Welcome. Maurine and Scot Proctor of Meridian magazine. Today’s lesson is on Mark 2-5, Matthew 8 and 9 “Thy Faith Hath Made Thee Whole.
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A great multitude followed Him.
7 But Jesus withdrew himself with his disciples to the sea: and a great multitude from Galilee followed him, and from Judæa,
8 And from Jerusalem, and from Idumæa, and from beyond Jordan; and they about Tyre and Sidon, a great multitude, when they had heard what great things he did, came unto him.
1. When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him.
Can you imagine how thirsty the people were for the word? To have their souls and bodies healed? To be invited out of the barren life where the word was absent and to be invited to be with the great Healer?
Now, what do we hear in the gospel which we have received? A voice of gladness! A voice of mercy from heaven; and a voice of truth out of the earth; …a voice of gladness for the living and the dead; glad tidings of great joy…As the dews of Carmel, so shall the knowledge of God descend upon them!
Why are they coming? Because we in mortality are the wounded, the ailing, the challenged, the agonized, compassed about and inside by grief of every kind. Here, at last, is someone who can heal them with a touch.
Are we any different? We have physical ailments, yes and emotional ones, too, losses and disappointments and weaknesses that eat us up. These people are not somehow different than we are.
We are looking at stories of healing. So we are looking at our own stories here.
The Lord’s touch is individual, meant for us personally.
One can’t touch a crowd. Touch is a one person at a time thing. No matter how many children He has, He is still able to touch us one at time where we are. What’s more, though, his is a customized touch. It is meant for us personally—to soothe the pain and weariness that all of us carry. It is a touch of relief and knowledge.
The Lord not only often touches those he heals, but he is also touched by their plight. He is not a distant, unfeeling God. “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).
He is touched by our pain and our longing, yearning hearts. He is touched by our weakness and our cries in the night. He is touched by our infirmities.
As Elder A. Bednar said, “There is no physical pain, no spiritual wound, no anguish of soul or heartache, no infirmity or weakness you or I ever confront in mortality the Savior did not experience first.”
Elder David A. Bednar, “Bear Up Their Burdens with Ease”, April 2014, https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2014/04/bear-up-their-burdens-with-ease?lang=eng
We will see in these stories how often the Savior reaches out to touch someone, but it is because He has seen their plight, and it has first touched Him, for He has complete compassion.
It is othe love of the Lord these stories teach us, a God who falls upon us who are all sinners, with an embrace when we come home to him. This is a God who touches us rather than remains in some distant heaven, far away.
In many of these stories, he enters into a ship to cross Galilee. This lake is 13 x 8 miles, not very big. Shaped like a harp. Fishing villages particularly along the north shore where Capernaum is that Jesus calls home during his ministry.
Along the northwest shore, near the village of Magdala, the shore was swampy and thus easier to take a boat across. Probably always easier to take a boat across.
Healing of the Paralytic Man
In Mark chapter 2 we see the healing of the paralytic man. Remember there is a crush of people upon Jesus, so this man is borne by four on his bed, and when his friends see there is no way in, they lift him up, to the roof, take up part of it and then lower him in to where Jesus is.
We like the way Terryl and Fiona Givens describe the scene. “Only those who have suffered years of physical or mental hardship can know the wearying pain, the frustrated hopes, the moments of despair and protracted periods of depression that can accompany the prolonged search for relief. Imagine, fi you will, the first rumors that reach the paralytic of the miracle worker from Nazareth, this healer of maladies. With perhaps a mixture of skepticism and desperate hope, he enlists the help of his friends to secure an interview, a moment of consideration from this Jesus.
They make the tedious journey. They are, however, unable to penetrate the thick crowds of the devout and the curious; they cannot even make their way into the house where Jesus is speaking. And so the man’s hopes fade, only to be rekindled when one of the four suggests a dramatic entry from above. The plan is accepted and executed, the bed descends, and a murmur of grudging admiration for the strangers’ chutzpah ripples through the crowd as Jesus pauses in mid-sentence at this unexpected apparition descending by roes and pulleys. For our weary patient years of hopeless longing now come crashing to a climax; the patient awaits the Healer’s hands or words of restoration, only to hear instead this unexpected utterance, “Thy sins be forgiven thee.”
