Somebody once said the two greatest enemies of faith are unbelief and fear.
Unbelief is rebellion against reality, a choice to reject what you know to be true.
Romans 1:18–19 18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.
Unbelief suppresses the truth, pretends God does not deserve to be believed.
Fear, on the other hand, is a feeling which you cannot usually control. I have faith in God’s protection, but if I walk into a pet store and see some crazy person with a big snake wrapped around them, trying to get people to pet it, I’m out the door without thinking, heart pounding like a jackhammer. People tell me fear of snakes is irrational. My fear stays unconvinced.
Fear is not always a choice, but how we react to our fears is a choice. We often have to get beyond our fears to a certain level of faith.
You tell a person who is afraid of water, they’ll float, that if you just start paddling around, you won’t sink. But they will never learn to swim until they go beyond their fear and step into the pool.
You tell somebody scared of planes that flying is the safest way to travel, statistically speaking. Far more people die in car accidents than in air crashes. But they have to go beyond the fear and trust before they ever enjoy traveling by jet.
We face this same situation when it comes to our faith in God. You want to trust God completely, to ignore your worries and fears, but sometimes it is not easy. It’s not that you reject God’s promises or His Word—your fear hinders you from trusting Him.
How can you get to faith beyond the fear? This morning we look at a story within a story that shows how Jesus helps us do that. Our text is Mark 5:21-43.
How many of you here trust me? (Is my wife raising her hand?)
How many of you would hold a nail and let me hammer it into a piece of wood? You said you trusted me. Surely you trust that I will not miss the nail and hit your hand? Maybe it’s my aim you don’t trust. Bro Mike’s eyes aren’t what they used to be. That’s OK—you’d be wise not to trust me, because I don’t always hit the nail on the head.
God, on the other hand, is always worthy of your trust. He loves you and His aim is never off. While you know that in your head, sometimes fear might make you hesitate. What the folks in these verses learn is what you and I have to learn: to choose faith beyond our fear.
We need a faith beyond fear in 3 areas:
1. Faith beyond the fear of man. (v. 21-24)
One of the things you learn to live with as a parent is to keep a certain level of
concern/worry/fear about your kids. It’s what makes us buy plastic plugs to put into electric outlets, what makes us warn them not to talk to strangers, what makes mothers pray so hard during football games, what makes you keep saying every time you hand them the car keys be careful! Somebody posted a cartoon on Facebook: guns don’t kill people—dads with pretty daughters do. When our kids are in danger, we get desperate.
Vs. 22 introduces us to a desperate father named Jairus. His little daughter is dying and he’s frantic. He and his wife try everything they know to do, but every day she slips a little closer to death. This drives him to Jesus, and here’s where we need to remember vs. 22 tells us Jairus he’s a ruler of the synagogue.
The synagogue rulers [are] responsible for supervising worship services, caring for the scrolls, running the weekly school, keeping the congregation faithful to the Law, distributing alms, and administering the care of the building.[i]
Synagogue rulers have strong ties with the Pharisees, whom Mark 3:6 tells us want to destroy Jesus. Jairus has been warned about Jesus, told to stay away from Him.
But that was before his little girl got sick. Jairus knows she will die unless he does something. Imagine how shocked the crowd is to see one of the leading men in the community falls down at Jesus’ feet and beg. He speaks words of faith in vs. 23: Come and lay Your hands on her, that she may be healed, and she will live. Jairus doesn’t care what Pharisees think. He doesn’t care what the crowd thinks. He doesn’t care what anybody thinks. His faith brings him beyond the fear of man to Christ.
Proverbs 29:25 The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe.
This is a trap we all risk falling into, because what other people think is important to us. We want to be respected and accepted. What other people think about us can become so important it becomes a fear that hinders our faith.
You sit in the cafeteria with your friends and everybody digs right in without offering thanks. You don’t want them to think you’re weird, so you follow the crowd.
Your friends at work look busy while the boss is watching, but when he steps out, they kick back and ride the clock. You don’t want to feel out of place, so you do as they do.
The fear of man becomes a snare, a trap that keep you in line with the crowd, making you a prisoner to public opinion, always obedient to the mentality of the mob.
But when God intervenes, and you are driven like Jairus into a faith beyond the fear of man, a faith that puts you at Jesus’ feet, where you can finally find the help and hope you need. You and I need a faith beyond the fear of man. This story also tells us we need
2. Faith beyond the fear of rejection. (v. 25-34)
The fear of rejection by people can be a terrible burden. But the fear of rejection by God is
intolerable. This is the plight of this pitiful woman introduced in vs. 25-26.
She has suffered from her ailment for the same number of years Jairus’ daughter has been alive (cf. v. 42.) She’s spent everything she has on doctors, but not only do none of them help her—she keeps getting worse.
She is more than just sick—she is unclean (cf. Lev. 15:25) Being unclean separates you from others—from family and friends. But in most people’s eyes it also labels you as cursed by God. She is suffering like this, people reason, because God rejects her.
Like Jairus she’s desperate, and like Jairus she comes to Jesus seeking healing. Unlike Jairus, she doesn’t approach Jesus directly. She sneaks up on Him, convinced if she can just touch His robe, His power will heal her, and nobody will be the wiser. She’s not only afraid of the crowd—she is afraid of Jesus. Perhaps she’s afraid He’ll reject her plea and confirm God truly has cursed her.
Everything goes according to plan; she gets close, reaches out and makes the touch, and she’s healed. Everything goes smoothly until Jesus stops dead in His tracks, looks around, and asks Who touched Me?
Another Gospel tells us the disciples can’t believe He asks. Lord, there are people pressing against You from all sides! How can you ask who touched You?
