Joshua, our recent high school graduate, was talking with me about his transition from high school to college. He asked me if I thought his deliberate, methodical approach to studying and taking notes was going to be a problem in college. I asked him why he thought it might be a problem. He explained that he knows that the academic demands of college are going to be much more challenging as compared to his experience in high school and he was just wondering. I reminded Joshua that it was his motivation to learn that made him successful in high school. I told him that his approach, the how, to learning was secondary to his desire to learn, the why.
HOW we approach things (and people), and WHY we approach them the way we do are important but they may not be the ultimate key. I have a challenge for you this week. Let’s go to school on this week's Gospel passage.
Remember these literary questions we learned in English? Here is your assignment. This Sunday’s Gospel is a long one but I encourage you to read through it in its entirety. As you do so ask yourself, “How am I approaching God’s Word right now?” and “Why am I doing so?” Be honest with yourself. This is not a test! It is an opportunity to learn.
When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a large crowd gathered around him, and he stayed close to the sea. One of the synagogue officials, named Jairus, came forward. Seeing him he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, saying, “My daughter is at the point of death. Please, come lay your hands on her that she may get well and live.” He went off with him, and a large crowd followed him and pressed upon him.
There was a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years. She had suffered greatly at the hands of many doctors and had spent all that she had. Yet she was not helped but only grew worse. She had heard about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak. She said, “If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured.” Immediately her flow of blood dried up. She felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction. Jesus, aware at once that power had gone out from him, turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who has touched my clothes?” But his disciples said to Jesus, “You see how the crowd is pressing upon you, and yet you ask, ‘Who touched me?’” And he looked around to see who had done it. The woman, realizing what had happened to her, approached in fear and trembling. She fell down before Jesus and told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.”
While he was still speaking, people from the synagogue official’s house arrived and said, “Your daughter has died; why trouble the teacher any longer?” Disregarding the message that was reported, Jesus said to the synagogue official, “Do not be afraid; just have faith.” He did not allow anyone to accompany him inside except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they arrived at the house of the synagogue official, he caught sight of a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. So he went in and said to them, “Why this commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but asleep.” And they ridiculed him. Then he put them all out. He took along the child’s father and mother and those who were with him and entered the room where the child was. He took the child by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise!” The girl, a child of twelve, arose immediately and walked around. At that they were utterly astounded. He gave strict orders that no one should know this and said that she should be given something to eat.
The lesson from the passage.
On the surface this passage is about healing. We could walk away from our first reading and know that Jesus heals. However, as is often the case, there is much more to learn when Jesus is teaching.
First let’s look at the approach, the HOW, of our protagonists.
Notice that Jairus and the woman approach Jesus differently. Jairus, an important, synagogue official approaches Jesus in a public display before the large crowd. The woman, a scorned outcast, takes a much more subtle approach as she touches Jesus’ cloak without anyone but Him knowing.
Now let’s study their WHY.
Both are highly motivated in their pain and suffering. I can’t imagine the desperation that Jairus felt as his daughter lay dying. The woman has suffered in a number of ways for twelve years. She has sought the help of experts only to suffer even more as her affliction worsens. Both seek healing as they reach out to Jesus in desperate hope. They are both greatly motivated to achieve their goal. Not even the large crowds can deter them from… What?
Here is another question to ask. Who? Ask yourself, who is at the core of this message? Of course it is Jesus. Now, notice how He responds. It doesn’t matter who these people are. Jesus plays no favorites. In spite of the desperate situation of Jairus’ dying child, Jesus stops to minister to the woman. So what are we to learn from this passage? There are many lessons.
I believe the true lesson in this is not the how or the why but the Who. How we approach isn’t the key. Our why is important but we learn from Mark’s Gospel that the Who is what matters most. It is the faith of Jairus and the woman that matters the most. That faith is in” The Who” that they approach. Jesus is the Who that answers all of our questions and meets all of our needs.
The Ultimate Answer!
Approach Him. Do so wherever you are, no matter when or how or even why. The other questions are not as significant as the ultimate question of WHO.
Have faith and experience the power of the SON OF GOD who brings healing, answers, comfort and above all else, eternal life.
How about a little homework assignment? Here is a little nugget embedded in the depths of this passage. Notice that the woman’s bleeding began around the same time, 12 years, that the little girl was born. Hmmmm. Jesus. What are you saying to me in that?