Fiona Givens, Terryl Givens, The Christ Who Heals. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2017.
6 But there were certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts,
7 Why doth this man thus speak ablasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?
Of course, the Lord heals the man as well, and he picks up his bed and walks. But the Lord has just taught something deeper. Only God can heal sins. Exactly. This is another announcement. But it is also an expression that the woundedness we have may be even more important than our bodily pains.
The Givens again say, “Our point is not by any means that sin is generally the only source of our suffering . It may often be. Our point however, and we think Mark’s point is that our deepest healing seldom comes in the ways or modes that we envision. What we think we need to be happy and whole is not always what the Healer knows we need to be happy and whole.
“Solutions that seem obvious to us may be distractions from where the deepest pain lies.”
We must trust the Lord to know where we are wounded and how we can be healed. He tells us, “I am able to do mine own work,” and that is true. And much of the healing will be in ways we cannot see, line upon line.
The faith to be healed is faith sometimes for a long journey as the Lord does His work. He alone completely understands what hurts us. Taking up his bed and walking may have been the least of the healing that day, although it was the most obvious.
We always refer to Jesus as the Savior of the world, but He could just as easily be called the Healer of the world. And that is all of us, so deeply in need.
The Givens again note, “In June 1829, as Joseph Smith was finishing his translation of the gold plates, he pronounced in the scope of one single sentence a diagnosis, and the promise of our healing. “Neither will the Lord God suffer that the Gentiles shall forever remain in that state of awful woundedness. Which…they are in, because of the plain and most precioys parts of the Gospel of the lamb which hath been kept back.”
In subsequent editions the wording was changed to awful state of blindness, to awful state of wickedness.”
The Savior is the only one who can heal our woundedness.
Very often Jesus touched the people he healed, reached out and caressed them who were faltering, connected in that most sacred and personal flesh-to-flesh way that only a touch can be. He gave a touch that affirms and said, ‘I see you, I know you.’ His touch said ‘my soul and your soul have entwined.’ He reached across the lonely barrier that spans our distance as isolated travelers to say, “It is I. Be not afraid.”
A touch is, by its very nature, a one-on-one experience. It is personal, directed at you.
No Need to Touch to Perform Miracles
We know, of course, that as the mighty Son of God, He did not need to touch anyone personally to do His miracles. He could perform miracles without even a nod of his head or a wave of his hand. When the Centurion came to him pleading for the Lord to heal his servant, it was done from a distance only with a word. The servant was healed in the “self-same hour.” (Matt. 8:13). No touch was required for the Lord to heal another.
Yet we have so many references to his touching those who came to him with yearning need. He was not in any way a distant God, a being someplace else beyond a cloud. He was one to enfold people in a divine embrace.
When Peter’s mother-in-law was sick with fever, “he touched her hand, and the fever left her” (Matt. 8:15). When Peter, James, and John were awestruck on the Mount of Transfiguration, “Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid” (Matt 17:7).
When two blind men were sitting by wayside, they called out to Jesus to have mercy on them. While “the multitude rebuked them,” Jesus asked “What will ye that I shall do unto you? They say that our eyes may be opened. So Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes” (Matt 20:34).
Setting a Scene
We were once photographing scenes from Jesus’ life in Nazareth, with a cast of Nazarenes, for a project we are working on. Our blind person for this photo was a woman. Though there are no specific stories about a blind woman being healed in the gospels, John tells us, “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which if they were written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written” (John 21:25). We knew that surely a blind woman had been healed.
So we asked our actor playing Jesus to act as if he were healing this woman and my husband, Scot, began to photograph the scene, taking pictures quickly to catch every movement. Oh, we were so moved as we took the photos and learned new perspective. In the scene, Jesus didn’t touch this woman’s eyes from a distance. Oh no. He cupped his hands around her face with such tenderness that seemed to encompass all she had been missing, then touched her eyes lightly with his thumbs. Then as her eyes were opened, she began to weep and fell into his arms. He held her tightly while she sobbed in gratitude.
Goodness, of course, that is how it would have been. The healed and the healer connecting on such a deep and personal level. The Lord embracing those he healed. Touching them.
Taken by the Hand
There are so many examples of the Lord’s touch.
