A few years ago the primetime TV show “What would you do?” caught my attention. Have you seen it? The premise of the show is to see how individuals will respond to certain scenarios. On one occasion, the producer placed a wallet on the table at a local restaurant as if it has been left behind by a customer. Would the waitress turn it in or keep it for herself? Would other customers who observed it bring it to the attention of the manager. You get the point. What would you do?
This next event that we take a look at in Jesus Ministry is very much like that show, only it wasn’t a set-up. Found in Luke Chapter 8, beginning in verse 40, it was a life or death situation for a 12 year old girl. What would you do? Who would you turn to if you were about to lose the most important person in your life to disease….your only daughter and you knew the only one who could help was coming to town later that day?
Let’s say you work up the courage to go to Jesus with your need only to be interrupted by someone else answering a similar question in her life.
Her issue? What would you do if all your life - church was such an important part, it was where you shared community, worshiped God, found peace and hope for another day, yet for the last 12 years you were considered an outcast, told not to be out in public - in particular worship, all because of an illness that you had no control over? What would you do if you believed the cure for your isolation was in the center of a mob that if they discovered you would turn on you and stone you for accidently touching them on your way to the cure?
In Luke Chapter 8, Jesus and his disciples return to the town of Capernaum to a crowd that was waiting to see Him. They were expecting his arrival. As with any crowd, there were those who were simply curious, others who were skeptical, but there were also those who were beginning to believe. They had witnessed his power and even experienced healing in some of their lives and relationships.
Luke tells us that in the crowd that day were two people who dared to reached out to Jesus with specific needs – One a father named Jairus whose 12 year old daughter was sick. The other, a nameless woman who came silently through the crowd for healing.
Luke makes a special point of letting us know who this desperate father Jairus was. Jairus is the leader in the local synagogue. Jairus choosing to go to Jesus would be like a respected leader of one of today’s mainline denominations – the Southern Baptist Convention, the Methodist or Presbyterian church, a Cardinal or Bishop in the Catholic Church, going to a tent pitched on the outskirts of town and asking for help from a traveling faith healer. It’s not very likely going to happen, unless that respected person’s son or daughter were dying and conventional medicine had been ineffective.
That’s the situation in which Jairus, leader of the local synagogue found himself when Jesus came to town. Jesus was from lowly Nazareth, seemingly a nobody from nowhere. But Jairus was a desperate man and his desperation drove him to ask for help from this unlikely person. And let me tell you, Jesus is okay with that.
The Apostle Peter later wrote: “you can Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)(NIV) And that’s exactly what Jairus did. He reached out for Jesus and Jesus reached back.
Can you imagine his excitment? I’m sure Jairus wanted to clear the streets, have a police escort. He wanted to get Jesus to his house as quickly as possible. Yet they were surrounded by this crowd that was now growing and still following, bumping and jostling around, still waiting to catch a glimpse of another miracle as they slowly continued down the narrow street now headed toward Jairus’ home.
When we come to Jesus in our time of need, He patiently walks with us. He doesn’t walk ahead of us, not behind us, He doen’t let our need get swallowed up by the millions of needs that come before his throne every moment. Instead He walks with us no matter the crowd, no matter how seemingly big or small our need is. Even when we are weak in our faith and understanding of who He is and the Power He possesses, he walks with us. The old song says: “There’s not a friend like the lowly Jesus, no not one, no not one. Jesus knows all about our trouble, He will guide till the day is done. There’s not a friend like the lowly Jesus, no not one, no not one.”
Tell me, when is it that we make this discovery with Jesus? Is it when we are immediately healed of our disease or our need or it in going the distance with Him? I’ve experienced both and let me tell you this discovery is made over time. It is in faithfully walking with Jesus sometimes a great distance through relapses, recurrences of cancer, the loss of those we love, that this discovery is made – that Jesus is there, He is walking with us and He is transforming us minute by minute.
Jesus walks with Jairus toward his home with this growing crowd bustling around them, but notice in Jairus world it is just Him and Jesus, when all of sudden in verse 46 Jesus stops right in the middle of this narrow street and says “Who touched me?”
This time, the person who had reached out to Jesus in her time of need wasn’t a person of position. She wasn’t surrounded by people willing to help. In fact, it was just the opposite – she was totally isolated from everyone.
Maybe she had seen Jairus make his plea and knew his need was urgent and so all she wanted to do was touch Jesus clothing, she knew that would be enough. But there was more to it. For as long as Jairus’ daughter had been alive, this woman had been bleeding. According to the social and religious law of the day, when a woman was bleeding she was considered unclean. She was to be socially isolated. A week of isolation was bad enough. But for 672 weeks straight, 12 long years, she was alone, she was as good as barren because she was not permitted to be with her husband. Spiritually cut off from the temple, embarrassed, rejected, isolated, ostracized and if that kind of psychological wasn’t enough, she was in physical pain s well.
If you couldn’t relate to Jairus story, maybe you can relate to this woman. All of us have experienced the isolation and loneliness of broken relationships. A broken friendship, a wayward child, separation or divorce, a divided church, a lost job, a slandered reputation. The isolation and loneliness, the fear, the anger and resentment can be overwhelming. No matter what you do, at the end of the day you feel all alone.
And so, unlike Jairus who came publicly with his plea, this woman approached Jesus in the safety and anonymity of the crowd, believed to have crawled through the crowd only to reach out and touch the hem of his outer cloak and the transformation, the healing was immediate.
