Often the reason some decide to try out religion and consider attending a church is because there is some part of their life with which they are hoping for improvement. We try out church and God with an expectation that it will make some things better. We believe that if we can just get our family to attend a good church, that it might be a good influence on our kids, or our marriage, or our spouse, or maybe it will simply start some good habits. These are reasonable hopes we have, that church and God will help.
However, to our surprise, what we find when we get there, when God truly decides to show up and answer our hopes, is that instead of God granting the initial requests we had, which caused our openness to the whole enterprise in the first place, God ends up giving us far more than we ever expected, and also requires much more of us than we expected, as well.
As we look at this passage in Mark 5:21-42, we find two people who each have an encounter with Jesus. They each come to him asking for help with their respective problems. But what each of them receives is way more than they asked for. This is a story of two different miracles that were given to these two very different people. The link between them, however, is that they both got much more than they expected.
Jairus was a well respected Elder of Israel and leader of a synagogue, whose 12-year-old daughter had gotten sick, to the point of death. Then, there is the woman who had been suffering for 12 years with a medical blood flow that consumed all of her money and ruined her life, making her a social outcast and ceremonially unclean. Yet Jesus showed no favoritism. This no name woman was poor and morally defiled, a social embarrassment. Jairus, in contrast, was a respected and wealthy man with lots of status and moral purity, and yet Jesus values the woman every bit as much as he does Jairus.
Why does the woman sneak up behind Jesus and try to hide? It’s because she was being loving. Leviticus 15:19 shows that she was ceremonially unclean and would have had a very bad reputation from her condition and this encounter would have defiled Jesus. To protect him from ceremonial uncleanness, she tries to find her relief in a way that wouldn’t harm Jesus. She had beautiful faith, though it was not perfect. She superstitiously thought that there was some magical power within Jesus’ physical body that would cure her.
The crowd was pressing in on Jesus but when she touched him, he knew that power had gone out of him. So he asks who it was that touched him. Other passages teach us that Jesus is the second person of the Trinity and has two natures, a human nature and a divine nature. There are times when Jesus’ divine nature lets him know things humanly that he would not know otherwise, as in Matthew 17:27 or John 1:48, but in his human nature Jesus was not omniscient. The disciples constantly were making the error of taking Jesus too literally. So when he asked who touched him, the disciples responded, “Umm …. Jesus?, …lots of people are touching you.” But Jesus knew that some power had gone out from him.
God wants to teach us how to have patience from trusting God’s timing in our lives. At this point story, can you imagine being Jairus and how impatient you would have felt toward Jesus? Jesus had stopped his walk toward Jairus’s daughter, in order to spend a very long time with this defiled lady. In verse 33, the Greek says that she told him her whole truth, meaning her entire life story, and this after she had already been healed. I can picture myself staring suggestively at my watch, tapping my foot, and more likely, I probably would have been trying to drag Jesus to my dying daughter.
And just at that moment messengers come from his house to say there’s no need to bother the teacher further, because she had just died. That is when Jesus stared right into Jairus’s eyes and said, “Do not fear. Only trust.” Isn’t it comforting to know that God never needs to hurry, and is never caught off guard. Is there something in your life to which you feel God needs to hurry?
Let us consider now what God was doing for both of these people, and not in spite of the delay, but because of the delay. He was giving both the woman and Jairus much more than they had asked.
We need to stop thinking that we know better than God and stop being angry at God. When it seems as if He’s giving us His worst, He’s giving us His best. For Jairus, look at how much his faith and relationship grew with Jesus because of this encounter. Previous to the encounter, Jairus had only enough faith to ask for help. But once Jairus had seen Jesus’ eyes search deeply into his own, and say, “Trust me,” for the rest of his life he would know that trusting Jesus is true wisdom. The woman, just as she was healed, probably thought to herself, “I am better! I am out of here.” But Jesus wouldn’t have it. She was not encountering a superstitious force, like a vending machine that we put in our faith and out pops our request, she was encountering a person. Jesus grows her faith beyond her shallow beliefs, and forms her into a healed life follower, in a relationship forever more with the person of Jesus. Jesus turned the woman and Jairus into followers. He brought them into a whole new universe, of joy and love.
Is there anything in your life right now that you feel as if you understand it better than God does? Is God delaying something that you think He should not? The reason that we can trust him, and the reason God keeps loving us when we fail to trust Him, is that Jesus did this for us. Did you see the subtle foreshadowing that occurred on Jesus when the woman was healed? What happened to Jesus? There was a “cost” to him for healing her. It says that power went out of him. This is a foreshadowing of the Cross, when, not partly, but all power went out of him. It is a small picture of when he would give up everything and fully sacrifice his life, for us to be healed.
An encounter with Jesus is so much more than we think at first. We go to him with one or two small requests, only to find a God who has planned so much more, to make us so much more beautiful, faithful, and more capable of experiencing life, joy, and love than we ever expected. Jesus delights to do this for us and yet it cost him everything. Let us give every part of our lives into his hands and trust him. Let us not fear. Let us only believe.
Prayer: Father, thank you that you make so much more of my life, than I would even ask. Thank you that you are so much bigger and more loving that I would ever dare to dream. Please help me to trust you with the things in my life that I wish were different, and can’t understand why you would allow them. Help me to see that you took far worse than I am enduring when you took the cross, and that I can trust you, with every last part of my life. I love you, dear Father. In Christ’s name I pray, Amen.
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Rev. Rusty Mosley