A father came to the Lord with his child who had been possessed with a “foul spirit” since he was small.
“But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up: and he arose” (Mark 9: 20-27).
When Peter tried to walk upon the water toward the Savior on the Sea of Galilee, and then panicked before the boisterous sea, “immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand and caught him” (Matt. 14:31). We think of Jesus catching up the faltering Peter and wish that he were there to lift us in our tempestuous times, but, of course, He is—holding out His arms to us so we won’t sink.
All this means so much to me who also find myself so many times in need of healing or on boisterous waves. The Lord doesn’t send a substitute or watch out for me at a distance. He walks across the storm to find me where I am and touches me. How can He be so attentive and care so much?
Little children he “took…up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them” (Mark 10:16). For those who were sick in a multitude he laid “his hands on every one of them and healed them” (Luke 4:40).
Touching the Unclean—the Untouchables
But that is not all. The Jews had a very clear standard and rigorous view about those people infected with leprosy. They were considered filthy and ritually unclean. They were completely untouchable and, what’s more, wholly deserving of their plight. People believed they had been stricken by God with this agonizing malady because of sin.
They were banished from society. If people saw them, they threw rocks at them, disdained them, ran. People would not touch them because they believed the disease to be rampantly contagious. In a society where ritual purity was critical to their religion, touching those affected with leprosy made one ritually unclean. You can only imagine the social stigma and agonizing pain for those with this already terrible disease.
Jesus did not take any of this into account. Nothing could dissuade the mighty one from extending complete compassion and healing love toward these already unfairly marginalized, disdained and innocent people. For example, we have the story of a man with leprosy coming to Jesus and saying, “Lord, if thou wilt, thou can’st make me clean. And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean” (Matt. 8: 2,3).
The Lord made the infected man clean. Though scarred, broken and oozing with leprosy, the man did not make the Lord unclean through this touch.
Note the sequence. The Lord could have first made him clean and then touched him, so no social stigma could have been attached to Him for touching a man with leprosy. It is, after all, just a simple reverse of order. This He didn’t do. As He did with the man eaten by leprosy, He comes to touch us while we are yet unclean. He does not wait until we are whole.
Of this healing of the sick man in Matthew 8, George MacDonald, a 19th century Christian writer said, “Jesus could have cured him with a word. There was no need he should touch him. No need did I say? There was every need. For no one else would touch him. The healthy human hand, always more or less healing, was never laid on him; he was despised and rejected. It was a poor thing for the Lord to cure his body; he must comfort and cure his sore heart. Of all men a leper, I say, needed to be touched with the hand of love…
“It was not for our master, our brother, our ideal man, to draw around him the skirts of his garments and speak a lofty word of healing, that the man might at least be clean before he touched him. The man was his brother, and an evil disease cleaved fast unto him. Out went the loving hand to the ugly skin, and there was his brother as he should be—with the flesh of a child.
“I thank God that the touch went before the word. Nor do I think it was the touch of a finger or of the finger-tips. It was a kindly healing touch in its nature as in its power.
“O blessed leper! Thou knowest henceforth what kind of a God there is in the earth–…a God such as himself only can reveal to the hearts of his own. That touch was more than the healing. It was to the leper…what the [statement} Neither do I [condemn thee] was to the woman [at] the temple.”
As quoted in Donald W. Parry, Jay A. Parry, Symbols and Shadows: Unlocking a Deeper Understanding of the Atonement.
Perhaps most remarkable, Jesus even reached out to touch the servant of the high priest who came to arrest him in Gethsemane. When Peter, thinking to defend the Lord, cut off his ear, Jesus “touched his ear and healed him” (Luke 22:51).
Eats with Sinners
It is that same impulse to reach out to the unclean in order to heal them that allowed Jesus to eat with sinners.
Matthew 9: 10,11, 12
“And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples.
“And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, “Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners.
“But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.
We don’t have to wait to come unto Him until we are whole or righteous or worthy. He invites us now. “For I am not come to call the righteous, but the worthy to repentance.” His hands are outstretched toward each of us to come as we are, come now—so we can be healed.
Here is Kenneth Cope’s song, “Broken Things to Mend” that reminds us of God’s work.
