Life-Changing Encounters

It has been said that desperate times demand desperate measures. We have seen times in the news that when disaster strikes an area there is often looting and an increase in crime because while some people are just criminals, others feel like they have no other choice.

People who have terminal diseases may spend every dime they have to travel all over the world in the hope of finding that one treatment that might bring a cure. People who are desperate in their marriage may buy things they can’t afford, bring perversion into their homes, or end up in marital unfaithfulness, all in the hope of bringing change to their relationship. People who are desperate will do all kinds of things they might not do in other circumstances.

This morning we are going to look at the story of two desperate people. One is a man, one is a woman. One is respected, the other is shunned. Their lives cross one day as they both came to Jesus for help.

When Jesus returned to the Judean area of Galilee after his visit to the demoniac on the east coast of the Sea of Galilee he was greeted by a large crowd. Everywhere Jesus went there were large crowds of people. From out of the crowd the leader of the local synagogue worked his way forward and fell at the feet of Jesus. Everyone could detect that this man was desperate.

He told Jesus about his twelve year old daughter. She was his only daughter and she was close to death. No parent can read these words and not sense a little of this man’s anguish. Every parent would gladly trade their life for the life of their child. Where was mom? You and I both know where she was: she was with her daughter. Moms give comfort, Dad’s need to try to do something. Jairus went to see the miracle-working Rabbi named Jesus.

Mark records the man’s request, “Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” (Mark 5:23) It is clear what the man is asking. There is no further discussion. It is apparent that Jesus immediately set off toward the home of this man.

A Woman in Torment v. 49

We are told, “While they were on the way, the crowds almost crushed him.” The word for crushed is emphatic and indicates that the press was so great that it was tough to even breathe.  You can picture the scene can’t you? Imagine a mob of reporters who want to get a quote from you. They won’t let you through the crowd until they get what they want. You move forward by inches and only with great effort. This is the situation Jesus faced. Everyone in the crowd wanted something and didn’t want Jesus to get away until they could make their request.

We there was a woman who had been bleeding for twelve years (likely a constant menstrual bleed), who was in this crowd. Stop and imagine her situation. She was likely in some pain and weak. Such an illness was also socially devastating. In Leviticus 15 the law stated that a woman who was bleeding became ceremonially unclean. If she was constantly bleeding then she was constantly unclean. This means she couldn’t go to worship, she couldn’t offer sacrifices. . . she probably felt distant from God. If she had been married she may now be divorced. She likely had few if any friends and felt much like a leper.

Mark tells us that the woman had been to many Doctors. She had spent all her money but was no closer to a cure than she was before. (It’s interesting that Luke, the Doctor, does not mention the failure of the Doctors). This woman was desperate.

By even joining the crowd she was taking a risk. People would resent being in such proximity to one who was unclean. It is possible that she was from a neighboring town and the people did not know her. With the press of the crowd she had to fight her way toward Jesus like one trying to get near the stage at a concert or some other gathering.

When got to Jesus she reached out and likely grabbed one of the tassels on his garment. She believed all she needed to do was touch Jesus and she would be healed. Maybe she did not want to risk rejection from Jesus if she made a request to Him. We are told that as soon as she touched Jesus she knew she had been healed!  I imagine the pain and cramping she had lived with for over a decade was suddenly gone.

The woman started to make her way away from the crowd and Jesus, “Who touched me?” This would be like a celebrity walking among their fans and all the paparazzi who suddenly stops and says, “Someone took my picture!”

Peter reminded Jesus that lots of people had been touching him. Jesus knew that someone (He probably even knew who touched Him) had touched Him who truly believed. Their touch was different from the others.

Jesus said “He felt power go out of Him.” We can’t even begin to understand this. What we know is that our Lord was so in tune with the power of God within Him that He immediately knew when that power was tapped by sincere faith.

Why does Jesus call the woman to identify herself? There are several possibilities. It could be that the woman needed to give testimony to her healing so God would be glorified. Perhaps she needed to give testimony to reinforce her faith. Maybe she needed to give testimony so people would see that this woman who had been unclean was now clean. Maybe it was Jairus who needed to hear the testimony. Or, maybe this was so Jesus could go beyond healing her physically to also healing her spiritually.

