“The Restoration of Two Daughters, Part 2:

The Dynamics of Faith”

Mark 5:21-34

May 14, 2023

Faith Presbyterian Church – Morning Service

Pastor Nicoletti

The Reading of the Word

We return this morning to Mark 5:21-43.

As we said last week, we have here the third “sandwich story” in Mark’s Gospel – this is where Mark begins to tell one story, then pauses that story to tell another story, and then returns to the first story and concludes it. And in this format, the middle story is often meant to help us interpret the outer story that has been split. [Edwards, 11]

Last Sunday we looked at the middle story of this passage: verses twenty-five through thirty-four, the healing of a woman with a discharge of blood.

This week, we will focus on the outer story: the raising of Jairus’s daughter. Now … some of you were looking at me funny last week over that pronunciation. I did actually look it up before last week’s sermon. But then, because a bunch of you made me feel insecure afterwards, I double and triple checked it. And I’m still sticking with “Jay-eye-rus.”

Anyway … let’s turn to our passage: Mark 5:21-43.

Please do listen carefully, for this is God’s word for us this morning:

5:21 And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about him, and he was beside the sea. 22 Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet 23 and implored him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.” 24 And he went with him.

And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. 25 And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, 26 and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. 27 She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. 28 For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” 29 And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30 And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?” 31 And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’” 32 And he looked around to see who had done it. 33 But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. 34 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

35 While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler’s house some who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” 36 But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” 37 And he allowed no one to follow him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. 38 They came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and Jesus saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. 39 And when he had entered, he said to them, “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping.” 40 And they laughed at him. But he put them all outside and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him and went in where the child was. 41 Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” 42 And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement. 43 And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.

This is the word of the Lord. (Thanks be to God.)

“All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.” [1 Peter 1:24-25]

Let’s pray …

Prayer of Illumination

Lord, be gracious to us, your servants,

that we may live and keep your word.

Open our eyes, that we may behold

wondrous things out of your word.

Let your testimonies be our delight,

and our chief counselors.

We ask this in Jesus’s name. Amen.

[Based on Psalm 119:17-18, 24]

Introduction

As we turn our attention to Jairus and his daughter … and as we consider this story in light of the story which interrupts it … one key theme that emerges is the dynamics of faith.

Faith is at the center of the story of the healing of the woman with a discharge of blood. Jesus’s words to the woman who is healed, in verse thirty-four, is rooted in an affirmation of her faith. He says: “Daughter, your faith has made you well.” And then, it doesn’t seem coincidental that just two verses later, Jesus looks at Jairus and says to him: “Do not fear, only believe.” That connection is even stronger in the original Greek, as the root of those words is the same: “believe” in verse thirty-six is the verb-form of the Greek noun for “faith” in verse thirty-four.

Jesus is clearly exhorting Jairus in verse thirty-six to have faith like the faith of this woman. And so faith emerges as a key theme in both stories.

Once we see that we need to ask: What does this passage teach us about the dynamics of faith?

And I think it teaches us four things. It teaches us about:

  • the shape of faith
  • the limits of faith
  • the fruit of faith, and
  • the growth of faith

So: the shape of faith, the limits of faith, the fruit of faith, and the growth of faith.

The Shape of Faith

First, this passage teaches us about the shape of faith. And we see this initially in verses twenty-two and twenty-three. There we read:

22 Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet 23 and implored him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.” 

Jairus here expresses his faith in Jesus. And there are a few important things we see here about the shape of Jairus’s faith.

The first is its context. Jairus’s expression of faith comes in the context of a crisis. As we noted last week, Jairus was one of the “rulers of the synagogue.” He was a lay leader “who was entrusted by the elders of the community with general oversight of the synagogue” [Edwards, 161]

Which means that Jairus was probably something of a high achiever … and something of a local public figure. In both cases, he had reason to avoid Jesus. Jesus was a pretty controversial person already, and Jairus, to maintain his role and status had reasons to generally avoid him. [Wright, 59]

And, of course, people today still have all sorts of reasons for avoiding Jesus. Following Jesus can complicate things – both when it comes to doing what we want to do, and when it comes to maintaining a certain reputation in the world. And while we don’t know – we’re not told – it’s at least plausible that Jairus had taken this approach as well.