A ruler of the synagogue in Capernaum came to Jesus to tell him, “My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live.” (Mark 5:23).
As he is heading toward the ruler’s home, he is in a crowd of people, when a woman with an issue of blood reaches out to touch the hem of his garment (probably his prayer shawl).
“For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole.” (Matthew 9:21).
Consider the faith it took for her to come out in this crowd. With this issue of blood, she would be considered unclean, and it had been upon her for so many years, that she had been cut off from society for a very long time. Another marginalized woman. This disease had not only been debilitating to her, but she had also spent all her living seeking the cure, and none was to be found.
“And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse.” Mark 5:26
Yet, as soon as she touched His clothes, “straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague” (Mark 5:29).
Jesus, knowing that virtue had gone out of him turned him turned about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes?”
His disciples were astonished, “Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?” (Mark 5:30,31).
This should give us faith that how ever small we feel in the crowd, when we reach out to touch Him, He knows it.
The Lord not only touches us, but He is also touched by our infirmities. “Daughter,” he says, “Thy faith hath made thee whole.” (Mark 5:34).
Now meanwhile, certain people came from the house of the ruler of the synagogue, saying it was now too late. “Thy daughter is dead: why troublest thou the Master any further?” (Mark 5:35).
Jesus said to Jairus who was the Master of the synagogue, “Be not afraid, only believe.” (Mark 5:36)
Now at an ancient Jewish funeral in those days, mourning was a noisy affair with much weeping and wailing and tumult. This had already begun when Jesus said, “Why make ye this ado, and weep? The damsel is not dead, but sleepeth.” (Mark 5:39) They laughed him to scorn, but when he went into where the damsel was lying, he took her by the hand and said, “Talitha cumi: which is being interpreted, Damsel I say unto thee arise.” (Mark 5:41).
The word Talitha here has been interpreted two ways.
As it is customary to wrap a sick person in the Tallit, signifying wrapping them in the power of the Word, some scholars believe that when Jesus spoke, He was referring to the Hebrew word for Tallit representing The Word Of God, It could mean, little girl, wrapped in the Word of God arise.
It could also mean the Greek word for little lamb. Then it would be “Little lamb, I say unto thee, arise.”
Do miracles like that continue today?
Scot’s story of the brown recluse spider.
When the Lord says that it is our faith that makes us whole, it is a very specific kind of faith. It is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is also submissively accepting of His will and timing in our lives—even if the outcome is not what we hoped or wanted.
Faith means trusting his timing. Sometimes he is healing our inner self by allowing us to continue with other things that may be difficult.
Mark 4: 37-41
Through the storms of life, the Lord is there for us, steady, loving and true. One time as the Lord and his apostles are crossing the Sea of Galilee, a great storm arose. On that Sea of Galilee great storms can arise suddenly as the wind whips through the near by mountains to the west, called the Horns of Hattan.
The waves beat against the boat, which began to fill with water and the men feared for their lives. Meanwhile, Jesus was in the hinder part of the boat, asleep, so they rushed to him and asked, “Master, carest thou not that we perish?”
“And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, “Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.”
Everything in this universe obeys the word of the Master.
Jehovah told Abraham, “For I am the Lord thy God: I dwell in heaven; the earth is my footstool; I stretch my hand over the sea, and it obeys my voice; I cause the wind and the fire to be my chariot: I say to the mountains—Depart hence—and behold, they are taken away by a whirlwind, in an instant suddenly.” Abraham 2:7
It caused the apostles to marvel when Jesus said, “Peace, be still” and the waves and the wind obeyed him.
“What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”, they asked. (Mark 4:41).
The faith to be healed, the faith to make it through life’s very real and very powerful storms comes from knowing that the Master of the universe is in the boat with you. And when you have made covenants with Him, and you keep them, you can be certain that He is there to say, “Peace, be still.”
Next week’s lesson is Matthew 10-12; Mark 2, Luke 7,11 “These Twelve Jesus Sent Forth”. Remember to tell your friends about this podcast. That’s the only way they will know. It is available on Meridian Magazine at latterdaysaintmag.com/podcast or on many podcast platforms online. Just search for Meridian Magazine—Come Follow Me Podcast.
Special thanks to Paul Cardall for providing the music for this podcast.