We’re starting off our conversations today with some interesting and hopefully fun conversations around value. What has value to some people that you just don’t understand? And the opposite–what has value to you, but likely wouldn’t hold much value for someone else?value
Some of these things might have GREAT value to you, or to me, but to someone else, no value at all. And maybe they don’t even make any sense to you–things like crypto currency, NFT’s, art, performances, gold or currency… or the Doritos Chip shaped like a pope’s hat that sold for $1,209, or the lock of Justin Bieber’s hair that went for $40,668, or the “Sacred Grilled Cheese” that sold on eBay for $28,000. Real people spent money on these things. Sometimes lots of money.
What are some things that have extreme monetary value that you don’t understand why they have value?
It’s easy to be subjective about the value of an inanimate object.But what about people? Everything we do requires a choice.
In Luke 10:30-37, we read the story of the Good Samaritan.
These religious leaders were on their way to do important work–something they were passionate about, something important to them and to their community. So important that they just pass by this man, apparently lying dead on the side of the road. They were probably late or had a deadline. This problem wasn’t their responsibility.
Whatever they were going to, they definitely were choosing that work, the people they cared about, and the community they cared about over this man lying on the side of the road.
But a Samaritan stops, helps the man, brings him to shelter, and makes sure he has food to eat. He spends his money caring for him.
It’s easy to vilify the religious leaders in this story. But sometimes we find ourselves in similar predicaments. This story feels black and white–this man was dying. But there are smaller moments like this every day. We choose one thing over another. We choose one person over another person. Every choice we make to do something is a choice we make to not do something.
In those choices, how do we choose? What makes one choice more valuable than another? One person more valuable than another?
Our commitments cost something. We can’t do it all. We feel like we’re supposed to do it all. Sometimes we want to run away. What makes a prior commitment more valuable than a person in need? How do you choose?
What factors influence the value that is placed on different choices, individuals, and commitments? How do these influence decision making?
The stories in Mark highlight themes of desperation, impurity, fear, and faith, exemplified through various characters such as the disciples at sea, a man ostracized from society, a dying daughter, and a woman who has been bleeding for years. The stories also show Jesus addressing these themes through healing, encouragement, and rebuke, and showcasing the contrast between fear and faith.
In Mark 4:35-41, Jesus had just finished teaching and sharing the parables of the sower, a lamp on a stand, a growing seed, and a mustard seed. He and His disciples decide to go across the sea. Jesus is exhausted so He takes a little nap. A huge violent squall comes in, and Jesus just keeps sleeping.
On that day, when evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s go across to the other side of the lake.” So after leaving the crowd, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat, and other boats were with him. Now a great windstorm developed and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was nearly swamped. But he was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. They woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care that we are about to die?” So he got up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Be quiet! Calm down!” Then the wind stopped, and it was dead calm. And he said to them, “Why are you cowardly? Do you still not have faith?” They were overwhelmed by fear and said to one another, “Who then is this? Even the wind and sea obey him!” (Mark 4:35-41)
They get to the other side of the lake–a Gentile town, an area that had been taken over by Romans, by a legion of soldiers. And they’re met by a man with an unclean spirit who lived in the tombs. He had been bound with chains and shackles, and had superhuman strength and was able to break free.
So they came to the other side of the lake, to the region of the Gerasenes. Just as Jesus was getting out of the boat, a man with an unclean spirit came from the tombs and met him. He lived among the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. For his hands and feet had often been bound with chains and shackles, but he had torn the chains apart and broken the shackles in pieces. No one was strong enough to subdue him.
Each night and every day among the tombs and in the mountains, he would cry out and cut himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and bowed down before him. Then he cried out with a loud voice, “Leave me alone, Jesus, Son of the Most High God! I implore you by God—do not torment me!” (For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of that man, you unclean spirit!”) Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” He begged Jesus repeatedly not to send them out of the region.
There on the hillside, a great herd of pigs was feeding. And the demonic spirits begged him, “Send us into the pigs. Let us enter them.” Jesus gave them permission. So the unclean spirits came out and went into the pigs. Then the herd rushed down the steep slope into the lake, and about 2,000 were drowned in the lake. (Mark 5:1-13)
A pig today costs somewhere from $50 to $2000 apiece, so today’s value of these pigs going into the lake is anywhere from $100,000 to $4 million. Can you imagine being the herdsmen, with all their pigs, their business, their food, their livelihood running into the lake? They ran and spread the news about what happened.
Now the herdsmen ran off and spread the news in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. They came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man sitting there, clothed, and in his right mind—the one who had the “Legion”—and they were afraid. Those who had seen what had happened to the demon-possessed man reported it, and they also told about the pigs. Then they began to beg Jesus to leave their region. As he was getting into the boat the man who had been demon-possessed asked if he could go with him. But Jesus did not permit him to do so. Instead, he said to him, “Go to your home and to your people and tell them what the Lord has done for you, that he had mercy on you.” So he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis what Jesus had done for him, and all were amazed. (Mark 5:14-20)
To think that Jesus would destroy a million-dollar business for a crazy, mentally ill and violent homeless person is shocking; it’s outside of our normal culture, contrary to how most of us would think about that picture.
What does the exchange of the pigs for the demon-possessed man reveal about Jesus' values?
How does the value placed on the pigs by the herdsmen differ from the value placed on the demon-possessed man by Jesus?
