“Jesus Changes People”
Welcome to “Key to the Kingdom.” My name is Bret McCasland. For those who believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, our faith in Him continues to grow. In other words, where we are now in our walk with the Lord is not where we were when we first became a believer. Over the years, we have changed. We have matured in our faith, and hopefully continue to do so. It is a process of learning more about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ and to have faith in Him. And those are all good things. Jesus does not want us to stay where we are spiritually. He wants us to grow in our faith. He wants us to learn more about Him and the power of His resurrection. Through those learning experiences, we hopefully do just that. We change and we adjust. Our eyes are open to new realities concerning Jesus, His ministry, His love, and His salvation. Again, those are good things. In our lesson today on “Key to the Kingdom,” we will notice some stories about how Jesus changed people's lives. In the process of doing that, their faith in Him grew, their faith was strengthened, and they began to follow Him. Jesus continues to change our life, too. He is still at work in this world. As that happens, our faith continues to grow. We, along with others, are blessed by it. I hope you will stay tuned to this station for the next few minutes as we open up our Bibles and study together.
One of the most common themes found in the Bible revolves around one's faith, or a lack of it. Those who wrote the Bible recorded many stories about people who struggled to find faith in God when the challenges of life arose; and we can relate to those struggles. We may even find ourselves asking the question, “Well, how can I find, or even increase, my faith in God?” And it is in those times we go to Bible passages like these; “Without faith, it is impossible to please God,” or, “The righteous shall live by faith,” or perhaps even, “We walk by faith and not by sight.” Those Scriptures are familiar. We hope they will inspire us to have more faith in God. And yet when the problems and the difficulties of life arise, they don't seem to do much good. When we experience hard times or health problems or struggles, then fear overtakes us and there is no faith to be found. In our study of Mark's Gospel, we find many people turning to Jesus in times of great need. And when they did, their faith was strengthened. I want us to notice several stories about that very thing in the first parts of the Gospel of Mark, chapters 4 and 5. In fact, we begin with a story found at the last of the 4th chapter. Let's read beginning with verse 35. <That day when evening came, He said to His disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took Him along, just as He was, in the boat. There were also other boats with Him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, don’t You care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to His disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey Him!”> This story takes place on the Sea of Galilee. The sea is some 13 miles long and about eight miles wide. The Jordan River flows through it from the north to the south. And in a situated in what we would call a basin, surrounded by little hills or mountains on the east, the north and the west sides. Well, the disciples had experienced storms out on the sea before. They were professional fishermen. They had been there a number of times. That was their job. And they were well aware of the damage it could cause and the danger it presented. And yet, on this occasion, we find, perhaps, this storm was greater than any they had experienced in the past. The text, as we just read, say that a furious squall came upon that water. And we can just imagine how the wind would sweep down over the hills and stir up the water, and the waves began splashing into the boat. And these disciples feared for their life. They did not know what was going to happen, and they were concerned that Jesus expressed no concern. He was there, asleep in the boat. And finally they decided to wake Jesus. He got up, He rebuked the wind and He spoke to the waves, and the result was complete calm. Yes, the Lord spoke and His creation responded to Him. And Jesus then asked the question, “Why are you so afraid?” He wanted them to realize who was in the boat with them. It was Jesus. He was God's representative upon the Earth. He was powerful enough to take care of whatever problem might arise in the lives of these disciples; and yet, they seem to have forgotten that. He then asked the question, “Do you still have no faith?” Oh, by this time, these disciples should have exhibited a more mature faith than what they did. In the first few chapters of Mark's Gospel, we find they were present with Jesus when He performed some of His miracles; or if they were not, they no doubt heard about it. They heard about His amazing healing power. They heard and were astonished by all the wonderful things that He did. Well, Jesus spoke, the storm was quiet, and the disciples were terrified when they saw what Jesus did. And then they asked, among themselves, “Who is this? The wind and the waves obey Him.” As Jesus calmed the storm, the disciples faith in Him was strengthened. And as a result, they began to follow Him just a little closer. They became more aware of who He was and how they could share with others what He had done. I want us to go to another story, on the heels of this one, found in the first 20 verses of the 5th chapter. There we find Jesus leaving the Sea of Galilee and going into Gentile, or non-Jewish, territory, which was on the eastern side of the Jordan River. And when He arrived, He was approached by a man who lived in the tombs. And that sounds rather odd, doesn't it? Oftentimes when a person would die, that individual would be buried in a tomb. But we notice that in this story a person also lived in the tombs. And the issue was, this man was possessed by demons. He was out of control. No one could contain him. He would have chains or ropes to tie him down, but he broke through them, immediately. And with that, he began to cry out. He would cut himself with stones and he ran everywhere; and he was controlled by a legion of demons. Well, when he saw Jesus, he went and fell before Him, and he no doubt needed some kind of relief. This man lived a terrible and tormented