2019-4-14 Waiting on Jesus

Waiting on Jesus
Mark 5:21-43
April 14, 2019

And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about him, and he was beside the sea. 22 Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet 23 and implored him earnestly, saying, ‘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.’ 24 And he went with him.

And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. 25 And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, 26 and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. 27 She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. 28 For she said, ‘If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.’ 29 And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30 And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, ‘Who touched my garments?’ 31 And his disciples said to him, ‘You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’ ’ 32 And he looked around to see who had done it. 33 But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. 34 And he said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.’

35 While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler’s house some who said, ‘Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?’ 36 But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, ‘Do not fear, only believe.’ 37 And he allowed no one to follow him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. 38 They came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and Jesus saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. 39 And when he had entered, he said to them, ‘Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping.’ 40 And they laughed at him. But he put them all outside and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him and went in where the child was. 41 Taking her by the hand he said to her, ‘Talitha cumi,’ which means, ‘Little girl, I say to you, arise.’ 42 And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement. 43 And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat. [1]

This is the Word of God for the people of God. Thanks be to God.

Prayer of Illumination:

Eternal God, whose Word silences the shouts of the mighty: Quiet within us every voice but your own. Speak to us through the suffering and death of Jesus Christ, that by the power of your Holy Spirit we may receive grace to show Christ’s love in lives given to your service. Amen.

For the past few weeks, Jesus has been demonstrating that he is lord. First he did that by commanding the wind and the sea with just his word. He showed that he is lord over creation. Then we saw Jesus cast out a legion of demons from a man and restore him. He showed that he is lord over the demons. Today we will finish up this subsection in Mark by seeing that Jesus is lord over disease and death.

In this passage, we’ll see that God’s time is not our time, Jesus disciples his people, and Jesus’ power over death.

In God’s Time

Jesus has just returned to Capernaum and he meets Jairus. Jairus is one of the rulers of the synagogue there in Capernaum. Literally, he is the chief of the synagogue. He wasn’t a priest or a rabbi. He was a lay elder. He would have been in charge of finances and oversight of the teaching, making sure those who teach are orthodox. He was an important person in the community.

He comes and tells Jesus that his little girl is at death’s door and implores Jesus to lay his hands on her so that she could be made well. Jesus goes with him. And as they are making their way through the crowd that had formed to hear Jesus preach and teach, when he suddenly stops. He feels power go out from him. He knows that someone has been healed. And he is going to stop and minister to this person.

The person who had just been healed was a woman “who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, 26 and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse.” While this is a serious issue, it is not life threatening. A little girl lie dying, needing immediate attention from Jesus. This could wait until after the girl had been helped.

If you ever walk into an emergency room you’ll see this principle at play. Life threatening issues come before serious chronic issues. Someone comes in unconscious from a car crash is going to be treated before someone who has come in with chronic shoulder pain. Someone at death’s door is always treated before someone who isn’t, even if it is a serious, long term issue. Any doctor who doesn’t treat the car crash victim first would be guilty of malpractice.

And yet Jesus does. Jesus stops and won’t move until the person who has just been healed comes forward. He kept asking, “Who touched me?” He asked repeatedly. The disciples, with a tone of annoyance and urgency respond, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’” They know time is of the essence if they want to heal the little girl and save her from death. But Jesus is insistent.

The woman who was healed comes forward with fear and trembling and begins to tell her story. She tells that she has been bleeding for twelve years continually, that she has spent all of her money on doctors and their cures, but nothing helped, her bleeding only grew worse.

God’s time is not our time. God will not be rushed or hurried. He works in a time that his all his own. Every culture has its own sense of time. When I was in Germany on a mission trip, my team was waiting for the bus. The bus was a minute and a half late. Ninety seconds. A woman standing at the stop with us commented that the bus was late. As soon as the bus pulled up, the driver apologized for being late. In German culture, if someone says they will be there at a certain time, they expect that they will be there promptly on time.

The global south has completely different sense of time. Time in Latin and South America is much more fluid. If someone says they will be there at 9, you can guarantee they won’t be there at 9. They might show up at 11 and that is culturally acceptable. They have a different sense of time.

God’s sense of time is his own sense of time. Back in Genesis 3, God made the first promise that something would be done about sin and evil. He promised that a seed of the woman would come and defeat the serpent. The seed didn’t come with the birth of Cain and Abel. The seed didn’t come with Abraham, Isaac, and Israel. The seed came thousands of years later with the birth of Jesus.

God will not be rushed. He will not be hurried. He works in his own time, knowing exactly when he should act. He won’t be rushed because he loves us. He knows what is best for us and when it is best for him to act. And so he acts in his own time.

He calls us to trust him in that. He calls us to trust that he is acting in his own time and it will all make sense later. That’s not always easy for us. Waiting on God and trusting that things will happen in his time is incredibly hard. I’m not speaking out of some academic knowledge; I’m speaking from personal experience.

I’ve shared that before I came here, I spent a lot of time waiting for a call. I began looking for a call back in the fall of 2014 when I was finishing my education. I didn’t receive a call until three years later, when you asked if I would be your pastor. That was three years of waiting on God’s timing. I can tell you that wasn’t always easy. There were days where it was incredibly hard to understand why I was waiting when others weren’t. But God’s timing is not ours. He works in his own time. As we wait, he calls us to trust him.

Maybe you’re waiting on God to act. Maybe you’re waiting on God to do something in your life. Maybe you’ve been waiting a long time. Let me encourage you to continue waiting. Say as the psalmist says, “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning” (Psalm 130:5-6). Continue to wait and trust in God, knowing that he will act in his own time when it is the right time to act.

Jesus and Discipleship

While Jairus is waiting, Jesus takes the time to make disciples. Neither Jairus nor the woman are disciples. The two of them probably have a limited understanding of who Jesus is.

