Good morning church! We’ve been reading through the gospel of Mark as a church for a few months now and it’s been an amazing journey trying to know and understand Jesus through this gospel. Last week we learnt about the demon possessed man who had an army of demons in him. Jesus sets him free and gives him a new life and a new identity. The man is sent back to his family and friends to tell them of how much the Lord has done for him. That’s our story too. Jesus freed us from sin and gave us a new life and a new identity and we’ll spend the rest of our lives telling people how much the Lord has done for us. And that’s how we arrive at today’s passage:
 When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake.  Then one of the synagogue leaders, named Jairus, came, and when he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet.  He pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.”  So Jesus went with him. A large crowd followed and pressed around him.  And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years.  She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse.  When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak,  because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.”  Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.  At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”  “You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ”  But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it.  Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth.  He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”
 While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?”  Overhearing[c] what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”  He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James.  When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly.  He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.”  But they laughed at him. After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was.  He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”).  Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished.  He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat.
In our lives when we are faced with impossible situations and we ask ourselves “Is God big enough to deliver me from my circumstance”, how must we respond? And I believe today’s passage offers a lot of hope and encouragement. There are two amazing stories of faith mentioned in this passage and let’s look at what can we learn from them.
1. We must approach God with earnestness
22 Then one of the synagogue leaders, named Jairus, came, and when he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet. 23 He pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.”
Not a lot is said about Jairus except that he was a ruler of the synagogue. The synagogue setting is a little similar to our Sunday Gathering or GC setting. The OT Scriptures would be read and then explained to the people gathered there. So Jairus’ role was to select the readers and teachers each Sabbath. He had to examine the messages and make sure everything was done orderly and according to the traditions. Clearly he was a religious leader who had a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures and Jewish traditions. He probably followed Jesus’ ministry closely. But even though he was so established in his religion, he needed to let go of his pride in order to approach Jesus. He needed to admit that he required help from God. He needed to believe that Jesus was the only person who could heal his daughter. The other aspect to earnestness was that he desperately pleaded with Jesus to come with him. He fell at Jesus’ feet and begged him to come and lay hands on his daughter because that was his only hope.
In Luke 18, Jesus told a parable to show them how they should approach God with earnestness. In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared man nor God. A widow kept coming to him with the plea “Please give me justice against my adversary”. He refused for sometime but then he thought “even though I don’t fear God or man, I’ll still make sure she gets justice so that she’ll eventually stop coming to me”. And the Lord said that “If the unrighteous judge responds in that manner, wouldn’t God give justice to his people who approach him earnestly? Will he delay in responding to them? He’ll give them justice quickly.
We should really consider what our approach to God is when it comes to difficult situations in our lives. It might be that you are praying for a godly partner to be married to. You’ve waited and prayed but haven’t received an answer yet. Well this passage should encourage us to not stop praying about it but trusting in the authority of God and the only one who can help, we should continue to approach God earnestly. Or it could be a struggle with sin where you’ve thought “I’ve tried a million times and a million different ways to stop sinning but I can’t”. If that’s where you are then it might mean letting go of your pride which also involves our self-righteous acts and falling at the feet of Jesus crying “Lord, please help me. I need you and I can’t conquer this on my own. On my own I’ll end up failing everytime. Only you can rescue me!” What it mean for you to approach God with earnestness today?
2. We must view our situation through the eyes of faith
And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. 26 She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.”
As we are reading through the story of Jairus and his daughter, we see another story sandwiched between the two. It tells us of a woman who had a blood discharge disease for 12 years. She suffered quite a bit: there was the physical pain that she had to endure with multiple doctors and treatments. She was probably bedridden the whole time. Financially she was in a bad place because she spent all her money in treatments but nothing got her better. She was a social outcast because her disease made her unclean. Anyone who touched her would’ve also become unclean. It was a traumatic 12 years for her. And then she heard reports about Jesus. She thinks “I’ve spent so many years going behind all these doctors and treatments but they have been useless but Jesus can heal me. All I need to do is touch his cloak and I will be made well”!
This was something new because before Jesus came on the earth no one had ever heard of something like this – touching the cloak to get healed. And neither was Jesus wearing a magic cloak with magical abilities. So what was the secret? Faith. V34 Jesus says “Daughter your faith has made you well”. Later on when Jairus is told that his daughter is dead, Jesus tells him “Do not fear, only believe”.
