New Beginnings: Week 3 - A Simple Touch
So, things haven’t gone the way you planned. A dream has died. Life has thrown you a curveball. You’ve hit a wall, and the hope has started to fade. Sometimes we fail to remember when the possibilities were endless. Sometimes it’s hard to think back to when it all started. Sometimes we forget to remind ourselves that the sun bursts through the darkness each and every morning.
What if there was a way to bring what was dead back to life? What if the resurrection power of Jesus Christ still exists in us? Is our God truly a God of redemption? Is it possible that He can make all things new? Not just once a year, not just when things are bad, but every single day? Maybe God really can provide new mercies, new compassions. Do you believe in new beginnings?
Well, good morning to everybody and good morning, also, to those who watch via the mobile app and the internet. Before I get started, I know it’s a little dreary outside. It’s Labor Day weekend. Everybody’s probably excited about the weekend. I figured, why don’t we just start off with a funny story to just get everything livened up in here? Sound like a good idea? Please understand something. When I tell funny stories, they’re not theologically correct. And if I’m picking at somebody or whatever, don’t get offended. I’m not picking at anybody. It’s just a funny story. So, we can all laugh. Everybody gets so sensitive today, don’t they, about everything?
Anyway, here’s the way the story goes: Anybody been to the Polo Grill down here on Main Street? Well, four ladies had gone down to the Polo Grill for a brunch. As they were eating at the Polo Grill, one of the ladies spoke up and she said, “I just want you to know that my son is a priest in the Catholic Church. When he walks into the room, people call him ‘father.’”
They’re like, “Wow.”
Listen: If you’re Catholic, I’m not picking on you. Okay? That’s not what I’m doing here. This is just a funny story. My wife grew up Catholic, so there’s no offense here.
So, she says that and the women are like, “Okay. That’s sort of not the normal thing somebody would say at lunch.”
So, the next lady goes, “Well, since we’re talking about it, I want you to know that my son is a bishop in the Catholic Church. When he walks into the room they say, ‘His greatness.’”
Everybody’s like, “Okay.”
So, the third lady jumps right in and she goes, “Well, if we’re going to do this, let’s do it. My son’s a cardinal in the Catholic Church. When he walks into the room, they call him ‘his excellency.’”
So, it’s like, “Okay.”
The fourth lady’s there and they’re sort of waiting. She eats and it’s an uncomfortable silence for a little bit. Finally, she speaks up. She says, “Well, my son is not in ministry at all. But, my son is 6’3, and he’s really good looking. He’s got great skin and wavy hair. When he walks into the room, the women go, ‘My god.’”
So, there you go. I’d love to tell you how I’m going to segue that into my message, but I’m not. Just livening you up here a little bit. So, anyway, we’re in a series called “New Beginnings,” and what we’re talking about in this series and what we’ve been talking about for the last couple of weeks is the fact that you can have a new beginning no matter where you’re at in life. And that’s huge, because so many of us — and for many of us it’s multiple things — have some area that we wished could be better. Oftentimes, we sort of get ourselves in that rut of thinking, “That’s what it is. It is what it is. That’s not going to get any better.”
But, what I’m hoping to do is to encourage you and inspire you, through some great biblical stories, that you truly can have a new beginning no matter where you’re at in life. What I’ve been trying to do is take some biblical stories of people that nobody would’ve thought could’ve had a new beginnings. They’d have been like, “Man, water under the bridge. That’s who they are. No chance at all for new beginnings.”
But, in fact, in these stories, they did. We looked at Zacchaeus a couple of weeks ago. The chief tax collector of Jericho. He has a great new beginning because Jesus strolls through Jericho. Last week, we talked about Jesus taking the boat and going over to the Gentile side of the Sea of Galilee and reaching this one person. The tenderness of Jesus that He would get in a boat, fight a storm, to get over to one side of the sea so that He could reach one person. You know? This guy was mentally deranged. He was running around with no close on in the tombs. He’d been given up on by society, and he has a new beginning.
The reason I’m telling you these stories is because I really want you to believe that you can have a new beginning no matter where you are at in life. Because, you can. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forevermore. These stories aren’t just told so that we can go, “Oh, that’s cool that it happened to them.”