But then, a crisis came into Jairus’s life. And that changed things. His beloved daughter was sick. She was even near the point of death. And suddenly, in that crisis, all the good reasons there may have been to avoid Jesus looked flimsy and meaningless. In light of this crisis, Jairus sheds whatever public dignity or esteem he may have valued previously, and he throws himself on the ground before Jesus.

In his small book The Certainty of Faith, Herman Bavinck elaborates on the role that suffering and crisis can play in shaping our faith. He writes: “No matter how wicked and fallen anyone may be, at sometimes in his life he will encounter moments of passionate seriousness. Everyone is at some time seized by the mystery of life, the power of death, the dread of judgment or the fear of the Lord. As one observer put it: ‘Happiness leads us into paganism, but suffering leads us to Christ.’ When the […] stupor in which we often live wears off, when the happy glow dulls and the conscience awakens, when we are overcome by the mystery of life or the pain of suffering, then we all become conscious of death and the grave, of judgment and eternity. Then no one can maintain indifference or hide behind the shield of neutrality. In this respect, people are better than we are sometimes inclined to think. There are no atheists, no people without a heart or conscience. Or more precisely, God never leaves Himself without a witness. Whether it be through blessings or through trials, He speaks to the conscience of each and every person.” [Bavinck, 11-12]

We don’t know what Jairus’s relationship to Jesus was like before his daughter fell ill. But we do know how he responded when she did become sick. He cast any aloofness or self-sufficiency he may have had aside, and he went to Jesus, and fell at Jesus’s feet, and implored him earnestly for help.

And in doing that, he despaired of his own strength, and he placed his faith fully in Jesus. Jairus knew that he himself could not save his daughter. He also believed that Jesus could. He said to Jesus, “Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.” That is a confession of confidence. That is a confession of faith. Jairus believes. He admits his own powerlessness in the face of death. He confesses Jesus’s great power. And he pleads with Jesus for help.

That is the shape of faith that we see here: despairing of ourselves and our abilities, confessing Jesus’s power to help and to save, and then pleading with him to do so.

Such faith, we should note, is not a given – even in the midst of suffering. Many, when God reaches out to them – when he focuses their attention through suffering – many respond by suppressing the truth and trying to stifle God’s voice in their lives. They can’t actually silence the witness of God … but they try. [Bavinck, 12]

But not Jairus. He responds. He comes to Jesus in faith. He confesses his own powerlessness. He confesses Jesus’s power to save. And he asks him for help.

That is the shape of faith. And it’s an important reminder for us.

It’s important because we can tend to overcomplicate things. I understand that tendency. I love digging into complex concepts. And there’s nothing wrong with that … so long as we don’t miss the simplicity of the big picture. We can, at times, be tempted to miss the forest for the trees. We can get bogged down in the weeds of theological or philosophical or ethical debates and disputes. And such discussions can, to be sure, have merit and importance. But perspective is even more important. And Jairus reminds us of what is foundational as we relate to God: We admit our great need. We confess that Jesus is Lord – that he has power over our lives. And then we come before him on our knees, offer ourselves to him, and ask for his help.

That is the shape of faith and the first thing we see here in this passage.

The Limits of Faith

But then, the second thing we learn about faith here is the limits of faith.

Now … that might seem odd … a preacher in a church talking about the limits of faith. We’re supposed to be the biggest champions of faith … aren’t we? Don’t we call people to faith? Urge them to faith? Try to build up their faith? Proclaim that we are ultimately saved by faith?

Yes … we do. And faith is essential. But it’s very important that we understand how faith operates in our lives – what it can do and what it can’t.

This is really drawn out in verses twenty-five through thirty-five.

As we considered last week, Jairus comes to Jesus, and they start on their way to Jairus’s daughter. And then everything is interrupted by this woman with a discharge of blood. And as we discussed last week, Jesus’s decision to pay attention to this woman, at this time – while this little girl was at death’s door – that would have been confusing and distressing to Jairus and to the disciples. As one commentator notes, “we can imagine Jairus hopping from one foot to the other” in anxious distress “while the conversation takes place.” [Wright, 60]

Jairus has gone to get Jesus, he has found him, he has convinced him to come with him, and now, so close, Jesus is delaying for reasons that make no sense to him. Jairus’s daughter is facing an acute threat: she is at death’s door – she needs help now. This woman has had a chronic condition for years. Her need can wait. Jairus must have been tense and fearful as Jesus delayed in order to speak to this woman.

