There Could Be No Better Object of Our Faith Than Jesus.

Posted: March 10, 2013 in Mark, Sermon Manuscripts

[Author’s note: Any sermon manuscript found on this blog is written pre-preaching, which means that invariably the content is slightly different than what is actually heard in the sermon. If you’d like to listen to the audio of this sermon, please visit our website here.]
Good morning! Go ahead and turn in your copy of God’s Word to Mark chapter five. So we’ve been in Mark since we launched here in September, and up until a couple weeks ago we were flying through the ministry of Jesus.

We spent the better part of six months covering about a year of Jesus’ life, but today marks the seventh week that we’ve spent looking at a two-day period in Jesus’ life. Mark really slows down for a bit. It’s as if Mark wants to slow down not just to cover a few key events in greater detail, but it’s like he’s giving us a realistic look at the ministry of Jesus.

Jesus didn’t spend his last few years on this planet loafing around, doing a bit of ministry here and there. He was busy. He was like Jack Bauer. He never stopped moving among His people. Not until His ascension into heaven. Until then, it was go, go, go, as long as his body would let him. John tells us at the end of his gospel that if everything Jesus did was written about, the world wouldn’t be a large enough library for those books. That’s a lot of ministry.

This sequence of events that we’re looking at included Jesus’ day of teaching about the Kingdom of God. From there he and his disciples began to cross the Sea of Galilee, where a storm threatened to sink their boat. Jesus calmed the storm and the sea, demonstrating his divinity and power over creation. Once they reached land, Jesus was confronted with a demon-possessed man who became an evangelist for the Kingdom.

Our text picks up today in verse twenty-one, where we find Jesus returning to Capernaum. When you put the chronology together, we realize that Jesus had only left the day before. Yet even as he arrives, a great crowd is already gathered, waiting for his return. Crazy part is- the people had no reason to assume he was returning so soon.

So there’s Jesus. He’d spent the day before teaching. He was so tired that he was sleeping during the storm. Arriving on the other side of the lake, he was casting demons out of the demoniac and being asked to leave, now he’s arrived back to where he’d just sailed from the day before, and already there is a massive crowd with nothing else to do but wait for this miracle man to come back. Perhaps some of the boats that had been caught in the storm had returned to Capernaum and spread the news of Jesus’ power, if they’d seen it in action the night before.

Whatever the reason, these people weren’t interested in letting Jesus rest. And rather than chart a new course upon seeing these people waiting for him, Jesus lands the boat prepared to give even more of himself, to lovingly and diligently minister to these people so desperate for his touch.

And there was never a shortage of people needing help from Jesus. There still isn’t. Today we’re going to meet two in particular; two people that couldn’t be much more different from each other, yet both in great need. Each at the end of their rope, each desperate for Divine help.

Ever been there? Are you there now? If so, listen very carefully as this story unfolds. Might just be you we read about.

Let me introduce you to a man named Jairus. (Juy-rus!) Jairus was a Jew- a ruler in the synagogue, even. While his duties may have involved teaching, he would have more likely been more involved in maintaining the day-to-day business of the synagogue. Not necessarily a Pharisee, or Saducee, or scribe, or rabbi, his job would have been to take care of the scrolls, take care of the facility, perhaps be the administrator over the synagogue school. It was a respected position, one of prestige.

This means he was well respected, religious, devoted, an elder in a position of leadership. In our culture and terminology, we could say he was a pastor in the local church. Employed, admired, Jairus is a made man. But he’s got a problem at home. A big problem. His only child, his little twelve-year old girl, is sick. Beyond sick. Dying.

I hate when my kids are sick. I hate when I’m sick, or Sarai, but it’s different when it’s your kids. It’s even more different when it’s your little girl. My son Uriah gets sick- meh. Builds character. Little cold won’t hurt. Makes him stronger, right? But Gracie? That’s a different story. That one tugs at my heartstrings. That little girl has got me wrapped around her finger. When she’s fighting a cold and snotting up and wants to just crawl up in my lap and let me hug her- that’ll break my heart fast.

