Back in January, we began our current message series – following the life and ministry of Jesus from birth to resurrection – from Christmas to Easter. And since we are trying to condense all of this into a fairly short timeline – from Christmas to Easter – it’s been a challenge to decided exactly what parts of Jesus’ life and ministry to include in our study. A more in-depth look at the life of Christ could easily take several years worth of sermons to fully explore, but we’re trying to fit it all into a 4 month window. So what do we include and what to we leave out?
Well, so far, we’ve covered the early life of Jesus and the beginnings of his public ministry – and we’ll certainly give some significant attention to his final days as he journeys to the cross – but for this middle part, I’d like to just give us a sampling of what Jesus’ ministry typically looked like.
Last week we touched on how crowds of people followed Jesus everywhere – and while Jesus often tried to get some time away by Himself to relax and reconnect with his Heavenly Father – none-the-less, He always seemed to have time to minister to people. He had incredible compassion for them and always provided for their needs! Sometimes in miraculous ways – such as feeding 5000 men and their families with just 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish! But of course, more importantly than meeting their physical needs, Jesus came to address their real spiritual needs. He hadn’t come just to feed them fish and bread – but he had come to feed them the Bread of Life! He had come to offer Himself as the sacrifice for their sin so that they could have eternal life through faith in Him.
Of course, at this point, the crowds of people didn’t understand that – all they knew is that Jesus had incredible compassion and love for them – and that He had met their physical needs in an amazing way!
And so today, I want to look at a similar but slightly different aspect of Christ’s compassion for people and how he met their needs. This time not by providing food for the hungry, but this time by providing healing for the sick and the suffering.
And I do confess that today’s story will be slightly out of order on our timeline – we’re actually jumping back in time just a little bit before the feeding of the 5,000 – and so I probably should have switched these two sermons around and done this one first – but hopefully, you can make that adjustment in your notes and we won’t be too confused.
Our passage begins in Mark chapter 5 – and we’ll begin reading at verse 21.
21 Jesus got into the boat again and went back to the other side of the lake, where a large crowd gathered around him on the shore. 22 Then a leader of the local synagogue, whose name was Jairus, arrived. When he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet, 23 pleading fervently with him. “My little daughter is dying,” he said. “Please come and lay your hands on her; heal her so she can live.”
24 Jesus went with him, and all the people followed, crowding around him.
This scene fits quite well with that we’ve noted already about Jesus’ public ministry – specifically, that crowds of people were always coming to Jesus – not only to hear him teach, but to witness and experience the miraculous things that He did. If you back up and read the first part of this chapter, you’d see that Jesus had just cast a legion of demons out of a man and sent them into a herd of pigs. And in the chapter before that, Jesus was out on the lake in a fierce storm and had commanded the winds and waves to be still – and they obeyed Him! So Jesus was getting quite a reputation for doing amazing things and so people from all over came to see and experience Jesus for themselves!
And on this particular day, as the crowds once again gathered around Jesus, a man named Jairus arrived. As verse 22 tells us, this man was a leader of the local synagogue. To put that in our modern context, you could think of this guy as one of the elders of the church or perhaps even the local pastor. He certainly would have been quite well-known and well-respected in his Jewish community. In fact, he probably carried more clout in his community than most local pastors today.
And given how most religious leaders back then reacted to Jesus, it’s almost a bit surprising that someone like this would come see him. As you read through the Gospels, it seems most religious leaders back then didn’t have much affection for Jesus – as Jesus often called them out on their self-righteousness and hypocrisy. Not to say that was necessarily the case for Jairus – but typically, the teachings and the practices of Jesus often rubbed religious leaders the wrong way!
But Jairus has not come to just listen to Jesus teach – but he has a much more urgent agenda. His daughter was at home… dying. Now we have no idea what the specific issue was – whether she was sick with some disease or perhaps there had been an accident of some sort – but whatever the cause, this little girl was in a most serious situation. If something didn’t change soon, it was clear that she would die.