The woman knew she had been discovered and so she came before Jesus. She seemed to sense that Jesus knew exactly who had touched Him. She may have thought she was going to be rebuked. Maybe she thought the healing would be rescinded. However, in her faith she testified to what she had done (think about it wouldn’t you have been tempted to keep quiet and hope you could “get away with the healing?”). When she told her story Jesus announced, “your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”

It was an incredible transformation! Society’s outcast was made a citizen of Heaven. The woman physically depleted found health, energy and new life! One woman in a large crowd dared to trust God and her life was changed forever. I picture the woman with eyes overflowing with tears and a posture of gratitude that was unmistakable. As she departed I can see her dancing on the way home.

However, not everyone was rejoicing.

A Little Girl and her Family

Turn back to Jairus. The story of the woman was powerful and moving but to Jairus it was a delay that was threatening the life of his daughter. I’m sure on any other day Jairus would have marveled at what happened to this woman. Today he had only one objective . . . bring the healer home to touch his daughter. I’m sure he felt like someone with an emergency situation stuck in a traffic jam.

To make matters worse we’re told that while Jesus was talking to the woman a messenger came from Jairus’ home. The messenger delivered the devastating news that his daughter had already died. The messenger (who we hope delivered the message with more tact that we see in the text) told the synagogue leader that it was foolish to bother Jesus any more.

The message must have hit Jairus like a wrecking ball. I imagine his knees buckling from the shock and grief. I can hear him respond with the words, “No!” But before the man can despair Jesus looked him in the eye and said, “Don’t be afraid, just believe and she will be healed.” (50)

If you were Jairus how would you sort out these conflicting messengers? “It’s over . . . it’s not over. She’s dead …..she will be OK.” Jairus would have been on overload but he certainly wanted to believe that Jesus was speaking the truth (as incredible as it seemed). Every parent would want to cling to hope in this moment.

Jairus dared to believe and brought Jesus the rest of the way to his home. When they arrived at his home the professional mourners were already there. This means there would have been very loud wailing. Surely everyone had heard of the girl’s sickness. Since Jairus was the synagogue leader everyone would have been waiting for news and when they heard it they would have dropped everything to share in his grief.

The first thing Jesus did was tell the mourners to be quiet. (All that wailing would be distracting, annoying and given anyone a headache). He told them to be quiet because “she is not dead but asleep.” The people thought Jesus was crazy (and probably some thought he was cruel for giving the family “false” hope).

Some would conclude that since Jesus said she was just sleeping shows that the girl had not really died. However, in verse 55 we are told “her spirit returned” which would seem to mean that her spirit had departed!  Some of the people in attendance were surely professional mourners. They knew a dead body when they saw one. Jesus was looking at the girl from an eternal perspective. He realized that death is temporary . . . it is like a nap.

In 1 Thessalonians Paul looked at death the same way. He addressed the matter of those who have gone to sleep (who have died). He pointed to the time of the second coming of Christ when the dead would be raised.

Jesus took Peter, James and John and the parents into the house with Him. Imagine the father holding back sobs as he first sees the lifeless body of his daughter. He must have struggled to keep believing that Jesus might be able to help even now.

Jesus walked over to her cold body, took her hand and said, “My child, get up!” Mark records the actual Aramic words, “Talitha koum”. I read that this was probably the same thing a mother would say to a child in the morning to awaken her.

Listen carefully to what happens next, “Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up.” Her revival wasn’t some groggy semi-consciousness. There was no, “Where am I?” There was no weakness from the sickness that had led to this state. She stood right up and Jesus (I bet with a smile) said, “you better get her something to eat!” (She is a teenager remember).

I can’t help but smile at the next words, “her parents were astonished”. The Greek words mean “out of their mind”. They were beside themselves. There is no word that can convey how these parents were feeling. They were speechless, stunned, elated, and overwhelmed. They had ridden a wild roller coaster over the last hours. They were at the same time emotionally exhausted and emotionally pumped. They wanted to dance and also to sob.

Something strange happens next. Jesus told those who were in the room “not to tell anyone what had happened.” Really? Don’t you think people are going to figure out what happened as soon as the door opens and the girl walks out chomping on a peanut butter sandwich?

