Desperation. The best word to describe what Jairus felt, was desperation. His precious little girl was dying. It began as just a cough. No big deal. Kids cough all the time. But it kept getting worse. There are few things worse than listening to your little girl cough… and cough… and cough. But it did get worse, she stopped coughing. She was barely breathing, barely moving, barely alive.
The doctors did not help. Prayers did not help. Love did not help. There was nothing that could help. All there was… was desperation. His little girl was dying.
Then, Jairus remembered a discussion. A discussion about a man from Nazareth. The rulers of his synagogue had gathered to discuss what they were going to do with this man named… Jesus. Jesus was causing quite the disturbance all around Capernaum. The scribes were advocating that the synagogue rulers should expel Jesus from the synagogue. “He was not following the Sabbath Day laws. He pretends to forgive sins. Jesus even heals on the Sabbath.” That was the part of the debate that Jairus suddenly remembered. “Jesus even heals on the Sabbath.” “Jesus even heals.” “Jesus even heals.” The scribes did not claim he was a fraud. They claimed… “Jesus even heals...”
Desperation moved Jairus into action. Without a care about what the other rulers of the Synagogue thought, or what the Scribes might do to him, Jairus went to find this Jesus of Nazareth, “Who even heals...” Forgetting his dignity, Jairus would beg if that is what it took…
Mark 5:21-24 And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about him, and he was beside the sea. Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet and implored him earnestly, saying, "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." And Jesus went with him. And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him.
The wild ride with Jesus continues. The disciples witnessed Jesus stop a storm… bam “Peace be Still!” The wind and the sea obeyed him! The disciples were stunned when Jesus cast 2,000 demons out of the scariest guy they had ever seen. Legion; these 2,000 demons went into pigs, who drowned themselves in the sea. There was $780,000 worth of pork floating in the Sea of Galilee. And now, the opposite was happening. One of the respected snooty leaders of the Capernaum Synagogue was begging Jesus to help. “Can he do it?” The disciples said… “Yes, he can!”
So, off they all went to one of the nicest houses in Capernaum… from the tombs and Legion to the home of the respected Jairus, to heal his little girl. But nothing goes as expected with Jesus.
Another desperate person intercepts the parade. She was desperate in a different way. Her desperation had been growing for 12 years. Her desperation was a different flavor… hers was a desperation of weariness. Day after day, week to week, month to month, year to year; 12 years of gradual loss of energy, gradual loss of money, gradual loss of blood.
Mark 5:25-27 And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. She had heard the reports about Jesus…
Under Jewish law a bleeding woman was unclean. She is not just sick, but unclean. She has not been permitted to be in contact with the “Clean” for 12 years. No going to church, no interaction, no compassion… only rejection.
She too had heard the stories of Jesus of Nazareth. The demons, Simon’s mother-in-law, - she knew her - lepers, the paralyzed guy with his four buddies – one of the buddies was her nephew, the guy with the hand. She hadn’t been in the synagogue to see it that day she was always unclean. All those stories were flying all over Capernaum.
So, she came up with a plan. The next time Jesus is in Capernaum she would sneak up to him and touch him. She is not supposed to be in the crowd. She is making unclean those who touch her. Her plan to touch Jesus would make him unclean. But, if he is as powerful as the stories tell; the desperate plan just might work.
Mark 5:27-29 …she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, "If I touch even his garments, I will be made well." And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease.
“It worked. It worked. I can feel that it worked. I’m finally healed! Now I can just slip away and go tell my family it worked.” But the slip away part didn’t work. “Oh no, Jesus is looking for me. “Is Jesus upset with me because I made him unclean?” But Jesus is not made unclean by this woman. If Jesus was not made unclean by Legion in a graveyard, this woman was not even close to making Jesus unclean. Jesus is the one who cleans!
Mark 5:30-34 And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, "Who touched my garments?" And his disciples said to him, "You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, 'Who touched me?'" And he looked around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. And Jesus said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease."
Just touching Jesus healed this woman. “Who is this… even his touch can heal?”
Jesus not only saves her from her illness, Jesus saves her to… “Go in peace!” The shalom of God that brings wholeness to her… physically, mentally, socially and spiritual!
Jesus is not a magician, doing conjuring tricks by some secret power for the amusement of an audience. Jesus brings salvation to all he touches!
In the meantime, while Jesus is piddling around with this woman, Jairus is waiting impatiently to get to his daughter… to save his little girl.
Mark 5:35-36 While Jesus was still speaking, there came from the ruler's house some who said, "Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?" But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, "Do not fear, only believe."