These stories are there to let us know that that’s just who God is. God really, genuinely wants to do great things for you and me. So, last week as we left, if you remember — and if you’re new here and you sort of know what we’re doing — we left out of Mark 20 where Jesus had gotten back in the boat and then He was headed to the other side. The guy that He had touched was sent off to go do the things that he was supposed to do and tell people about what Jesus had done for him. Well, we’re going to pick right back up in Mark 5:21, and we’re going to see some really cool things. Maybe you’ve read this passage many times in life. I want you to really focus, because there’s a lot of things going on. There’s a lot of complexities. There’s a lot of really cool things Mark has done. And I think all of us are going to leave here going, “Wow, man. That is a really, really, really cool passage.”
So, let’s look at this and let’s get to work. We’ll go through it and then we’ll do some commentary at the end that I think will be real applicational to all of us. I really believe all of us will leave, headed out on a Labor Day weekend, and we’re going to realize, “Man, new beginnings are really possible with Jesus.”
So, let’s pick up here in Mark 5:21. It says, “When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side,”
So, He’d gone to the other side and now He’s going back to the other side. Probably Capernaum is where He’s headed to. He crossed again in the boat to the other side.
“A great crowd gathered about him, and he was beside the sea.”
Mark wants us to know that He’d gone over to one side and He’s been met by this guy that was deranged. The crowd that eventually showed up told Him to leave. Well, now He’s showed back up onto another side of the sea, and there’s a crowd that’s gathered. And they knew that Jesus had gone in the boat. People back then, small towns, probably were looking out on the water and saw Jesus’ boat and could see who it was and went and told everybody, “Jesus is coming back,” and people were excited because they knew Jesus healed people and they wanted to hear what Jesus had to say.
So, this crowd is gathered and He’s right there by the sea. We’re sort of introduced here, as He’s come on the sea, “What’s going to happen? How’s this going to work?”
If you remember the last story, as soon as Jesus got out of the boat, somebody ran up to Him and fell down and all of this good stuff, and he was mentally deranged. So, let’s pick up here what Mark tells us.
So, He’s crossed again. He’s there. The crowd’s there. He was beside the sea.
“Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet...”
A much different guy here than the guy before. But, this is really rich if we understand what’s going on here. This is a ruler of the synagogue. So, this is a male. This is a man that’s well-to-do. This is a man that’s religious and he’s clean in terms of the law. Well, when he comes up to the crowd, if you understand how the ancient Near East worked, because he’s a dignitary, they would have actually parted and would have allowed him to come to Jesus, because this is a ruler of the synagogue. It wouldn’t be like, you know, if you’ve ever been to a concert and you’re trying to get up close to the stage and everybody’s like, “No. You ain’t getting up close to the stage.”
It’s really bad when you’re as short as I am. It’s just like, “Yeah. Go away, little boy. Go back there to the back.”
I’m like, “I wanna see my show!”
But, I can’t see. I’m at like everybody’s belt buckle. Like, “Hey, that was a great show.”
“Yeah, man. It was really nice. I saw Tommy Hilfiger on a belt.”
Anyway, the reality is this guy comes up and he walks up and the crowd probably parts. This is where it gets interesting. He falls down at Jesus’ feet. That would’ve been radical. This is the synagogue leader. This is a guy that talks about Yahweh. You don’t bow down or fall down at people’s feet. So, immediately when you’re reading this story, you’ve got to get into these stories. I mean, we just read these stories and sort of just run through them. Get into the story. Feel what’s going on here.
You should be going, “Man, there must be something going on for this guy...” — and you should even be thinking, “Is he possessed like the other guy was? What’s going on? I mean, this guy’s falling down at His feet. What’s going on?”
Well, we’re told: “And he implored him earnestly, saying, ‘My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.’”
This guy has got a little girl that’s about to die. Who knows when your little girl is about to die that you’d do just about anything in the world to get her well? This guy is like, “You know, I’ve heard about Jesus,” and he sort of waited until the last minute. He runs up and he’s like, “Please, please, please come and help my daughter.”