Luke 8:46 But Jesus said, “Somebody touched Me, for I perceived power going out from Me.”
Somebody touched Him not just with their body, but with their faith.
Now this poor woman is even more terrified. Is He angry? What if He takes back my healing? Slowly, she shyly sneaks back to Jesus, in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. She throws herself upon His mercy, expecting the worst.
The first word out of Jesus’ mouth is Daughter….It’s a tender term, a family name, a term of acceptance that lets her know He does not reject her, but loves her. Your faith in Me has healed you. I give you back your life. Her faith beyond the fear of rejection saves her.
Everyone of us in this room knows the fear of rejection. What’s worse, many of us have felt the deep wound of being rejected by somebody we love.
You fall deeply in love, but your love is not returned. You desperately seek your parents’ approval, but never get it. You’re the outcast everybody mocks, the loner nobody takes the time to get to know. People call you a loser and you’re tempted to believe them.
Norman Vincent Peale tells of walking past a tattoo studio in Hong King displaying samples of the tattoos available on the window. One strikes him with force, only three words: Born to lose. He enters the shop and asked the Chinese tattoo artist, "Does anyone really have…Born to lose, tattooed on his body?" He replies, "Yes, sometimes." Peale replies, "I just can't believe anyone in his right mind would do that." The Chinese man taps his forehead and says "Before tattoo on body, tattoo on mind."[ii]
Maybe you think you were born to lose, that God rejects you. Maybe you feel unclean, you’ve strayed too far or sinned too much for God to accept you. But I that is a lie.
John 6:37 …the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.
Isaiah 1:18 “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.
What you need to do is get beyond that fear of rejection, and come to Him, just as you are, reach out to Him and believe He will rescue you. Dare to have a faith beyond the fear of rejection, and you will hear words of acceptance and love from the Savior.
The final fear is perhaps the worst of all. It requires that we have a
3. Faith beyond the fear of death. (v. 35-43)
A few years back I saw a birthday balloon with the grim reaper
(death) that said Don’t worry. I’m just here for a piece of cake!
Death is one fact of life most of us try not to dwell on. It tends to make you gloomy. What could be worse than your own death? The death of somebody you love.
As Jairus tries to wait patiently for Jesus to move on, vs. 35 says somebody brings him the bad news. Your little girl is dead. There’s no need for Jesus to come.
Imagine the pain and fear that stab this poor father’s heart. My baby is dead! Jesus overhears and before Jairus falls completely apart, He says Do not be afraid. Only believe. =Don’t panic. Just trust Me.
It must have been hard to hold on to his faith during that long walk home. But somehow he does, and when they get back in, the mourners surround his little girl’s body like buzzards.
Jesus pushes past the crowd to the little girl and says Why all this commotion? She’s not dead—she’s only asleep. The buzzards go from crying to laughter Don’t you think we know the difference between sleep and death? Jesus doesn’t argue. He orders everybody else out but Jairus, his wife, and Peter, James, and John.
When the crowd is gone, with Jairus and his wife standing in silent hopelessness, His 3 disciples wondering what will happen, Jesus goes kneels down next to the dead girl and calls out softly, like a father gently waking his sleeping child. Little one, it’s time to get up!
And she does.
Tears of grief turn to tears of joy. Hopelessness turns into amazement. Mourners are sent home to wonder what happened. And Jairus learns to have faith beyond the fear of death.
We don’t like to talk about death, because it is scary—especially when you’re talking about the death of somebody you love very much. But as heartbreaking and final as death is, death is no problem for Jesus. You and I can only stand and weep at the grave of a loved one, but Jesus has the power to resurrect the dead.
John 5:25 Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live.
Stand at the hospital bed or the casket or the graveside and death will whisper in your ear nevermore. This is the final goodbye, the end of the love you share. But Jesus speaks the same words to our heart that He speaks to Jairus: Do not be afraid. Only believe. Hold on to your faith beyond the fear of death, because death will not have the last word—Jesus will.
1 Thessalonians 4:16–17 16For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.
You and I need to be like Jairus—we need to have a faith beyond the fear of death.
A faith beyond fear; beyond the fear of man, beyond the fear of rejection, beyond the fear of death. It almost sounds as if Jesus wants us to jump off the deep end this morning.
David Stone writes: [One day} I was down in the deep end by the diving board swimming around, and my four-year-old, Savannah, came tottering into the shallow end of the pool. She can't swim yet, but she wears these big orange "floaties." Savannah came down the steps, and as soon as she got out there in the water, she said "Daddy, I'm scared. I want to come where you are." I chuckled and told her, "Savannah, it's a lot deeper down here." She said, "I don't care. I want to be where you are." "Okay, come on," I said. She began dog-paddling across the pool ... three-foot ... six-foot ... nine-foot ... 12-foot-deep water. When she came up to me she grabbed my neck, and her look of panic gave way to relief. Next to her father she felt secure, and it made very little difference how deep or how dangerous the water was.[iii]
Today Jesus is calling you and I to the deep end—far beyond your fear of man, your fear of rejection, even your fear of death—and dare to trust Him. Trust Him enough to give Him your life with no reservation or excuses. Trust Him enough to give Him your worries and your problems, and leave them there with Him. Trust Him enough to give Him your future and follow Him wherever He leads you. Let your faith in Jesus Christ lead you beyond your fear into the peace and hope He wants to give you right now.
[i] Barton, B. B. (1994). Mark. Life application Bible commentary (140). Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers.
[ii] Norman Vincent Peale in Power of the Plus Factor, in Christianity Today.
[iii] Dave Stone, "Keep the Dust Off the Highchair," Preaching Today, Tape No. 143