This morning the WORD for Today reading was Luke 8. This is an amazing chapter with several wonderful stories … mostly about miracles! In particular, I was captivated by a “scriptural-mash-up” of two stores that begin in verse 40 and conclude with verse 56 (the end of the chapter).
Now when Jesus returned, a crowd welcomed him, for they were all expecting him. 41 Then a man named Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue, came and fell at Jesus’ feet, pleading with him to come to his house 42 because his only daughter, a girl of about twelve, was dying. Luke 8:40-42
So Jesus was approached by a man who pleads with Him to help his daughter who is dying. As a parent, I cannot think of anything more near and dear to my heart. So when Jesus heads out to help her, everything looks good. But pay careful attention to what happens next.
As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. 43 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. 44 She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped. 45 “Who touched me?” Jesus asked. When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.” 46 But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.” 47 Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. 48 Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.” Luke 8:42b-48
Jesus starts out to care for a dying child and He gets caught in a traffic jam! No cars, just people pressing in so tightly that “the crowds almost crushed him.” I have been in traffic jams like that. I have been in crowds like that. They are no fun. Worst of all, you cannot move. Getting anywhere takes forever. Everything slows to a snail’s pace. Normally, that might be okay. But this time, Jesus is on His way to save a life!
Now, just think about the father of the little girl who is dying. Can you imagine how he is feeling. He knows his daughter is dying and this crowd is slowing Jesus down! Every minute matters! Then, another excruciating delay. Jesus stops to heal someone in the crowd … and have a conversation. Yes, it is wonderful that Jesus cares. Yes, this dad is happy for this woman’s healing. But really! This is taking too long!
Then, he sees a familiar face moving toward him. And he can tell from the look on his servant’s face what the news will be. She’s gone. And the father’s frustration and fear, resolve into devastation! All hope is gone.
While Jesus was still speaking, someone came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. “Your daughter is dead,” he said. “Don’t bother the teacher anymore.” 50 Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.” 51 When he arrived at the house of Jairus, he did not let anyone go in with him except Peter, John and James, and the child’s father and mother. 52 Meanwhile, all the people were wailing and mourning for her. “Stop wailing,” Jesus said. “She is not dead but asleep.” 53 They laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. 54 But he took her by the hand and said, “My child, get up!” 55 Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up. Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat. 56 Her parents were astonished, but he ordered them not to tell anyone what had happened. Luke 8:49-56
Amazing! Here’s what jumped out at me this morning. I can get pretty frustrated with God. I trust Him, but all too often his timing seems slow. Sometimes His answers seem off. Sometimes I just don’t like His answers (or lack thereof). But the amazing thing is, Jesus IS really good at what He does!
Jesus can take the most frightening, frustrating, discouraging, and devastating circumstances and turn them into something beautiful. He takes this heartbreaking situation and turns it into two miracles. One of those miracles is beyond imagination!
You want other examples? People: Every one of the disciples were broken … and Jesus used them to change the world. Places: The stable where Jesus was born had to be stinky and gross … and of absolutely NO consequence to anyone and Jesus turned it into one of the most blessed places in the history of the world. Situations: The cross. Covered in shame and pain and disgrace, the Cross has become the focal point of hope and forgiveness for all people and all time!
Jesus brings hope! That’s what we are talking about in the sermon this weekend. We all face (from time to time) frustration, fear, discouragement and devastation (and lots of other emotions). Into EVERY ONE of those circumstances … EVERY ONE … Jesus brings hope! You and I need hope.