“Don’t be afraid; just believe.” — Mark 5:36
Jesus has controlled a storm, overpowered evil spirits, and healed a woman whose life was draining out of her. Now there is a greater test of Jesus’ power, because Jairus has learned that his daughter, who was sick, has actually died.
But in the face of death Jesus says, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” Through gales and storms, dangers and demons, disease and now death, Jesus invites us to have faith in him.
Going into Jairus’s home where the child was, Jesus says, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!” His authority, tough on wild seas and raging demons, is also as tender as a shepherd’s hand lifting a little lamb. The girl gets right up, and Jesus tells her parents to give her something to eat.
Jesus is inviting us to trust in him. This does not mean we have a fully formed faith or even a fully informed faith. He is simply calling for an initial trust, a beginning of faith. After all, as far as the story goes, we are only in Mark 5, and Jesus has not yet died and risen from the grave to pay for our sins and give us new life.
At this point he says, “Just believe.” Let’s start with that, and then keep on trusting. Let’s go with what Jesus is showing and telling us about him—and see where it leads. As Mark is sharing the story of Jesus, he is building his case—who can deny that Jesus is Lord?
Jesus, help me with this one thing—to keep believing in your power over all things. Open my heart to know that even when things seem hopeless, you have the power to restore and make new. Amen.
So Much Unbelief
Scripture Reading — Mark 6:1-6a
“He was amazed at their lack of faith.” — Mark 6:6a
People often like stories about ordinary people becoming highly successful or even becoming royalty—like Cinderella. It’s not unusual to hope for an escape from poverty to be blessed with prosperity.
But the people in Jesus’ hometown didn’t seem to think that way. They figured that because Jesus was born into a carpenter family, there was no way he could grow up to be the Messiah. So when Jesus healed the lame and the sick, when he calmed the storm and cast out demons, it was difficult for the people who knew him growing up to imagine him as anything besides a carpenter.
The trouble was that these people did not accept Jesus’ amazing teachings precisely because they thought they knew him—period.
What a danger it can be for any of us who may think we know everything about Jesus. If Jesus is already familiar enough to us, will we expect anything really great from him?
Instead of the people being amazed by learning who Jesus was, Jesus was amazed that they had so much unbelief. Mark is suggesting that what is more amazing than faith is unbelief! Unbelief requires an exhausting amount of denial and dismissal when we are presented with all the evidence.
Jesus, I can be quite resistant to being impressed. Take away my doubt, my cynicism, and my not being willing to really consider what you have done for me. Forgive my unbelief, and help me to follow you. Amen.