life. Well, some of the demons within the man cried out, “Don't leave us. We know who you are, the Holy One of God, and certainly do not let us leave this countryside, for we are a legion of demons.” Well, how many is a legion? We don't know for sure. A Roman legion of soldiers, however, was 6000 men. Now think about that for a moment; there perhaps could have been some 6000 evil, corrupt demons living inside of this man. No doubt he lived a tormented life. Well, Jesus saw all of that taking place in this man's life, and He cast out those demons into 2000 pigs that were feeding on the hillside. They ran down the hill into the water and drown. Well, those who owned the pigs, the pig farmers, were very upset with Jesus because He just took away their livelihood; and naturally so, they would be upset. Can you imagine someone coming in and destroying 2000 head of your livestock, if you had some; 2000 cattle or horses or sheep or goats or whatever it might be? Oh, no doubt, the people were extremely upset and they wanted Him to leave. Jesus had just taken away their livelihood, but He made the point the well-being of this man, possessed by demons, was more important than a herd of swine. Well, the people living nearby wanted Jesus to go away. They did not want Him bringing about any more changes into their area, and they were more concerned about making a living than they were about a man who was now free from demon possession. In verses 18 through 20, at the end of the story, this man wanted to go with Jesus and to be a part of those who were following Him. But Jesus told Him, “No, go and tell your family about what I've done for you.” And his family lived probably no more than a mile away, but instead of doing that, this man went into the Decapolis. He traveled further into the non-Gentile area and he became a credible witness for the Lord. Yes. This man was now free from the demons and he was able to live at peace. His faith in Jesus empowered him to be a credible witness to other people. Well, we continue on here in the 5th chapter of Mark's Gospel, and we find, beginning with verse 21, two stories told within one story. Let’s notice what this looks like. The first story begins with a religious leader named Jairus approaching Jesus with a request. He falls down at Jesus’ feet and asks Him to come and lay His hands on his daughter, who is about to pass away. His daughter is at the point of death and he doesn't know what else to do but to cry out for Jesus. Well, it is here that Mark includes another story beginning with verse 25. We'll come back to that in just a moment. But let's notice what happens here in verse 35. As Jesus is now going with Jairus to his home, the announcement comes, that, sure enough, his 12 year old daughter has just passed away. But Jesus immediately turns to that religious leader and tells him this: “Do not be afraid, just believe.” And then Jesus took with Him three disciples, Peter, James and John, and they all traveled together with Jairus to his home, to tend to that family. Well, the people who had gathered there in Jairus’ home, were comforting the mother; they're comforting the family over the loss of this young girl. But Jesus told them, “She is not dead, she is only sleeping.” And they begin to laugh at Jesus. They thought He was just some imposter. They wonder why He had showed up after the fact of this girl passing away, and they had no faith in Him. But Jesus went in with Jairus and the mother, the disciples, into the room where she lay. He took her hand and He told her, “Little girl, get up,” or, “Little girl, arise.” And that is exactly what she did. She got up. She took nourishment. She began to walk out in the presence of them all. And the people were amazed with what they saw. They were astonished that Jesus was able to raise someone from the dead. He then told them not to tell anyone for fear that people would mistake His identity and they would not recognize Him as the Son of God. Certainly Peter and James and John, along with the father and the mother and everyone else in the room, believed in Jesus and in His power to raise people from the dead. Let's go back, now, and pick up that second story that Mark includes here in this passage. In fact, let's just read it here in the 5th chapter of Mark, beginning with verse 25. <A woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind Him in the crowd and touched His cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch His clothes, I will be healed.” Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from Him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched My clothes?” “You see the people crowding against You,” His disciples answered, “and yet You can ask, ‘Who touched Me?’” But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at His feet and, trembling with fear, told Him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”> This woman believed that if she could just touch the edge of Jesus' clothing, she would be healed. And that's exactly what she did. And sure enough, she was healed at that very moment. This woman had suffered a health problem for a long time. No doctor was able to help her. In fact, instead of getting better, she got worse. She spent all of the money she had on trying to find some solution, and now she was living in poverty. Well, Jesus recognized this woman's faith. She came to Him. She told Him the whole story. And Jesus then said, “Your faith has healed you. Go in peace. You are free from suffering.” Oh, what encouraging words those words must have been to her at that moment. The faith of this woman impresses us. She was willing to act upon it; and as a result, she was healed. Oh, there was so much more that we could say about each one of these stories. But in this brief overview, I want us to focus on four observations, four things that happened in each one. Here are the four things. Number one: people had a need. The disciples needed to be rescued from the Sea of Galilee. A sick woman needed healing. A young girl died too soon. A man was possessed by many demons. Yes, these people, or their families, had a need and they had no solution. They had a problem and they needed some answers. And they looked for other sources. They cried out for assistance in so many other ways. But then finally they turned to Jesus for a solution. You know, we too have needs in our life, don't we? Oh, we may not have the same