Highlights of the Gighway (1)
E. L. Lovering, Ilfracombe
Mark 5. 25-34; 6. 6, 7
Among the Crowd
The Woman who Touched Him, 5. 25-34
Despite the urgency of the situation, the Lord delayed His journey to the house of Jairus to respond to the touch of a desperate woman. Her trouble had made her ceremonially unclean and barred her access to the synagogue and temple worship. Though pressed by the crowd, the Lord was conscious of a special touch of faith for 'he knew that virtue had gone out of him', 5. 30. In apostolic healings, as in Acts 3. 7, there is no mention of such knowledge on the part of the healer.
Matthew recognized in this healing ministry the fulfilment of Isaiah 53. 4, 'himself took our infirmities and bare our sicknesses', Matt. 8. 17. This could not be said of any other. 'Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague', 5. 34.
This is the only recorded utterance by Christ of the term 'daughter' to an individual. He did not ascribe the power of the healing to 'the hem of his garment' but to the faith that brought her into contact with Himself. The soldiers around the cross divided His garments among them yet received no blessing.
About the Villages
Lessons to be Learned, 6. 6-13
'He went round about the villages, teaching. And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two', 6. 6, 7
The apostles were to learn that at this juncture there was,
No Need for Preparation
For later journeys they were to make careful preparations when He warned them to take purse, scrip, sword and garment, Luke 22. 36. This indicates that there are no set patterns for all missions but specific guidance for every occasion of witness. In his Land and the Book, (1911), Thomson writes, 'at this day the farmer sets out on excursions quite as extensive, without a para in his purse. No traveller in the East would hesitate to throw himself on the hospitality of any village'.
'Be shod with sandals; and (do) not put on two coats', 6. 9. Thomson continues, 'the Galilean peasants wear a coarse ordinary shoe, answering to the sandals of the ancients, but never take two pairs with them. 'In what place soever ye enter into an house, there abide till ye depart from that place', 6. 10. 'When a stranger arrives in a village, the neighbours invite him to eat with them. There is a strict etiquette about it, involving much ostentation and hypocrisy; a failure to do this is violently resented and often leads to feuds among neighbours. It also consumes much time, causes unusual distractions of mind and everyway counteracts the success of a spiritual mission'. Thus we see the reason for the Lord's command. He sent His apostles not to be honoured and feasted but to proclaim that the kingdom of heaven was at hand. Having found a suitable lodging place they were to abide there until their mission was accomplished. Thomson concludes, 'Go not from house to house', was a most important precept, and all evangelists must act upon the spirit of it whenever they go forth to call men to repentance'.
Two by Two
Mark alone records this, though Matthew records the names of the twelve in pairs, Matt. 10. 1-15. This custom was later continued by the apostolic church. Two disciples were sent to find the colt, Mark 11. 1; Peter and John were commissioned to make ready the Passover, Luke 22. 8; Mark 14. 13; Paul and Barnabas were commended by the church at Antioch, Acts 13. 2. 'One alone' might have become downcast or discouraged, or have kept too closely to one idea, perhaps taking some glory for himself. 'Three' would not have been so absorbed in their purpose or might have differed in opinion. They were to shake off the dust under their feet as a testimony against those who would not receive or hear them, 6. 11. Paul did this at Antioch in Pisidia, Acts 13. 51, and at Corinth, Acts 18. 6.
The apostles' ministry was threefold, to preach repentance, to cast out demons and to heal the sick. 'Anointing with oil' is mentioned in a medicinal sense in Luke 10. 34, and in James 5. 14, 15 related to faith and prayer. There is nothing in this latter experience to uphold the Romish practice of 'extreme unction' which is administered to the dying to heal the 'soul'. Here it is the body which is healed. Among the Jews oil was much used as a curative agent, and as a sign of the divine grace. The oil was but a symbol in the healing, it was the Lord who 'raised him up'.
This mission of the apostles must not be taken as a pattern for gospel preaching today. This was a Messianic message with a special commission, Matt. 10. 8, and special credentials of power. They were to go to 'the lost sheep of the house of Israel', avoiding 'the way of the Gentiles' and the Samaritan cities. Today's commission is to preach the gospel to the whole world, 16. 15; though Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, asserted that it was 'to the Jew first, and also to the Greek', Rom. 1. 16.
Those who claim to heal miraculously must also claim the power to raise the dead for the two are intimately connected. All healing is of God, with or without medical aid. When Ambrose Pore, the father of modern surgery was dying, he remarked, 'I dressed the wounds but God healed the patient'.