Home » Advanced Search » Mark 5:36

Mark 5:36

Mark 5:36
View Download and Print Options


Mark 5:36, “Do not fear, only believe.”

Do not fear, only believe. Jarius’ daughter has just died, and this is what Jesus speaks to him. Two questions, what is he to believe and what is the dichotomy between fear and belief?

First, what is Jarius to “only believe”? Well, in context it seems that he is to believe that Jesus is able and willing to heal, even at this late and hopeless stage. It would not be presumptuous for Jarius to believe that Jesus would do this because he’s already asked Jesus for help and the Lord has agreed and come with him. Jesus has–by His actions–said that He would heal Jarius’ daughter….and so, when Jesus tells Jarius to “only believe,” He is not telling him to believe in “his dream” or believe in a generic silver lining or generic plan for good, rather He is calling him to believe in the ability of Christ to do what He set out to do…..to do what He has bound Himself to do. I believe we can apply Jesus’ words to Jarius to all people by generalizing them in this way: “Do not fear, only believe that I will do what I have bound myself to do.” Or again, “Believe that I will do what I say I will do.”

Jesus has not given me any indication that He will not ordain cancer for me…or, if He does, that He will heal it. I may be given the faith to pray for healing and–if so–wonderful. However, I don’t think this passage could be applied as “Do not fear your cancer, only believe that Jesus will heal it and He will!” Rather, it should–in that situation–be applied as, “Do not fear your cancer, only believe the myriad and sweet promises of God in Christ for you….you are not destined for wrath, but for salvation, this sickness will not and cannot separate you from His love, this sickness itself will turn out for your good, you will be given the grace to glorify God in your body even now…etc. etc.” The “only believe” means, I think, “believe that I will do what I have said I will do and be whom I have shown myself to be.”

Secondly, what is the dichotomy between fear and belief? Well, one simple thing to say is that the two seem to be mutually exclusive. The fear that Jesus warns against cannot exist at the same time as the belief that He commends, and vis versa. What is the fear? Well, again, in the context, the fear is that Jarius’ daughter will be lost to him for the rest of his life….that she is gone, that she is dead, that she is beyond healing……and Jesus says not to fear, but rather to believe that He will do what He has set out to do, namely, to heal the girl. So, Jarius’ fear is directly tied to his belief that Jesus will not do what He set out to do.

“Fear”–in this situation–is faith in a future where Jesus has failed to follow through on His words……whereas “Belief” is faith in a future where Jesus has successfully followed through on His words. Both depend on the attitude toward and expectation of Jesus……Will He do what He said He would do or not? Will He be faithful to His word or not? For Jarius, “faithful to His word” meant healing his daughter…..it might not mean that for us, but we have many, many words of Christ and of His Spirit that are designed to give us comfort and hope in the face of frightening and painful situations…..and in those moments “fear” means believing that Jesus will fail us…….”belief” means believing that He will come through for us according to His word. And that last part is important because His word does not hold out the promise of healing or painlessness or avoidance of tragedy or torture…..none of those things are promised (in fact, often the opposite seems to be promised), so “believing” that we will have a pain free, tragedy free life is NOT in view here. Rather, we are to believe that Jesus will do ALL that He has promised to do……and that includes bringing all of His own to a place of final, complete, and everlasting joy in His presence…..and because of that, we are not to fear…..not to fear….only believe.