And just as she was slipping away, back into the crowd, that’s when Jesus stops and says “Who touched me?”
Why did it matter? Couldn't Jesus have let this woman go on her way? It wasn't that Jesus didn't know who had touched him. He wanted her to step forward and identify herself. Jesus wanted to teach her that his cloak did not contain magical properties but that her faith in him had healed her.
Faith in Jesus Christ releases God’s power in our lives.
Just as it was most unusual for a synagogue official to seek out a wandering rabbi, it was most inappropriate according to Jewish custom for a woman subject to bleeding to touch a man (Lev 15:19-28). But if you had been seriously ill for twelve years with a disease that doctors could not cure, you might set aside protocol as well. That's what this woman did. She put aside her pride, fear, and hopelessness and pushed her way through the crowd until she could touch Jesus. That’s what faith looks like. Would you have done that? Or would you have let doubt or vanity or worry over what others might think keep you back? Verse 47 says “that when the woman realized she couldn’t go unnoticed she came forward, trembling, and fell down before Jesus. She declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him." This was not a simple act of faith, she would have to explain how she — unclean and filled with a dreadful disease — had come in among the crowd, had reached out and touched a man (a rabbi) in her unclean state, and had hoped to slip away. All these were huge infractions of social laws and would have probably been grounds for punishment.
In Verse 48 Jesus makes it clear that Her Faith is what unlocked this power in her situation. Just as your faith unlocks His power in your life. But notice the true gift that Jesus unlocks in her life – Peace. "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace." Jesus called her daughter, revealing the relationship they now have. She came for healing and received it, but she also received a relationship and peace with God himself because of her faith. Jesus explained that it was not his clothing that had healed her; rather, her faith in reaching out to the one Person who could heal her had allowed that healing to take place. With this healing, Jesus gave this woman her life back. But more importantly, eternal salvation for her soul.
But what about Jairus’ daughter? Can you imagine being Jairus and standing there taking all of this in. The panic in his heart, wanting to drag Jesus on down the road with him. Time was running out. And then in verse 49, the worst thing that could happen to a dad happened. Someone came and said “it’s too late, your daughter is dead…” There is no more hope.
And some of us have been right where Jairus was. Our situation seemed too desperate, too far gone. All we had were regrets. If only the disease had been found sooner. If only we had been there in time. If only I had been a better father or mother, a better friend, husband or wife. If only I had been more focused. If only I had tried harder. If only I had reached out sooner….
But Jesus used this opportunity to do something that day for Jairus that he did for the woman who had been bleeding for 12 years that he will do for you and me today. He reached out to this dad and he touched him in verse 50 when he said “Don’t be afraid, just believe…”
Death is inevitable, but loss of hope is not.
Scripture doesn’t say Jairus took off running with Jesus to the house. It doesn’t say if Jairus smiled and said “I believe you Jesus. ” Verse 51 simply indicates they kept walking. Write this down: “Hope keeps walking even when the Satan does his best toward us in death.” You don’t have to lose hope. They keep walking until they arrived at the house now surrounded by people crying and mourning the death of this little girl.
When Jesus arrives, he doesn’t bust through the crowd and rush in. Instead he gathered the family close to him. Verse 51 says Jesus didn’t let anyone go into the house with him except for Jairus and his wife, along with Peter, James and John. What was once a very public scene between Jairus and Jesus, becomes very personal and private.
Once inside the house, verse 54 says “Jesus took the daughter by the hand and said “My Child get up!” Her spirit returned, and at once she stood.”
Now this is important. When Jesus chooses not to heal you of cancer. When Jesus chooses not to intercede and your child dies at the hands of a drunk driver or disease. When your spouse says “No, I don’t want to fix our marriage even though you have pleaded with God for it to be made whole.” When you are 45 and still single even though you have saved yourself for marriage. When death seems inevitable, does that mean that your faith was simply too weak? No. It simply means that there is more to what is going on than what is seen at the moment and you need to trust. You need to remain faithful. You need to lean into hope.
When you’ve been down in the gutter of life, beaten down by work, sickness, trouble at home, the loss of someone close to you, seemingly without hope. When the relationships that matter most seem to be crumbling around you – Jesus longs to take your hand and say “Get Up!” “Get up and let me hold you up until you have the strength to go on again.” “Get up and reach out to these people in your life with the same courage with which you reached out to me, except this time let Me help you.” This is what we are going to celebrate in just a couple of weeks. That death has no victory because of what Jesus has done.
Two distinctly different people. Jairus, a well known man, a religious man, who came publicly. The second, a nameless woman totally isolated by her situation who came privately in the safety and security of a crowd. But what these two people had in common was that they reached out to the one who would reach out them. Their lives were touched and forever changed.
With the popularity of the show “What would you do?”, it got me thinking a few years ago that I need to settle once and for all what I would do if faced with the various situations that the show presented. You don’t wait until the situation arises and then let your heart lead you… The bible says our hearts are deceptive. For you and me 1 Peter 3:15 says “But in your heart, set apart Christ as Lord..” (1 Peter 3:15a)(NIV) Always be prepared to give an answer for the Hope you have. Have you done that? Have you decided once and for all that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. Have you accepted Him as Savior and Lord of your life? If you have say this with me: “I believe, you’re my healer….” I believe, Jesus you’re all I need…..” If you haven’t, then come this weekend and accept Him. Come to Him for healing. Either way, don’t let this moment pass you by.