I have a bond with my son that Gracie will never experience, but the same is true with her. I find that more often than not I don’t call her Gracelyn, or Gracie. Most the time it’s “Babygirl.” I call her that so much that Uriah has started to call her that as well. Babygirl.

I don’t know what I’d do if she got sick- I mean, really sick. I can only imagine how it would feel if she were sick and the doctors told me to leave her home because there’s nothing more to do for her. I can only imagine the helplessness and frustration that would come from seeing her life slipping away and not being able to do a thing about it. Can you imagine the internal torment that would come with seeing your child dying and being powerless to stop it?

That’s where Jairus is. His Babygirl is dying, and in the back of his mind he’s begun to wonder if it’s true- these reports that have been floating around about the power of Jesus to heal. He may have even been there the day that Jesus cast the demons out of that one man in the middle of the synagogue. But no doubt Jairus had heard much about this Jesus of Nazareth.

No doubt he was familiar with the hatred that was welling up toward Jesus from the Pharisees. No doubt he was part of the damage-control as the religious elite sought to discredit the messianic claims of this rebel.

But things have begun to change drastically in Jairus’ mind, and finally he reaches the point where he has a decision to make. He can stay home and watch his little girl die, or he can track down Jesus. This rebel, this enemy of the Jews. This man who, just maybe, can heal his daughter.

And he chooses the latter. He has no other option but to seek help from Jesus. So now Jairus is in this crowd of people who are hanging out by the lake, waiting to see if Jesus comes back to their town. And I can see him now, pacing back and forth with so much on his mind. Hoping beyond hope that somehow he can convince Jesus to come help his girl. Wondering what this would do to his reputation among the Jewish community. Risking his job, his prestige, perhaps even his own life, just for the chance that his daughter would be healed.

Wondering if, even as he’s waiting for Jesus, if he made the right choice in leaving his baby girl.

But then Jesus is on land and all doubts and thoughts of self-preservation vanish from Jairus’ mind, and he falls before Jesus. Synagogue rulers didn’t bow before Jesus. Jairus did. There is no room for arrogance in the presence of the Son of God. Only humility.

Mark tells us that he begged Jesus, “Please. My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she be made well and live. Please.”

Imagine what’s going through Jairus’ mind right then. Here were thousands of people waiting for a personal touch from Jesus, to hear from Jesus. And here he was, part of Jesus’ enemies, with the audacity to ask Jesus to leave where he was, just to come to his house? And yet remarkably…Jesus does just that.

As Jesus begins his walk to Jairus’ house, the crowd naturally follows him- aggressively. This crowd was prone to do that- remember that Jesus finally had to teach them from a boat? They’d pressed in to the point of putting him in the water, and now as he’s walking they’re encircling him, a teeming mass of humanity that is pressed in all around him.

In this faceless crowd is someone else I would like to introduce to you. Someone who, like Jarius, is desperate. Someone who, while watching Jesus leaving to go heal this man’s daughter, realizes that her own slim chance for a miracle is slipping away from her.

See, this woman had been bleeding for twelve years- for as long as this little girl whose house Jesus was going to had been alive. Probably a uterine hemorrhage. One could imagine the physical discomfort that comes with this. Low blood pressure, racing heartbeat, dizziness.

But that really doesn’t even scratch the surface of this woman’s misery. The treatments that she’d undergone were just as bad as her problems were. The quacks of her day had no clue how to treat her, but were glad to charge her for their ineffective treatments.

But even all that isn’t the biggest part of her problem. See…according to Jewish law, this woman was considered to be unclean. And that was a problem, ‘cause she lived in a Jewish culture. Or at least, tried to. But she couldn’t. Not with this. Menstration in the Old Testament was seen as a depiction of the way that sin defiles and corrupts, and so women were considered unclean for a week after their bleeding stopped. But what if it never stopped?

What this bleeding meant was that for this woman, there had been no personal touch for twelve years. No warm hugs, no arms around her shoulders, not even a pat on the back. No intimacy for her husband, so if she had ever been married, by now she would have been long divorced.