What is faith? It means fully trusting and relying on who God is, what He says He will do and being assured that He knows what’s best for us. That’s why salvation is also received by faith. It involves us trusting in the holy judgment of God over sin but also the mercy of God through His Son. It involves us trusting in what Jesus said that if we believe in Him we will have eternal life. It also involves us in trusting that God’s way is the best for us.
Faith is the means by which God unlocks his glorious purposes and grants answers to our deepest longings and needs. It’s like God is stretching out his hand, and faith is the means by which we receive what God wants to give us.
Matt 21:22: If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask in prayer.
James 1:6: But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt.
But does it mean that God will give us answers as we would like every time? God’s answers are all in accordance to His will and His purposes. Sometimes God’s answer to prayers is “Yes”, sometimes “No” and sometimes “Not yet”. Faith isn’t a way to arm twist God into doing what you want but resting in the assurance that God will answer as He knows best.
Maybe we have an illness for which the doctors haven’t found an answer to. But we know that even in those cases we can turn to God in faith because He is our Creator. He speaks things into existence that never existed. He commands and all of creation obey – be it the sun, moon, stars, wind, humans and even demons. He brings back dead to life. He gives sight to the blind. He heals the broken hearted. We can persist in praying for healing because we know that God is pleased and delighted in genuine faith.
Hebrews 11:6: And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
At the same time, we rest knowing that God will answer as He knows best. God’s answers might be contrary to our expectations. Nabeel Qureshi – a man of God who passed away last year due to cancer till the last moment was praying for healing. Not just him but his family and so many other supporters upheld him in prayer during that 1 year of treatment. Do you think he died because there was a lack of faith? No, sometimes God’s answer is different from what we expect but even in those moments of us waiting on God, God is working and making us more like His Son. In fact our faith grows stronger during moments of waiting.
3. We must desire intimacy with God more than immunity from problems
30 At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” 31 “You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ” 32 But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. 33 Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”
One of the interesting things I noticed in this passage is that Jesus looked around asking and trying to find out who touched his cloak. The Son of God who is all knowing already knew the woman before she was born and knew what she was going to do even before she did it. Why did Jesus have to meet with her? Didn’t she already get healed? Why have the personal conversation?
I believe the answer is in v34. The word that Jesus used for “healed you” has two meanings in the original language.
The obvious meaning is healing but it also means “saved”. Even though the physical need was already met, Jesus wanted to make sure that her deeper spiritual need was met. And we’ve already seen a similar thing earlier: when Jesus heals the paralyzed man, he forgives his sins before he performs the miracle. The real disease that all of us suffer with is the disease of sin. It’s more lethal than cancer and its effects will last for all of eternity. I wish God would give us eyes to see this as a disease in ourselves and others. In order to rescue us from this deadly disease, Christ came and died for us. He took on the punishment which killed him but He rose again on third day to give healing and life and vigour to all those that understood their need of help and looked to him for rescue. That’s the real need.
The main issue with the prosperity gospel is that it makes you desire and exalt immunity from problems more than intimacy with Jesus. And you don’t need to be a believer to make immunity from problems your main goal in life. Every human on this planet by nature is trying to do that. What makes a believer different from the rest of the world is that he desires Jesus more than immunity from problems. In fact a believer wants to give up all his treasures to get the real lasting treasure – Jesus. Also, if you are inviting people to follow Jesus by telling them that if they believe then they’ll receive health and wealth, then you are making Jesus a means to an end. You are dishonoring the Holy Son of God and making him out to be like a discount coupon which can be used to redeem a luxury item. People need to see Jesus as He displayed Himself to the world – Creator, Savior and Lord.
As I was pondering on this point, I asked myself “I’m not into the prosperity gospel but do I desire intimacy with God more than immunity from problems?” If all our problems were solved in a single second, would we still want Jesus? And that can easily answered by looking at our prayers. What’s the content of our prayers? When was the last time we spent time with God just to say “Jesus, I love you so much. I’m so thankful for what you have done for me on the cross. I’m thankful for being united with you. I want to know you more. I want to become like you”. I know it seems very basic but we have to always remind ourselves that that’s what we have been invited into – fellowship with Jesus. Let’s take out time each day to remind us that intimacy with God is most important. More important than the problems at work, more important than the illnesses and relational conflicts we may experience. There is a time and place for all these issues but let’s make intimacy with God the main thing.
Is God bigger than the greatest fear that I am facing right now? Yes, so how do we respond to it? By approaching God with earnestness, seeing our situations through the eyes of faith and desiring intimacy with God more than immunity from problems. He’s so precious to us that even in our worst of times facing our worst of fears we still desire to be with Him. This makes God look big and valuable to a lost and dying world around us.