We, Too, Have Known This Desperation…
What a great story we have here. Jairus, the official of the synagogue, is not a follower of Jesus, yet, but he has heard accounts of Jesus and his miraculous works. The towns around the Sea of Galilee were full of them. And Jairus is desperate. His daughter is sick and close to death. In his fear for his daughter, of losing her, he hears that Jesus is nearby and he rushes to him. This high official of the synagogue, probably one of the most important people in the village, dressed in his robes of authority, falls on his knees before Jesus, pressing his head to Jesus’ feet and says, “My daughter is at the point of death. Please, come and lay your hands on her that she may be well.” (verses 22-23)
Our hearts go out to Jairus. We, too, have known such desperation and have fallen on our knees before Jesus, needing his healing for a loved one, or for ourselves. As the story goes on we see that Jesus responds to Jairus by following him. The crowd follows, and we see, juxtaposed here, the story of the woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. She, too, has heard of this Jesus and believes that by just touching the hem of his garment she would be healed. And so she is. As Jesus approached her, she fell down before Jesus and he calms her fears and tells her that it is her faith that has healed her and then tells her to “God in peace.” (verse 34)
When Jesus and the crowd were on the way to Jairus’ house, servants come to Jairus and inform him that his daughter has died. We can imagine his sorrow at this news. But Jesus pays no attention to this. He looks into the tear stained face of Jairus and tells him, “Do not be afraid; just have faith. Again we are reminded of the most important element of these healing stories, faith. It is our faith in Jesus, in cooperation with his love for us, that brings about our healing. When they arrive at Jairus’ house they see and hear the chaos of sorrow, the weeping and wailing. Jesus walks right through it and tells them all, “The child is not dead but asleep.” (verse 39) Jesus ignores their ridicule, and enters the house, knowing that Jairus’ faith in him is real. He enters the child’s room, takes her hand and gently says to her, “Little girl, I say to you, arise!” (verse 41) And she did!
How many times in our lives have we been as desperate as Jairus, or the woman with the hemorrhaging? Have we always come to Jesus in our desperation truly believing that he can heal us? This kind of faith is something that is developed over time. It is the kind of faith that comes from our ever-deepening relationship with Jesus. Of course we know in our heads that Jesus can heal, but do we believe this with every fiber of our being? Do we believe that he really loves us that much? Or do we fall into the profound error of thinking that we are not good enough, that our sins are too great, even for Jesus to forgive? This is one of the sins against the Holy Spirit. It is the sin of despair. It is a denial of the truth of Jesus’ love. To know Jesus is to know that no sin, no illness, not even death, is greater than his love for each and everyone of us.
We come to see this truth one again in today’s passage from Mark. Jesus’ love for us is true, faithful, and more powerful than any sickness, even death. What we are called on to bring to the healing, to the forgiving process, is our faith in Jesus’ love for us. Jesus’ desire is always to heal us, in mind, in body, and in spirit. His desire never changes. It is our faith that is being challenged to grow here. This is a theme that runs throughout the Gospels. It is central to our relationship with Jesus. Let us meditate on this every day.
Lord, we believe, help our unbelief. You are the love that created all things, seen and unseen. You are the love that came among us as one of us, who died for us, in order to heal us from our slavery to sin and death. You are the love that inspires us with the fear of the Lord that leads to wisdom every day. By your generous graces, open our hearts to love you and to believe in you more throughout our days. For it is in you alone that we find our hope, our faith, and the love that saves. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen!
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