Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Casting all your care upon Him; for it matters to Him about you.”
1 Peter 5:7
“‘Tis He who hath made me; ‘tis He understands me:
And all that is complex within me He reads;
My heart with its manifold hunger He knoweth;
It matters to Him that I suffer such needs.
The present perplexing – the future so dim-
My heart is made strong, and my spirit is tranquil,
And this is my comfort – ‘It matters to Him’”
J. Danson Smith
Today’s Study Text:
“When Jesus crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly. ‘My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.’ So he went with him.
And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was not better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, ‘If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.’ Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, ‘Who touched my clothes?’ And his disciples said to him, ‘You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, Who touched me?’ He looked all around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.’
While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say, ‘Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?’ But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, ‘Do not fear, only believe.’ He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. When he had entered, he said to them, ‘Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.’ And they laughed at him. Then he put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, ‘Talitha cum,’ which means, ‘Little girl, get up!’ And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.”
Mark 5:21-43 N.R.S.V.
“Behold The Man” – Part 12
“From Despair to Hope – The Miracle Within a Miracle”
“Despair can open the heart to taste hope in God.”
Dan Allender and
Tremper Longman III
The Cry of the Soul
Have I ever felt that the feeling of despair has cast out all the hope in my life?
How have I had hope restored in my life during times when everything appeared to be going in the wrong direction?
“Occasions of desperation prepare the way for the recognition of Christ Himself.”
A Faith Through Suffering
“As strange as it may sound, desperation is a really good thing in the spiritual life. Desperation causes us to be open to radical solutions, willing to take all manner of risk in order to find what we are looking for.”
Ruth Haley Barton
When I read our study text today, I thought to myself, “Wow, this is long.” And right after that statement, I asked myself, “Should I include this entire passage of Scripture or should I edit it down to a smaller group of verses?” Well, as you can see, I opted to include everything contained in Mark 5: 21-43. And here’s why. Both stories in Mark 5 are familiar to Christians who have read the Gospels. These are not new stories to me, either. So I had to ask myself, “How in the world will I see these two examples of compassion in Jesus’ life with heaven’s new eyes?”
The answer came as I read from Mark 5, verse 21 clear through to verse 43. And what I found has inspired my own life in ways I could not imagine when I entered into this study.
We find that Mark begins his record with the fact that Jesus crossed Galilee and when He reached the opposite side of the sea, “a great crowd gathered.” In this press of people, one person stood out and his name was Jairus, a leader in the Jewish Synagogue. The Bible tells us that this father was beside himself because his daughter was sick. “At the point of death” are the words Mark uses. The only way I can relate to this story on personal terms is when I was in nurse’s training and was in a severe car accident. My dad arrived home very late from the airport and didn’t see my car in front of the house. Much to his distress, my mom informed him that I was in the hospital and within minutes, no matter the time of night, my father was at my bedside. In the coming days, when the doctors were baffled by the problems which developed, my dad left no “stone unturned,” even resorting to having my Uncle Mel, a doctor, fly in from Phoenix to see if he could unravel some of the perplexing medical questions. I can only believe that Jairus acted a lot like my dad. He went to every length and finally in desperation, he went to the edge of Galilee, awaiting the moment when the boat carrying Jesus touched the shores edge and then he fell at Jesus’ feet and cried out, “Come lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.”
Not long ago, I happened upon a talk where the speaker, referring to the effort we put into our requests to God in prayer, noted that usually we plead when we are in absolute desperation. This will be followed by a sense of critical urgency, when, if we look to Jesus, He can lead us to heavenly expectation. This is the pattern evidenced in Jairus’ life. He was desperate. The situation was urgent. And in his own words, he expected Jesus could provide the solution. Mark goes on to report that after hearing about the father’s great need, “Jesus went with him.”
We might think, of course, Jesus would go with one who was such a respected leader and exhibited such great faith in Jesus. This isn’t the entire reason Jesus took time to help this father. In commenting on this particular passage in the Bible, Mark D. W. Edington, chaplain at Harvard, points out that Jairus was, “a person of authority in Jewish society…his authority derived from his leadership in the community, his rectitude in the life of the law, and (more important for what is to come) his ability correctly to perceive who Jesus is.” But it was not just some ego-building emotional outburst from this father which should get our attention. As Mark Edington further observes, “Just by coming to Jesus, Jairus tacitly acknowledged that whatever authority he possessed was surpassed by that given to Jesus.” Jairus knew and accepted and believed Jesus could do what he could not do – and that was to heal his daughter.
