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  • Writer's pictureGWL

"Only Believe"




Only Believe

Mark 5:21-43


Today’s scripture offers us two interwoven stories...

One about a leader. A powerful well respected person in the community whose daughter was sick. Sick to the point of death. The other about a woman (like many women we know, maybe some of you) who suffered from a chronic illness. Both were desperate...


The synagogue leader had to step away from his position, his place in society, to seek Jesus. The woman had to overcome her lack of position, to seek Jesus.


They were from very different places, with very different circumstances. But they both needed Jesus. And in their desperation, they were determined to do whatever it took, to get to Christ.


Think about this woman for a minute: As a Jew she was considered unclean… and would have been segregated and ostracized... unable to fully participate in the faith community because of her condition. As long as the bleeding continued she was socially isolated. As long as she was unclean she was told that she was unfit to worship God… at least in the presence of others.


Then after twelve long years Jesus came walking by…Why do you suppose it took God so long to heal this woman? For twelve LONG years she suffered the indignity and isolation - not to mention the physical discomfort - of her condition! Why did God let her suffer for so long?


Of course, the Bible tells us that this woman heard of Jesus... and that she took it upon herself to reach out and touch his robe so that she could be healed (the exact opposite of the way we usually think of Jesus’ healing people - I mean, we even sing, “He touched me!” Not “I touched him!”)


This was a bold act. She was unclean! She wasn’t supposed to be in contact with others. What would people say? What would they do... what would HE do when she touched him? Would he scold her... would the crowd denounce her and judge her... possibly even stone her to death!


But she reached out to Jesus anyway. It was a desperate act of faith by a desperate woman. And in her desperation she was healed.


Of course, Jesus said to her, "Your faith has made you well." And hear this... because Jesus came when he did... the moment he did... and not a day sooner... this woman was able to step out in faith. And because she stepped out in faith she was made well.


Then we have the synagogue ruler (or leader), a man named Jairus and his daughter. What parent doesn’t worry and fret when their child is sick... especially if the child is seriously sick... to the point of dying? Jairus had heard of Jesus - and that he healed the sick. So as fast as he could, he ran to find this Jesus. Even though it was beneath a leader of the Synagogue to do such a thing.


When he found Jesus he pleaded for Jesus to come quickly or his daughter would die… which Jesus did. But while making his way to Jarius’ home, there was an interruption. Someone touched Jesus. Of course, the disciples (and Jarius, I’m sure) thought Jesus was overreacting! Because, no doubt someone touched him… there must have been a hundred people pressing about. It’s not difficult to imagine Jarius becoming impatient - interruptions tend to make us lose patience! After all, his daughter was dying… Jesus needed to get to her before it was too late! But before they could get Jesus moving again... Jairus' friends arrived. "Your daughter is dead. Don't bother the rabbi any more. It's too late."


I can imagine the emotions that welled up in Jairus. I mean, he was an important man, a leader! If Jesus hadn’t wasted time with some unclean woman, he would’ve surely made it to Jarius’ daughter before it was too late.


Sounds a lot like the story of Lazarus. When Jesus heard Lazarus was sick, he waited two days before leaving for Bethany. And when he finally arrived, Martha said, “if you had only been here, my brother wouldn’t have died.”


But before Jairus could put his emotions into words Jesus reached out to him and said, “Do not fear, only believe." I’m sure everyone in ear-shot, though, “yeah, right. It’s too late to heal the girl.” But Jesus took the girl’s hand and said, “Little girl, get up!” And she stood up and began to walk and they were all amazed.


You know... after 33 years of ordained ministry... it still amazes me how many people think God and Santa Clause are the same person. So many think that if God is truly good, then why doesn’t he give me everything I want, or everything I ask for? Of course, maybe a better analogy would be how often we confuse God with a Genie in a bottle (you know, just rub the thing, a genie pops out, and all your dreams come true).


Did Jesus himself not warn his disciples that “in this world you will have trouble?” In this life we all face sickness, and grief, and pain. We struggle. We face adversity. Life’s no rose garden - so to speak.


But, then, maybe it is... because along with the beauty, and the joy, and happiness that life brings... it also brings thorns. Sometimes in the midst of pleasure we face pain.


So what’s the answer? What’s the point?


You and I were created to “glorify God and enjoy him forever.”


Here... in our scripture lesson for today: the woman suffered for years - but when she reached out for Jesus she found relief - at just the right time, and just the right way. The man, when he sought out Jesus, he found the mercy and the restoration he’d been praying for - at just the right time, in just the right way.


The woman with the hemorrhage would eventually die. The little girl, brought back from the place of death, would one day breath her last.


The Apostle Paul famously cried out to God multiple times to remove his ailment, his hindrance, his thorn in the flesh... but God said, “My grace is sufficient.”


Listen to me. God’s purpose isn’t to remove us from the pain and heartaches of this life. It’s to position us to find our joy (our purpose and strength) in Christ... and in Christ alone.


Jesus knows when the time is right. Just trust in him. Give him your pains and your troubles. And have faith that when the time is right he will be there with power to heal and to give new life.

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