And so Jairus came to Jesus, fell at his feet and pleaded with him to come, lay his hands on his daughter so that she would be healed and would live.
Despite the negative reports that Jairus may have heard about Jesus, Jairus obviously believed that Jesus had the power to heal his daughter! And so he pleaded with him to save his daughter’s life!
And for those of us who have kids, we can probably relate to the urgency and the desperation that his man felt for his daughter! If you’re a parent, chances are, somewhere along the way, you’ve had those moments where you’ve had a child who has been seriously injured or serious sick. I’ve had a few of those moments myself! And it’s a most helpless and desperate feeling to know that you could lose your child and there’s nothing you can do about it.
So I can certainly empathize with Jairus as he comes and pleads with Jesus to come – work a miracle to save his daughter’s life!
And of course, Jesus, too, has great empathy and compassion for Jairus. As we saw last week, our God is a God of compassion and mercy! Compassion is one of His defining characteristics! And so naturally, Jesus stops whatever else he was doing and he goes with Jairus to see and heal his daughter. And of course, the crowd of people, who are all eager to see this great miracle – go right along with them – crowding in close to Jesus, as not to miss a thing he says or does!
But it’s here that our story takes a little twist – or at least, a little detour. Let’s read on in verse 25…
25 A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding. 26 She had suffered a great deal from many doctors, and over the years she had spent everything she had to pay them, but she had gotten no better. In fact, she had gotten worse. 27 She had heard about Jesus, so she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his robe. 28 For she thought to herself, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.” 29 Immediately the bleeding stopped, and she could feel in her body that she had been healed of her terrible condition.
So this is pretty interesting. Here we have this woman in the crowd who had suffered from chronic bleeding for the last 12 years. And it says that she had suffered a great deal – not just from her condition – but from the many doctors who had tried to heal her! Now, I don’t know exactly what kind of prescriptions and procedures these doctors would have attempted in order to heal this woman – but based on what I know of ancient medicine, I can understand how she could have suffered a great deal under their care! Some of those ancient procedures and practices were pretty brutal!
And, as we just read, none of them worked! In fact, just they made things worse! So now, this poor lady is worst off than she was at first, AND she had no money because she spent everything she had to pay these doctors who didn’t help!
But like Jairus, this woman had heard about Jesus and had become convinced that Jesus could heal her! However, unlike Jairus, she was not bold enough to approach Jesus and ask for healing. After all, NOT ONLY was she a woman (who had very little status or respect back then) – but she was also unclean because of her bleeding. By Jewish law, her condition made her ceremonially unclean and anything or anyone she touched would also become unclean.
And this was a big deal, because anyone who was unclean was not allowed to participate in worship or offer sacrifices, they could not enter the temple – they were really cut off from both God and fellowship with their fellow Israelites.
So when you think about it, this woman was really the opposite of Jairus!
- He was well-respected and well-known – she was an unclean nobody – (the Bible doesn’t even record her name!)
- He was a central figure in the religious community – teaching the Bible and leading Jewish worship – she hadn’t been allowed to worship with her friends and family for years. She could only watch from afar!
These two people were completely on opposite ends of the spectrum!
But yet, both of them found themselves in desperate need of the compassion and healing power of Jesus.
And really, that’s common ground for all of us! Even here in this congregation, we are all very different people who come from very different backgrounds. We have very different social circles and even hold some very different beliefs and values! But yet, all of us are in desperate need of the compassion and healing power of Jesus!
Not only do we have all kinds of physical and emotional hurts – but we are all born with the terminal disease of sin – and we all suffer constantly from the effects of sin in our lives and in the world! I’m sure we could all make quite a list of ways that we have suffered because of our own sinful choices or the sinful choices of others. All of us are in desperate need of the compassion and healing power of Jesus!
But thankfully, that’s exactly what Jesus came to provide for us. The prophet Isaiah wrote about this even before Jesus came to earth. He said….
