Now when Jesus returned, a crowd welcomed him, for they were all expecting him. Then a man named Jairus, a synagogue leader, came and fell at Jesus’ feet, pleading with him to come to his house because his only daughter, a girl of about twelve, was dying.
As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.
“Who touched me?” Jesus asked.
When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.”
But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.”
Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”
While Jesus was still speaking, someone came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” he said. “Don’t bother the teacher anymore.”
Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.”
When he arrived at the house of Jairus, he did not let anyone go in with him except Peter, John and James, and the child’s father and mother. Meanwhile, all the people were wailing and mourning for her. “Stop wailing,” Jesus said. “She is not dead but asleep.”
They laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. But he took her by the hand and said, “My child, get up!” Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up. Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat. Her parents were astonished, but he ordered them not to tell anyone what had happened.
As a quick review from previous posts, there are instances Bible stories that I refer to as Doughnut Stories. In my vernacular, a Doughnut Story is where one story is in progress and is interrupted by the insertion of a different story that at first reading seems wholly unrelated to the story in progress. I have been led by others to the realization that on closer inspection the two are indeed intertwined. Today’s text is the first such pairing that I came to see in this way. It is sometimes referred to as the Miracle on the Way to a Miracle.
Here are two incredibly rich stories on their own merits. I have heard dozens, maybe a hundred, sermons pulled from these two intertwined texts.
What is more compelling than Jesus raising a child – a child – from the dead? And then there is this woman who has been bearing a debilitating infirmity for years, healed by merely touching his garment.
Great, great stories. But what are we missing?
I thank God for those who are farther down the path than I am, and who are wiser and more studied, more intense, more insightful and open my mind to what lies in the incredibly concise, yet complete, stories of the Bible. It is through their influence that I have begun to probe for what it is I am missing.
There are so many ways to go with this passage, and surely I will explore some of them in a future post, but today I want to zero in on one that is critically important for me.
Jesus receives Jairus’ urgent request – “My daughter is dying, come quickly!” Listen and hear the desperation in a father’s voice. Jesus has compassion on him and commits to meeting this need. In my imagination, he turns to his disciples and says, “C’mon boys, let’s go!” with great urgency.
We also find that a crowd is following along. Now at this point in his ministry it seems that Jesus draws a crowd wherever he goes, but in this instance I can’t help but wonder if they overheard the exchanges between Jesus and Jairus, as well as between Jesus and his disciples.
So now we’re all hustling off to Jairus’ house with great haste when a woman reaches out and touches the hem of his garment. Remember, Jesus made a commitment; he has set a goal and is intent on accomplishing it. As I assess the situation, the “right” thing to do is to stay on task. Don’t get distracted – a young girl’s life is at stake.
Yet at that very moment, Jesus redirects his attention. He abandons the march to Jairus’ house and stops to engage in question and answer. Who touched me? Why? Who accessed my power? The disciples are set on the goal, they are fixed on getting to Jairus’ house and try to nudge him back on track. “There are dozens of people pressing on us. It could be anyone. What difference does it make? Jesus! There is a girl’s life at stake!” (And that is just the disciples. I can only imagine what Jairus is thinking.)
Jesus stops, performs a miracle, calls out the woman and proceeds to explain the miracle . . . and then resumes the march to Jairus’ house to deal with the precious daughter.
Once there, he accomplishes his original goal of saving (resurrecting) her life.
So, what is the takeaway here? There are so many, but I want to focus our attention on one that is easy to overlook. Jesus set a goal and was not to be deterred – he was off to accomplish a critical objective. The importance and urgency cannot be overstated, it was a noble goal and one that called for urgent action. Yet, Jesus left room for God to act, and act he did.
I so often see where we set our goals and we will not be deterred, and we are commended for being determined and single-minded, but we leave no room for God in our plans. We barrel down the road fixated on what it is we are trying to accomplish. How many opportunities are missed due to our single-mindedness? How many times did we pass up the chance to meet a critical need for someone along our way, because we were fixated on our objective?
I’m reminded of a statement I once read (sorry I can’t recall the writer, maybe, Lucado, or Yancey or Ortberg or Taylor) – We are like little children sitting on the curb making mud pies when God wants to take us to Disney World. Content with our little achievements when magnificent glory is within our grasp.
Make a plan. Work your plan. But leave room in your plan for God to work. You never know when He might show up and turn it into glory.
Bonus Section: I promised to stick to one theme here, but here’s a bonus. Go back and read the first of Luke 8 and you will see this was no ordinary day. It started with Jesus calming the sea and involved his encounter with the man inhabited by the Legion of demons in the tomb before we even get to today’s text. In that context, wouldn’t it have been natural for Jesus to have elected not to deal with the woman with the infirmity at all. For me, I think I would have said, “Really? Today? I’m too tired, too overwhelmed. I just can’t deal with you, too. Try me tomorrow.” I gotta think thoughts such as these never crossed his mind even for a fleeting moment. Would that I could be more Christ-like.
Praying for His interventions,
* Third in the Doughnut Story Series.