You know, when we’re physically impaired, it’s a real situation. I think of a 92-year-old man. He was not feeling well at all. He was really bad and he went to the doctor. So, he sees the doctor and he leaves. A couple days later, the doctor’s out in the community and there’s a community park in the area where everybody lives. He sees the 92-year-old man across the way. He looks and he’s holding the hand of what looks like a young girl. He’s like, “This guy was not doing too well.”
So, the closer he gets, he realizes he’s holding the hand of a really attractive younger lady. So, the doctor’s like, “I want to know what’s going on here.”
So, he walks up to him and he’s like, “Man, you’re doing a lot better than you were in the office a couple of days ago. What happened, man?”
He’s like, “Well, I did what you told me to do.”
The doctor’s like, “Really? Well, okay. What was that?”
He said, “You told me in the office to get a hot mama and be cheerful.”
The doctor said, “No, no, no, no, no. I told you that you had a heart murmur and to be careful.”
It’s a good thing to laugh. It really is. Okay? So, we’re here. We see the seriousness of the story. This daughter is ill. He’s fallen down at Jesus’ feet and said, “Please come and help my daughter.”
Is He going to do it? Is He not going to do it? What’s He going to do?
Well, it says, “And he went with him. And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him.”
Now, if you know Mark, you know about these crowds that usually are always causing problems for everybody. The crowd always keeps people from Jesus. So, in this particular situation, what’s going on here? You can imagine. Get yourself in the story. Imagine you’re Jairus. Imagine your daughter’s sick. You know she’s just about to die, and now you’ve just got Jesus who is the only person you know that could potentially do something, because He has healed people. You’re taking a gamble here.
“Get Him to the house. Maybe He can heal my daughter.”
And, all of a sudden, there’s this great crowd that is thronging about him. You can feel it. If you’re really reading the story, you know Jairus is going, “I wish the crowd wasn’t here. I wish we could pick up the pace. We need to go and see my daughter.”
So, you’re right there. What’s going to happen? How’s this going to work? And Mark does what he does many times in his Gospel. He all of a sudden inserts another story and you’re like, “Whoa, hold on. You were going this direction. And now, all of a sudden, he inserts another story.”
When I teach Mark, I call this a Mark sandwich. What he does is he takes a piece of bread. He starts you there and you’re nibbling on it. Then he throws in a piece of meat and you’re like, “Okay. That wasn’t what was going on.”
Then he concludes the story with the original story. But, what he’s telling us is a lot of things. By combining two stories, he’s wanting you and me to learn some things about who Jesus is. So, here’s Jairus. He’s got a daughter at home. She’s female. He can’t get there fast enough. And, all of a sudden, Mark does what Mark does. You’re sitting there going, “What’s going to happen? Is the crowd going to get involved? Is the crowd going to keep Him? What’s going on?”
All of a sudden, Mark inserts this story. Here’s what we get:
“And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years.”
Okay. It’s like, “Okay. Hold on. We were just moving this direction, and now we’ve got a woman?”
Now, I want you to think about this for a second. As we go through this story, you’re going to know that Jairus is thinking, “Why are we stopping to heal this woman? She’s just a woman. Let’s go.”
“Jairus, we’re going to heal a woman. Your daughter.”
See, sometimes we don’t think about things. Sometimes we get frustrated at things that we really want and we don’t see how we really get all messed up in our thinking. Mark’s really trying to unpack a lot of this stuff for you and me to see. Now, I want you to follow how He does this, because it’s brilliantly written stuff.
He says, “There was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years.”
So, this is a woman that definitely could still be fertile, because she’s still bleeding. She’s got a uterine blood problem; a hemorrhaging. Okay? And she’s been struggling for twelve years with this. She is unclean. She is a woman. We had a man that just came up to Jesus who is clean, well-to-do, and a dignitary, and now we have a woman that’s unclean and she’s a woman. And we learn a little bit more about her here:
“And who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse.”
So now, not only do we have a woman who is unclean, but she’s poor. Contrast with Jairus, who’s a man, who’s clean, and who’s well-to-do.
So, “She suffered much under many physicians.”