She wouldn’t have been allowed to worship in the synagogue, or learn about God. There would have been no community groups- nothing. No lasting or respectable job, and what little money she did have had gone to the doctors. She had nothing. No friends. No one to turn to. No family. No one to love her as she could tell Jairus loved his little girl.

I love going home and having my kids yell “Hi!” and rush me for hugs. This woman probably didn’t remember what hugs felt like.

Out of money, out of solutions, this woman knows that she has only one chance at a normal life, and his name was Jesus. And she’s in this crowd just as desperate for a miracle as Jairus was. But here’s the difference- Jairus is well-liked, respected, and has no problems begging Jesus to help him. But she was a woman- and an unclean woman at that!

But that won’t stop her, because whether by superstition or sheer ignorance, she believed that even if she simply touched his robe, she would be healed. Such was the power of this man Jesus.

So here she is in this crowd, slipping through, trying not to be noticed and called out for being so close, if she can just get close enough- and there he is! Sneaking through, as this crowd is moving along the road, voices a dull roar, she’s finally behind him…and she reaches out, and praying that no one sees her, she touches his clothes.

And time stops. Immediately she knows that she’s been healed. The bleeding stops, and whatever problem was causing it was gone. About the time she realizes this, she realizes that Jesus has stopped. Mark tells us that “Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said ‘Who touched my garments?’”

His disciples are incredulous. “Come on, Jesus! You’re in the middle of a crowd like this, people are constantly jostling you, and now you want to know who touched you? Who hasn’t touched you??”

But Jesus’ eyes are scanning the crowd, and as he looks around his gaze settles on this woman, who now is terrified. Not because she fears being condemned for her disease- the disease is gone. She wasn’t embarrassed over her actions, because she was past being ashamed, if it meant being healed.

No, she’s terrified because in the moment she knew she was healed, she knew that she was in the presence of God. Jesus wasn’t simply a healer. He was much, much more than that.

Falling before him, signifying the he was greater than she, she told him what she’d done. So as this stopped crowd listened to this terrific tale of nonsense, as Jairus is wondering when Jesus is going to leave this outcast woman and continue on to his house, Jesus replies to the woman for all to hear:

“Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

Daughter.

Did you know that this is the only woman that we find calling Jesus calling “daughter”? Not only it that itself odd, but if this woman’s been bleeding for twelve years, it’s not unlikely that she was older than Jesus. Certainly not young enough to actually be his daughter. So why does He call her that?

He calls her that because she doesn’t have a Jairus in her life. She doesn’t have a dad who is willing to come to Jesus on her behalf. She doesn’t have a dad who is racked with fear, and worry, about her disease. She doesn’t have someone who’s willing to lose everything they’ve got on her behalf.

And Jesus is looking her in the face, this man who she’s recognized as more than man, and He’s saying to her, “You’ve got me!” I love you like that. This woman had spent all her money, had struggled alone for a dozen years, had been without meaningful communication, had been without acceptance, had nothing like a Jarius in her life, and Jesus says “It’s ok. I love you. I accept you. I will save you.” The love that you have been looking for? You’ve found it, my daughter.

I can’t help but to think that many of our friends, family, and neighbors here in Crozet are in the same place this woman found herself in. Maybe even you. We’re all born into the disease of sin, this corrupting, life-taking, joy-stealing, spiritual death that leaves us hollowed out on the inside and searching for fulfillment, for healing.

We try to “fix” this problem in a variety of ways. Some of us try to find acceptance among our peers, and so we model our lives after those around us. Problem is, there’s always someone with a bigger house or flashier car, and so we work longer hours and go further into debt trying to keep up, trying to maintain our position in their eyes.

And so while we think we’re ok to our neighbors, while we pursue the things we think we need to find fulfillment, we look around and realize that intimacy with our husband is long gone, that our wives have checked out emotionally. Our kids see us as strangers, but it’s ok. Look how many square feet I have. Look at my car. Look at my office.

Some people turn to other substances to fill the void. Drugs. Alcohol. Many of you were with us this past week ministering to the homeless community in Charlottesville. It doesn’t take long to see just how many of them live in a drunken stupor, or high as a kite, just to cope with life. Just to fill that emptiness up.

