CHRIST’S WORD AND TOUCH
6th after Pentecost B
When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake. 22 Then one of the synagogue rulers, named Jairus, came there. Seeing Jesus, he fell at his feet 23 and pleaded earnestly with him, "My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live." 24 So Jesus went with him. A large crowd followed and pressed around him. 25 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. 26 She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 because she thought, "If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed." 29 Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. 30 At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, "Who touched my clothes?" 31 "You see the people crowding against you," his disciples answered, "and yet you can ask, 'Who touched me?'" 32 But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. 33 Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering." 35 While Jesus was still speaking, some men came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. "Your daughter is dead," they said. "Why bother the teacher any more?" 36 Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, "Don't be afraid; just believe." 37 He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. 38 When they came to the home of the synagogue ruler, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. 39 He went in and said to them, "Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep." 40 But they laughed at him. After he put them all out, he took the child's father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. 41 He took her by the hand and said to her, "Talitha koum!" (which means, "Little girl, I say to you, get up!"). 42 Immediately the girl stood up and walked around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. 43 He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat.
Some 30+ years ago, stationed in the Army in California, a number of circumstances converged to render my life out of control, and I was desperate. For a time I actually contemplated suicide to escape the despair, and it came to a point that I was even poised to pull the trigger of an M-16 rifle set on automatic as I sat alone at my duty-post late one night, having posted a guard detail in the face of a serious Patty Hearst terrorist group bombing threat. What prevented my going through with the deed was only my uncertainty about the existence of hell and the thought: "What if I would be sending myself to something even worse - and for forever?"
The circumstances were admittedly different, but you can believe that they were just as utterly desperate for those people whom the Scripture Reading from St. Mark chapter 5 pictures for us. Our focus will primarily be on Jesus with Jairus and the people involved there, but also with some reference to the woman with the bleeding illness…
JESUS SOUGHT AS A LAST RESORT?
A certain Bible Commentary speculates that Jairus came to Jesus as a last resort for help, having exhausted all other means for the possible healing of his daughter. A closer look, though, shows that it was actually the bleeding woman who had spent all she had on physicians, but she had only gotten worse over the years. The situation for Jairus was, nevertheless, desperate! His daughter was dying, and the Scripture Text’s original phrase literally means: “At the end (and at the point of facing Judgment)”.
The situation was beyond the ability of Jairus or anyone else to do a thing. His only recourse WAS to come to Jesus. His utter despairing helplessness is reflected in the emotional display he gave, falling at the feet of Jesus. And a further complication arose, bringing the situation to its seeming finality. Jesus was held-up by the woman who had been hemorrhaging for 12 years, and the time taken for her ate up the girl’s last moments of life!
A question for us, therefore: What difference might it have made, do you suppose, if Jairus had sought after Jesus sooner? Or, even more to the point: Why is it that you and I often seem to come to Jesus as a last resort, if at all, for help with any size earthly problem, and even spiritual problems? Isn’t it because of the dead sinful-nature still clinging to us that we’re so sluggish?
Can we learn from Scripture’s Word concerning Jairus to always seek Jesus first? His promise is: “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and ALL ... things SHALL be added unto you.” God help us to repent of our slowness and to SEEK Him FIRST in all things!
OR IS JESUS SOUGHT WITH THE SINCERE PLEA OF FAITH THAT REAPS HIS COMPASSION?
St. James wrote: “You have not because you ask not. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives that you may spend it on your pleasures.” The charge is no doubt true of us at times, but it wasn’t concerning the request of Jairus. Jairus came right up alongside of Jesus and “pleaded earnestlywith Him,” the Text says. It was a sincere plea offered with the last wisp of hope Jairus could muster. Yes, even a deathbed confession can yield full forgiveness and life from God after an entirely wasted life, but no one is guaranteed the opportunity!
Jesus could have turned Jairus down because of his “enemy” status as a Synagogue-ruler at Capernaum. Jesus could have turned him down because a little girl had no status in that day and culture, and whose illness rendered her unclean by Jewish law. (For that matter, Jesus could likewise have turned down the weak and poverty-stricken, “unclean” woman who approached Him on the way!)
Consider also how Jesus didn’t let the disciples perish in their sinking boat one time, despite their lack of faith. He likewise saved Peter in attempting to walk on water, and deliberately and lovingly approached the disciple Thomas in his doubt. Let’s also take careful notice of the Lord’s ultimate response to Jairus, then:
Jairus specifically asked Jesus to come - - - and He CAME.
He bid Jesus, “Put Your hands on her” - - - and “He TOOK her by the hand.”
“That she will be healed,” Jairus continued - - - and she WAS.
