It’s been said that “desperate times call for desperate measures.” When we’re desperate, we tend to do things that we would not ordinarily do.
A friend of mine, several years ago was battling cancer. She had tried every treatment that the doctor suggested… including a clinical trial… that required her to spend several weeks in the hospital, even though she had two small children. But that’s exactly why she did it! Because of those two small children. Desperate times call for desperate measures.
Of course, we all feel desperate at times, don’t we? Sometimes we feel like we’ve hit rock bottom, like we have no other choice than the choice that’s before us at the moment. Desperation is a strong motivator. And our scripture lesson for today speaks of this desperation.
First of all, we have Jarius… A ruler in the synagogue. He was a man who was in charge of many things… an important person, back in the day when going to church, or synagogue, was the most important time of the week. Jarius was someone other people respected and looked up to.
So to see Jarius falling at Jesus’ feet, and not just asking him, but begging him, repeatedly, to come and heal his daughter… says something about his desperation. This was a man who generally wouldn’t have lowered himself to begging for anything. But because he loved his daughter so much, and she was critically ill... Jarius was more concerned with his daughter than maintaining appropriate and expected decorum.
Desperate times call for desperate measures.
So Jesus went with Jarius, and, as usual large crowds began to follow… mainly out of curiosity, I suppose. But as fate would have it… there was an interruption. Many times in life when we’re tending to something important, there’s an interruption. Interruptions are where most of life seems to be lived, at times.
A woman, a desperate woman, reaches out to Jesus, thinking that if she could just touch him, she would be healed.
In the Hebrew, religion and culture, blood was unclean. And this woman had been bleeding for 12 years. For 12 years, she couldn’t go into the temple for worship. For 12 years she had been legally required to stay away from other people because she was unclean and she risked making them unclean. This woman has suffered. She suffered, physically, spiritually, socially, she even suffered financially. She had, “endured much under many physicians.”
But desperate times call for desperate measures. And somehow someway, this woman had heard about Jesus, and she knew that if she could just touch him, she would be healed.
And so she reaches out from the crowd and touched Jesus. And immediately Jesus responds, “who touched me?” Kind of an odd question in the midst of a press of people! I mean in a crowd of people you’re probably getting touched by everyone around you.
But this woman knew what Jesus meant. And with a load of courage, she steps forward “in fear and trembling” and fell down before Jesus, telling him the whole story. To which Jesus simply responded, “daughter, your faith has made you well.”
Your faith has made you well. Healing it turns out it’s not just a matter of the body; it involves the mind in the spirit, too. The physical problem had been healed but this woman was also suffering spiritually, socially she’s been an outcast. Unclean. and despite all that, Jesus called her daughter. Just as Jarius had been filled with love and concern for his daughter, Jesus calls this woman daughter.
There’s an important reminder here for us. Jesus calls each of us, daughter, he calls each of us son. Others may see an outcast, a sinner, a nobody… but Jesus sees a child. Others may see us as average, ordinary, nothing special… but Jesus sees a child. Others may see a boss, a leader, an important person… but Jesus sees a child.
And getting back to Jarius for a moment, he had come to Jesus, in desperation, remember? His daughter was near death, and now Jesus had stopped to chat with someone who touched his clothes! I can’t help but imagine Jarius was getting a little agitated… After all, he needed to get Jesus to his daughter, so she could be healed!
But just then, some people from the house of Jarius arrived with the news, that his daughter had died, and that he need not bother Jesus anymore. You know I’ve personally always thought these people needed some sensitivity training. They didn’t say, “your daughter has passed away, and I’m so sorry.” Instead, they say Jarius, your daughter is dead, and by the way, quit bothering Jesus!
But Jesus’ response: “do not fear, but only believe“ when they reached Jarius’s house, people were weeping, and wailing. To which Jesus said, “the child’s not dead, she is only sleeping.” Of course, I’m sure there were several “yeah right” comments made at that time. But when Jesus went to the child, he took her by the hand, and she got up.
Jarius and this woman in the crowd were in very different places in life. He was on top of the social ladder, she was on the bottom. He had privilege, she had none. He was a leader in the synagogue, she had not been allowed in the synagogue in well over a decade. Jarius‘s daughter was 12 years old, and the woman had bled for 12 years.
But with as different as they were, they were both desperate for healing, and their desperation led them to Jesus.
That’s were many of us find ourselves today. Sometimes it takes hitting rock-bottom to admit that we need God’s strength and healing. Sometimes it takes the pits of alcoholism, or some terrible illness, or disease, or a shattering divorce, or the loss of a loved one, to help us see clearly, that we need healing too. Sometimes it takes a deep disappointment or barely missing some disaster to wake us up.“Desperate times call for desperate measures”
William Sloane Coffin, in his book “The Courage to be Well” says, “the central problem of the Christian church in America today is that most of us, fear the cure more than the illness. Most of us prefer the plausible lie that we can’t be cured to the fantastic truth that we can be.“
How about you?
Are you desperate enough to take hold of the life that Jesus gives?