In Mark 5, Jesus worked wondrous things before a large group of people. Described in the passage are three miracles: the casting out of demons (v. 13), the healing of “a woman who had had a blood discharge for twelve years” (v. 25), and the resurrection of Jairus’ daughter (v. 41). Despite the different nature of each wonder — one showing Christ’s authority over evil spirits, the other showing Christ healing a diseased person, and the pinnacle of all these wonders, bringing someone back to life — there’s one common thing that we can find in the text; the three key characters who witnessed these miracles fell down before Christ.
First, the possessed man fell down before Christ as he saw Him from afar (v. 6), then went on saying “What have You to do to me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?” (v. 7). Then, as the second miracle took place, the healed women fell down before Christ, and she trembled (v. 33). Before the woman, Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue also fell at Jesus’ feet, asking Him to heal his daughter (v. 22). Here we see the most despicable of the three, the man with the unclean spirit, acknowledging who Jesus is with a glorious title (Son of Most High God). This puzzles me. How and why does this evil spirit know that Christ is truly the Son of Most High God? If the woman or Jairus was the one who proclaimed it, then it would make more sense, but something evil?
Looking back to Jairus, similar to the unclean spirit, he fell down at Christ’s feet before witnessing Christ’s authoritative action — the resurrection of his daughter. He knew that He is the only one who can save his daughter who was on the brink of death, and he was absolutely right. As Jesus took his daughter’s hand and uttered “Talitha cumi”, meaning “Little girl, I say to you, arise”, the girl then rose. Everyone was then amazed (v. 42), but in the text we don’t see a response similar to “What have You to do to me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?” (v. 7), or what the woman says, “If I touch even His garments, I will be made well.” (v. 28), or the hope that is of Jairus, “Come and lay Your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.” (v. 23). These are three different people, meeting the God-man, Christ, responding in a uniform way: falling. All three fell down before Christ as they proclaimed their knowledge of Christ and anchored their hope in Him who was pierced for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities, and by whose wounds we are healed (Isaiah 53:5).
All three had another thing in common as well; they all have gone astray, and all their iniquities had been laid on Him (Isaiah 53:6). Considering these things made falling down before Christ to be the only logical thing. It is not some ritual by which we must do in order to seek God, but rather a response as we realize how He is grand and we are not; how we are sinful and He is without blemish; how He is God and we are not. Those three people fell down because they couldn’t help it — they were before the presence of God.
Isaiah who wrote the verses which I just quoted, did a similar thing as well; he felt his uncleanliness before the Holy God. He said “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” (Isaiah 6:5). Just before that, he saw a vision, “the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of His robe filled the temple.” (Isaiah 6:1), and hearing the seraphim proclaiming, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” As Isaiah was faced with God’s holiness, his psyche was disintegrated, truly realizing how God is great, and how he is far from it. Isaiah’s mouth was then touched with a burning coal delivered by the seraphim, saying “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.” (Isaiah 6:6-7)
In his book, The Holiness of God, R. C. Sproul commented on Isaiah 6, saying, “There is a pattern here, a pattern repeated in history. God appears, people quake in terror, God forgives and heals, God sends.” Isaiah didn’t end up dead before the Lord as he saw His presence — no, he ended up wholeheartedly telling God to send him after He asked, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” (Isaiah 6:8). Similar to the three people described in Mark 5 who fell down before God — acknowledging their undeservedness, trembling in fear — God gave mercy.
The worth of God’s mercy is fully acknowledged by these men and women who fell before Him. In all our imperfections we fall, and then in all His mercy, He restores us. God’s glorious presence shows how His grace is truly undeserved, that Christ suffered a punishment He didn’t deserve to receive for our sake — the ones who truly deserve it in the first place. As we fall down, we see more of God and less of us, what matters more and what matters less, how glorious He is and how we are eternally helpless without Him.
May we incessantly fall down before God, being thankful for His mercy, putting all our hope in Him, to whom, through whom, and from whom all things are made. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.