For those of you all who really love Scripture, I’ll give you a little funny note here. Luke. You know, there’s Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Luke wrote the Gospel of Luke. He also wrote Acts. He travelled with Paul. Luke was a doctor. What’s awesome is when Luke records this story, he says, “Many people had tried to help her.”
He doesn’t say anything about physicians or doctors. I love it. It’s just great, isn’t it? I love that stuff in the Bible. It lets me know that people are human, which is great because I need my Bible characters to look a lot more like me. If they all were walking on water and all of them were doing all the right things, it’d be like, “Man, that ain’t me.”
So, thank God God records some humorous stuff and lets us know that we’re all human.
So, “She had suffered much under many physicians.”
He’s not saying, if you’re a doctor today, that you’re a bad person. He’s just saying that she had suffered much under many physicians. In other words, she had gone to many people and nothing was getting better. She had spent everything that she had, and nothing, nothing, nothing could happen. Sometimes there’s just something that a doctor can’t heal. The only person that can heal it is God. That’s just the bottom line. So, that’s where she’s at.
It goes on to say, “She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment.”
Now, that’s important because, in the 1st Century, there were people that they thought had power. You know? They were like magical power, sorcerer power. The idea was — you can read this stuff in antiquity. You can read some stuff that we have that comes from the 1st Century. Those people would think, “If I could touch something that they had, I could be healed.”
So, she’s heard some reports about Jesus that He’s got some power. She’s thinking, “Hey, you know what? I’ll walk up behind Him and touch His garment.”
This is what she says. She says, “‘If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.’”
That’s what she’s thinking. So, Mark said, “Okay. You’ve got Jairus. He’s fallen down. He’s got a daughter. They’re on their way. Jairus is motivated to really get going and really push this thing. ‘Let’s go and get my daughter.’”
And all of a sudden, now we’ve got this lady that’s been introduced. We’re told a little bit about her, and it’s really cool the way he’s laid it out. She’s unclean. Anybody she touches is unclean. She can’t be around anybody. She’s poor. We’re set up here and she’s thinking, “If I could just get to Jesus and touch His garment, things will be okay.”
“And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease.”
Imagine that. You’re this lady. You know that you’re dying. Twelve years you’ve been doing this thing. You’ve lost everything that you have and all the money you have. You can’t be around your family. You can’t be around anybody. You can’t get pregnant. Nothing. Your world is terrible. She’s going to die. She’s like, “I’m going to push through that crowd,” even though, when she pushes through that crowd and touches people she could be stoned for making them unclean. She could die anyway. She’s going to die anyway. She comes up and she touches Jesus’ garment thinking, “Maybe if I touch that garment, things will be okay. Just a simple touch.”
And, all of a sudden, she realizes, “Oh my goodness. I’m healed. I’m healed. Oh my gosh.”
Well, let’s continue, because the story here is great.
“Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately...” — notice all these “immediately’s.” If you read Mark, you just feel like you’re running a sprint. Immediately. Immediately.
“Immediately turned about in the crowd and said, ‘Who touched my garments?’”
Now, Mark, he’s funny. A lot of the Bible’s funny. There’s things. He likes to show the buffoonery of Jesus’ disciples, which is great because I have a lot of buffoonery in my life. Maybe you don’t in your life, but I do in mine and I’m glad to see that the people who followed Jesus had a little buffoonery and they can be made fun of.
So, here’s what happens. Jesus says, “Hey, who touched me?”
The disciples, in great fashion, say, “Dude, you’re in the middle of a crowd. Everybody’s touching you and you want to know who touched you? Hello, McFly? Everybody’s touching you.”
You know? All they’re thinking about is, “We’ve got to get to the little girl.” They’re not thinking about anybody else could be touching. They’re not thinking about anything else. None of that stuff. They said, “Hey, dude. You’re in a group of people. Everybody’s pushing up against you, and all you can do is ask about who touched you? Seriously? Come on. You’ve got something better than that, right?”
“And he looked around to see who had done it.”
You can sort of get the feeling here. He’s looking around and you know He makes eye contact with that lady. He knows. What’s great here is what do you think Jairus is thinking? He’s thinking, “Can we move on? This is a lady. She doesn’t matter.”
“Jairus, we’re going to heal a lady.”
