Our passage this morning is quite short – only 3 verses! But I want us to look at it because its important and it leads us into a focus on Jesus as the anointed one, which I’ll get to later.
Let me say two things about these verses first: 1) They are the end of a large section of material in the Gospel of Mark from chapter 4:35-6:56. You can see how this section of Mark is put together in this handout – The literary structure of Mark 4:35 – 6:56. 2) These verses parallel another section of material just before the feeding of the 5,000, in 6:33-34. See this handout – The literary structure Mark 6:54-56. Notice that each set of verses has three parts – they recognized Jesus, they ran through all the towns/the whole region, Jesus taught/healed. These sets of verses frame the two stories of the feeding of the 5,000 and Jesus walking on water letting us know that Mark wants us to think of them together.
Alright, let’s look at our verses –
54And when they got out of the boat . . .
Remember with me, Jesus has just walked on water and calmed the wind, and he and the 12 have now landed at Gennesaret.
. . . the people immediately recognized him 55and ran about the whole region and began to bring the sick people on their beds to wherever they heard he was.
Once again, we see here Jesus as the celebrity of the day. He was truly famous and sought out by the common person. Not always for the best reasons, we could say – to believe in him, to be his disciple – but to have their needs met. Nevertheless Jesus does care about them and by and large he accommodates their requests for help.
56And wherever he came, in villages, cities, or countryside, they laid the sick in the marketplaces . . .
These would usually be the largest open area of a given village or town. And so these people, not the sick themselves and not the disciples, are running ahead of Jesus to bring the sick to these marketplaces wherever he went.
. . . and (they) implored him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment.
The fringe of his garment refers to the four blue tassels that all Jewish men were to wear according to the Law of Moses (Numbers 15:38-39; Deuteronomy 22:12). This shows us again that Jesus was an observant and devout Jew (see also Mark 1:44.)
And as many as touched it were made well.
What an amazing display of God’s power. God’s Spirit was so upon Jesus that such a simple act of faith, touching the fringe of his garment, brought healing.
Notice the expansive language in these verses – people ran through the “whole region” to bring the sick to “wherever” Jesus was going. Mark is emphasizing the extent of Jesus’ healing ministry in this region. And then notice what little they had to do, just touch the fringe of his garment. And as many as did this were healed. All of this is to remind us of who Jesus is and his great healing power. Which brings me to my point today –
Jesus really is the anointed one
Remember “Christ” is not Jesus’ last name. No. It’s a title. It’s the same word as “Messiah.” Christ comes into English from Greek and Messiah from Hebrew, but they’re the same word. Christ or Messiah is a title that describes who Jesus is – it literally means “the anointed one.”
What does it mean to be “the anointed one”? In the Old Testament people were anointed to carry out specific tasks for God: kings (2 Samuel 5:3), priests (Exodus 29:7) and prophets (1 Kings 19:16). Oil was used representing the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.
To say that Jesus is “the anointed one” is to say that he’s the one, promised in the Old Testament, who brings God’s salvation.
When did his anointing happen? At his baptism. Mark 1:10 says, “And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.”
How do we know for sure that Jesus was anointed? Mark narrates it for us. These are the works of Spirit power that Jesus has done so far in our story: (Red is an exorcism, green a healing and purple a miracle.)
1. Cast out a demon (chapter 1)
2. Healed Peter’s mother in law (1)
3. Healed many and cast out many demons in Capernaum (1)
4. Healed a leper (1)
5. Healed a paralyzed man (2)
6. Healed a man with a withered hand (3)
7. Healed many and cast out many demons from a crowd from all Israel and beyond (3)
8. Calmed the storm (4)
9. Cast out a legion of demons (5)
10. Healed a woman (5)
11. Raised a girl from the dead (5)
12. Healed some in Nazareth (6)
13. Fed 5,000 people (6)
14. Walked on water and calmed the wind (6)
15. Healed many from Gennesaret (6) which is our passage.
Here are the works of Spirit power that we haven’t looked at yet:
16. Cast out a demon from a girl (7)
17. Healed a deaf man who also couldn’t talk – (7)
18. Fed 4,000 people (8)
19. Healed a blind man (8)
20. Cast out a demon from a boy (9)
21. Healed a blind man (10)
22. Killed a fig tree with his words to make a point (11)
And the other gospels record many more works of power by Jesus. And so I highlight all this for you to make the simple point that – No one has ever done such things! Jesus is indeed the anointed one; the one promised now come.
How should we respond?
- We should believe that he’s the one, as Jesus calls us to in Mark 1:15, “believe the good news” that he’s bringing God’s kingdom salvation.
- And we should turn away from our sins, as he calls us to in the same verse, “repent.” We are to become his disciples and put into practice his teaching and example.
- And we should receive the salvation he gives to us, through his death and resurrection – forgiveness and new life by the Spirit.
- And as his people we should trust and know that we can rely on him, the anointed one, to take care of any need we have.