physical or emotional or spiritual needs that these people had, but we can relate. We have needs in our life that arise on a regular basis. And we, too, look for all kinds of solutions. But Jesus is the One who can solve those problems. He is the One who recognizes our needs and He provides a solution. The second theme we notice in all of these stories is that Jesus showed up at the right time. He saw what was happening in the lives of these people and He personally became involved. Yes, Jesus saw the pain in that demon possessed man. He saw the sorrow in the family who had lost that 12 year old girl. Jesus saw the danger those disciples were in out on the Sea of Galilee. And He showed up and He provided a solution. And in doing so, He gave them some much needed hope. Well, Jesus has showed up in our lives, as well. How many times have we recognized the Lord answering our prayers and solving our problems? And He continues to do so every day. Oh, we may not recognize it immediately, or at that time, but we know that Jesus is involved in our lives and He solves the problems. He provides the answers. He gives the solutions. And for that, we can be thankful that God is aware. He sees us. He knows our situation, and He cares for each and every one of us. A third theme we recognize in these stories, Jesus saved the people. Yes, He brought a new and a better way of life to them. He gave them hope. He provided a better future. He gave a new life to a 12 year old girl. He brought a woman out of poverty because He healed her, and now she did not have to spend her hard earned money on doctors any longer. Yes, Jesus saved these people in a very special way. He gave them an opportunity and a hope to enjoy a better life. Well, Jesus saves us, still today. Jesus did that with His death on the cross. The cross of Christ changes our life! By the blood that Jesus shed upon the cross, we are now brought into God's family, and through Him we are saved from sin. We are saved from the curse of Satan. We are saved from guilt and from shame and so much more. At the same time, He also saves us for a better life. He saves us for the opportunity to do good deeds and to receive that promise of a home with God in heaven. There is one more thing I want us to notice here; one more out of the four: The people's faith was strengthened. Each of the people in these stories recognized Jesus was someone special. He was God’s Son. He was His father's representative. When they realized that, their fear was changed into faith. In some cases, we even find, they went out and told others what Jesus had done on their behalf, and they became that credible witness to other people who had never heard about or experienced the work of Jesus Christ. Likewise, when we receive the salvation of the Lord, our fears are changed into faith. And the faith that we do have is strengthened; it may even be strengthened to the point that we go out and we are inspired to tell other people about the saving work of Jesus Christ that we have experienced in our life and how they can experience it too. We may not like the storms we experience in life. We may not be able to find a solution for our physical, emotional or spiritual problems. And yet, there are some good things that happen when we allow the Lord to be in control. Our fears go away, our faith is strengthened and His name is praised. Oh, it is in the midst of the storms of life, the problems and the uncertainties, all the things that we cannot control, it is in all of that that we find the grace of God. We know that God's grace is always sufficient. Well, as we keep our eyes focused on Jesus Christ, we know that He provides an answer to our problems; and as He changes our life, we grow in our faith.
The building you see behind me is a rehabilitation center. It is a place where people go to get some rehabilitation or therapy after an extended illness or perhaps even a surgery. And the people inside who work there are very capable and well trained, and they help strengthen people's arms and legs and other things. They get them back on their feet. If you're in need of something like that, a rehabilitation center would be a good place to visit. Well, sometimes we need some rehabilitation spiritually, don't we? We seem to be drifting away from the Lord and we need to get reconnected to Him. We need to build up our spiritual strength and stamina so that we can faithfully follow Jesus Christ. One of the good ways we can do that is through the help and strength of our friends. We see in them a good way to live. We watch what they do and we listen to what they say. They strengthen our faith. They're an encouragement to us. And as we do that, we are spiritually rehabbed. We go through that rehab process and we grow in our walk with the Lord. And yet, at the same time, other people might be watching us. They might be watching what we do or listening to what we say, because they believe that in us they can be strengthened. And so we are to be a good example to others, as other people are a good example to us. I would encourage you, today, to think about your life. Are you the kind of example you need to be? Are you offering some good spiritual rehabilitation for others?
Thank you for joining us for today's broadcast on “Key to the Kingdom.” I hope this message, about Jesus changing people's lives, blessed you spiritually. I also hope you continue to look for ways through which you can grow in your faith. The message is available on our website, if you would like to view it again. There is no cost or obligation connected with it. The website is keytothekingdom.com. Other lessons and teaching material can be found there, as well. Two-minute videos and one-minute devotional thoughts offer practical application of God's Word. Online Bible studies and more information about our mass-media ministry are easily accessible. Other ways to keep up with our work is through a free app which can be downloaded onto smart-phones. Some enjoy keeping up with our weekly posts on Facebook®. Please consider following and sharing those short messages with others. It continues to be our privilege to broadcast messages from God's Word on a weekly basis. I hope you will continue to grow in your faith and in your daily walk with the Lord. Finally, I invite you to join us again next time, on this same channel, as we continue to study the Bible on “Key to the Kingdom.”