5 But he was pierced for our rebellion,
crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
He was whipped so we could be healed.
6 All of us, like sheep, have strayed away.
We have left God’s paths to follow our own.
Yet the Lord laid on him
the sins of us all.
Peter says virtually the same thing in 1 Peter 2:24…
24 He personally carried our sins
in his body on the cross
so that we can be dead to sin
and live for what is right.
By his wounds
you are healed.
1 Peter 2:24
Christ came to bring us healing! He came to give us the one thing that we all desperately need!
I was reminded this week as war broke out in Ukraine – that we live in such a broken, hurting world! Sadly, wars on planet earth are nothing new! The disease of sin has ravaged this earth continually for centuries! But Christ came to bring us healing! To put an end to sin and death and all of it’s terrible consequences!
As we all suffer the wounds of sin, Jesus came to bring us healing! He took our wounds upon himself so that we could be healed! And I am so thankful that He did! I am thankful for the healing that he’s brought into my life already – and I’m thankful that I can look forward to a day when the wounds of sin on earth will be healed completely. When there will be no more death or tears, or crying, or pain (as Revelation 20 tells us) – all these things will be gone forever! What a day that will be!
But you know, even as we wait for that day to come, we can take comfort in knowing that even now, Jesus is in the business of healing our wounds! And this is exactly what we see as we continue our story. As we already read – this woman…
…came up behind him through the crowd and touched his robe. 28 For she thought to herself, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.” 29 Immediately the bleeding stopped, and she could feel in her body that she had been healed of her terrible condition.
30 Jesus realized at once that healing power had gone out from him, so he turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my robe?”
31 His disciples said to him, “Look at this crowd pressing around you. How can you ask, ‘Who touched me?’”
32 But he kept on looking around to see who had done it.
There are several interesting things that we could point out in these verses. And I’ll try to go through them fairly quickly.
- It’s interesting that the woman was healed simply by touching Jesus’ robe – we don’t see that happening anywhere else in Jesus’ ministry. Usually it’s Jesus touching them or Jesus’ words that bring healing – but this time, the woman just touched his robe and was healed. Which leads me to the second interesting thing.
- It’s interesting that Jesus didn’t seem to intentionally heal this woman – but he realized that healing power had gone out from him. This isn’t to say that Jesus had magic clothes or anything like that – but rather, it shows us that it’s actually God who is doing the healing though Jesus. God is behind every miracle. This is why we see the Apostles doing miracles throughout the book of Acts – they weren’t doing the miracles – but God was doing the miracles through them. And so in this case, God had done a miracle through Jesus, even though Jesus didn’t seem to be aware of it until after the fact.
So now that Jesus realizes that God had done a miracle through him, he stops and looks around to see who had been the recipient of that miracle.
Of course, the disciples had no idea what was going on – they thought Jesus was crazy to ask “who touched me?” while being surrounded so tightly by the crowd. But Jesus knew exactly what had happened and so he kept looking to see who had touched his robe.
And just before we read what happened next, I want to pause here to consider for a moment how Jairus must have been feeling about this interruption right now. Remember, his daughter is laying at home dying… Her situation is dire – She could pass away at any moment. This is an incredibly urgent matter! And Jesus has stopped in the middle of the road – and he’s trying to figure out who touched him!?! “Come one Jesus! Who cares who touched you!?!? Probably 20 people touched you – let’s keep going!”
Can you imagine how frustrating this delay must have been for Jairus!
But yet, Jesus doesn’t seem to be rushed. He’s in no panic. He doesn’t seem to be worried at all – all he’s concerned about right now is that he finds out who touched his robe!
And by the way – that’s often how God works. While we’re in a total panic – feeling like God needs to act right now – God often delays his response. He does things in his own way and in his own time. And while that can be incredibly frustrating for us in the moment, in the end, it always proves to be the best way! God’s delays are never pointless or without reason. He always acts in the best way at the best time.
