Richard C. Statham
Senior Pastor; Salem Baptist, McDonough
The Christmas season is a busy time of year for all Americans; but, for certain professions, including the vocational minister, it is extremely busy. In fact, as I type this devotion, the words “extremely busy” seem like an understatement. Beyond all the traditional Christmas Season events my recent weeks have been filled ministering to a higher than normal number of families faced with disease and death.
My recent schedule and the passage for this week’s devotion are reminders that disease and death are ever-present in the human experience. If you are reading this devotion you have been, are presently, or will be touched by disease and death in your own life. The Bible is filled with the living and active memories of people of faith who were confronted with their own experiences of disease and death and how they were sustained through them.
The fifth chapter of Mark contains two familiar stories that speak to this very truth – the woman with the issue of blood and the death of the daughter of a synagogue ruler. The two are woven together by what, at first glance, appears to be the simple fact that both the woman and Jairus were physically present along the Capernaum shoreline on the Sea of Galilee when Jesus came ashore. But, the truth is both approached Jesus for the same reason. The woman and Jairus reached a point where they had nowhere else to turn and had come to the wonderful and glorious realization that Jesus was their only hope!
The woman had been struggling with her “issue” for twelve years, according to the Scripture; and the twelve-year-old daughter of Jairus was afflicted with some sort of “issue” that led to her death. The Bible is clear that both disease and death originated as a consequence of sin – a problem that finds its beginning with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The Apostle Paul wrote, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) to remind the reader that no man, woman, boy, or girl is exempt – all are tainted by the power of sin. And he later writes, “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23) to declare that all are spiritually dead and will physically die as a result. The ultimate disease is sin.
The Scripture passage implies that both the unnamed woman and Jairus had come to the point of utter desperation. The passage implies that the ceremonially unclean woman had exhausted all avenues of treatment and was willing to “break the rules” of Jewish law and custom just to touch the hem of Jesus’ prayer garment believing that He could heal her. The synagogue ruler, Jairus, was willing to publicly humiliate himself by falling to his knees in the company of a great host of people and begging Jesus to come to his home and “put his (Jesus’) hands on her (his daughter) so that she will be healed and live”.
Both acts broke the cultural and religious customs of the day, which clearly indicates they had come to the realization that they were hopeless apart from the intervention of the one of whom many were speaking – Jesus. This is exactly what Jesus was calling for when he said, “blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” and “blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted (Matthew 5:3-4).” He was declaring that a person who wants to become a “Kingdom Person” must come to the point where they recognize they, as sinners, are spiritually bankrupt before a Holy God, and are therefore spiritually “poor.”
Having realized and confessed their own spiritual bankrupt state to The Lord Jesus, they will then be comforted in the grief they experience over their own sin and its cost. Like the Psalmist, both the woman and Jairus cried out to Jesus, “This poor man called, and the LORD heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles (Psalm 34:6).” Desperation that leads one into the presence of Jesus ultimately becomes a tool in the hand of God for one’s good (Note: take the time to read and reflect on the entire 34th Psalm).
The beauty of this passage is that both the woman and Jairus find their deliverance in Jesus. He alone could meet their needs. Jesus brought healing to the woman’s body and life to the daughter of Jairus: but, greater still – Jesus brought healing and life to their hearts. Jesus delivered them from both physical disease and death, on that occasion, to teach a greater truth. The truth that He alone could deliver them eternally from disease and death.
The woman, Jairus, and his daughter would in fact one day physically die as we all shall. But, thanks be to God the Father; Jesus declared, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die (John 11:25).”
The Scripture passage says that the woman “came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering’ (Mark 5:33-34).” Later in the chapter, the text implies, regarding the raising of his daughter that Jairus, his wife, daughter, and three of the disciples “were completely astonished (Mark 5:42).” Jesus’ healing brought forth delight in the hearts of those impacted. Their response was gratitude.
Like these two biblical characters, all of us are in need of Jesus. Long ago, Jesus stepped out of a small boat onto the shore of the ancient city of Capernaum and took a step towards the woman with the “issue of blood” and Jairus the Synagogue Ruler. Their response was to take a step towards Him. Likewise, Jesus has taken a step towards us.
Our needs, whatever they may be, provide opportunities for us to take a step towards Him. Will you join the woman with the “issue” and the heartbroken Jairus and take a step towards Jesus? He’s waiting. Take the step. Like them, you will be glad you did!
Questions to consider:
Have you been faced with disease and death?
Have you ever felt utter desperation?
If so, has that desperation led you to or from the Lord Jesus Christ?
Have you – like the Psalmist, the woman, and Jairus – cried out to the Lord?
How has the Lord Jesus Christ worked in and through your desperation?
How have you responded to the Lord’s kindness? With Delight?
What things does the experience of the Psalmist teach in the 34th Psalm that you can learn from and live out in your own life?