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19th August 2001


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Sermon

A PARENT'S WORST NIGHTMARE.

Scripture Reference

Mark 5:21-43


Wesley Mission has been helped in conducting scores of "How to Drug Proof Your Child" seminars to hundreds of parents, by Mrs Angela Woods, the mother of 15 year old schoolgirl Anna Woods who died after taking a designer drug at a teenage dance party. It is the parents' worst nightmare that something tragic like this should happen to their own young child.

Hallucinogens are a walk on the wild side. These mind-altering drugs can do enormous damage. Yet they are regarded by many as harmless, a flight from the stress of life into beautiful feelings. Hallucinogenic drugs may bring out latent psychosis within users. Ecstasy can be laced with heroin with deadly side effects. Marijuana can release the potent forces of schizophrenia. Cancer, lymphoma, and a dozen other diseases can cut short a young life. Motor vehicle accidents kill a thousand Australian teenagers every year. There isn't a parent who has not dreaded the knock on the door at night when their teenager is out. Before the parent is out of bed they have imagined the message they are about to hear. Tragically, hundreds kill themselves every year. The loss of life of one so young is the parents' worst nightmare.

This issue is highlighted in one of the most significant days in the life of Jesus. His ministry on this day illustrated His control over a storm at sea, mental illness in a crazy man, chronic illness in a middle aged woman, and the facing of a parent's worst nightmare, the death of a child. It was one incredible day!

1. CAPERNAUM, A CENTRE OF HIS MINISTRY.
The events started in the lakeside town of Capernaum, continued on the lake, then on the cliffs on the other side of the lake and when they returned to Capernaum. Capernaum was the commercial centre of a chain of fishing villages whose inhabitants brought their daily catch to the fish salting works. Archaeologists have reconstructed a third-century synagogue, which includes stones from its first-century predecessor where Jesus preached. Around the synagogue in a 100 square metre area, the core of the Christian Gospel was preached in parable, miracle and healing.

After Jesus left Nazareth, Jesus "went to live in Capernaum, a town by Lake Galilee." Matt 4:12-17 It was here He began to preach the Kingdom of God and where Jesus called fishermen as disciples. It was here that Jesus called Matthew the tax collector to follow Him. By the shores of Capernaum Jesus told Peter to find a fish with a coin in its mouth to pay their tax. Matt 17:24-27 It was in the synagogue of Capernaum that Jesus healed a man with an unclean spirit. Mark 1:21-28 It was here that Jesus was teaching in a house so crowded that four men could not get their paralyzed friend before Jesus, so they removed part of the roof and let him down. Mark 2:1-12 It was in this house that Jesus healed Peter's mother-in-law who was ill. Mark 1:29-34 It was here that Jesus healed the slave of a centurion who helped build the Capernaum synagogue, Luke 7:1-10 a woman with a hemorrhage and the daughter of Jairus who was a ruler in the Capernaum synagogue.

An order of Franciscans have been excavating the site for 120 years. They re-erected the 3rd century synagogue. In the courtyard more than 20,000 coins were discovered. Highly polished limestone blocks look like marble and painted plaster decorate the walls. The door lintels, friezes, cornices and pillar capitals are delicately carved with representations of the star of David, star of Solomon, palm, date and pomegranate trees, a menorah, and many animals including lions, eagles, a sea-horse, bulls and a carving of The Ark of the Covenant. Beneath the synagogue at Capernaum lies the foundation stones of an earlier synagogue built from black basalt from the first century A.D.. Jesus preached here, so these paving stones felt the Master's feet.

In 1968, outside the synagogue doors were the foundations of an unusual octagonal church built upon an earlier smaller house church, part of an ordinary fisherman's house revered by the early church. All about are the ruins of private houses. On this site Christians had worshipped since the first century. This octagonal church was built in the fifth century A.D., to honour the site of an earlier house-church, and before that, the house of Peter. The archaeologists suspected that when they removed the floor of the octagonal church they would probably find underneath the remains of the house of Peter. And they did! Those very rooms are still there in their foundational form where two of the miracles of Jesus occurred. Capernaum is a community of greatest interest to the Christian.

