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Jesus' Further Healings (Mark 6:53-56)

Analysis and Commentary

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Circa 30 AD, Jesus healing a lame man who was possessed by the Devil. Original Artwork: Engraving by H Pisan after illustration by Gustave Dore (of 1865 - 1866)
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
    53 And when they had passed over, they came into the land of Gennesaret, and drew to the shore. 54 And when they were come out of the ship, straightway they knew him, 55 And ran through that whole region round about, and began to carry about in beds those that were sick, where they heard he was. 56 And whithersoever he entered, into villages, or cities, or country, they laid the sick in the streets, and besought him that they might touch if it were but the border of his garment: and as many as touched him were made whole.

Jesus Travels Near Galilee

Eventually Jesus and his disciples make it across the Sea of Galilee and arrive at Gennesaret, a town believed to have been located on the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee. Once there, however, they don’t escape being recognized. Although we have seen before that Jesus isn’t very well known among those in power, he is very popular among the poor and sick. Everyone sees in him a miraculous healer, and everyone who is sick is brought to him so that they can be healed.

This sort of reaction isn’t surprising, really. We see similar situations today when those who are sick and unable to find relief via medical science flock to faith healers claiming to be able to cure them of their ills with the power of God — so long as they have sufficient faith, of course. Was Jesus’ ministry really any different from the charlatans we have among us today? The gospels proclaim Jesus’ success, but the publicists of modern faith healers do much the same.

According to Mark, everyone who touched Jesus or even just the edge of his clothing was healed. Could this be the power of suggestion at work? If Jesus’ ability to heal was so remarkable, there shouldn’t have been a sick person for miles around. There should also have been other records of his deeds — this sort of wondrous ability would not go unnoticed.

The fact that we don’t hear anything about a Jesus wandering around and healing everyone, but we do read about other faith healers of that era, suggests a couple of things to us. First, if Jesus existed and if he did anything like what is described in these healing stories, he wasn’t doing anything very remarkable or special. There were plenty of other figures before, during, and after his time doing much the same thing.

Second, it suggests that the stories aren’t historical. Again, even assuming that a Jesus existed, a story of him healing so many people can have important religious implications even without it being true. Since the very beginning, preachers have used such tales as allegories for the importance of faith in God to make things right and the power of God to help us in our times of trouble. Whether the stories are factually and historically accurate or not was never really an issue. Their factual truth may have been assumed, but their religious and metaphorical truth typically played much more of a role in people’s religious lives.

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