We started with Jesus hoping to get some rest (and He did have a short nap before the disciples freaked out and woke Him up). He had a busy day sightseeing in the Gentile town. And now it’s time to come back. I’m not sure He got the rest He intended to get!
And a crowd was waiting for Him. A synagogue leader, Jairus, came and fell at His feet. “My little daughter is near death. Come, lay hands on her so that she may be healed and live.” And Jesus went with him, and a large crowd followed. Not many synagogue leaders that we’ve heard about are falling at Jesus’ feet, but here Jairus, in his deepest moment of need, begs Jesus to heal his daughter.
When Jesus had crossed again in a boat to the other side, a large crowd gathered around him, and he was by the sea. Then one of the synagogue leaders, named Jairus, came up, and when he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet. He asked him urgently, “My little daughter is near death. Come and lay your hands on her so that she may be healed and live.” Jesus went with him, and a large crowd followed and pressed around him. (Mark 5:21-24)
And in the middle of this story, we get another story. A woman, who had been bleeding for 12 years, in her desperation, pushes through the crowd to just touch Jesus. She says, “If only I touch his clothes, I will be healed.” And she was immediately healed.
Jesus sensed that someone had touched Him looking for healing and He started searching the crowd: “Who touched me?” And of course, the disciples think it’s nuts–they’re in this crowd, surrounded. Everyone has touched You!
But Jesus persists. In this urgent moment to go heal the synagogue leader’s daughter, He persists and keeps searching for who touched him.
Now a woman was there who had been suffering from a hemorrhage for 12 years. She had endured a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all that she had. Yet instead of getting better, she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she kept saying, “If only I touch his clothes, I will be healed.” At once the bleeding stopped, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Jesus knew at once that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” His disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing against you and you say, ‘Who touched me?’” But he looked around to see who had done it. Then the woman, with fear and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” (Mark 5:25-34)
Now we hop back to the story of the daughter. Jesus is taking His time with this woman, though people are insisting He goes to the sick daughter–but He takes too long, and people come to tell Jairus that his daughter has died.
In the middle of His important work–to go heal a child–He stops to find and speak to this woman. And while He stops, the daughter dies. Feel the weight of that. He chose this woman over the child.
But, of course that’s not the end of the story. Jesus keeps moving forward. He tells Jairus, “Do not be afraid, just believe.”
While he was still speaking, people came from the synagogue leader’s house saying, “Your daughter has died. Why trouble the teacher any longer?” But Jesus, paying no attention to what was said, told the synagogue leader, “Do not be afraid; just believe.” He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. They came to the house of the synagogue leader where he saw noisy confusion and people weeping and wailing loudly. When he entered he said to them, “Why are you distressed and weeping? The child is not dead but asleep!” And they began making fun of him. But he forced them all outside, and he took the child’s father and mother and his own companions and went into the room where the child was. Then, gently taking the child by the hand, he said to her, “Talitha koum,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, get up.” The girl got up at once and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). They were completely astonished at this. He strictly ordered that no one should know about this, and told them to give her something to eat. (Mark 5:35-43)
How do you respond when you feel like someone else’s prayers are being answered, or their needs are getting met, but you feel like your needs aren’t being met?
After all this, all the works Jesus has done, the teaching with authority, He heads home, and still the people in His community, His family, don’t believe Him. They say, “Isn’t this just the carpenter’s son?” People around the region are growing in faith, but His family, His community–they have no faith in Him.
Now Jesus left that place and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue. Many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did he get these ideas? And what is this wisdom that has been given to him? What are these miracles that are done through his hands? Isn’t this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And aren’t his sisters here with us?” And so they took offense at him. Then Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown, and among his relatives, and in his own house.” He was not able to do a miracle there, except to lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. And he was amazed because of their unbelief. Then he went around among the villages and taught. (Mark 6:1-6)
These stories share a commonality: one thing or person having a known large amount of value is exchanged for something that seemingly has no value.
How does the value of people depicted in these stories impact your perspective and beliefs? In what ways does reading these stories affect and shape your faith?
In the book of Mark, we see Jesus bringing in the principles of the Kingdom of God–always flipping the script. What we see as most important isn’t always most important. What’s more valuable to us isn’t always what’s most valuable to Jesus. Who we deem the most important isn’t always the most important.
The Message version of Isaiah 42:3-4 speaks to Jesus’ heart in how He values people:
He won’t brush aside the bruised and the hurt
and he won’t disregard the small and insignificant,
but he’ll steadily and firmly set things right.
He won’t tire out and quit. He won’t be stopped
until he’s finished his work—to set things right on earth. (Isaiah 42: 3-4 MSG)
Considering all that we talked about today around value and considering this scripture in Isaiah, here is our final dialogue question:
How does Isaiah 42:3-4 speak to how Jesus sees you?
How does it speak to how Jesus views the people around you?
Take It Deeper Questions
- Read Mark 4:35-6:6.
- What obstacles did the people in this story face–in the moment of the stories and outside of the stories?
- What obstacles did they have to overcome to reach Jesus?
- If your livelihood was destroyed and exchanged for one person’s life, how would you feel? How would it change you?
- What was the point of Jesus talking to the woman who touched him and was healed?
- Why would Jesus tell the father not to be afraid but to have faith instead of comforting his grief? What words would you have expected at that moment?
Bible Reading Plan
- Matthew 13
- Matthew 14
- Mark 5
- Luke 8
- John 6