It’s like Peter says in 2 Peter 3:8-9…
8 But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. 9 The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.
2 Peter 3:8-9
God is never slow in doing what needs to be done! He patiently and purposely does exactly what He needs to do exactly WHEN he needs to do it. Despite the urgency that we feel in any given situation, God’s timing is always best – we just need to learn to trust him!
But to get back to our story now, as Jesus continues looking for the person who touched him, we read in verse 33…
33 Then the frightened woman, trembling at the realization of what had happened to her, came and fell to her knees in front of him and told him what she had done. 34 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.”
This is such an incredible statement! After 12 years of suffering, Jesus says to this woman… “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.”
Of all the things that Jesus could have said to this woman in this moment, I don’t think there is anything she would have wanted to hear more!
Wouldn’t you love to hear those words from Jesus yourself?! “Your faith has made you well – Go in peace – your suffering is over!”
And thankfully, as believers in Christ, that’s exactly what we have to look forward to! One day, when Christ returns and makes all things new – eliminating sin and all of the pain that it brings – that’s exactly what He will say to each one of us. (Or at least some paraphrase of that…!)
Your faith in Jesus has made you well – Go in peace – your suffering is over! That’s the hope that we have in Jesus! Through Him, we are made well – we are made whole again! All the wounds of sin will be healed, and with that, comes the promise of eternal peace and our suffering will be over forever!!
What an incredible hope that we have in Jesus!
But at the same time, we need to remember, that we’re not there yet! We still live in a sin-stained world and as long as we do, there will be suffering – as we can clearly see in our world today! And in our passage, Jairus is made painfully aware of that too. Take a look at what happens next.
35 While he was still speaking to her, messengers arrived from the home of Jairus, the leader of the synagogue. They told him, “Your daughter is dead. There’s no use troubling the Teacher now.”
What a crushing blow to Jairus! I mean, he had just witnessed Jesus miraculously heal this women – telling her that she could go home in peace – her faith had healed her – her suffering was over!
But what about his daughter!? Where was her healing? Where was the miracle for her? And what about Jairus – his suffering was certainly not over – in fact, it had only increased! His daughter had died while Jesus was distracted by this woman! I can only imagine the pain and the ache in his heart that Jairus must have felt in that moment!
And perhaps you can relate to that bit. Perhaps you’ve seen Jesus do incredible things in the lives of others – but you’re still waiting for those miracles in your life. Maybe you’ve seen someone else’s marriage be completely transformed, while yours is still on the rocks… Or maybe you’ve seen someone break free of a life-long addiction – while your struggle only continues. Or maybe you’ve seen God do a miracle in clearing out someone’s cancer, while you’ve lost a loved one to the same disease!
It can be super hard to see God work miracles in someone else’s life – while at the same time, not seeing him do miracles in yours. How do we understand that? How do we work through that?
Well, let’s see what Jesus has to say to Jairus. verse 36
36 But Jesus overheard them and said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith.”
And I know that might seem like a typical “Sunday-school” answer – but it’s not me speaking – this is Jesus. And really, this is the central message of the Bible. God instructs us – God invites to trust him. To have faith in him. To believe that He is good. To believe that He is trustworthy. To believe that He really does love us.
And certainly our faith is tested when we don’t see those miracles happening in our lives. When we face those difficult circumstances that we all go through, we can be tempted to doubt God’s goodness or doubt God’s love for us.
But that’s when we need to do as Jesus instructed Jairus – “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith.” Not blind faith – but faith in a God who has proven Himself over and over.
- Faith in a God whom the Scriptures declare is good and just and perfect in everyway.
- Faith in a God who has the power to create everything out of nothing.
- Faith in a God who has demonstrated his love for you by dying on cross in your place.
That’s the God that we are told to have faith in.
