The Fifth Sunday after Pentecost

‘Have you approached Jesus?”

After calming sea then crossing it several times Jesus and the disciples bring their boat to shore and as their boat nears the shore, a crowd begins to gather. Word had spread rapidly of Jesus’ miracle and healing. One man named Jairus, a leader of the synagogue, was tending his dying daughter when he heard word that Jesus was nearing shore again. He quickly ran to be the first one in line to see Jesus when he comes ashore. As Jesus got out of his boat, Jairus falls at his feet and repeatedly begs him, “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.”

I can just imagine this very influential man, a man who is used to be listened to, taking Jesus’ arm in one hand and pushing the crowd aside with the other, “Jesus come this way!” Perhaps he even yells at the stubborn crowd of people who don’t know what is going on, “Move aside Jesus needs to go to my daughter to heal her!” Then more urgently, “Move Now!!” 

As the crowd moves aside, Jairus starts pacing ahead of Jesus, “Quickly Jesus! Hurry!” Jesus picks up the pace, not because he needs to, but because he wants to ease this man’s fears. 

The parting crowd then follows behind Jesus and continues to press in on him.  

One woman decides to push through the crowd until finally she is just behind Jesus. She reaches out her hand to touch Jesus’ cloak. 

Jesus stops and searches for the person who touched him. He looks all around him, turning to his right and left he asks, “ Who touched me?”

At this point I imagine Jairus is increasingly panicked hoping up and down, This way Jesus! This way!” 

His disciples are probably perplexed as usual wondering if Jesus has lost his mind, Who hasn’t touched you Jesus? There is a crowd of people pressing in on you… Jesus continues to search for the person who touched him and finally the woman comes forward in fear and trembling and falls down on her knees in front of Jesus:

“I’m so sorry I didn’t want to stop you. I know you are off to see the daughter of a very important man. That is more important. I’m sorry. I touched you.” 

I can only imagine that Jesus looks down upon this woman at this moment smiling with compassion and love, “There is no need to apologize. What is your story?”

So we hear in the text that the woman “tells her whole truth.” 

“I have been bleeding for 12 years. I have gone from one doctor’s office to the next. They keep giving me this prescription and they keep saying that it should work, but it never does. It actually makes me worse. This has gone on so long that my family is really tired of helping me.”

At this point, Jairus is in tears insisting that Jesus leave and come to his daughter. The crowd is confused – wondering why Jesus has stopped for so long for this woman who doesn’t even seem to be sick or in trouble. 

Looking around at all the judging faces in the crowd she finally says, “I’m sorry Jesus. I know you need to heal that little girl. I didn’t mean to stop you, I am just so desperate for healing and I believed that even the touch of your clothes could heal me. I didn’t mean to stop you.”

 Then Jesus in his abundant compassion and mercy says, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

While Jesus was talking with the woman and reassuring her, some people came running to tell Jairus that his daughter is dead. They said, “Why trouble the teacher any further?”

I can almost see Jairus eyes. His shock and disbelief, “No! No. This can’t be. Jesus was supposed to save her. No.” Then the ripple effect over the whole crowd turning to Jesus… What is wrong with Jesus that he stopped for this woman with this small issue. Didn’t Jesus know that the dying daughter of an important leaders is far more urgent than this random woman with this chronic illness no one else can see. 

Overhearing all this, Jesus turns from the woman and approaches Jairus who is now on his knees and tells Jairus, “Do not fear, only believe.” Jesus asks someone to help Jairus stand up and walk to his house. He tells the crowd that Jairus’ daughter is only asleep perhaps so that no one would talk about what he was about to do and the crowd starts to laugh at Jesus. Jesus is unfazed by their laughter. He asks a few believers to come with him and goes straight to Jairus’ house where Jairus’ wife is now sobbing. Jesus goes into the room where the little girl is laying. He takes the little girl by the hand and says to her “Little girl, get up.” And we hear that she immediately gets up and starts walking around and at that everyone begins to rejoice and thank Jesus. 

Who are you in the story?

When you pray, are you like the woman with the chronic condition? Perhaps no one can see what ails you? It has caused great suffering in your life, but maybe you think Jesus has more important things to tend to. It’s not as bad as a dying child. So when you pray, you make sure to pray for everyone else and then you just throw in a quick prayer for yourself at the end… you just reach out your hand to touch his cloak quickly… hoping you won’t interrupt Jesus on his way to more important healing work…

Or perhaps you are not shy about asking Jesus for what you need. Perhaps you are more like Jairus. You are the first one in line when Jesus’ boat gets to shore. Perhaps you pull him by the arm, clear the crowd, tell him where to go. 

Notice that Jesus responds to both. He stops for both. He stops for the man who boldly and without thinking leads Jesus to his daughter and he stops for the woman who believes that just a touch of his clothes will make her well. He stops for the man in charge and for the humble woman. Jesus does not need you to be clear and in charge and tell him in perfection what you need and how you need it. He also does not need you to be humble and meek and desiring only quick glance. In Jesus’ great mercy, abundance, and power, he has time and love and compassion and healing no matter how we approach him. 

So how do you approach Jesus? Do you feel like you need to approach him in a particular way? Do you feel like it is only proper to meekly and mildly approach him? Do you feel like you can only approach him for big things so as not to be a bother? Or perhaps you feel like you should always be clear and direct with Jesus in your approach? Today Jesus tells us that there is no prescribed way of approaching him. He can and will stop for all who come to him.

All we need to do is approach him and he will be there for us smiling down upon us asking us for our whole truth.

I imagine there were many people in the crowd who stood at a distance, people who were suffering and in need of healing but did not want to approach Jesus because they thought that would be too bold, too intrusive, too rude and presumptuous. I imagine there were people in that crowd who were suffering, but they try to ignore their suffering so much and deal with it on their own that they did not even make the connection that Jesus could heal their suffering. 

Like these people in the crowd, some of us don’t even approach Jesus.

The other night I started thinking and thinking about some interpersonal dynamics at work. I had talked about them with Eric and thought about how to approach it and as I was wasting away hours thinking and thinking in the middle of the night,  I suddenly realized that I had not approached Jesus about the situation. So I asked Jesus, “please help me heal this situation at work.” And surely I was filled with peace, fell asleep, and have been able to sit back and watch as the situation has and continues to be resolved. 

Jesus is our source of healing. It does not matter how big or urgent our issue is. It does not matter if society labels us important or lowly, and it does not matter how we approach Jesus, it just matters that we approach him. 

In the work that I do I can tell you that all of us have something that Jesus could heal. Today Jesus encourages us to approach him. 

Have you approached Jesus? 

In the week ahead, I invite you to approach Jesus. Ask him to help you in some way each and every day. Go to him, seek him out, reach out to him. Imagine him smiling down upon you and inviting you to tell him your whole story. When you approach Jesus, he will stop for you with kindness and compassion and give you healing.