And then, as if that distress were not bad enough, Jairus’s fears actually come true. Note the detail in verse thirty-five: We’re told that it was while Jesus was still speaking to this woman that word comes that Jairus’s daughter has died.

Of course we know Jesus has a plan for all this – we know the outcome … but imagine Jairus’s state of mind in the moment the news came to him. Imagine his heartbreak. Imagine his confusion. Imagine … perhaps … the anger he felt at Jesus. Imagine the doubts he may have felt about Jesus’s supposed “wisdom” and “power” after he let this happen.

We’ll speak in a moment about Jesus’s intentions in letting things play out as he did – but first I want to highlight an important point that’s so obvious that we can miss it: Faith does not give us control over God.

Jairus, as we’ve said, has expressed sincere faith. He’s come to Jesus and humbly sought his help. And Jesus has responded positively – he’s going with Jairus.

As a result of his faith, Jairus has Jesus. But he doesn’t have control over Jesus. He can’t direct Jesus about what Jesus will do … or how Jesus will do it … or when Jesus will do it. Faith gives us access to Jesus and his power in our lives … but it doesn’t give us control over Jesus or his power. And that is an important thing to remember.

We can often forget. We can often presume that now, because of our faith, we should get to call the shots. We should get to dictate how Jesus handles the situations in our lives. But we don’t. To be sure, we do have the right and the privilege, and the responsibility, to bring our needs to him and to ask for his help. But we do not get to decide what he will do, or how he will do it, or when it will all take place. Faith does not give us control over Jesus.

That is one important limit on faith.

But we should mention another. Faith, as a human act, has no inherent power in itself. Faith, as a human act, is not inherently virtuous. Rather, faith is only as good and only as powerful as its object – as the thing we put our faith in.

We can sometimes find ourselves speaking generically, about “people of faith” as if faith, regardless of its object, is an obvious inherent good with an inherent power. [For one example: https://www.tampabay.com/archive/2007/02/17/romney-well-received-at-the-villages/]

People today often speak of the goodness, the power, the virtue, the comfort of “faith” in a general sense – as if faith itself has the power to help us or heal us or carry us through difficulties.

But that is obviously not the case for Jairus.

Jairus has faith! We saw that in verses twenty-two and twenty-three. But that faith itself is not enough to save his daughter. Jairus can’t return home on his own and use his faith to save his daughter. That’s not how faith works.

What we see here is that faith is not, in itself, the power to save. Rather, faith links us to something else. And that something else may or may not have the power to save. In this case, Jairus’s faith links him to Jesus, and it’s Jesus who has the power to save his daughter. That distinction might seem technical … but it’s actually very important.

Bavinck puts it like this – he writes: “Faith is the pail with which the believer draws the water of life from the wellspring of God’s Word.” [Bavinck, 83]

If you are dying of thirst in the desert, and you come upon a well … you’re going to need a bucket. The bucket is going to be essential if you are going to live. But the bucket alone can’t save you. What matters most is what you put in the bucket.

If you plunge the bucket into a well of good, clean, water, and then use the bucket to drink, you will receive life – not from the bucket itself, but through the bucket. The water is what will give you life.

Similarly, though, the bucket by itself … if you don’t fill it with water … but you cling to it by itself, or fill it with rocks or sand … the bucket might be nice to have … but it won’t save you on its own. It can only help connect you with the thing that can save you.

In the same way, Jairus has faith. But that faith, in isolation, has no inherent power. His faith is not the power of life … it is, rather, a bucket, through which he and his daughter might receive the power of life. The power of life comes only from Jesus. It’s Jesus who has the power over life and death. [Bavinck, 87]

Faith in itself is of little value if it’s not directed at the right thing. It doesn’t just matter that you believe. It matters what you believe in. Whether you plunge the bucket of your faith in good water … or its sand … or in deadly poison … will be crucial as to whether or not your faith leads you to life or not.