To make matters more confusing, the demoniac Jesus healed earlier in the chapter was told to tell everyone. Why this difference. I think the difference lies in who Jesus was talking to. When the demoniac told others about what had happened to him they would seek Jesus. When these parents told about Jesus the Jews would conclude he was the political Messiah they were waiting for and would run in the wrong direction. They would run to “campaign headquarters” and start making signs. The Jews were not prepared to receive the “suffering servant”. We’ll see next week that even the disciples don’t understand yet.


These are interesting and even moving testimonies about the work of Jesus in the lives of these two people. The question that most of us ask however is: what are we supposed to learn?

First, we see evidence once again that Jesus is God. Jesus possessed supernatural power. He had the power to bring the dead back to life!!! He is unique among men. This shows that He was who He said He was: the Son, sent from the Father. Over the past weeks we have seen Him cast out demons; calm the raging sea; cure a woman the Doctors could not help; and raise a little girl from the dead. No one else can do what he did. He alone is qualified to be our Savior.

All of us will follow someone. We may follow our friends, we may pursue the trends of society, or we may follow after power, influence, and affluence. Some will follow a favorite teacher. Many will follow any whim or fancy before them until they find something else that interests them. These people don’t consider where they are going and think they are very wise in the route they are traveling!

We will all follow someone. So, why not choose to follow the One who is unique and possesses the power and wisdom of God? Why not choose to follow the One who has demonstrated His love, compassion and sufficiency in such a convincing manner? Why not choose to follow Jesus?

That choice requires a step of faith. It requires that we, like these two people, dare to reach out and to put all our trust and confidence in Christ. This is not a passive decision but must be active. True faith requires that we step out in obedience and trust. It means putting our hope not in the ways of men but in the Lord of Life.

Second, we learn that Jesus is Sufficient for Life’s Greatest Problems.  Think about it. Both of these stories dealt with people who were desperate. They were out of options. They were at the point where most people give up. Jesus showed that no matter what the problem, He is able to help.

Not only is He able to help. He is also willing to help. This is the man who defended widows, helped the lepers, loved the children, had dinner with a tax-collector, crossed a lake to help a Gentile who was terrorized by demons, put up with the slow learners, forgave the friend who denied Him three times in one night, and showed mercy to a thief. He is willing to help you.

Are you facing a desperate situation?

  • a physical problem that threatens to steal your life?
  • a relationship that has you tied up in knots?
  • a financial stress that seems overwhelming?
  • a legal problem that seems hopeless?
  • a spiritual torment that makes you feel cast off by God?
  • a paralyzing sin that seems to have you in its grip?
  • a hurt that is so deep that you can’t escape its stranglehold?

Jesus can and will help you. He may not do what you expect but He will do what is best. Instead of turning away from Him, turn to Him. Trust Him as the one who alone can meet your deepest need.

Third, we learn Faith and Patience must go together The woman waited 12 years for healing. The synagogue ruler had to wait while Jesus stopped to help others. The lesson for us is that faith means trusting God’s timing as well as His power. Part of faith is learning to rest in the wisdom, power, goodness, and providence of God.

Timing is everything. It is the difference between an accident and a normal turn at an intersection. It is the difference between something that is funny and something that is just dumb. It is the difference between scoring the points and missing the points. It is the difference between making money and losing money in that business.

There are times when God delays because there are lessons that need to be learned or character traits that need to be developed. God may wait until a heart is truly ready. He may delay because something better is just around the corner. Faith and patience work hand in hand. Sometimes we will see the purpose in God’s timing. At other times we will not see fully until we get to Heaven. I am confident of one thing: God’s track record will not just be good . . . it will be perfect! Today I encourage you to rest in Him.

Finally, we learn that Jesus came to do more than eliminate the difficulties of our lives.  Jesus told Jairus and his family to tell no one what happened because He did not come primarily to cure people or to restore nations. He did not want to simply gather around Him a bunch of satisfied customers. He came not to help us live our current way of life more pleasurably, He came to show us a whole new way of life.

If your only concern here today is to find a way to make your life easier then you are aiming way too low. Jesus wants you to know God personally. He wants you to know the joy of walking with Him. He wants you to live with Him forever.

This morning we have seen two lives that were transformed by an encounter with Jesus. There are many here today who would testify that Jesus has transformed their lives as well. He’s not finished…not by a long shot. If you will turn to Him with a self-surrendering faith, willing to trust Him in life and in death; He will change your life just like he changed the woman who had been sick, the ruler whose daughter was dying, and a small town Pastor named Bruce.

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