Sunday, September 22, 2019

ON THE ROAD TO THE HOUSE OF JAIRUS


People often have the idea that when Jesus was on earth, he spent most of the time going around condemning people of their sins and telling them to repent.

That was not the case. When Jesus walked around the countryside and in the cities of Israel and Samaria, he brought with him healing and provision. He lifted the suffering ones out of their misery and gave food to the hungry.

It is true that he also sometimes spoke words of condemnation, but these were seldom spoken to the common man or woman. The great majority of his words of reprimand were spoken to those men who held themselves up as the leaders of their religion—those who had a self-righteous attitude and considered others as less “holy” than themselves.


For the person in the street however, Jesus had compassion. They were to him, “like sheep without a shepherd.” People came to him to be healed of their diseases and to be fed in their hunger. They saw Jesus as someone who understood their needs and who was willing to help them. In addition to that, he was someone who could help them and did help them.

Up until his very last week on the earth, people most often saw Jesus as one who could save them from present distresses. They may not have understood all the implications of what Jesus was beginning to teach them, but they were happy to follow him.

Except for the opinion that the religious leaders had of Jesus, he was not really a controversial figure. People may have wondered about him and they often did not comprehend all that he was saying, but they saw Jesus as someone who would help them.

Even a few of the religious leaders of the day saw him in this way. There was Nicodemus, who was one of the premier teachers of the religious law of that day, who came to Jesus by night so that he could speak to Jesus undetected. There was Joseph of Arimathia, who especially showed his devotion to Jesus in the days of his crucifixion. 

Jairus

And there was Jairus. Jairus was a synagogue official. Although we do not know for certain all that his responsibilities entailed, the fact that he was associated with the synagogue demonstrated his connection with the religious leaders of the day.

But Jairus was in a bad situation. His little daughter was sick, in fact, she was extremely sick—even at the point of death. This is what Jairus told Jesus when he came to him. Jairus fell at the feet of Jesus. “Come and lay your hands on her,” he implored Jesus, “so that she may be made well and live.”

Without discussion, Jesus started back with Jairus.

As I said, at this time in his ministry, Jesus had a very great following. As the two men started back to the house of Jairus, many people followed along, so many in fact that it became difficult to walk. What was more, it seemed that people were not content merely to follow, but they wanted to get as close to Jesus as they could. They were pressing in on him from all sides. 

The Woman with the Hemorrhage

There was one particular woman in that crowd who was there with a special mission. She had suffered from a continual hemorrhage for an astounding twelve years. We do not know the nature of this hemorrhage, only that it was the result of a disease. Her condition had exacted a tremendous toll upon her, not only in her body, but also financially. She had spent all of her money on physicians, trying to find a cure. It had not helped. In fact, her condition not only had not improved, but it had gotten worse.

Then someone told her that Jesus was walking nearby and was on his way to the house of Jairus. She had heard about Jesus and thought to herself, “If I can manage to touch even his garments, I will be made well.”

I sometimes have wondered how this thought entered her mind. What would have caused her to believe that touching the garments of Jesus would cure her of her condition? It was true that Jesus had healed many by his touch, but these were to people who had come to ask him for healing or that he had selected to heal. No one had been healed simply by touching the robes of Jesus.

Jairus had come to Jesus to fall at his feet and ask for healing for his daughter. The woman would also fall at the feet of Jesus, but her thought was different. She was going to seek healing by stealth, as it were. She was going to try to be healed and remain undetected.

But there was a difficulty in this for her. It was not a simple matter of coming up to Jesus from behind and touching him, for there was a throng of people around him as he walked along. To the woman in her weakened condition, these other people represented great obstacles to her purpose. The people in the crowd were pushing against one another as jostling for position. All wanted to be near to Jesus. All had their own purposes.

But none had a purpose greater than that of the woman. Despite her weakness, in her determination and desperation, she maneuvered and fought her way in the direction of Jesus. At last, she was near. She could not get right next to him, but she slipped her arm in between two men and managed to just touch the garment of Jesus. 

The Touch of Faith

With that touch, astounding things happened. First of all, her hemorrhage, which must have been constant, immediately stopped. The woman experienced an instantaneous healing in her body.

Secondly, Jesus also immediately stopped. He had been walking along with Jairus and the thong of the multitude when he abruptly came to a halt. “Who touched my garments?” he asked.

