Text: Mark 5: 21-43
Proposition: It is not a belief in what Jesus can do that makes faith so effective as it is a faith in Who Jesus is. That is where saving faith occurs.
Introduction: Joni Erickson Tada once said, “Faith isn't the ability to believe long and far into the misty future. It's simply taking God at His Word and taking the next step.” For many faith seems like an unfamiliar experience, they associate faith with a leap into the unknown. In reality faith is only as good as the object in which it is placed. You could look out on a pond in October and see the glaze of ice on it but if you think that it will hold your weight you’d be mistaken no matter how much faith you put into the ice. Your faith is only as good as the object or person in whom you put it. So there is this pragmatic side to faith that knows the object of your faith in your understanding must be good, solid, sure. Then you read the definition of faith in Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” In other words faith needs to know the object or person in which it is placed yet at the same time faith is belief in an unseen hope, a belief that evidences itself in some way. It’s kind of like what an Archbishop from the 1100’s named Anselm once said, “I do not seek to understand so that I may believe, but I believe so that I may understand, and what is more I believe that ‘unless I do believe I shall not understand.” This morning we’re going to see two very different people exercise faith and in each case what they believed shaped what they soon understood about Who Jesus is. Have a look at Mark 5: 21-43 with me.
I. Jairus Understands Who Jesus Is But His Belief in Jesus Is Yet To Be .
Jairus understood Jesus was worthy of great respect, that Jesus could and had done great acts of healing. Jairus understood that Jesus was good, had compassion on people He didn’t even know and if persuaded could heal his very sick 12 year old daughter. So you could say that the object of Jairus faith, Jesus Christ, was good, solid, pure. Jairus comes as a leader of the local synagogue, a man respected and known and he bows at the feet of Jesus and asks that if Jesus will just come to his house and lay His hands on his little girl she will be healed. That’s definitely faith, or at least the first part of faith that places it’s hope in the capability of Jesus. All about them is this crush of the crowd, people pressing in and progress towards his daughter is slow, too slow. Like an ambulance stuck in a traffic jam, all the capability of Jesus seems to be blocked. It’s strange how we sometimes limit God. We feel that a number of things need to be in place before He will help us. We sometimes conclude that His slowness is saying we’re not important to Him or that He doesn’t really care. I mean when you think about it, did Jesus actually have to go to Jairus’ house and lay His hands on the little girl for her to be healed? Couldn’t He have just healed her from where He was like He did with the Centurions servant? Absolutely, Jesus is not limited by distance or touch. Jairus in his understanding of Jesus is practical, Jesus needs to put His hand upon the little girl for healing to be. I’d say that was a reasonable idea but it really was a far more limited understanding of Who Jesus is. They are perhaps just by Jairus house when the unthinkable happens, Jesus stops to help someone else.
II. A Desperate Woman Tries to Take From Jesus What He Wants to Give.
She has suffered from uterine bleeding for 12 years meaning she was getting weaker and weaker. Not only would she be anemic her bleeding would make her in the eyes of Jewish Law, unclean. It would cause to become isolated, rejected. She’d tried doctors and remedies and all had failed her so at this point she was desperate, desperate for what Jesus was able to do. She works her way into the crowd and gets closer and closer to Jesus saying to herself, “If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well.” Then there it is, the moment when she is within reach and she dares to reach out to Jesus. She never would have thought it could happen so quickly, one moment she was very sick and the next moment she knew something had happened, verse 29 says, “Immediately the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of the affliction.” She might have gasped, she likely just stood still and the crowd swirled around and past her and then the unthinkable happened. Jesus stopped and asked loud enough for all to hear, “Who touched my clothes?” I like what Augustine said about this passage, “The flesh presses but faith touches.” It was faith that Christ felt as the power to heal moved within Him. The disciples are a little upset with Jesus, they are in the midst of a crowd, people pushing them along and Jesus asks ‘Who just touched His clothes?’ Jesus hardly hears the disciples rebuke, He turns and looks into the crowd and in just a moment His eyes find hers. It’s an incredible moment, she comes forward, found out, she pours out her story and Jesus gives to her what she could never take. He gives her lasting healing and much more. He restores her body and soul, in the sight of all the people, He tells her that faith in Him has made her well, not just touching His clothes. He wants her to know that she needn’t try to take anything from Him because by grace He wants to give to her what she is so desperate for. Perhaps we could also say that what Jesus said to this desperate woman who now believed in Jesus was in some part also for Jairus benefit. He needed to hear about the way believing in Jesus changes life. She is healed but more, she believes. That’s the moment when the friends of Jairus suddenly push through and say to him words that crack like a bone, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” Look what happens next.
III. Jairus Faith Changes From a Belief About Jesus to a Belief In Jesus.
I would think that Jairus was barely able to grasp the words that Jesus then said, “Do not be afraid; only believe.” Numb, stumbling in step and heart they walk past a crowd gathered to mourn death. Perhaps Jairus hears Jesus tell the crowd to wait, perhaps he hears Jesus call just Peter, James and John to walk with them, perhaps Jairus hears Jesus tell the crowd the girl is just asleep and hears the mocking ridicule they respond with. Perhaps when grief comes crashing in you hear everything but don’t hear anything. I would think that for Jairus there would be one question going through his mind, ‘How can anyone reverse the irreversible? How can anyone change the certainty of death?’ The father and the mother, the three disciples and Jesus enter the room where the little girls body lay. Jesus reaches out and takes her little hand and says, “Talitha, cumi,”… “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” Look at verse 42, “Immediately the girl arose and walked, for she was twelve years of age. And they were overcome with great amazement.” Peculiar wording isn’t it, “for she was 12 years of age”. I think that it is just a simple statement of fact, of course a 12 year old can walk. It emphasizes another statement of fact, “Of course if Jesus lifts you up from death you will breathe and walk and eat and be and love and hug. Great amazement hardly comes close to what was going on in that room. What was happening is that there was now a faith in Christ where before there had only been a faith about Christ. It was as Anselm had said, “… I believe that ‘unless I do believe I shall not understand.”
These two people’s lives were just like yours is today, their belief in Jesus has been recorded for you that like them you would have a faith that Jesus seeks to reveal. Like the woman, Jesus calls you out, to publicly receive what you are desperate for. Like Jairus, He tells you to not be afraid, only believe. By His life, death and resurrection He promises to you, ‘Arise’. Have life as never before. Today if you hear His voice, take His hand. In faith believe and then receive Him.