Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Only Believe

Jesus stepped out of the boat and onto the shore. The crowd was waiting for him. He had just returned from the other side of the lake, where he had delivered a demon-possessed man. Apparently the Gentile crowd there valued their pigs more than the man Jesus had set free; they were afraid of Jesus and asked him to leave. But this crowd was more welcoming.

Out of the sea of people came a man in nice clothes. A religious ruler named Jairus. He approached the men getting out of the boat and fell down on his knees at Jesus' feet. Perhaps there was a gasp in the crowd. It's not everyday that a well-to-do religious person falls on their knees in the wet surf and sand.

But something in Jairus' life had brought him to a place of desperation. In this moment he was not concerned about appearing dignified, or keeping his clothes clean. His only daughter was at home dying.
He begged Jesus to come and heal her.

God allows circumstances in our lives to bring us to our knees at Jesus' feet.
(How about you? How concerned are you with being throught well of by the crowd? What will it take to bring you to your knees at Jesus' feet?)

Jesus follows Jairus to his house. Jairus is surely grateful that the Teacher has agreed to come, and he is probably wishing that the crowd would leave; they are slowing Jesus down! We have to hurry!

Suddenly Jesus stops. Jairus stops, too. What's wrong? We have to hurry!

Jesus, scanning the crowd, asks, "Who touched me?" What?! The question should be, who did not touch you? You're in a crowd! But Jesus insisted. "Someone touched me. Power has gone out from me." Many people were touching him, but someone had touched him in faith.

An old woman slowly and fearfully stepped up. "It was me." She told her story as Jairus resisted the urge to cry out, "Jesus, we have to hurry. My only daughter is dying!!"

The old woman had been sick - bleeding - for twelve years. No doctor had been able to cure her. In fact, she was worse! Her money was gone. Her ailment caused her to be ritually unclean. She had not been able to enter the Temple to worship. She was not even supposed to be in that crowd! Everyone she touched would be unclean! Well, almost everyone...

But this woman had faith that Jesus could heal her. If only she could get to him! So now, in the middle of the crowd, she explained to Jesus that she had made her way through the people, reached out, and touched the edge of Jesus' robe - in faith. And she had immediately been healed!

"Daughter," (He spoke with kindness!), "your faith has made you well; go in peace." Instead of making Jesus unclean by touching him, he had made her clean! Like someone falling in a mudpuddle and making the mud clean instead of getting dirty!

Meanwhile Jairus' worst fears have come true. His servant had come during this commotion and informed him that his daughter had died. "Do not trouble the Teacher any more." Jairus felt his heart break. "My only child!!" Even if some people believed Jesus could heal the girl, certainly it was too late now: she was dead! If only this old woman had not stopped Jesus...

Jairus' thoughts were interrupted. Jesus was speaking to him. "Do not fear; only believe, and she will be well."
The words penetrated his heart. He had just seen Jesus heal the woman who touched him. Something stirred in Jairus' soul. He believed. He nodded at Jesus, turned, and began to walk toward his home, Jesus following. As he walked he may have thought, "What am I doing? She's dead! It's hopeless... No, stop. The Teacher said not to fear. Only believe."

Inside the room, Jesus and his three closest disciples stood with Jairus and his wife, who looked down at their dead daughter, tears rolling down their faces. Jairus pulled his heartbroken wife close to his side.

Jesus broke the silence. Taking her by the hand, he said to the little girl, "Child, arise." Jairus felt a lump in his throat; time seemed to stand still as he saw his only child open her eyes and begin to look around. She smiled. Her mother threw her arms around her and began to sob loudly with joy. Jesus told them to give her something to eat, smiling at Jairus.

Luke 8:40-56 paints this beautiful picture of faith we have explored. Perhaps you are standing in the place of Jairus. God is working in your life, using your present circumstances to draw your thoughts heavenward. He is humbling your pride. Maybe you are finding yourself in a desperate place. "I don't care if I look dignified; I need Jesus!"

Perhaps it looked as if Jesus was going to do a mighty work in your life... and then he put you on pause to deal with an old woman who needed healing. "God, we have to hurry!"

Sometimes Jesus heals. Sometimes he does not. His ways are mysterious. But his word is sure. The Lord wants us to trust him. "Do not fear; only believe."

Maybe now is a good time to fall on your knees, or face, at Jesus' feet. Like the old woman pushing through the crowd and the religious ruler named Jairus; man or woman; rich or poor. Both were desperate. Both needed Jesus. Both came to him. And both believed.
Trust Jesus. Trust his timing. Trust his word. He is not in a hurry.
Fall down at his feet and believe.

Your faith has made you well.
Do not fear; only believe.

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