It is at this point in time when Jesus’ journey to Jairus’ home was interrupted. What I find more than a little ironic is the fact that the individual who inserted herself into Jesus’ life at this moment was someone who, in real life, was quite the opposite of Jairus and his 12-year-old daughter. Professor Beverly Zink-Sawyer makes the express point of drawing these insightful comparisons when she notes that in this complete story, “Both victims of illness are female and ritually unclean, one as a result of death and one as a result of hemorrhage; both represent the significance of the number twelve in Jewish tradition (the twelve years of hemorrhage and the twelve-year-old girl); and both are regarded as ‘daughters’ (the little girl being Jairus’ daughter and the woman who is addressed by Jesus as ‘Daughter’).”
Unlike the well-respected Jewish leader, the woman who inserted herself into the crowded procession surrounding Jesus, also confessed her faith in Jesus simply by daring to challenge the ritualistic laws regarding bleeding. Mark Edington identifies Jairus as “privileged, powerful, accepted, and male.” The woman seeking Jesus for healing had, as the Bible tells us, “spent all that she had” on ineffective cures. She was poor, unclean, common, and female. What a contrast!
To help us better understand what this woman’s life had been like, William Barclay, in his wonderful book, And He Had Compassion, gives us this background: “The Talmud lays down no fewer than eleven different cures (for hemorrhage such as this woman had). Some were tonics and astringents…we can be sure that this woman had tried every remedy, the real remedies of the physicians and the superstitious remedies, too…the real tragedy of an illness like this was that, according to Jewish law, it made a woman unclean…she could never attend a synagogue service; no one could even sit on the same chair. She was cut off from all religious and social life.”
The fact is that a sick daughter, whom we are told, as the story continues, ends up actually dying, and a woman who had been cut-off completely from human contact, both end up with the same act of love which takes the despair of their situations and fills their lives with hope. As Beverly Zink-Sawyer states in one brief sentence: “An act of touch restores both women to new life even as those surrounding them lack understanding.”
By looking at this event as a whole, we find that one miracle is contained within another miracle. Before Jairus had personally been able to witness the miracle he so desperately wanted for his young daughter, Jesus had performed another miracle for someone as desperate as was Jairus. Before Jesus had touched Jairus’ daughter, the touch of a bleeding woman on the hem of Jesus garment gave her restored life.
In both of the stories, the threads of despair and hope, provide a beautiful pattern of instruction in your life and mine, for in our most desperate situations, God frequently plants the seeds of hope which bring forth a garden of beauty. As Joan Chittister expresses in her book on the Psalms, “Hope and despair are not opposites. They are cut from the very same cloth, made from the very same material, shaped from the very same circumstances…the only difference between the two is that despair shapes an attitude of mind; hope creates a quality of soul. Despair colors the way we look at things…hope on the other hand, takes life on its own terms, knows that whatever happens God lives in it, and expects that, whatever its twists and turns, it will ultimately yield its good to those who live it well. When tragedy strikes, when trouble comes, when life disappoints us, we stand at the crossroads between hope and despair, torn and hurting…Despair says that there is no place to go but here. Hope says that God is waiting for us someplace else. Begin again.”
There was new life in Jesus’ touch. And as Ruth Barton so eloquently stated in our earlier quote, we need to look for God’s “radical solution.” His new touch! What I call the miracle within the miracle.
Just to encourage you to keep looking in your own life for God’s ability to work in those most desperate times of our lives, how could I ever have imagined that the gift I received of surviving what police, paramedics and physicians called the unsurvivable, would give birth to a Garden where Jesus’ touch transforms lives everyday. Keep looking and watching for your own miracle within a miracle, for desperation and urgency to be transformed into the expectant touch of Jesus in your life. In the words of the great Senate chaplain, Peter Marshall, “(Jesus) is waiting for you to touch Him. The hand of faith is enough. Your trembling fingers can reach Him as He passes. Reach out in faith – touch Him. He will not ask, ‘who touched me?’ He will know.”
“If you come in certainty or in confusion,
in anger or in anguish-
This Time Is For You
If you come in silent suffering or hidden sorrow,
In pain or promise –
This Time Is For You
If you come for your own or another’s need,
For a private wound or the wound of the world –
This Time Is For You
If you come, and do not know why,
To be here is enough –
This Time Is For You
Come now, Christ of the forgiving warmth
Come now, Christ of the yearning tears
Come now, Christ of the transforming touch
This Time Is For You”
Giles David, The Pattern of Our Days (Adapted)
“I came that (you) may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance, to the full, till it overflows.”
John 10: 10
“Healing God, we praise You for Christ who, without fear, met those with disease and gave them new life. May that healing touch reach the fears and darkness of our world.
Touch us, caring Jesus, to take from our hearts that fear which makes us keep our distance from all deep agony.
Touch us, caring Jesus, and heal that fear in ourselves which bars us from understanding mental illness, disfigurement, and the approach of death.
Touch those, caring Jesus, who have been segregated, rejected, cut adrift because they are misunderstood in our competitive society.
And touch with hope, healing Jesus, those who give themselves to combat grim illness and all that threatens life.
I am come that they may have life and may have it in all its fullness.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”
A Restless Hope
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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