran as quickly as they could to the nearby city telling everyone they met what they’d seen and what had happened to the pigs!
Within no time at all a crowd gathered around Jesus, the people wanting to see for themselves if what the herdsmen had said was true. And what they saw filled them with fear, for as they came to Jesus, there in front of him sat the man they’d always know to be demon possessed. Before, he’d been like a madman, screaming and shrieking and running around the tombs, but now, although they recognised his face, it was almost as if a new man was sitting there. For he was no longer controlled by demons, but completely sane, clothed and sitting quietly at Jesus’ feet. As the crowds gathered, those who’d seen the whole thing happen told the newcomers how Jesus had healed the demon possessed man and what’d happened to the pigs. (PAUSE)
How should the people have responded to have amongst them One so powerful? Surly they should have welcomed Him into their homes having decided to turn away from all their evil deeds. They should have begged Him to teach them, to show them how they could become children of the Most High God. But instead, in their fear and because of losing their pigs, they begged the One who had come to heal them - to go away and leave them alone. (P) And so Jesus started to leave.
As Jesus got into the boat, the man who’d been possessed begged Him, ‘Lord please, let me come with you.’ But He refused to let the man come, and instead told him, ‘No, you stay here and go home and tell all your friends what wonderful things the Lord has done for you and how merciful He’s been.’
And so as Jesus and His disciples set sail for the other side of the lake, the man stayed and did just as Jesus had commanded. Travelling to all the towns and cities of that area he told everyone about the great things Jesus had done for him, and all who heard these things were amazed. (PAUSE)
When Jesus’ boat arrived back on the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around Him on the shore. News of all that Jesus had done was well known in the region, so it wasn’t too surprising when someone came to Him, begging Him to heal their daughter. This person, Jairus, was the leader of the local Jewish meeting place, the synagogue, and he was terrified that his precious daughter, his only child was about to die.
‘Please,’ he begged, ‘come to my home, put your hands on my daughter and heal her so that she can live.’ (PAUSE)
It wasn’t exactly easy to go with Jairus, as it seemed that everyone and their neighbour wanted to see Jesus, and talk to Jesus, and be near Jesus. The narrow streets couldn’t cope with such a huge number of people and so their progress was slow. (P)
The woman didn’t know what to do - she was desperate! Something was wrong with her. She’d been bleeding constantly for twelve years! Numerous doctors had tried all they could to heal her, but they’d only made matters worse, and now she had a permanent flow of blood making her ritually unclean, unable to play any part in the life of her people – she wasn’t even supposed to touch another person in case she made them unclean as well. Not only that, but she’d used every last penny she had to pay the doctors – with nothing left, she had nowhere else to go.
This woman had also heard about Jesus, of all He’d done, that there was nothing to difficult for Him and that the power of the living God was at work in Him and through Him. But how could she go to Him with THIS problem, it was too private, too painful and yet somehow she knew that He was the only answer. The crowds were almost overwhelming. Normally she kept away from them for fear that someone would recognise her as the ‘unclean woman’ and she’d be disgraced. But she had to see Jesus, to touch just the hem of his clothes for she knew that He was the One through whom God would heal her. So covering her head, hoping that no one would recognise her, she pushed her way into the crowd, heading for Jesus.
Jesus was making slow progress to Jairus’ house with the crowd pushing and shoving and getting in each other’s way. Meanwhile, the woman worked her way through the crowd, came up behind Him, and reaching out her hand she touched the fringe of his robe, and at once, the bleeding stopped and she knew she was healed. But her joy was momentary for no sooner had she received His healing power than Jesus stopped and started to look around the crowd.
‘Who touched me?’ He asked.
‘What do you mean ‘who touched you’ his disciples replied. ‘This crowd’s pushing against you from every side, how can you say, ‘Who touched me?’’
But Jesus wouldn’t move, He kept looking around and asking ‘who touched me?’ The woman was terrified, people would recognise her as being the ‘unclean woman’, what was she to do? All she could do was fall on her knees before Jesus in front of this huge crowd and tell Him what she’d done.
Would Jesus be angry? Would He scold her for being unclean and touching other people? No, instead He looked at her, and for all to hear, so that everyone would no longer be able to call her the ‘unclean woman’, he gently restored her, saying. ‘Daughter, your faith had made you well. Go in peace. You have been healed.’ Not only had Jesus healed her, but now He’d made sure everyone knew she was clean – she was healed and restored, she could take her place once more amongst God’s people. (PAUSE)
The healing of the woman had taken precious time. Jairus had looked on not knowing what to do. His daughter was dying, every moment was precious as her life hung in the balance and here was Jesus dealing with someone else. Then Jairus saw his servant approaching, ashen faced. ‘There’s no point bothering the teacher now sir,’ he said, ‘your daughter’s died.’
Jairus didn’t know what to think, but Jesus was by his side. ‘Don’t be afraid.’ He said, ‘Just trust me.’
It was then that Jesus stopped the crowd from coming any further, only allowing Peter, James and John to follow him to Jairus’ house. Already the mourners had gathered and the weeping and mourning for the dead had begun, but Jesus went in and said to them, ‘What’s all this racket? The child’s not dead, she’s only sleeping.’ The mourners laughed at Jesus, they knew the difference between someone who’s dead and someone who’s sleeping.
Jesus told everyone to leave the house except his three disciples and the girl’s parents. Then taking them into the girl’s room, Jesus walked across to where she lay on her bed and took hold of her hand. ‘Little girl,’ He said, ‘Get up.’ At His command, the twelve year old girl immediately stood up and started to walk around!
Completely overwhelmed her parents looked to Jesus who told them, and His disciples, not to tell anyone what had happened, but instead to give their daughter something to eat.