And I don’t know for certain if Jairus had that kind of faith in God or not, but if he didn’t now – he soon would! Look what happens next:
37 Then Jesus stopped the crowd and wouldn’t let anyone go with him except Peter, James, and John (the brother of James). 38 When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw much commotion and weeping and wailing. 39 He went inside and asked, “Why all this commotion and weeping? The child isn’t dead; she’s only asleep.”
40 The crowd laughed at him. But he made them all leave, and he took the girl’s father and mother and his three disciples into the room where the girl was lying. 41 Holding her hand, he said to her, “Talitha koum,” which means “Little girl, get up!” 42 And the girl, who was twelve years old, immediately stood up and walked around! They were overwhelmed and totally amazed. 43 Jesus gave them strict orders not to tell anyone what had happened, and then he told them to give her something to eat.
In God’s timing and in God’s way (and for God’s purposes) – Jesus miraculously restored the life of this little girl and gave her back to her parents.
Now could Jesus have done this earlier? Could He have healed this little girl before she died? Certainly he could have! But he didn’t because He wanted to do something much greater! Something that would have a greater impact on Jairus, on his family, on the three disciples, and on the crowds, and even on you and I.
But of course, in the moment, back when the bleeding woman was healed and Jairus’ daughter wasn’t – Jairus couldn’t see that. What appeared to be neglect and uncaring by Jesus in the moment – was actually God at work – preparing to do something amazing!
And so this morning, I just hope that’s an encouragement to you. Maybe God hasn’t been answering your desperate plea for help in whatever situation you’re going through right now. Maybe you feel like God is ignoring your cries or has been distracted by someone else – bringing them healing and and help – while neglecting you!
Well, can I just assure you that God certainly has not forgotten about you. Nor has he turned a deaf ear to your cries for help! I can say with confidence that God is God of compassion and mercy. He loves you like crazy and it pains him to see you suffering.
And if it seems as if he is delaying or choosing not to answer your cries for help – it’s certainly not because He doesn’t care! It’s actually the opposite! He loves you so much that He wants the best for you! And of course, that doesn’t always line up with what we think is best for us. But God knows! He knows all things and is working all things together for good!
Sometimes He’s waiting for the perfect time – and that might be years down the road – that might be, in our minds, “too late!” But nothing is too late for God! His timing is perfect. For the bleeding woman, it was after 12 years of suffering. For Jairus, it was AFTER his daughter had died. But God’s timing was perfect.
The real question for us is “Do we trust Him?” As Jesus said to Jairus – “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith.” Believe that God is good. Believe that God loves you like crazy. Believe that God wants the best for you!
Because that’s the truth! God has shown that to be true through the pages of Scripture – and I’ve seen that to be true in my life! Even when we have no idea why God is allowing certain things to happen in our lives – or why He doesn’t do certain things in our lives – we can trust that God loves us dearly and that He is working all things together for good.
I think the cross is the prime example that. As Jesus hung on the cross, anyone looking in at that situation would have thought that God had totally missed the mark on that one! The Messiah, God’s only Son, was nailed to across – suffering more than we could imagine. And God didn’t intervene! He didn’t send those 10,000 angels to rescue him. God just let Jesus die a terrible death on that cross.
And if that’s all we knew, we might conclude that God was uncaring and cruel. We very well may doubt God’s love and compassion and mercy.
But of course, that’s not all we know. We know that God was at work – even in that terrible situation – and it was through the cross that God demonstrated his incredible love and compassion and mercy for all of us! In the end, God used to cross to bring about new life and healing for all of us!
And so can I just encourage you this morning – that no matter what difficult situation you may be going through – even if it seems that God has been slow to intervene and come to your rescue – please know that God truly does love you like crazy and he is at work – even when we can’t see Him. And I would just encourage you and invite you, as Jesus did for Jairus, to not be afraid, but just have faith. Again, not a blind faith – but faith in a God who loves you more than you can imagine and is determined to bring you healing – in his own perfect time and in his own perfect way.