I read this week that down in the Silicon Valley the Porsche showrooms are empty. Penthouses and mansions are being snatched up for hundreds of thousands of dollars over list. Facebook billionaires and millionaires are on a huge spending spree. Life is good right now. But what about that day when their soul is required of them? What good will their money do them then? Jairus was the ruler of the synagogue, a high ranking official, he was somebody important. But status and rank didn’t insulate him from trouble. No one is beyond the reach of pain and sorrow.
When we turn to the prophecy of Nahum, we find ourselves reading words written down by another relatively unknown, small town prophet. But it doesn’t really matter because all we really want to do is get into the words of a man who heard directly the voice of the Lord and who spoke for God the very Words of God. We want to get to know the words of this man who heard God and had the power and authority of God to declare the things of God. The first thing we have to acknowledge if we are going to be totally honest is that Nahum is pretty rough reading. You don’t hear many sermons from the book of Nahum. You certainly don’t see many verses from Nahum cross-stitched and hanging in people’s homes. I pulled out my Lectionary and discovered that Nahum is one of a few books completely left out of the formal three year schedule of Scripture readings used in more liturgical churches. Nothing to see here folks, move along. Nothing really worth reading here, just skip on to Habakkuk. But let’s be brave and see what this portion of God’s holy and inspired Word says.
Our journey with Jesus takes us back across the Sea of Galilee to Jewish territory on the west side of the lake where Jesus receives a much friendlier reception and a crowd quickly gathers. Mark tells the story of two people who make a special point of coming to Jesus. Notice how accessible Jesus is. Notice that He’s among the people, in the crowds, able to be touched. His entire ministry was on the streets and hills of Palestine and in the homes and synagogues of the people. The crowds sometimes kept Him from being able to eat and sleep and retreat for prayer, but He was accessible. He always has been and He still is. But He is not only accessible, He’s available and beyond that, He’s interruptible. This is the third time in this Gospel where we have a story interrupted by another story. Bible commentators like to call these Marken sandwiches. This time we are going to look at the meat of the sandwich and next week at the two pieces of bread that surround this story within a story, this miracle within a miracle. These two stories aren’t just your average bad day stories. These are two people in the depths of despair. One is of a young girl at the point of death, and the other is a woman at the point of utter hopelessness from a long-lasting medical condition. This woman’s condition is far worse than we first realize for three reasons.
This morning we return to Mark 5 to, as Paul Harvey used to say, “hear the rest of the story.” Jesus had crossed over the Sea of Galilee with His disciples to the east side into Gentile territory where He was immediately accosted by a man possessed by an unclean spirit, or actually a legion of unclean spirits. Jesus cast them out into a herd of 2000 pigs who then rushed headlong into the Sea of Galilee and drowned. We begin reading now at Mark 5:14. You are about to hear the inspired, infallible Word of Almighty God, which our Lord Jesus Christ said is Truth. Truth that cannot fail. Truth that cannot be broken. Please receive it as such this morning.
We have seen with some of the Minor Prophets that there is no information about the prophet, where he’s from, what time period he prophesied in and to whom he was prophesying. Micah answers all those questions in the first verse.
As we dig in to exposit this text and expose its message there are dozens of questions we could ask. Why did Jesus purposefully go to this place? Why did the possessed man come to him? Why did the demons expect to be tortured and beg not to be? Why do they ask to go into the pigs and why did Jesus grant their desire? And most of all, what in the world could this text possibly say to us today? If “all Scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (II Timothy 3:16) then how so with this text?
There are five one-chapter books in the Bible, a letter from Paul to Philemon, the second and third of John’s three letters, Jude and Obadiah. Obadiah holds the record for being the shortest book in the OT. Obadiah is the obscure prophet, we know nothing of this background, family, history or location. His name means servant of God, and he does it well, staying in the background.