He’s thinking, “She’s unclean. I’m religious. I’ve got it together. I’m the ruler of the synagogue. I’m the church person. And we’re going to go spend time reaching these people?”
Let me meddle for a second. You get that a lot in church. People are like, “How come you’re not doing stuff for me? How come you’re reaching out to those people?”
Take it up with Jesus too, because He does the same thing. Right? Nobody likes those amens. Everybody’s like, “Yeah, okay. Whatever, Chip.”
So, He looks around to see who’s done it. He’s probably looking directly at her.
“But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling...”
She’s not scared of Jesus, she’s just overwhelmed. Twelve years she’s been doing this. She’s broke. She’s going to die. All of a sudden, she’s healed. She comes up and she falls down, and she tells the whole truth. She lays everything out. She’s like, “Jesus, I had heard about you. I walked up. I was hemorrhaging. I spent everything.”
You know Jairus is going, “This is not time for testimony night, lady. This is not time. Can we make it faster? Let’s go. We’ve got to get going.”
You know that’s what’s going on here. He’s freaking out. She’s telling the story. This is just beautiful, because Jesus is just incredible here. Mark’s telling us a lot of things about Jesus. So, she tells Him the whole thing. And you know now that all of a sudden, the religious people are going, “Oh, man. She probably touched me. Now I’m unclean. Am I unclean because now she’s not unclean? I don’t know what’s going on here.”
You know? They’re sitting there doing that thing. Jairus is going, “Let’s go.” The disciples are like, “What’s going on?”
And Jesus takes time for this woman. He said to her, “‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.’”
Now, if the story was to stop there, it would be awesome. But, if the story were to stop there, what we would expect to hear is, “Then the men of the town sat around and tried to decide, ‘Should we stone this woman because she walked through us unclean? Did we get unclean? What do we need to do?’”
This is what religious people do. That’s what church people do. You know? We sit around and try to figure out all the intricacies of everything, missing the whole point that somebody got healed. We’re trying to figure out, “Well, was that right or wrong? Did they do this right? Did they do that right? Hold on. I’m not sure.”
It’s like, “Somebody got healed and all you’re doing is probably sitting around doing that stuff?”
Like, can you make the main thing the main thing? So, it would’ve eroded to that. But, what happens is that right in the middle, as she’s sharing and Jesus says, “Go your way,” some people come from Jairus’ house and they say, “Hey, your daughter? She’s dead.”
You can imagine Jairus. He’s going, “Man, if this unclean lady would’ve not interrupted, maybe, just maybe, my daughter would be alive.”
And everybody’s like, “Whoa.”
Jesus is like, “Dude, I got it. We’re still going to the house, man. It’s all good.”
Jairus is like, “What? She’s dead, man. She’s dead.”
Jesus walks up to the house and everybody’s crying and wailing. He’s like, “Calm down, everybody. She’s just asleep.”
They turn from crying to laughing like that. They’re like, “This guy’s crazy. ‘She’s asleep.’ Who does this guy think he is?”
So, Jesus walks into the room and tells the disciples they can’t come either. He’s like, “Yeah. You guys blew it back out there in the mosh pit when it was everybody getting touched. You didn’t even know what was going on. You couldn’t tell that somebody was getting healed. That’s alright. Y’all stay out here, because I don’t need you in here. We’re going to go do some healing in here.”
He shuts the door, walks in — simple touch. She’s unclean. She’s dead. So, now we have another unclean woman. Simple touch. Just like she touched Jesus’ garment, Jesus touches her. And Mark records, “And immediately, the girl arose.”
So, “She got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age),”
Okay, hold on. We’ve got twelve years and twelve years. Okay.
“They were immediately overcome with amazement.”
It’s like, “Okay. Cool. That’s a great story, man. So, we’ve got two girls that nobody would’ve thought probably could have had a new beginning, and they both do.”
That’s a really cool story. Well, now what we’ve got to do is we’ve got to look at this from an applicational standpoint. When we look at what we’ve just read, we’re going to have some, “Whoa, man. That is some really cool stuff Mark has taught us.”