“…and live,” Jairus begged - - - and she DID!
I don’t mean to suggest that any of us may presume upon God and dictate to Him exactly what to do and how we want it done. Here we see Jesus doing what was requested of Him out of His OWN sheer compassion, however. It wasn’t because of any power, righteousness or merit on anyone else’s part, but Jesus nevertheless DID DO it in this case!
So often in the Gospels we see how help came to people by Christ’s Word and Touch, but more important than the vehicles of His speaking and handling is His WILL to HAVE gracious compassion! “Whoever comes to Me, I will in no wise cast out,” Jesus promises.
Jesus systematically rejected every test put to Him by Satan and the unbelieving lawyers and scribes, and no one can fool Him about his or her motive, but throughout the time of His earthly ministry Jesus did comply with every genuine request reported in the Gospels (as far as I’ve ever been able to ascertain). Another question for us, then: Isn’t Jesus, therefore, whom we would always WANT to seek first?
C. JESUS AND FAITH PUT TO THE TEST
Besides our slowness to seek Him because of our own sinful nature are also the attacks of Satan and pressure to disbelieve from the world around us. Satan came to both challenge Jesus and try to take away the speck of faith Jairus did have.
Distraught messengers relayed the news that his daughter was gone, suggesting that Jesus could not help any more and it was final. “Nothing shall be impossible with God,” Scripture says to the contrary, and HE determines what is final! Jesus encouraged Jairus’ faith with gentle words: “Don’t be afraid; just believe!” To the loud mourners He unexpectedly said that the girl was only “asleep.”
Now the girl WAS physically dead, to be sure, just like Lazarus sealed in a tomb for 4 days – but it was no final barrier to the LORD! The people crowding the house of Jairus scornfully laughed at Jesus, nevertheless. It was another challenge to Jesus and the faith of Jairus! And, thinking on the disciples’ reaction about the bleeding woman when Jesus asked who touched Him, did their words contain sarcasm and disdain? “You see the people crowding against You,… and yet You can ask, ‘Who touched ME?’” Have you and I ever exhibited such a rude attitude towards our loving Lord? (Be careful how you answer, because we all certainly have!)
The ancient Prophets suffered mockery at the hands of God’s people. Sometimes they were even put to death. Scoffers surrounded the Apostles even at Pentecost. All such behavior is ultimately leveled at Jesus Himself, which had its culmination at the foot of His Cross where the crowd ridiculed and jeered Him. And it all comes down to people not fully having faith that God or Jesus could and WOULD SAVE, especially from the finality of death!
We should know better, of course! Isn’t this your faith(?): “I BELIEVE in ... the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting!” We’ve seen and known and believe that Jesus did and HAS saved not only Jairus’ daughter but also US!
THE TRIUMPH FOR US WITH CHRIST AS THE OBJECT OF OUR FAITH
By washing our sins away at Calvary, applying that cleansing to us in Baptism and faith, and giving His own Body and Blood into death for us, Jesus Christ HAS brought LIFE out of it all! That life given to his daughter wasn’t in the end because of Jairus’ or anyone else’s faith, though, but because of Christ’s OWN compassion and eternal power. It’s not ultimately anyone’s ACT of believing, but Christ as the OBJECT of faith that lets people reap the benefits He gives. It would constitute the greatest sort of arrogance on our part to ever presume that we could conjure inside so holy and strong a faith as would merit the Lord’s gracious response!
But nevertheless, just as Jesus gave Jairus’ daughter the will and Word and touch that brought life to her, He has compassionately willed and ensured that each one of US might have it! GLORY!!!
Christian, dry your flowing tears, Chase your unbelieving fears;
Look on HIS deserted grave, Doubt no more His pow’r to save!
E. ONE MORE EXAMPLE OF CHRIST’S COMPASSIONATE WILL
One more little item of note might be that, after Jesus initiated, fed and brought to bloom the faith of the people in the girl’s room, He provided for the physical sustenance of the girl herself by bidding that something be given her to eat. Isn’t that a further confirmation of the promise that “all ... things shall be added unto you”? We have so much more value to God than the birds of the air, grass and lilies of the field, and are so precious to Him that even the hairs of our heads are numbered! Our earthly needs are also His concern.
These thoughts today drawn from the incident with Jairus and his daughter are aimed at eliciting and encouraging OUR faith. And, IN faith, not ONLY to seek Christ in ALL things and to seek HIM ALWAYS FIRST, but to know His compassionate will for US ALSO and to hear Him say exactly as He said to Jairus: “Don’t be afraid; just believe!” God GRANT THIS faith to us ALL!