Jesus Backs up the Curse

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 3.35.58 PMBecause of the primal rebellion, God’s Eikons (image-bearers) are cracked and the God-created Paradise has become viciously perilous. Into this sin-caused mess and among messed-up people came Jesus, Israel’s Messiah. Jesus came as God’s Great Reversal: the One who would bring both people and creation back to the “very good”design and purpose of God. Back to shalom.

The gospel writer, Mark, does a bang up job of showing Jesus in action reversing the curse.

Does creation itself threaten us? Yes, at times. A storm on the Sea of Galilee tried to take out Jesus and the Twelve. Storms, earthquakes, floods, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis—all take their toll on human life. Jesus merely speaks and nature obeys. What kind of human being is this that even the winds and waves obey him? Do dark, nefarious beings threaten human life? A “legion”of demons was slowly destroying an Eikon of God. Demons dehumanized the man. Jesus said “Enough!”The man was transformed; recreated by the word of Jesus into a witness to the Son of God’s power to save. Demonic activity still plagues this earth. The Bible isn’t just taking up space when we are challenged to “Be alert!”to the adversary’s schemes. The Enemy uses worry (the negative use of the imagination) and fear to press us down and shatter our souls. Jesus isn’t troubled; he’s in charge of the spirit realm. What about death? That’s the scariest and last vestige the Enemy uses to distract us from our purpose: bearing the image of God in this world.

Mark 5:21-43 presents the twin episode of Jesus halting a woman’s slow death by loss of blood and raising from the dead a twelve year old daughter of a synagogue president. Who is this man Jesus? Creation—both natural and supernatural realms are under his command. All that threatens us in these arenas is at the mercy of the mere words of the Son of God. Yet, the big scare is death itself. Jesus told the woman with the blood flow problem that her faith cured her. She could “go in peace (shalom)”and reunite with family, community and God. Shalom: such a beautiful word. Jesus took the dead 12 year old girl’s hand and simply said, “Damsel, arise.”The parents had experienced their worst fear—the death of a child. Jesus said to the father, “Do not fear; only believe.”The paid mourners ridiculed Jesus’assessment of the girl’s condition. The mother and father, Peter, James and John were “amazed with great amazement”when the little girl got up and walked around. Ecstasy to the 7th power! Who is this man called Jesus?

In each miracle story we see a common human action: someone comes to Jesus. The Twelve did in the boat in the hurricane. The demoniac did in Gedara. The poor woman with the blood loss and financial loss came to touch Jesus’garment. The well-respected, well-to-do Jewish synagogue president fell on his knees before Jesus. Jesus is the “go-to”man. Every form of threat against human life was met head-on by Jesus and conquered. Jesus is Lord.

The first readers of Mark’s Gospel, Christians (Jews and Gentiles in Rome) needed these accounts of Jesus’power over all that threatens human life. Ben Witherington III writes, “These Christians [to whom Mark wrote] were facing not merely marginalization in their own culture but possibly even execution”(35). Storms under Nero, like nothing before, were threatening the church. “Who is with us?”they would cry. “Fear not; only believe.”As they were dying, we hear from their lips, “Jesus is Lord.”

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than fifty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.