So, this is what I’m going to call here the thoughts to consider. This will be a good time, if you take notes, to get out a sheet of paper. Or take a phone if you’ve got a little note app. You can type that in there and say, “Okay. Short boy with glasses. Here’s what he said today,” or whatever else.
“I liked that 92-year-old joke. That was funny.”
But, the deal is this. I want you to listen to me here, because these are things that we can take with us. But, they’re also things that I think are going to really speak to us at a pretty profound level.
The first thing I want to say to you is this: New beginnings with Jesus are both expansive and pervasive. Let me explain what I mean by that. Jesus isn’t just after touching an area of your life and then moving on. Jesus is after re-arranging you and I’s lives completely, like in an expansive way; in a pervasive way. He wants to change your life radically. Not just a little bit, but radically. He wants to touch you in ways that you have no idea. And Mark’s teaching us this, if we’ll pay attention to what’s going on. He says a lot of things that we need to follow so that we can understand how expansive these new beginnings are for these two woman.
First of all, they both are female. Oftentimes, when we read through these passages, we wouldn’t have necessarily thought, “Oh, she’s a female and the little girl is a female.”
We just would read them and move on, much like we read Matthew 23 and we talk about somebody’s put a little bit of money in the treasury and that person gave more than everybody else who has put in all the money, and we fail to realize the hero of that story is a lady. That would be crazy in the 1st Century. Women are being talked about in ways that nobody would talk about these women. So, it’s important to realize when you’re reading these stories that both of these people are female. Oftentimes, we miss that. They’re female. Not only that, they both are unclean. The girl’s died. She’s unclean. She’s dead. The other lady’s bleeding with a hemorrhage, and she’s got a problem with the flow of blood. So, she’s unclean.
They both are unclean. They both are unclean women. I mean, there’s a lot of complexity going on here. Not only that, but this idea of twelve years. Mark’s doing that to make sure that you tie in the fact that she’s been suffering for twelve years and this little girl is twelve years old. There are similarities. He’s wanting you and me to see the similarities of the people that he’s talking about. This is linked together.
“I didn’t just throw these stories to just not make a point. There’s so much going on.”
Neither one of them could be touched. You couldn’t touch the lady with the issue of blood and you couldn’t touch the girl that was dead. They couldn’t be touched. Neither one of them were fertile. The lady that was having the issue of blood could not be pregnant, even though she was of the age that she could be pregnant. Because she was bleeding, the bottom line is that she couldn’t be pregnant. And the little girl was twelve years old, which means she has not entered into puberty as of yet and she’s died. She’s never going to have the chance to have any fertility and have any children, nor is the lady who’s got the issue of blood.
There are a lot of issues here. A dire situation. Oftentimes, don’t we just read through these stories and we don’t think? These stories aren’t written for you just to memorize them. They’re not written for you to — you know, we sort of get it backwards. We think the more Scripture we memorize, the better off we are. It’s like, how about the more Scripture that we do, the better off we are? You know what I’m talking about? Jesus is like, “I don’t care if you’ve got the whole Bible memorized. That don’t do nothing. Why don’t you do some of the things that it says?”
“I don’t want to do some of that stuff. It might create some problems for me.”
You know? So, this is what’s going on here. It’s a really deep story with complexities. Well, look at what Jesus does. Because, when you understand all the things that are going on, you realize how expansive and pervasive these new beginnings are. First of all, neither one of them can be in community. One’s dead. She can’t be in community at all. She’s dead. The other one’s going to die, but she’s unclean and nobody can get around her. She can’t be around anybody. They both now are restored to community. They had none of it and now they’re in community. They both are given life. One’s dying and is going to die, and one’s dead. They both are given new life. They both are given a new beginning. Massively.
Not only that, but now they can be restored back to their families. They can come back. One’s dead. The other one can’t even be around anybody because she’s unclean. Their sexuality is, once again, restored. They’re fertile again. This little girl that’s twelve years old is going to go on now to live to where she can have children, and the woman can continue to bear children. We don’t even think about those things. But, to those women in those days, having children was huge. New life. They’ve got a new lease on life.
See, when you put all of this together, you go, “Wow. Man. Jesus is really doing some massive restoration, some massive bringing things together and some massive new beginnings.”