Jairus, numb with horror at the news he desperately never wanted to hear, is encouraged by Jesus to keep on believing. Jairus discovered a spark of faith which enabled him to walk with Jesus the short distance to his own front door.
Mark 5:37-38 And Jesus allowed no one to follow him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. They came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and Jesus saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly.
Professional mourners have already showed up to weep and wail. Their job was to make it possible for family to give full vent to their feelings without embarrassment. A scene of loud grief awaited Jesus and his entourage as they arrived at the ruler’s house.
Mark 5:39-43 And when he had entered, he said to them, "Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping." And they laughed at him. But 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. Taking her by the hand he said to her, "Talitha cum," which means, "Little girl, I say to you, arise." And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement. And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.
The crowd is left behind. Six people only go into the room where the dead girl is lying. This time it is Jesus who reaches out his hand; this time he says a word of command, one of the few words to have come to us in the original Aramaic: Talitha Cum, ‘Time to get up, little girl!’ Up she got, and walked round the room. Then the eye-witness touch… They gave her something to eat.
Who is this, even the dead, obey his voice?
Desperation turns into overwhelming amazement! Jairus the ruler of the synagogue is a believer in the One who restored his daughter!
Over the last several weeks Mark has stacked up four stories about the power of Jesus.
--Jesus asleep in the back of the boat, wakes up to calm a storm. The disciples are filled with mega-fear… Who is this… even the wind and sea obey him?
--Jesus then gets out of the boat to step into a graveyard in order to cast 2,000 demons into the sea… Who is this… even evil obeys him?
--Today, a sneaky sick woman is healed by touching his robe… Who is this… even illness obeys him? Without Jesus doing anything.
--And the last of the four stories, is a ruler of the local synagogue begging Jesus to help his little girl. Who is this… even the dead obey?
That is the main point Mark is making in stacking up these four power stories. Who is this? Jesus is the power to restore creation! Bam. Everyone got the main point? Jesus is the power!
But I want to explore a different point, this morning.
I think it would be difficult to come up with four more diverse groups of people than the four in our stories…
--The 12 disciples are the heart of the invasion. They are close to Jesus; his inner-circle. The 12 are Jews who have given up their lives to be fishers of people.
--The guy, formally known as Legion, is a Gentile, who lived in the tombs as a monster.
--Then, there is this unnamed woman. The disciples each have names, Legion has a name. The synagogue leader is named; Jairus. But this unnamed woman is sick, poor, lonely, rejected, marginalized.
--Jairus is one of the outstanding citizens of the community, wealthy, respected, proud… but desperate.
Yet, the kudzu kingdom touches each of them.
Mark 4:30-32 And he said, "With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade."
But his is not exactly the point I want to make. Notice how each of these four groups meet Jesus.
--The 12 are carefully chosen by Jesus to be his… helpers… to be his followers… to be the ministers who take the kudzu kingdom to the ends of the earth.
--The guy possessed by Legion is sought out by Jesus. It seems that Jesus crosses the Sea of Galilee to specifically find this man. Jesus goes to where this man was to save him. Then Jesus sends him off to be the first missionary to the Gentiles.
--The unnamed woman secretly seeks out Jesus, Jesus appears to be surprised by finding her.
--Jairus openly approaches Jesus to beg for his help.
I’m not sure this is what Mark had in mind when he stacked up these four stories, but I think it explains how the kudzu kingdom works.
--Jesus teaches his church, his disciples, lessons about faith and fear. Jesus advances the kingdom in the hearts of his followers by showing them his power. That’s us. We, who are disciples, take the seed of the kingdom to unexpected places as Jesus leads us. When we learn to listen to the nudging of the Spirit we advance the kingdom in spite of our fear… our faith grows. That’s us!
--Sometimes we are lead to the most unlikely people to help people escape of the power of Satan… I think of the Jail ministry… or homeless shelters… or women’s shelters… or the like… seeking out those who are trapped in evil. By the power of Jesus we deliver them!
--Sometimes, the hurting appear… in your path; unexpected, un-sought-after, just there. We minister to those who appear in our road. We are open. We have the time. We have resources ready to respond to the unexpected person in our path.
--Sometimes the respected, the got-it-all-together people need help, need comfort, need connection. We plug into them as well.
The kudzu kingdom is ready to grow. The kudzu kingdom works through us. The kudzu kingdom reaches out to anyone and everyone; from all walks of life, in all situations, to touch the power of Jesus!
May 7, 2016
Los Alamos Church of Christ