Desperate Faith

In my early years as a Pastor here in La Harpe I came to work each day with a To-Do-List of things I hoped to accomplish. As a result, I was often frustrated because each day was filled with “interruptions.” Some of these interruptions came in the form of a crisis (one phone call will change your priorities for a week or more), others were people who needed to talk, and some people stopped by just to “catch up” because they had some free time! I admit I would get a little “antsy” when a conversation started to settle in and I could see my To-Do list laying down to take a long nap.

It didn’t take long before the Lord convicted me. He reminded me that serving Him required that I give up my task-orientation (which is not the same as never planning) in order to be “people-oriented.” It suddenly made sense to me that people, interruptions, and being available for those who need, IS what I have been called to do. Ministry is about people!

Nobody modeled this better than Jesus. He always seemed to have time for people. He was not interested in the big events. He wanted to touch people whenever He had the chance. People brought needs of many different kinds to Him. These “random meetings” turned into some of the great stories in the life of Jesus.

This morning we look at two of those accounts. We learn about a man with a very sick daughter and a woman with a bleeding problem that had wiped her out in many different ways. In the process, we are going to learn some very important lessons about faith.

A Desperate Father

18 As Jesus was saying this, the leader of a synagogue came and knelt before him. “My daughter has just died,” he said, “but you can bring her back to life again if you just come and lay your hand on her.”

The first person to come to Jesus was the leader of the Jewish synagogue. From the other accounts in Mark and Luke, we learn the man’s name was Jairus. Typically, the position of leader in the synagogue was held by a Pharisee. Pharisees were generally not fans of Jesus. They saw Him as disruptive and leading people astray.

So we ask: Was Jairus a secret follower (like Nicodemus) or was it he tried every other means possible to get help for his daughter before coming to Jesus (a last resort)?

If you compare Matthew and Mark it is uncertain whether Jairus’ daughter was dead or near death when he came to see Jesus. (Mark and Luke says ‘near death’ while Matthew says she had died). I think Jairus came urgently because he knew his daughter was very near death (unknown to him, by the time he reached Jesus, she had already died). Matthew tells the story from the perspective of what was actually true (the child was dead). Mark and Luke tell the story from the perspective of Jairus.

Jairus asked Jesus to come “quickly.” Jesus agreed. It didn’t matter that Jairus was the leader of the synagogue. He was a person in need and that was the only thing that mattered to Jesus.

Don’t miss the lesson: You may have resisted the Lord all your life. But friend, if you will sincerely turn to Jesus, He will not turn the past against you. He is willing to help you as well. Put yourself in this dad’s shoes, you can feel the sense of urgency. That is what makes the next account so notable.

A Frustrated Woman

19 So Jesus and his disciples got up and went with him. 20 Just then a woman who had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding came up behind him. She touched the fringe of his robe, 21 for she thought, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.”

22 Jesus turned around, and when he saw her he said, “Daughter, be encouraged! Your faith has made you well.” And the woman was healed at that moment.

To get the full measure of this account we need the details we find in Mark,

A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding. She had suffered a great deal from many doctors, and over the years she had spent everything she had to pay them, but she had gotten no better. In fact, she had gotten worse. She had heard about Jesus, so she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his robe. For she thought to herself, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.” Immediately the bleeding stopped, and she could feel in her body that she had been healed of her terrible condition. (Mark 5:25-29)

Most people believe this malady was a problem of continuous menstrual bleeding. In addition to making this woman very tired, she was also excluded from worship. The Old Testament Law had provisions for women who were “bleeding” (See Leviticus15:25-27). During the time of the bleeding she was sacrificially unclean . . . in other words, she was not able to take part in worship. Uncleanness is not sin! It merely disqualified you to come into the presence of the Holy God.

Because of the bleeding, this woman could not worship for 12 years! Anyone who came in contact with her would be unclean temporarily. So, this was creating social and religious problems that went along with the physical discomfort.

Mark tells us that the woman had spent all her money going to Doctors but she was not getting any better. Some of you have had that experience. She had used up all her resources and wasn’t any better than when she started.