Jairus probably knew Jesus as a teacher and healer. It’s possible he has heard Jesus teach in the synagogue of Capernaum. Remember, he was the chief of the synagogue. It’s quite possible that he was there when Jesus began his public ministry back in Mark 1:21-28 where he taught as one who had authority and cast out a demon. All Jairus knew was that Jesus was a holy man who could heal. He may not have liked all that Jesus said but he was desperate.

The woman probably knew even less than Jairus. She had probably heard about his miracles; she had probably heard that he has healed countless people. And that’s all she knows. She views him as if Jesus is just a miracle-worker. There is superstition in her belief of Jesus. That’s shown by her thinking that she just needs to touch his garment. Her faith is mixed with superstition and magic.

But notice, Jesus brings them into a discipleship relationship. He corrects the woman’s faith. He has her publicly tell the story. He does that not to embarrass her, because that would have. She would have had to confess that she was ceremonially unclean because she had been bleeding for twelve years and that she had spent all she had on treatments. He doesn’t do that to humiliate her. He does it to correct her faith. She needs to know that Jesus isn’t a magician. It’s not because she did something that she is healed. Jesus says, “Daughter, your faith has made you well”. It was trusting that Jesus could and would heal her.

But he also does it to restore her to the community. For twelve years, this woman has been cut off from the community due to her bleeding. That would have made her ceremonially unclean. People would have avoided her so they didn’t become unclean either. And ultimately that would have excluded her from temple worship. By having her tell all of the little details about her bleeding, her corrects her faith and restores her to the community.

In doing so, Jesus brings her into a discipleship relationship. She just wanted a miracle, but Jesus won’t let her leave with a wrong understanding. Jesus will not let this woman have some “magical” experience and think of Jesus as some mere miracle-worker. He will not let her continue in her superstition. He corrects her to make her a disciple. He corrects her so she has a better understanding of who he is; he corrects her faith will flourish.

Jesus brings his people into a discipleship relationship. He does not let his people continue in superstitious forms of faith. He corrects our wrong beliefs. At times, he may put up with them; he may allow us for a time to have superstitious or wrong beliefs. But he will correct them.

He does that as we read Scripture. As we read Scripture, we see Jesus for who he truly is. We come with wrong perceptions, with superstitious beliefs and Scripture corrects those beliefs. It doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time. We have wrong thoughts, wrong beliefs, but the more we read those beliefs are corrected. As we read, the Holy Spirit illumines our minds and hearts to where we have superstitious and wrong beliefs and then corrects us. That is what it is to be a disciple. It is to be corrected by God in our faith.

Discipleship doesn’t just mean reading our bibles all on our own. Discipleship means that we are restored to a worshipping community. As Americans, we often think of our faith as private. We think “give me my bible and Jesus and I’m good. I don’t need anything else”. But the truth is we need community. We need to be part of the visible church.

Being part of a community of believers is one of the ways Jesus corrects us. In a community of believers, we see men and women who have gone before us; men and women who have been disciples of Christ longer. They can help us in our faith. They can correct some of our wrong beliefs.

As Jesus is making a disciple, some men from Jairus’ house come. They come with bad news. Jairus’ daughter has died

Jesus’ Power Over Death

Despite the death of the young girl, Jesus insists on going anyway. When he arrives at the house, the people have already begun the mourning process. There are women there wailing and weeping for the death of the little girl.

When Jesus enters, he says that the girl is just sleeping. Now, some people think that means this girl isn’t dead. They say she was just in a coma and that this isn’t a resurrection, just a resuscitation.  The girl is dead. That’s why the mourners laugh at Jesus. They know that she’s dead.

Once the room has been cleared, Jesus takes the little girl by the hand and says, “Talitha cumi”, which means ‘little girl, I say to you arise’. That’s how a parent would wake their child. It’s tender, it’s compassionate. And she does. She gets up, walks around, and eats.

Notice, Jesus simply speaks and the girl comes back to life. He doesn’t use any incantations. He doesn’t call on a higher power. He doesn’t do anything. He simply speaks and the girl comes back to life. In the Old Testament, the prophet Elisha brings a boy back to life. He lies on top of the boy and breathes into his lungs. Jesus doesn’t do any of that. He simply speaks and she comes back to life.

The last two weeks, we have seen Jesus demonstrate his lordship in various ways. He calmed a storm with his word. He cast out a legion of demons by speaking. But this is a harder enemy. A storm is one thing, but death is something completely else.

But Jesus shows he lord over even death itself. He can bring people back from the dead. For those in Christ death has no power because death has been defeated by his death. By dying on the cross, Jesus defeated death. “‘O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”[2]

That means for those of us in Christ, death is nothing but sleep. If you are in Christ, you have no worries about death. Death has lost its sting; death has been defeated. We may die but it’ll be like falling asleep. We’ll fall asleep and wake up to Christ saying, “O my sweet child, arise”. We will wake up in his presence where nothing can hurt us again.

In the final book of C.S. Lewis’ “Chronicles of Narnia”, the children die in a railway accident. They find themselves in a land that looks like Narnia but better than Narnia. Everything is better; everything is bigger; they can run faster and farther. Aslan says to them, “The dream is ended: this is the morning”.

In Christ, death doesn’t end the story. Rather, we will wake up to what everything should have been. We will wake up to a renewed heavens and earth, where there is no pain, there is no suffering. The dream will have ended and we will wake up to the most glorious of mornings.

God acts in his own time. Sometimes we don’t always understand why. It may take longer than we want but he is teaching us patience. As he teaches us, he brings us into discipleship. He corrects our faith and brings us into the community of faith. And in this community, nothing can separate us from him. Not even death.

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mk 5:21–43). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (1 Co 15:55–57). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.