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Free Books » Bonar, Horatius » Light & Truth: The Gospels

Chapter 29 - Mark 5:36 - Only Believe Light & Truth: The Gospels by Bonar, Horatius




Only Believe.


"As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoke; he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid; only believe."-Mark 5:36.



     Most of Christ's mighty works had to do with disease and health, with death and life. Not all of them; for we have the water turned into wine, and the multitude fed.  But most of them were as we have said. Here it is death with which He is brought into contact; and He deals with it as the Prince of life.

     At three different stages does he meet with and overcome death, and him that has the power of death. (1.) The newly dead, as here in the case of Jairus' daughter. (2.) The dead of a day, as in the son of the widow of Nain. (3.) The dead of four days.  Each time He encounters more of death, and has to go down deeper into the horrible pit. But in all the three (and no doubt there were many such) He is the conqueror,-the resurrection and the life. But let us look at the whole miracle; it is one of sickness and death; and in connection with these there is the persuasion that Christ was the only deliverer.

     We see (1.) faith; (2.) faith giving way; (3.) faith strengthened and encouraged; (4.) faith victorious; (5.) unbelief rebuked.

     I. Faith. The faith of Jairus;-of both father and mother; for both seem to have turned their eye to Jesus. He is probably a Pharisee; like Nicodemus, a master in Israel; the ruler of the synagogue,-a well-known man in Capernaum. But he has heard of Jesus,-of his wonders,-how he can overcome disease; and as his little daughter lies dying, he leaves her bedside to go in quest of Jesus. It is faith that sends him on this errand; faith in Jesus as the healer; for at first his faith only reached thus far. But Jesus leads him on; and the faith that began with trusting Him as the physician, ends with realizing in Him the raiser of the dead. For faith often begins with little, and ends in much; it begins with a trickling streamlet, and ends with a full broad river; it begins with a few streaks of light, and ends with the glorious dawn, or more glorious noon.

     II. Faith giving way. I do not say that the father's faith gave way,-though from the words of Jesus it seems to have wavered. But the mother's faith had done so; for she had sent the messenger with the desponding message, "Thy daughter is dead, why troublest thou the Master any further?" Her faith had found its limit (as in the case of Martha and Mary,-Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died); it took hold of Jesus as the healer of the sick, but it went no farther. She knew something of Jesus; and that something had led her to think of Him; but it was little that she knew; and her faith soon came to an end. Had she known Him better, she would have either sent no message, but calmly waited his arrival; or it would have run very differently,-"Thy daughter is dead, urge the Master to come." Ah, does not our faith often thus fail,-just at this point? We can go to Him for a little thing; we cannot go to Him for a great thing. We count it presumption to expect much. Instead of feeling that the worse the case, the greater the glory to his power and love, we stop short, and cease to expect anything from Him at all. I need not trouble the Master, we say, my case is so desperate; instead of saying, because my case is so desperate, I will trouble Him, I will give Him this opportunity of magnifying his skill and grace. Thus faith shews its feebleness. It gives way when any strain is put upon it. We can trust Jesus for a little, but not for much, not for all! O we of little faith!

     III. Faith strengthened. Christ speaks. "Fear not; believe only and she shall be made whole." He saw his faith staggering. The intelligence was a blow to it. He believed that Christ could heal her; but can He bring her back from the dead? There is a wide difference between these two things; the one is human, the other superhuman. Christ's words are for the strengthening of his faith in that which is superhuman. They are an intimation of the far greater fullness in Himself. They hid the man believe in that fullness, and dismiss all the fears which the sad intelligence had awakened. They assure him that it was quite as easy for the Master to raise the dead as to heal the sick. Fear not; believe only; and she shall be made whole. It is thus that He leads faith on and up, step by step; making use of failure and evil tidings for this end. As the road grows darker the torch blazes brighter.

     IV. Faith victorious. The dead child is raised. Thy faith hath saved thy child. Jesus and the believing father enter the house together,-go to the chamber of death. The father has taken Christ at his word; he has believed; he has recognized in Christ not merely the healer of the sick, but the resurrection and the life; and in response to his faith his child is given back to him; the chamber of death becomes the chamber of life. Faith has won the victory. That victory is resurrection He that believeth on me, though he were dead yet shall he live.

     V. Unbelief rebuked. The father and mother believe, and they are admitted to see the great sight,-the earnest of that which shall be seen over all the earth when the trumpet shall sound. But it is an unbelieving household; and the mourners make known their unbelief in mockery of Christ's resurrection words. They are put out. They are not allowed to see the sight,-the gate of death unlocked by Him who has its keys; and the prisoner brought forth. They only see the issue afterwards; but from the glorious spectacle itself they are excluded. From how many blessed sights does unbelief shut us out. Into what chambers of life and blessedness does faith bring us! Only believe!