Today’s Gospel reading contrasts our human impatience with God’s infinite patience and steadfastness.
Jesus gets off the boat after returning from a trip with the disciples and is immediately is accosted by Jairus, local religious leader whose daughter is dying; He asks Jesus to go to his house right away and heal the little girl; Jesus agrees. On the way to the house with the crowd pressing in among him, a woman who has been dealing with a bleeding problem for 12 years who is so desperate for healing, touched Jesus’ cloak and is healed.
Yet instead of continuing on, Jesus stops to converse with the healed woman and apparently the little girl dies. Think about it in today’s medical terms, the woman with a chronic condition is getting attention instead of the little girl who has an acute condition. This makes no sense. It is absolutely irrational. In fact, it’s worse than that: it’s malpractice. If these two were in the same emergency room, any doctor who treated the woman first and let the little girl die would be sued.
Can you imagine how that father felt when Jesus stopped to talk with the woman while his little girl was in the process of dying? “What are you doing? Don’t you understand the situation? Hurry or it will be too late.
The little girl needs help from you now. Hurry Jesus Hurry!”
But Jesus will not be hurried, even after receiving definite word that Jairus’ daughter was reported dead. At that point Jesus calmly says to the distraught man, “Don’t be afraid, just believe” (5:36)
In essence Jesus says to Jairus, Trust me. Be patient. There’s no need to hurry. This is hard to understand for us in our “I want it and I want it now” culture. A culture that demands faster and faster internet connections, honks or worse when someone cuts in front of us on the highway. Can’t stand to wait in line at the grocery store; a culture that demands overnight packages and so on.
Yes, God’s sense of timing will confound ours. His grace rarely operates according to our schedule. When Jesus looks at Jairus and says, “Trust me be patient”, he is looking over that man’s head and at all of us and saying, “I’m telling you that my grace and love are compatible with what seems to you to be unconscionable delays”. It’s not ‘I will not be hurried even though I love you: it’s I will not be hurried because I love you. And if you try to impose your understanding of schedule and timing on me, you will struggle to feel loved by me.’ When I look at God’s delays in my life, I realize that a great deal of my problem has been rooted in arrogance. I say something like this, ‘Ok you are the eternal Son of God, you’ve lived for all eternity, you created the universe. But actually I know better than you do about how my life should be going. Get on the ball.’
At such moments I have delusions of my own self-importance in the affairs of the universe. Of course it means that I am acting out of fear and insecurity. But the message today is that we can come, to God freely in faith and trust.
It wasn’t some sort of magic touch that healed the woman and raised the young girl. It was their faith. To the woman Jesus said, “your faith has made you well:” to Jairus “do not fear only believe.”
For you see, faith though itself powerless, is the channel through which Jesus’s power can work. He is not a one man emergency center. He was of course bringing God’s healing power but his aim went beyond that. Christ’s healing miracles were signs of the deeper healing that God was to accomplish through his death and resurrection. Those are the means by which the living God is remaking and healing the world, for you and me, and for those for whom we pray. Faith, however much fear and trembling may accompany it, is the sign that we believe that this indeed is what God is doing.
Today we are being asked to move beyond seeing God as a quick fix, Jesus on demand as it were; we don’t like them but God’s delays can result in greater trust in God’s purposes for us and all of His creation; in a time of great calamity for Israel the writer of Lamentations saw those greater purposes; the writer penned words that have sustained millions of believers throughout the ages; maybe they will strike a chord with you this morning. “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning, new every morning; great is your faithfulness O Lord, great is your faithfulness. Amen.