Whether they know it or not, every person has encountered Christ moving in their life. Some of us have even been blessed enough to realize it! Reading Mark 5 strikes me with two conflicting views of what happens when people experience an encounter with Jesus. We have the demon-possessed man from Gerasenes, driven to isolation and self-harm by the evil spirits within him. And on the other, a woman, stricken with profuse endless bleeding, seeking healing in a touch of Jesus’s robes.
Both of these people recognize the truth about Jesus, that He alone wields righteous power and authority over evil. Both of these people, in their time, would have been considered ritually unclean, to be cast out and separated from worship and community; the demons Legion, causing their host undue suffering with an affinity to graves & corpses and dangerous behavior, and the woman because of the ritual uncleanliness marked by her unceasing menstruation. I can imagine both of these individuals trudging so long through hopelessness and misery within their afflictions. Yet when face-to-face with Jesus, both have very different reactions. The man’s inner demons show fear and panic; the woman, a desperate hope and trust in the power of drawing close to Christ.
It seems many of us want to come to Christ on our own terms, in our own timeframe. But when Christ moves in you and you become painfully aware of your uncleanness and sin, and have the opportunity to surrender that to God, will you run in terror from the Truth as the Devil’s servants did in the presence of the Lord, or will you do everything in what power you have to experience God’s saving grace as the bleeding woman? Clearly, both these experiences involved recognizing the divine authority Jesus wielded (James 2:19 – “Even the demons believe – and shudder!”). I think even in these stories, we can see allegories of our own possible experiences in being called to face our own unholiness. When the Holy Spirit stirs your heart to recognize and confront your sin, do you accept Jesus’s authority while clinging to hope in your broken self, or with joyous hope for healing and redemption? We know both these people found the same redemption offered to us through Christ.(Ephesians 1:7 – “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace!”)
I wholeheartedly believe God commands all might over illness and death, as I’ve experienced through prayers, witnesses, and much practice & patience. But more so than just physical illness and pain – He wipes clean spiritual uncleanness and sickness. Psalm 30 proclaims “O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me. O Lord, you have brought up my soul from Sheol; you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit.” Or 1 John 1:9 – “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” God sent His only begotten Son to offer Himself up for our forgiveness of sins, and as our bridge to eternity with God; all we need to do is confront, confess, and surrender our sins. When prompted with this decision, will you cling pridefully to your inner demons and flee from redemption as so many people do today, or will you reach out and accept the cleansing power of His blood in your own life?