Friday, June 26, 2015

Seek the help and the face of Heaven


This week’s Gospel (Mark 5:21-43) has two stories: one about a woman with an issue of hemorrhaging, the other about a little girl and the love of her father who would not let her die. The section picks up after Jesus returns from Gentile territory and the healing of the demonic on the far side of the lake (Mark 5.1-20). In his absence, the popularity of Jesus has not abated in the life of the Jewish community. Many people were seeking Jesus out, including the two people that come seeking him in the Gospel.

First there is Jairus. He has a little, beloved daughter – not quite yet a woman. She is sick and she is near death. Only help from heaven will save her from death. This is why Jairus goes looking for Jesus and when he finds Jesus, he pleads earnestly for him to heal his daughter. It is interesting that Jairus is seen and known to be a powerful man in the life of his family, his community and his nation and yet he is powerless to help his daughter. How the mighty must fall in the face of the things they cannot buy, cannot control and cannot coerce into their own worldview.

The amazing thing is that it does not take too much for Jairus to convince Jesus that he should do this for him.   Jesus is not only willing to go he is ready to go; immediately. I suspect that Jairus, being strong and powerful, was ready to do anything to get Jesus to respond to him and save his little girl. Therefore, I suspect there was some surprise at having Jesus ready to go.

Then, as they are making their way to Jairus’ house, something happens. Someone touches him and his healed - woman who had been hemorrhaging for 12 years. Like Jairus, she was a person of means and importance and she had been used by many who had tried to heal her. She had spent her fortune, lost her husband, family friends and her faith because she was constantly “unclean”. And because she had lost all these people, she had lost her heritage and chance at family, and she as a consequence, lost her nation. She was spent physically, emotionally, financially and spiritually. But she had this one last hope: if she could get to Jesus and touch the hem of his robe she would be healed. She reached him. She reached out for the hem of his robe and touched him, and she was healed.

It is at this point that Jesus stops and asks a question, “Who touched me?” And with what I discern as being a certain amount of sarcasm from one of the disciples because of the crowd pressing into see, hear and touch Jesus, comes the reply, “With all these people, you want to know who touched you? That’s nuts!” So Jesus asked again, “Who touched me?” and the unnamed woman comes forward, with fear and trembling and expecting wrath for touching Jesus because she was unclean. What she got was not wrath and indignation, but acknowledgement that she was cured and was being given a chance to confess her faith in Christ, her healer.

Reaching Jairus’ house, they find that the little daughter has died and the mourners had arrived to do their thing, weeping and wailing, especially wailing. Remember the boat and the commotion on the Sea of Galilee? Why do you still have no faith? (Mark 4.35-41) When Jesus questioned the uproar, I think he was challenging the disciples with him (Peter, James and John) to recognize and connect that moment and this moment and the people who come as mourners laughed at Jesus when he declared the little girl not beyond help.  But first Jesus put the mourners outside.  

And to reassure the parents and the disciples, when the little girl got up, he asked them to feed her because being dead does tend to make one hungry for the living God. It also proved that she was not a ghost and that she was indeed alive.

What matters most in all this is two things: (1) How willing are you to get people, including yourself to a place or a position where you know you are in God’s presence? (2) Have you ever noticed that the people who have been with Jesus, that his presence shows and shines in their faces? So will you be that kind of person this week, someone through whom Christ shines?


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