Mark could be called the “Immediate” writer. More so than the other Gospel writers, he uses the term “immediately” to introduce another story. Apparently he wanted to present his Savior as the Man of action, since his Gospel also has the smallest amount of teaching.
So today’s story is a little ironic. I checked and it’s unique to Mark’s Gospel: None of the other three mention it. And it’s very unusual in Jesus’ method as well. Most of the time there was no lapse between Jesus beginning a healing and the completion of it. In fact, this is only one--to my knowledge--in which Christ healed in stages.
Why did the Master do it this way? We don’t know, since he didn’t explain his reasoning. He healed with some variation: sometimes with a touch, sometimes with a word, or sometimes with a visual aid (like yesterday’s story). Sometimes he was physically present, but he was really impressed if the recipient had enough faith to just take him at his word and not require it. Sometimes—on rare occasions—he didn’t even wait for faith on the recipient’s part. Why the Lord Jesus did what he did when he did it--apart from the simple answer of "That's the Father's plan"--is not always clear.
But I do know this: This is a great illustration of the way that he works in our daily lives most of the time. I’ve heard testimonies, and perhaps you’ve heard them as well, of people whose lives were overhauled overnight. They were on drugs, they were sleeping with a different partner every night, they were drinking like a fish and smoking like a chimney (I’m sure if I tried harder, I could put more clichés in that sentence). And then the Savior came along and they quit all of that in a dramatic fashion. I guess you could compare them to Paul, who also had a radical conversion experience. One minute he was literally on his way to arrest Christians, the next he was preaching by their side and braving death in the name of Christ.
I’m glad that there are firebrands like that. We need them. And if a person is physically destroying their life with drugs, alcohol, sexual immorality, etc., then obviously it’s a good thing that Christ got a hold of them. But I sometimes wonder if too much attention is paid to the “Pauls” and not enough to the “Timothys.” Timothy was a convert of Paul’s. He was raised in a Jewish home with a godly mother and grandmother. As far as we know, Timothy didn’t have a couple of murders under his belt before he got saved. He met Paul, Paul led him to faith in Christ, and the two became like father and son. There was no one who was closer to Paul than Timothy, and it was their intimate friendship which helped sustain Paul through his worst days and his final days.
Timothy’s life reflects a lot of us. He never was an especially “bad” man as people go. And so once he became a believer, presumably there wasn’t nearly as dramatic a change in lifestyle as there was with Paul. The Holy Spirit quietly worked in his life and heart to mold him into the likeness of Christ. He had sins in his life, and the Spirit gradually worked in him and through him to eventually eliminate those sins and then start on others.
You see, that’s the problem that some people have, particularly new believers. They expect Jesus to simply say “Poof!” like a magician and make all their sinful habits go away immediately. Sometimes he does that. He’s certainly capable of doing that. But most of the time he doesn’t. And sometimes the process is a lot more painful and with more false starts than we’d like. Just don’t get discouraged. Just continue cooperating with the Spirit, keep “short accounts” with him, and someday soon you’ll be able to look back and see just how much progress you’ve made.
Lord Jesus, I’m not what I should be. But I thank you that I’m not what I used to be, nor am I all that I will be. You’re so good to me.