Which leads to our next point.

We have seen the shape of faith. We have seen the limitations of faith in itself.

The Fruit of Faith

The third thing we need to see in this passage is the fruit of faith.

And by that, I mean the fruit of all faith in people’s hearts and lives.

Everyone has faith in something. And that something will always bear fruit in their lives.

Everyone has that bucket which is faith. And they all plunge that bucket into something – whether they realize it or not. And it always affects their lives.

Bavinck puts it like this – he writes: “All faith, even normal, everyday faith […] bear[s] fruit, but fruit after its own kind. […] Every faith bears fruit according to its object and its nature. Depending on whether the object of our faith is good or bad news, a promise or threat, a story or prognostication, gospel or law, it will differ in character and so will the fruit that it bears in our life.” [Bavinck, 90-91]

All faith – whether it’s ultimately in God, or in ourselves, or in the goodness of life, or the hopelessness of this world, or the meaninglessness of the universe, or some other thing – all faith bears some kind of fruit in our lives. And we see this right here in our text this morning.

Consider the messengers of verse thirty-five. What did they believe? Well … at least two things. First, they believed (rightly) that this little girl had died. And then second, they believed (wrongly) that Jesus could no longer help her. Those were the two things they believed: one true, the other false. The overall result, though, of the false belief, was despair: “Why trouble the teacher any further?” they ask. That despair – that hopelessness – is the fruit of their faith: their belief not only about the girl’s death, but also about the limitations of Jesus.

We see a similar pattern in the mourners of verses thirty-eight through forty. The mourners described here are probably professional mourners, hired to weep and wail. That might sound odd to us, but as one commentator explains, the pronounced displays of mourning by the professionals often created an environment where the family could feel free to be more demonstrative in their own mourning and lament. [Wright, 62] These professionals, though, had seen a lot of death. They could distinguish death from sleeping. Moreover, they were confident that the dead remained dead. No thing and no person could overpower death once it took someone. They were the “realists.” The belief of these professionals was that death is final. And that bore the fruit of cynicism and humorless laughter in verse forty. [Edwards, 167]

All faith – whether good or bad, whether right or wrong – all faith bears fruit in our lives.

And that’s true for each of us as well. When you doubt Jesus or some aspect of the gospel, you’re not just lacking faith. You’re usually placing your faith in something else – in some other thing, or some other claim.

And so it’s worth asking yourself: What alternative beliefs do you tend to put your faith in? Sometimes those are cultural beliefs – like the belief that money and products will make you truly happy … or the belief that there is no real purpose beyond the pleasures of this life … or some other set of cultural claims.

Or maybe the alternative beliefs you tend towards are more personal than that. Maybe it’s a message you learned growing up that other people – including God – will only ever really value you for your achievements … what you do. Or maybe it’s the message you learned from someone who’s hurt you deeply, that other people – probably even God – will always, in the end, betray you … and so you can never truly trust them. Or maybe it’s a degrading or abusive message you received at some point in your life that you have no real worth, and no real value, and so no one would ever really love you – not even God – no matter what the Bible says.

Such false beliefs – if they are not addressed – continue to bear poisonous fruit in our lives. We don’t always see those false beliefs in ourselves clearly, and, in fact, one of the benefits of good Christian counseling is that it can help us to uncover, and expose, and reject those false beliefs that have taken root in our hearts – which are now bearing poisoned fruit in our lives. Finding those roots may take a little bit of digging, and even looking at our past. As Herman Bavinck has said: “The shape of one’s thought is often nothing more than the history of his heart.” [Bavinck, 23]

But whatever the details, our beliefs – our faith – always bear fruit in our lives. False beliefs bear bad fruit. True beliefs bear good fruit.

And Jesus here calls Jairus to true beliefs – he calls him to continue to place his faith in him. That’s what we see in verse thirty-six.

And the immediate fruit that bears in verses thirty-six through forty is that Jairus keeps walking with Jesus. It’s that simple. Even when he’s confused, even when he’s in pain, he keeps walking with Jesus. That is the initial fruit of his faith.

