Read His Words Before Ours!
The crowds were gathering, pressing relentlessly on all sides.
With His power to heal illness and drive away demons, word was spreading quickly. People from all walks of life, with all manner of brokenness, flocked in masses in pursuit of Jesus, the Christ.
In the midst of this particular crowd was a well-respected Jewish man, high-ranking with authority and political clout as a synagogue official, for he too was desperate. Jairus was familiar with Jesus’ growing fame and His divine ability, as he had likely witnessed Jesus healing a man’s hand in the synagogue in the weeks prior. (Luke 6:6-11) None could do what Jesus did. While Jairus was surely intrigued, he entered the crushing crowd that day out of pure desperation.
His daughter’s life hung in the balance.
It’s easy to step back and critically analyze. One can afford to be curious at a distance, but when it’s your desperation, nothing matters but the pursuit of wholeness.
Jesus immediately responded to Jairus’ urgent pleas to come to his house and slowly they moved in that direction.
Again, the crowds followed.
Can you imagine being Jairus? Desperation met reality as faces swam in front of both men. The mob was filled with shoving and jostling, loud noises, body odor, and incessant pressing of desperate bodies running rickshaw over one another as one little girl’s life hovered between life and death.
I’m not really comfortable with crowds like that, but if I wanted to be near Jesus, I am certain I would have set aside my discomfort to join the throng in pursuit of Christ that day.
Which is exactly what one woman did. Like Jairus, her desperation drove her into the tangled mass of people. She’d endured twelve long years of uterine bleeding, living as a shamed outcast from her community (Leviticus 15:25-27), taken advantage of by doctors who promised cures but worsened her condition. (Mark 5:26) Ironically, she, who had lived over a decade in isolation, was now driven by desperation into a crowd of hundreds with one goal in mind. Wholeness.
Twenty-nine years ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Like this suffering woman, I’ve experienced isolation from friends and even family because of disease. People are uncomfortable with such ravaging illness and don’t know what to say, so they stay away. They fear “catching” cancer themselves, and in their attempt to self-protect, they left me alone. I imagine this woman and I had many common experiences. Fear. Shame. Abandonment. Loss. Grief. Add to those woes the fact that her condition was neither diagnosable nor curable, despite the costly search for answers, and her desperation becomes nearly palpable.
Unrelated to cancer, five years ago I experienced intestinal disorders that no test or exam could identify. I too was neither diagnosable nor curable, and after six months of constant appointments, pokes, and prods, I was exhausted. I can only imagine twelve years of such! I can hear her heart’s cry, “What could it hurt to find Jesus? I’ve tried everything else. I have nothing more to lose.”
Jairus, desperate for his little daughter’s life.
This woman, desperate for her own.
Both were met with a radical gift surpassing their expectations.
I’m sure the woman planned to press through the crowds, likely on her knees, to touch just the hem of His garment and then slip away unnoticed. But at her touch, despite many hands pressed against Him, Jesus’ voice of authority pierced the cacophony, “Who touched my clothes?” (Mark 5:30)
My reaction would have been the same as the disciples’. “You see this crowd pressing in on you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’” (Mark 5:31) Jesus knew the difference between the touch of physical nearness and the hope of desperate faith.
In His divinity, Jesus knew who had touched Him.
In His gentleness, He asked His question of invitation.
Tightness grips my chest as I think of her “being caught,” and then I relax, remembering Jesus’ gentleness has invited this woman to step out. I can envision His calm eyes searching the crowd for the woman’s face, fixing His gaze of compassionate love upon her. Scripture records the woman coming with “fear and trembling.” Aware of her healing, she came to Jesus, fell down before Him, and told the whole truth. (Mark 5:33)
Christ’s gentleness drew her to Himself, invited her to unpack the entirety of her brokenness, then responded by publicly calling her His own, “Daughter.” He made her whole.
Not just her body, but her soul.
“Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.” (Mark 5:34)
Amid a stunned crowd, a messenger for Jairus arrives with the tragic news his daughter has died. In the span of time it took Jesus to call one woman out of brokenness and into wholeness, another’s life passed away.
Yet, the gentle Jesus turns unhurried, peace-filled eyes to meet Jairus’ red-rimmed ones, “Don’t be afraid, only believe.” (Mark 5:36)
The nameless woman fades away into the crowd, no longer hiding nor walking with head bowed low. She dances in grace, for the gentleness of Jesus has called her His own, healing her body, heart, and soul.
As for Jairus’ daughter, the Gentle Christ takes her slim, cold hand in His as His divine voice awakens her from death to life. (Mark 5:41-42)
Our desperation, no matter how dire, is no match for the Gentle Christ.
So bring your exhaustion, your desperation, and your faith, and find wholeness in the gentle touch of our Savior.
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!