Fear or Faith?
Text: Mark 4:35-41
by Robert J. Young

Fear or Faith? This is a frequent tension in our lives. Consider. Fear of Lord, OT. Reverence, respect. Faith? Beginning of wisdom. Whole duty of man. Is also Markan theme: Fear or Faith? In end of Mark 4 and through chapter 5, we see this tension repeatedly.

I. Consider the Disciples, 4:35-41.
Who is this man? Likely not rhetorical. Is legitimate question. How do you answer? Does it depend upon what you have seen, experienced? How can one say, "Jesus Christ is Son of God" unless he has seen. Can one say so only on second hand knowledge, experience?
Is this the occasion when the disciples at least begin to understand the answer? Is this the beginning of their faith? Is fear the beginning of faith?
I remind that it takes only a little faith. The disciples were terrified.

II. Consider the Possessed Man, 5:1-20
Decapolis, Gerasenes, Gentiles (pigs), cf. plight of prodigal son feeding pigs.
Now here is a man who is a cemetery dweller. Ever known someone who spent inordinate amount of time in cemeteries? Lived there?
Jesus heals this man, demon possessed. Difficult. Demonology. What are they? Are they still present today? This man was apparently overcome beyond his will. Angelology. Pneumatology. Not easy, disease? Speaking in terms of understandings of day? Not have all answers, but believe this. Evil and good have equal entree to human heart. In first century, some were inhabited of evil beyond their will, power, control. In first century some were healed whether they wanted to be or not. Battle was at times outside/above the human realm.
Today God does not coerce beyond one's will, nor does Satan. There is a fair, just battle for and in the human heart. This battle is within us.
In our text, the demons desire to inhabit pigs.
People are amazed, but fearful. Afraid. Believe what has happened, afraid. Please leave. Not all who couple fear and faith accept. Some reject.
Freedom from evil, freedom from control, freedom from disease, freedom from self.

III. Consider the case of the Dead Girl, 5:21-24
Back on west side of Jordan, homeland, Jews, synagogue ruler, Jewish, Jairus. May dislike because identification with Pharisees, but text does not say so. Jesus is Jew, observing Jew, here is synagogue ruler, not as in Acts, but in Mark.
Man of faith, belief, believes Jesus can help, heal daughter, help her live. Wants his touch. But plans are interrupted.

IV. Consider the Sick Woman, 5:25-34
Large crowd, woman, believes, touches Jesus, v. 28. And she was right. Vs. 33, terrified, trembling, confesses, fear, faith. Your faith has healed you. Freedom from suffering, sickness.

V. Back to the Dead Girl, 5:35-43.
Jesus said, no fear, just faith. No fear. Perfect love casts out fear. Just believe. He raises her.

Now story comes to us. To others during Jesus' day, to Mark's readers, to us. Fear or faith? Can it be both, yes. Fear and faith. Side by side. Little by little. Even as the disciples, not in one big step. An enigma of the human experience, fear and faith dwelling side by side, experiencing life, and glorifying Jesus.

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Last updated February 23, 2001.