2. TWO WHO NEEDED HEALING.
That day, Jesus and His disciples were met by a large crowd, and the ruler from the Synagogue who jettisoned all dignity, fell at Jesus' feet, and begged for help for his seriously ill twelve year old daughter. v23 Jesus does not speak; He acts. He set out with Jairus to go to the child. A large crowd followed. v24 As Jesus moves towards the house of Jairus, from the crowd comes a desperately ill woman. This women suffered from continuous bleeding that had been discharging for twelve years. The emotional, physical and social drain upon her is impossible to comprehend. She had been to many doctors, and under their treatment had suffered a great deal and was no better, but in fact worse. In doing this, she had spent all she had.

She came up behind Jesus so He did not see her. She held a superstitious belief that if she could only touch Him, even the edge of His clothing, she would be healed. She touched Him, and v29-34 "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."

But what of the distraught father? His daughter was dying and Jesus had been delayed by this woman. Jairus had begged Jesus to come urgently. "My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live." Now delay had ruined everything. 35-43 "While Jesus was still speaking, some men came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. "Your daughter is dead," they said. "Why bother the teacher any more?" Just that abrupt statement that strikes despair into the heart of every parent whether the messenger is from your own family, a policeman, a doctor in a hospital gown or even a minister from your church. I have knocked on the door of a neighbour's house to tell them their twelve year old daughter had been run down by a car which crushed her head. How else do you say "Your daughter is dead."? What other words are there?

Jesus "ignoring what they said, told the synagogue ruler, "Don't be afraid; just believe." Jairus needed to hear that. Jesus stopped the crowd from following and ignored their talk. He took three disciples and Jairus. At the house there was another crowd, wailing as Eastern crowds do. Wailing mourners would be later paid by the family. Since Jairus was an important man, many professional mourners gathered. "Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. He went in and said to them, "Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep." But they laughed at Him. After He put them all out, He took the child's father and mother and the disciples who were with Him, and went in where the child was."

The wailing mourners were put out. Only the child's mother and father and the three disciples went into her bedroom. Jesus "took her by the hand and said to her, "Talitha koum!" (which, in the local Aramaic dialect means, "Little girl, I say to you, get up!"). Immediately the girl stood up and walked around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat." Jesus resuscitated the girl from death. What an event! The emotions released from that room ran through the whole community and far out to other villages. Jesus wanted to downplay the whole event, but there was no stopping this news! The paid mourners who had laughed him to scorn v 40 were now laughing with joy. There is an authenticity about this record, remembered vividly by Peter and told to young Mark. In one day, the disciples had been told not to fear a storm that threatened their boat, a deranged man was brought to his senses, a woman with a chronic medical condition was healed, and the twelve year old daughter of Capernaum's leading citizen was raised to life! What a day! No wonder the people everywhere were amazed.

3. WHAT IS THE MESSAGE FOR PARENTS TODAY?
Here is some of the most important information for a parent to help prepare for the time when the parent's worst nightmare may occur, even before it occurs.
Jesus Comes. So often in grief and need we think we have to turn to God. But Jesus is seeking us out. Like the Good Shepherd who seeks the lost sheep, so He comes to us.

Jesus cares. Jesus had compassion for people like the widow from Nain, the woman in the crowd at Capernaum and for Jarius and his wife in the death of their daughter. The word means "to be moved in His deepest, inner being." This was genuine care as opposed to the wailing of the professional mourners.
Jesus comforts. There is something about the comfort of Jesus that we find in no one else. Jesus took the little girl's hand and raised her up. He took the hand of the boy outside the cemetery at Nain, and gave the boy back to his widowed mother. What a comfort to them.

Jesus brings life. Jesus said the child was asleep. Stephen was killed a most horrible death as the first martyr of the church, Acts 7:60 but it says he fell asleep. Paul says the eye witnesses of the Resurrection of Jesus who have died are asleep.1 Cor 15:18-20 Christians who have died are asleep in Jesus. 1 Thess 4:13-15 The dead person who has died in faith, may be brought back to life soon - as with the son of the widow at Nain, Luke 7:11-15 and Jairus's daughter - or like Stephen and Paul, will await the resurrection from the dead.

Hence put the hopeless wailing people out! Death is a sleep from which we wake to eternal life. The date of a believer's death is their new birth day! The places of burial once were called a necropolis - the city of the dead. But Christians referred to the place where they buried their dead as a cemetery - which meant a dormitory of those who are asleep. Our response in all of this should be as that of Jairus. He believed in Jesus and obeyed what he was told. Jesus said: Mark 5:36 "Don't be afraid, Just believe." Just believe! Just believe!


Rev Dr Gordon Moyes

 



Send an e-mail to Gordon Moyes - gkmoyes@wesleymission.org.au

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