His new beginnings are expansive. They’re pervasive. Jesus is not just after touching one little part of your life. He wants to transform your life. He wants to transform the things that are going on in you and I’s lives. I want us to see that. You’re not here by accident. You didn’t show up on Labor Day weekend just because. You came here because God wants you to know that new beginnings are possible for you. They’re possible for you because Zacchaeus had a new life, the guy in the tombs had a new life, the little girl and the other lady had a new life. Why? Because, Jesus can do that. Jesus can truly give you and me a new life.
Let’s look at the second thing that’s important here. New beginnings cross all the human barriers we erect. And we love human barriers. We love our groups. You see it right now more than normal, because college football season has started and everybody wants to talk about their team and how their team’s no good and all of that stuff. You know? They want to tell you about the filthy reptiles, or the Gators, you know? All of that stuff. I just wanted to let you know that the team that God loves is the University of Kentucky basketball. Let’s just get that straight. I don’t know why that’s so hard to understand. The sky’s blue. Just understand it. Okay?
But, the reality is — no, I’m joking. You’d be like, “Man, is he really...?”
No. I’m not serious. But, the new beginnings cross all the human barriers we erect. I want you to see here — because, once again, we’re probably just dancing through this passage. We’re not seeing some of the things that are going on that Mark really wants us to see. Take some time. Look at all the barriers Jesus is just trouncing.
The male and female barrier. The rich and poor barrier. The pure and unclean barrier. The dead and alive barrier. The sick and the well barrier. He’s just knocking all of them down. Where everybody else is going, “You’re this, you’re that, whatever. You’ve got all that stuff.”
And we do that. We like to get in our groups. We like to get in our positions. We’ll tell everybody a position before we’ll tell them about Jesus. We’ll tell them about our group before we tell them about Jesus. We’ll tell them how to reorganize their life before we’ll tell them about Jesus. See, what we see here is that human barriers and boundaries that we erect to form our groups are consistently torn down by Jesus. He just tears them down. He’s just like a bulldozer. Male; female. Rich; poor.
See, Jesus has time to go visit the rich man’s daughter as much as He can visit the poor woman who’s unclean. Jesus doesn’t have those barriers. Everybody’s like, “Well, yeah. But, I mean, what would Jesus do?”
Listen: “What would Jesus do?” is a terrible question to ask. You know why it is? Because, Jesus wasn’t married. So, for all of you all that are married, you can’t do WWJD. You can’t. And for those of you all who have a house, you can’t do WWDJ. Do you know what the real question to ask is? What would Jesus have me to do? See, we’ve got all these barriers that we put up. Our groups. The way we think. Let me tell you something: The church must shun our groups for being a part of His group. We find our unity in Him.
And what we do is we do all of this stuff and we’re like, “Oh, well they’re not a Christian because they...”
No, no. What you’re saying is that they’re not doing Christianity the way you’re doing it. That’s what you’re saying. How do you know they’re not a Christian? How do you know that they haven’t got it together? We do it all the time. I mean, seriously. Is there anybody in here that wants their life and their thoughts and everything they think and everything that they do put up here on the screen? I bet you everybody in this church could look at your life or my life, if it was all put up here, and you’d go, “Whew, man. They’re a wreck.”
Can I tell you something? That’s why Jesus came — for us wrecks. That’s why He came. We get in our groups and we feel good.
“I’ve got my group. We’re together. We’ve got it right.”
No, you don’t. We’ve all got it wrong. We’re all broken. That’s the great news of the Gospel, is Jesus goes, “I know your heart. I know what you’ve done. I know what you’ve thought. I know all of it. And, guess what? I love you. Come home. Come home.”
You say, “But, Jesus, you don’t know...”
“No. I do. I know more than you know. I even know the things that you think you know that you don’t know. Come on. Come home. Come home. Come on.”
You say, “Well, yeah. But, don’t I got to clean up?”
Listen to me. Please hear this: Christianity does not start with you and me getting cleaned up. We can’t do it. It doesn’t start with “go do this” and “go do that.” No. It starts with “done.” D-O-N-E. Jesus did what He did for you and me. It is finished. He has paid the price. It’s just a matter of do you want to come home?
