Yesterday our pastor led us to the story of Jairus and the woman with the issue of blood as told in Mark 5:21-43 for his emphasis on hope. Hope. The first Sunday of Advent. There was much demonstration of hope in this chapter
Jesus and His fellow disciples just disembarked from the boat on the Galilee shore. Immediately a crowd swirled around Him, seeking His attention, His advice, His healing touch, anything that would bring them immediate comfort. The loud and chaotic crowd’s hope was perhaps more of a general “entertain me, feed me, show me a miracle.” This, clearly, was not a desperate hope. They wanted the Healer’s attention, but they were not so sure about putting their whole trust in the Teacher.
Suddenly, the crowd parted as a synagogue official, dressed in all his regalia, hurriedly approached the wandering rabbi, a desperately worried look on his face. Jairus, this very prominent church official, fell at the feet of the One whom most of the synagogue officials despised due to his most untraditional practices. He cried out, “Please! My daughter is very ill to the point of dying! Please come and lay Your hands on her!”
Can’t you just sense his desperation? He overlooked all that his church colleagues had said about him, all the traditional rules this rabbi had broken; blew past the crowd and literally fell at this man’s feet! What on earth had he heard about Jesus? News had spread that He had healed many (Mark 3:10). You know he loved his daughter; you can imagine the many prayers he had prayed over his daughter; the doctors he had sought and paid for the various healing remedies they had recommended. He had tried all the traditional methods. In one more last attempt he sought out the man everyone had talked about. Jesus. Jairus’ hope was desperate. Earnest.
Jesus looked at Jairus, noted his desperation and walked off with the official in the direction of his home, answering his plea.
Sandwiched in the story of Jairus, even sandwiched in between Jairus’ plea and Jesus’ healing was a divine interruption. When you read the Gospels, you’ll find these often and in His calm, unhurried approach, Jesus pays attention, knowing every interruption is important. A woman needs Jesus. Right now.
This woman’s future was bright with promise……twelve long years ago. One day, she noticed blood. Okay. She was of age. She washed and did what young maturing girls did in that day. She knew she would be declared ceremonially unclean for a few days before she could resume her usual activities in her home. Except. The bleeding didn’t stop. It went on for days. She had washed and dried all those cloths she had used for stopping her bleeding; she had to use them again. And again. And again. She was growing weak. Her family grew concerned. Because she was still declared “unclean,” she knew she had to leave her home and live alone until the bleeding stopped. But it wasn’t stopping. She sought out doctors and healers to no avail. She grew weaker. She no longer had any more means for paying for these remedies and doctors. Her family had helped her as long as they could. But after several years, their funds ran out, too.
This Jewish woman most likely came from God-fearing family. They worshiped in the synagogue, practiced all they had been taught. I’m sure she prayed. I’m sure she pled with the God of the heavens, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Yes, the Lord God had been quiet for the past four hundred years, more due to unbelief than anything else.
When she heard of this wandering healer, in her absolute desperation, she dressed in what rags she had left, drew up her weakened body and walked out of her dwelling and made her way to the Healer. Please, God. Surely this man will stop my bleeding. He was her last hope.
She saw Him in the distance. If I could just get close enough to just touch his cloak, she thought, as she moved through the crowd. If they knew I was declared unclean by the synagogue officials, I’m sure she imagined, the crowd would part and let me through. She got closer. And closer. He was moving slowly. Oh, the crowd. She had enough time to bend down as He was just in front of her! She reached out her hand. Her fingers just brushed ever so slightly the outer hem of his garment. Immediately the flow of blood ceased. She felt it. It had stopped! And suddenly she felt a strength she had not felt in her body in many years! She was healed! She straightened and backed away, allowing the crowd to move between she and He.
But He stopped! Dead in His tracks! He looked around. Faces of men, women swirling around Him. “Who touched me?” He asked. What in the world do you mean, the disciples asked, clearly puzzled. Look around, Master! We’re all touching you! Us, your body guards! The crowd has been pressing in on you since we left the boat! We’re all touching you!
Power flowed out of Him all of a sudden. He knew it. Where did it go? To whom? Then he saw a woman, emaciated but now radiant. She fell to the ground, clearly frightened that she had been discovered. Lord, she thought, I feel better in these last two minutes than I’ve felt in years! Please don’t un-heal me! Please! I beg of you!
Jesus, compassion emitting from his face, looked deep into her eyes and said, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your affliction.”
In that one pronouncement, Jesus welcomed her into His family when he addressed her as “daughter.” He declared her ceremonially clean, allowing her to reenter the synagogue and be reunited with her family. She was completely healed, cleansed and reunited!
Every interruption is divine. And when he stopped to heal the woman, He knew it would not take away from His healing the dying, now dead daughter of the prominent synagogue official.
It is the woman’s tiny seed of faith that made her whole – faith in the only One with the power to heal and the grace to welcome her into the family of God. She may not have known much about the Healer, but her faith gave her the impetus to think that if she just touched the hem of his garment she would be made whole. It was all she thought she needed.
As soon as Jesus declares the woman clean and sends her on her way, messengers come up to Jairus to tell him not to bother with the Healer. His daughter has died. Don’t you know Jairus is so heart- broken and about to be angry with this unimportant woman and the time wasted in dealing with her.
But Jesus draws Jairus’ attention to Him. Look at me, He seems to say, not at the messengers, not at the crowd. Focus right now on Me. “Don’t be afraid,” Jesus tells Jairus. “Only believe.”
They head for Jairus’ home, Jesus also giving His disciples instructions. “Peter, James, and John. You’re with me. The rest of you disciples deal with crowd control.”
Jesus enters the home of Jairus and his family, asks the paid mourners to leave – their loud wailing is causing such a raucous! He goes into the room of the daughter and speaks to her. “Little girl, I say to you, arise!” She sits up and Jesus looks at her, I’m so sure, with tenderness and compassion, as he instructs her mother to give her daughter something to eat.
Both Jairus and the woman with the issue of blood had hope. Their approach was different; Jairus fell right in front of Jesus’ feet. The woman snuck up behind him. Both were shown grace and mercy because both displayed even a mustard seed of faith as they sought out Jesus. They had the hope that is confident, though unseen. They had heard just enough about this Healer that drew them to Him in their utter desperate attempt for healing, both for his daughter and for her.
And in His grace and mercy, their needs were met. I believe both Jairus and the woman went away with more than healing. Their hope and their belief in Jesus deepened. They now believed. They praised and worshiped Jesus the rest of their lives.
This week, as we contemplate hope, what does your hope look like? Would yours look like the crowd’s hope? Hoping for surface needs like food or entertainment to be addressed? Is your hope earnest? Are you hoping for Jesus to take care of urgent needs of your loved one? Is your hope desperate? Are you in need of divine healing? Or is it even a hope that He will save your soul? A loved one’s soul?
Jesus doesn’t care who you are. He doesn’t care if you’re timid and shy, young or old, a leader or an outcast. He knows you, loves you, cares about your needs and fears and crises, and is ready to help. He listens to your up-front, head-on pleas and He senses hopeful hearts at the back of the line and behind the door. Your personality, your temperament, your status, nor even (especially) your sinful history make a difference to Him. Each of you are a divine interruption; He will make the time to enter your heart and world. All you need is a tiny mustard seed of faith.
Father, may you make Yourself known to those seekers of You this season. Draw them under Your wing as You provide the Hope they need, and may their belief in You be real and deepen more as they give You the praise for sending Your Son to be the Savior of All.
In Your name, Amen.