That leads, though, to another question: In verse thirty-six, Jesus calls Jairus to faith. But we said that Jairus already displayed faith back in verses twenty-two and twenty-three. Why, then, does Jesus call him to it again in verse thirty-eight?

Well, that brings us to our fourth and final point this morning.

We’ve seen the shape of faith, the limits of faith, and the fruit of faith.

The Growth of Faith

Fourth and finally, let’s consider the growth of faith.

In verse thirty-six, Jesus looks at Jairus and calls him to believe. But what is he calling him to believe?

Well … it’s actually the very same thing Jairus already confessed in verse twenty-three. Back there Jairus said to Jesus: “Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.” Jairus confessed his faith that Jesus could make his daughter well, and give her life. And so all Jesus is asking Jairus to do in verse thirty-six is to believe the same thing he already said he believed back in verse twenty-three … right?

Well … yes and no.

On the one hand that is true – Jairus just needs to keep believing the same claims he’s already stated that he believes. And yet, at the same time, Jesus is requiring that Jairus believe those claims in a much deeper way.

Jairus has confessed faith that Jesus can heal and give life. But it’s one thing to believe that Jesus can heal and give life to the sick. It is another thing to believe that Jesus can heal and give life to the dead. Jesus is calling on Jairus to believe the same claims he has already confessed. But he’s calling him to believe them in a much deeper way.

And that’s often what it looks like when Jesus grows our faith.

Often, the way Jesus is growing our faith is not by leading us to believe new things we’ve never believed before … but rather, he’s at work to grow the roots of our faith deeper and deeper into the same truths, so that our faith is more firmly anchored in him, and so grows stronger, and taller, and more robust … and then bears even richer fruit. [Bavinck, 88-89]

It’s a wonderful thing to have our faith grown and strengthened. But it can also be very hard … and the process is not always very pleasant.

But in this story, very briefly, we see four ways that Jesus grows Jairus’s faith and that he often grows ours.

First, Jesus often grows our faith through bringing suffering into our lives. This is obvious in the case of Jairus. Whatever his faith in Jesus was before these events, it will never be the same afterwards. But that wouldn’t have been possible had it not been for the suffering he went through in these verses. And yet, after these events, there would have to be a new strength and life to Jairus’s faith in Jesusthat would not have happened without this episode of distress and suffering.

And the same is often true in our lives. When Jesus wants to bless us by growing our faith … he often does so through events that include suffering and distress. That’s one way that Jesus grows our faith.

A second way Jesus often grows our faith is by challenging us to trust his wisdom when he does things that confounds us.

We see this quite clearly in this passage as Jesus takes his time speaking to a woman with a non-life-threatening condition, while Jairus’s daughter was in crisis, and eventually dies. Jesus had a purpose in that. But Jairus could not see that. One of the great challenges to grow Jairus’s faith here was the challenge to trust Jesus’s wisdom, when, from Jairus’s point of view Jesus’s actions looked like folly and carelessness.

And we can often feel that way ourselves. We see a need. And we see God not acting to help the way we think he should. Maybe we can’t think of a single reason why he wouldn’t act more quickly to come to our aid, or the aid of someone we love. Maybe we can’t see what good could possibly come of his delaying. Maybe we see him helping others, with less real need, and we get angry. To our eyes, God’s providential choices can look foolish and careless.

And in those moments, the Lord is challenging us to believe not just in his power, but also in his wisdom. On paper it may seem obvious that God – the Maker and Sustainer of heaven and hearth – knows what is best, and has more wisdom than we do. On paper it makes sense. But in the trenches of suffering and loss in this life, it can be much more difficult for us to believe it. [Keller, 71-72] But being forced to trust God even when we are confounded by what he is doing is a second way that God often grows our faith – just as he does here with Jairus.

Third, Jesus grows our faith by comforting us with his affection. Jesus challenges Jairus here. But he’s not cold. He’s not detached or stoic. He shows love and affection. And that especially comes out in verse forty-one:

“Taking her by the hand he said to her, ‘Talitha cumi,’ which means, ‘Little girl, I say to you, arise.’”

It is sweet to think of what such gentle and affectionate words might have meant to this little girl. But think of what these words meant to Jairus in that moment. As Jesus delayed, what was Jairus likely thinking? “Does Jesus care about my little girl at all? He must not, otherwise he would not delay like this. She means the world to me … I love her so much … but to Jesus she obviously isn’t that important … Jesus must not really care about her.” Such thoughts must at least have been a temptation for Jairus.