To the disciples, the question was almost ridiculous. “Master,” they responded, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and you say, ‘who touched me?’”

But they did not know the manner of touch that Jesus was talking about. He was not talking about an accidental touch, but a touch of faith. Jesus was talking about someone who reached out not to touch someone famous so that they could tell their friends that they touched Jesus, but someone who reached out in desperation—someone who knew Jesus was their last and only hope. He was talking about someone who reached out in search of the power of God. That was the power that Jesus felt going out from him.

The woman saw that she did not escape detection, so in the presence of all in the crowd, she explained why she had done what she did, and how she had been immediately healed.

“Daughter,” Jesus said to her, “your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”

It is the only time in Scripture were Jesus called someone “daughter.” 

Our Own Reach of Touch

I would like to just take a moment to talk about our own manner of reaching out to Jesus. Jesus actually talked about this very often, as did the early apostles.

What is our manner of reaching out to Jesus? I am sure that many who were in that crowd on that day were there only because it seemed like the popular thing to do at the moment. I am sure that there were also people in the crowd who were there simply because Jesus was a person of some distinction—and who does not want to be associated with someone like that?

I am certain that there were also people who were seeking answers—those who were unconvinced that the teachings of the Jewish religious leaders were complete, or perhaps were even misleading. There was something about the words of Jesus that struck a chord of truth with them, and they wanted to learn more.

But there were only two people in that crowd that day who were desperate. Jairus had come to Jesus in desperation for his daughter, and the woman knew that Jesus was her only hope of ebbing the flow of life from her body. It was the woman who, with a hand of faith, reached out and touched Jesus.

So the question is, when you reach out to touch Jesus, what is the motivation of your touch? Do you do it because it is the popular thing to do? I honestly doubt that this might be the reason today. It may have one time been true in our society, but it is no longer the case. It is increasingly unpopular in our society to be a Christian. Even by the act of going to church on a Sunday morning we demonstrate that we do not care a great deal of what the larger society thinks of us.

If that is not the reason, what is it? Do you reach out to touch Jesus because you have some unsettling questions in your life that you think that only he can answer? If so, I think that this is a noble reason. Any who are spiritually honest with themselves, as well as intellectually honest, must do this. If we are seeking answers in our lives, our search cannot be complete without studying and internalizing the teachings of Jesus. It is not only an intellectual search; it is also spiritual. There are answers that only Jesus can provide. 

The Touch of Desperation

But how many of us reach out in desperation to touch Jesus? How many of us have come to the point where we see that there is absolutely no life without Jesus? Oh, it may be that we are able to struggle along in life for a while, but all the time the very essence of our lives is flowing out of us and we have no way to stop it. We have tried many methods and may at times even have seen this flow diminished somewhat. This gave us a little hope, but then one morning we woke up to see our life force again flowing from us.

How many of us have reached the point of desperation that the woman in the crowd had? There are many ways to touch Jesus, but until we have the touch of desperation, our life will continue to diminish. Life will flow out of us. We need the healing power of Jesus to come into us. This may mean in a physical nature, it may be in an emotional or spiritual nature, or it may be in a relationship, but without Jesus, we can only apply Band-Aids. Even if we can hide the flow for a time, without a touch from Jesus, it will continue. 

The Daughter

For the daughter of Jairus, as Jesus and her father were on their way to the house but still on the road, all life had left her. As Jesus was speaking to the woman who had been healed of her hemorrhage, some people came from the house of Jairus to tell him what had happened. “Your daughter is dead,” they told him. “Why trouble the Teacher further?”

It seemed reasonable. She was dead—why continue?

Jesus must not have been standing right with Jairus at this time, but he overheard the conversation. He simply said to Jairus, “Do not fear, only believe.”

At this point, Jesus did not allow the crowd to continue with them. Only Peter, James and John continued down the road with Jesus and Jairus as they went to where the little girl had died.

When they arrived at the house, they were met with a “great commotion,” as the text puts it. Family and friends were there, weeping and wailing loudly. The little girl had died, and only twelve years old!

When Jesus entered the house, he said to all of these people, “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping.” 

Sleep

The term “sleeping” in this context is usually used for a euphemism for death. However, because Jesus said that she was not dead but only sleeping, I suppose that it might be a possibility that the girl was not actually clinically dead, but had only slipped into some sort of coma.