In our groups, what we do is we get all fragmented out. Jesus tears all of that down. Can you imagine if all we did is we’d tell people about Jesus — can you imagine this? Can I tell you something? Everybody you tell what they’re doing wrong, they’re not going to change until they get ahold of Jesus. Why don’t we preach Jesus first and let Him take care of the other stuff. He’s really good at taking care of the other stuff. We’re really bad at taking care of the other stuff. Right?
Third thing: Authentic faith is more important for a new beginning than simply getting everything right. This is huge. This lady, she says, “If I just touch His garments, I’m going to be made well.”
She doesn’t understand the depths of salvation. She doesn’t understand what Jesus is going to do on the cross. She doesn’t understand whether or not there’s a Trinity. She doesn’t understand whether or not John Calvin was right or Jacobus Arminius was right. She doesn’t care about any of that stuff. At all. She’s just sick and desperate, and she’s like, “Maybe He’s a magic guy. Maybe He’s got some tricks that He could do. I’m willing to take the gamble, because I’m going to die.”
She doesn’t have everything right theologically. What she does, though, is she has authentic faith. She’s desperate.
“If I can just touch Him.”
I mean, think about this for a second. She’s desperate. She obviously has no ego at all. And she’s willing to do whatever it takes. I can tell you this: These three things in life right here, when you look at that, when you’re desperate and you have no ego and you’re like, “God, I’ll lay on my face. God, I’ll do whatever. God, I’ll do backflips. God, I’ll just sit here. God, I’ll run through a crowd. All I want to do is just get to Jesus, because I know I can’t do it on my own. I am desperate. I don’t have any ego. God, whatever it takes, I’m willing to do. Because, God, I just want You in my life.”
That is the simple touch of the Gospel. The beautiful thing is that you and I can have a new beginning no matter where we are at in life. Jesus can do that. Not a church. Not a song. Not a pastor. Jesus can. And you’re not here by accident. He wants you to hear that message that, “Hey, you know what? Come on. Let me show you what I can do in your life. Let me show you how expansively and pervasively I can change your life.”
All it takes is to just say, “Jesus, I’m ready to receive today. I’m going to make my seat right here an alter and just say, ‘God, pour it on me here, because I need a new touch. I need a new beginning.’”
Dear Heavenly Father, I pray for every person in this room. Lord, I pray that You would walk the aisles right now. Lord, I pray that every single person would take a moment and realize that just a simple touch from You can change everything. Lord, I pray that for those that are desperate here today, for those that are at the end of their rope, I pray that they would realize that when they’re at the end of their rope, that’s just the beginning of where You start. Because Lord, at the end of the day, You want us to realize it’s not our rope that we bring. Lord, it’s not all of our works and efforts that we bring. Lord, it’s the fact that we’re needy and we just need You, Lord, and we realize that. We realize that when we reach out our hand toward You, Your hand was there all the time. We just weren’t noticing it.
So Lord, I pray for everybody here. I pray, Lord, that as we enter into a Labor Day weekend, I pray that every single person here at Grace Community Church would realize that new beginnings are possible. That in the same way you reached these two women and made a difference in their life, You can make a difference in ours. So Lord, whether it’s starting a journey with You today because we’ve been living life our way and we want to live now with You and we realize that You want us to come home and we’re overwhelmed with that. Or, Lord, if it’s that we’ve been walking with You for 50 years and there’s areas in our lives that we just never really turned over because we didn’t believe there could possibly be a new beginning. Lord, I pray that we would receive a simple touch from You and that those dead areas in our lives or those lives that we thought were dead would be resurrected for Your glory and for Your honor, Lord.
Let the new beginnings be expansive and pervasive in all of our lives. So Lord, as we leave here today, I pray that You’d watch over us and protect us, I pray that You would lead and guide us, and I pray that You’d bring us back safely to when we meet again. Lord, we just thank You for what Your doing here in our midst, the new beginnings that Your creating in everybody’s lives for Your glory and for Your honor. We love You for everything. In Jesus’ name, and everybody said, “amen.”
Give the Lord a big hand clap and tell Him you love Him. God bless everybody. See you soon.