This woman must have been very frustrated and tired. She didn’t want to make a big scene (and expose her problem) so she decided that if she merely touched Jesus she could be healed. Of course, that is exactly what happened. She touched His robe and immediately felt that she had been healed.

Mark tells us that Jesus somehow “felt the healing power go out of him.” He knew someone was seeking help and did not want to make their problem public. When Jesus thought someone had touched him (and likely there were lots of people touching him as he was surrounded by the crowd) he asked the person to step forward. We gain the insight that the disciples (perhaps feeling the urgency of Jairus) observe that many people were touching Him.

But this woman who had remained “hidden” for 12 years because of her bleeding knew it was now time to give her testimony as to what Jesus had done. When she admitted what she did Jesus pronounced her clean. The fact that it was Jesus who said it was all the more significant. This woman who had been shunned for years was now seen, known, and loved by Jesus. One commentator writes,

What good news to those who are hurting, to those who are walking through pain or struggling in some area of life. You are not lost in the crowd before Jesus. He is intimately aware of every single detail of your life. He knows your struggle, and His love for you is extremely personal. In the middle of the crowds, you have His attention, though not in some self-centered way, as if the world revolves around you. But because you are a child of God, Jesus is attentive to your deepest needs, and you have His affectionate attention.

A Premature End to a Funeral

Jesus stopped what He was doing and embraced the one who interrupted him. However, I have to think that Jairus is looking at his wrist sundial and getting very impatient. Let’s be honest, wouldn’t you be impatient?

Mark and Luke tell us the very thing Jairus feared had happened. Messengers came to break the bad news that his daughter had died. They said they no longer needed to bother Jesus anymore. It was too late.

Jesus, however, heard what the messenger said and said to Jairus, ““Don’t be afraid. Just have faith, and she will be healed.” (Luke 8:50) Jairus held on to that hope because he couldn’t bear the alternative. So he continued to trust Jesus. Mark says,

23 When Jesus arrived at the official’s home, he saw the noisy crowd and heard the funeral music. 24 “Get out!” he told them. “The girl isn’t dead; she’s only asleep.” But the crowd laughed at him. 25 After the crowd was put outside, however, Jesus went in and took the girl by the hand, and she stood up! 26 The report of this miracle swept through the entire countryside.

Luke’s report has a little more detail,

51 When they arrived at the house, Jesus wouldn’t let anyone go in with him except Peter, John, James, and the little girl’s father and mother. 52 The house was filled with people weeping and wailing, but he said, “Stop the weeping! She isn’t dead; she’s only asleep.”

53 But the crowd laughed at him because they all knew she had died. 54 Then Jesus took her by the hand and said in a loud voice, “My child, get up!” 55 And at that moment her life returned, and she immediately stood up! Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat. 56 Her parents were overwhelmed, but Jesus insisted that they not tell anyone what had happened.

A Jewish funeral had several elements: rending of garments, the playing of flutes, and wailing for the dead. You see some of these things still in the middle east today. R.C. Sproul writes,

The music of flutes and wailing could be heard. It was customary among the Jews of that time that when someone died, the mourning was public, not private. In fact, when there was a death, even the poorest family was expected to hire at least two flute players and one professional wailing woman. This was to guarantee that no one ever grieved alone.

What a nice tradition this was.

So, as Jesus arrived at the home of Jairus there was a great deal of chaos. People, noise, casseroles, and who knows what else. Jesus and Jairus kick everyone out of the house. Jesus said she was only sleeping (which lead some people to say the girl was only in a coma). However, these people had seen dead bodies before. They knew she was dead. Anyone who says otherwise fails to give these people any credit at all.

When Elisha brought a young boy back from the dead he prayed, he laid on the boy face to face several times and eventually the body started to get warm and he was restored to life. That’s not what happens here. Jesus simply took her hand and said basically, “Child, it’s time to get up!” And she jumped up immediately.

I cannot even begin to imagine the overwhelming sense of joy and new life that these parents must have felt. And I would have loved to see the faces of all those professional mourners as they walked out with their daughter. Don’t you wonder if you could detect a sly smile on the face of Jesus?