If so, there must have been absolutely no sign of life, since her family really believed her to be dead, and indeed, we do not know precisely the condition. I am inclined to think that she actually was dead, but by telling the people that she was only sleeping, Jesus was trying to downplay the miracle that he was about to perform.

After he had raised the girl back to life, he instructed the people to tell no one. For reasons that are not entirely clear, Jesus did not want this notoriety at that time. The news of raising someone from the dead certainly could not be contained, and the reason he told them that the child was only sleeping was because he was hoping that they might indeed honor his request in not spreading the word about what he had done.

In his time on earth, Jesus seemed to have a sense of timing for things to happen at their proper moment. At one point at the beginning of his ministry, Jesus’ brothers urged him to go to a festival in Jerusalem and let the good works that he was doing be known to the multitude.

“No one who wants to be known publicly acts in secret,” they told him. “Since You are doing these things, show yourself to the world.”

Jesus answered them, “My time has not yet come… I am not going up to this feast, because my time has not yet come.” (John 7:4-8) 

When the people around the little girl heard Jesus say that she was not dead but only sleeping, they just laughed. This was not a laughter of hilarity, but one of disbelief. Even a laughter of fear.

Remember that Jesus had told Jairus, “Do not fear—only believe.”

Jesus put these people who were laughing out of the room. He went into the room where the child laid, allowing with him only her father and mother, and the disciples who were with him. When they were alone with the girl, he took her by the hand.

The desperation of the little girl was greater than that of the woman on the road. The woman, as weak as she was, still was able to make her way through the throng of people to reach Jesus and to reach out her hand to touch the garment of Jesus.

The little girl could not. She lay in her bed lifeless. Her desperation was so great that it had to be Jesus who would reach out his own hand.

He gave to her his touch and said to her, “Talitha cumi,” which is Aramaic. This is probably the language most commonly spoken by Jesus. It means, “Little girl, arise.”

At the very moment, that is what the little girl did. She rose to her feet and began to walk around. Understandably, Jairus and his wife were astounded, as were all who were present.

“Give her something to eat,” Jesus instructed the parents.

And despite the strict orders that Jesus gave to all of them to tell no one of the incident, this was news that could not be contained. It spread throughout the entire region. 

Fear and Belief

When Jairus had received the report of his young daughter’s death, fear gripped him. We cannot know the mind of this father, but he had gone to get Jesus to come to his house so that his little girl would be saved. He believed in Jesus.

Then, when the report of her death reached him, the old fear returned to him. “Do not fear,” Jesus said. “Only believe.”

The woman with the hemorrhage also lived in fear. She was afraid even to come to Jesus publicly to seek healing, so she instead decided to do it secretively. Even after she had been healed, when Jesus let it be known that he wanted to know who had touched him, she came to him “trembling in fear.”

Jesus said to her, “Take courage daughter. Your faith has made you well.” 

It is a dichotomy and a contradiction that we all face. Fear and belief. In our better moments, it is easier to believe. We have confidence that God can make all things right. However, when bad news arrives at our door, fear begins to grip us. Jesus would also tell us, “Do not fear, only believe.” 

The Enemy of Belief

The healings that Jesus did were for several reasons. He felt pity for the suffering of people, of course, and that is one of the reasons that he healed. But there was more. Jesus was giving people also a reason to believe that he was the promised Messiah, the one who was prophesied in the Old Testament to bring healing not only to bodies, but also and especially to our souls.

John wrote of Jesus, “[He] did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:30-31 ESV).

When we speak of healing, we usually take the short view. There is a cancer, and we want to be healed. There is a handicap, and we want to be healed. We pray for healing, and that is understandable and it is good. Jesus can and does heal.

But perhaps we should think more of praying for belief. Jairus believed in Jesus, but when upsetting news came, he began to fear. Fear is the enemy of belief and if we are not careful, fear can grip us. What we need to protect more than our health and our very lives is our belief.

When we speak of healing, perhaps we should begin to take the long view instead of the short view. God is in the process of producing something in us, something that will last for eternity. Fear will hinder in this process. It is only an unfailing belief that will endure.
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Because he loves Me, I will deliver him;
because he knows My name, I will protect him.
When he calls out to Me, I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble. I will deliver and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him and show him My salvation. (Psalm 91:14-16 BSB)

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