But then, Jesus takes his little girl’s hand, and he speaks words of tender affection to her. “Talitha” was a diminutive term of endearment – something even like a pet name … the sort of term a mother would use towards her own child. [Keller, 72] Jesus comforts not just this girl, but he comforts her father and mother – Jairus and his wife – with a display of his affection and care. He reminds them that he loves this little girl more than they know. And he does the same thing for us.

We may struggle to see it. We may struggle to feel it. But Jesus, in his Word, speaks his love and affection to us, even in the midst of our suffering. And that too should grow our faith and trust towards him when we are hurting and confused.

So Jesus grows our faith through our suffering, through challenging us to trust his wisdom, and through showing us his loving affection.

Fourth and finally, Jesus grows our faith by bringing about a final resolution. Jesus takes this little girl’s hand, he speaks to her, and immediately she gets up. She is raised from the dead. He restores her from death to life.

And in raising her, Jesus gives us a little picture of what is to come – a small snapshot of our ultimate hope. He reminds us that he came, ultimately to bring full restoration to all who trust in him.

Our ultimate hope is that at his return, Jesus will raise each and every one of his children from the grave. Only our resurrection will be for eternity. We will rise never to die again.

At the last day, Jesus will take the hand of his Church – of each person who has placed their trust in him – and he will say to us, with tenderness in his voice: “My little child … arise.” And we will open our eyes, and we will see his face. And we will get up, and enter a new heaven and a new earth. And there will be no more sickness or sadness – no more sin or death. Every tear will be wiped away from our eyes. And we will dwell with him, and with his people, forever.

That is the final restoration that Jesus promises us. We have here in this little girl’s healing just a foretaste of that promise of final restoration. But even the foretaste should strengthen our faith for what is to come.

Conclusion

Whatever suffering or brokenness or distress we are facing, Jesus here calls us to place our trust in him.

We may not always understand what he’s doing. We may find ourselves confounded by his ways. But he promises you that he is working all things for the good of his children. Because he loves you. Even now, in the midst of your pain, he speaks words of love and affection to you through his Word.

Your calling is to believe him. Believe that he is with you. Believe that he loves you. Believe that he has a purpose in all this, even if you can’t see it. And believe that a day is coming, when he will wipe away every tear from your eyes, and you will dwell with him and with his people forever.

For this is the promise of the gospel.

Amen.

This sermon draws on material from:

Bavinck, Herman. The Certainty of Faith. Translated by Harry der Nederlanden. St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada: Paideia Press, 1980. (Published originally in 1901)

Bayer, Hans. Introduction and notes to Mark in The ESV Study Bible. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2008.

Edwards, James R. The Gospel According to Mark. The Pillar New Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2002.

Horne, Mark. The Victory According to Mark: An Exposition of the Second Gospel. Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 2003.

Keller, Timothy. Jesus the King. New York, NY: Penguin, 2011.

Leithart, Peter J. The Gospel of Matthew Through New Eyes: Volume One, Jesus as Israel. Monroe, LA: Athanasius Press, 2017.

Myers, Ched. Binding the Strong Man: A Political Reading of Mark’s Story of Jesus. Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 2008 (2017 Printing)

Wright, N.T. Mark for Everyone. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004.

Witherington, Ben III. The Gospel of Mark: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2001.

Note: In my preaching I often cite and draw from a range of sources, which includes material from Christians within my theological tradition, Christians outside my theological tradition (in keeping with our church’s core value of “Reformed Catholicity”), and also (following the Apostle Paul’s example in Acts 17) non-Christians who are well outside of Christian orthodoxy and orthopraxy. And so, when I cite an author or a source, that citation should not be understood or construed as me necessarily agreeing with, endorsing, or recommending to others anything else from that author or source, except for what I explicitly say I agree with, endorse, or recommend. When engaging with different materials and thinkers, all Christians must exercise wisdom and discernment to determine what is helpful, appropriate, and edifying for each person, taking into account their current needs, wisdom, and spiritual maturity.

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