They are great stories of Jesus doing what no one else can do. He can cure diseases the Doctors could not cure. And, He had authority even over death!

So what should we learn from this account?

CONCLUSIONS

We can draw several conclusions from this account of the healing of the woman with the issue of blood and the raising of Jairus’ daughter.

First, Matthew reminds us yet again that Jesus is the Only One Worth Following. If you are going to surrender your life to someone, certainly you should follow the man who can raise the dead. Jesus alone is worthy to be followed as Lord and trusted as Savior.

We examine the platforms of political candidates, we interview potential employees, we bring in inspectors before we buy a home and we will test drive cars before we buy them. It seems to me that we should be AT LEAST this diligent when we develop our eternal allegiance. Yet many are haphazard in their beliefs. They give their allegiance to many things but are lukewarm in this critical aspect of faith.

Have you considered who/what is being allowed to direct and control your life?

  • Your employer?
  • The School calendar?
  • The list of current events?
  • Your physical desires? 

Where are these things taking you? Why have you chosen to let these things determine your priorities in life? Why have you chosen these things over the Lord of eternity, the One with power over the dead? These are questions any thinking person should ask.

Second, true Faith requires courage and patience. The woman needed the courage to work her way close to Jesus to touch the tassels on his robe. It took courage to step forward and admit that she was the one who sought healing. It took courage for Jairus to ask for something so bold. It took patience to wait on Jesus as he ministered to the woman and after he had been told his daughter had died. Our anxiety is an indicator that we are trusting our timetable rather than His. Churning comes when we try to wrestle the reins of our life back from the Lord, the One we said we trusted.

We will never see God act greatly until we ask greatly. I am not suggesting we ask in materialistic ways (please God grant me a new luxury car . . . I will buy the car in faith and trust you to make the payments!!!).

Being bold and vulnerable is not easy to do. It means putting all our weight on Jesus. Think about a child who wants to ride a bicycle. They love the training wheels and it is scary to take them off. However, if you really want to ride a bike you have to ditch the wheels.

As believers, we want to keep the training wheels on our prayers. We want safe and predictable. However, if we are ever going to learn to truly trust God, we have to take the training wheels off and dare to step out in faith. If either of these people had “played it safe” nothing would have changed in their life. Faith means trusting even when things look like there is no hope.

  • Are you facing a circumstance you have trouble believing God could ever use for good?
  • Have you received the horrible words “there is nothing more we can do?”
  • Have you experienced a hurt you think you could never forgive?
  • Do you have a disease you think has made you unusable in life?
  • Have you reached that age where everything is difficult and you don’t know why you are still here?
  • Is there a stigma attached to your name that seems so fixed to you that it seems no one will ever give you a chance?

You have the same choice as Jairus and the woman: Will you anchor your hope to what you can see and understand, or to what He has said? Will you boldly believe that He really can do “above and beyond all we can ask or think?”

Finally, if we want to reach out to others in the name of Jesus we have to be alert for the blessing of “chance encounters.” As long as we are tied to “our schedule” we will have difficulty doing the work the Lord has called us to do. It’s not that we shouldn’t be organized, make plans, or even have a To-Do List, the point is that people have to matter most.

If we are truly going to walk with Jesus we need to be alert to that unexpected opportunity to extend grace and love. We need to be ready to plant a seed of faith or encouragement. We are called to live each day alert to the things God calls us to do and the people He wants us to impact. We need to be ready, to anticipate, and to relish the “surprises” that come each day.

These surprises may start in your own home as you have the opportunity to pour life and faith into your family. It may be a brief conversation on the street, in the store, or even in a hospital recovery room. We will have many opportunities to impact lives throughout each day. We miss many of these opportunities because we are distracted by the things we need to get done.

So here’s our challenge: Open your eyes. Go into each day planning margin into your schedule so you will in essence “plan for surprises.” Pay attention. Watch for those brief encounters that can change a life, turn a bad day into a good one, and can remind us that God is at work in ways that will surprise us. This is the life of faith, of discipleship, and it is a life of one surprising adventure after another.

 

Scripture:

Matthew 9:18-27