Others turn to sex- especially women who were devoid a father figure in their lives. They’ll do whatever it takes to feel the love of a man, because in their mind that’s what they’re absent. That’s what they’re missing. That’s what they need to be whole.

For many of us the answer is moralism. We see people in the church who seem to have their act together, and so we go to church to learn the rules and figure out how it is that we can get in good with God. And that works for us, for as long as we can play the game- right?

But when we fail to be perfect, or when we see someone who has an authentic relationship with Jesus, it only serves to remind us that the hole is still there. Try as we might, our careers, our families, our partying, our religion- nothing of these things are going to fix our problem. There’s only one solution, and His name is Jesus.

What a beautiful thing Jesus says here. He declared her clean. Healed. Saved. Jesus literally says, “Your faith has saved you.” What a beautiful picture of the gospel that we have here.

So many people get wrapped up in religious externals, trying to earn God’s favor. Some of His own people do the same thing, for that matter. But Isaiah tells us that all the external things we do to make God happy? Yeah- God sees them as filthy rags. They are as disgusting to Him as this woman’s rags that controlled her bleeding.

And yet when she humbles herself and in faith reaches out to Jesus, he takes every last bit of her filthiness and removes it from her. She doesn’t make Jesus unclean by touching Him; He makes her clean. And He tells her to go in peace. Be healed. I’ve taken this from you, Jesus says. Live in this reality.

How tragic is it that so many have embraced Jesus as Savior, yet refuse to live in the reality that we are now at peace with God. We have been adopted as sons, as daughters…and yet peace eludes us because we’re still trying to earn a seat at the table.

As Jesus is talking to the woman, perhaps to the crowd around her, runners come from the ruler’s house, and the news isn’t good. “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?”

At the same time that Jesus is giving new life to this woman who was placed all her faith on Him, Jairus, who had done the same, and first, learns that it’s too late. While Jesus was healing this woman, his little girl died. It was over. Done.

But Jesus hears what they’re saying and quickly tells Jairus, “Do not fear, only believe.”

Leaving the crowd behind, Jesus allowed no one to follow him except for Peter, James, and John. As they arrive at Jairus’ home, they find the funeral festivities already under way. Mourners, both legit and hired, are wailing and weeping over the death of this precious little girl.

And Jesus gets a little weird again. He asks the mourners, “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead, but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. They knew what death was. Didn’t take a genius to know she was gone, that her spirit had long departed.

Jesus doesn’t waste His time arguing with them, but rather kicks them out of the house and together Jesus, Peter, James, John, Jairus, and Jairus’ wife go back to where this girl is, where she had stopped fighting, where her body had become an empty husk.

I bet you Jairus’ heart broke right there. Had to have. Seeing her broken, lifeless body. Watching Jesus take her by the hand and saying “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” Not even having time to ponder the absurdity of that comment before his precious baby girl stands to her feet. And their jaws drop.

Man, I’d love to know what went through her mind as upon being given new life Jesus’ voice is the first she hears. Jesus’ face is the first face she sees. Jesus’ hand is the first thing she feels. What a beautiful picture we have of the assurance that death is nothing to be feared as God’s people. Jesus is waiting for us.

This small group of people is stunned. Doesn’t surprise Jesus, though. Jesus says “Hey- get this girl some food. She’s been through a lot. And don’t tell anyone about this.” As if the crowd outside isn’t going to notice that Jairus’ daughter is alive! “Don’t tell anyone about this.”

‘Cause here’s the deal, guys. Jesus’ primary mission wasn’t one of healing. That’s not what He wanted to be known for. That isn’t why He had come. He hadn’t just come to heal people, though He does. He came to save.

I’d like our band to come on up and in a bit we’ll sing our last worship song. So much that could be pulled out of this text, but here’s where the plane needs to land. Of all the themes found with this story-within-a-story, I think there’s an overarching one that hits home to all of us, and that’s this idea of faith- true faith- and Jesus as being the only worthy object of it.

I know that some of you here today are wrestling. You’re at the point like Jairus, like this woman, where you know that everything you’ve tried to fix that hole within has failed. And I pray that as you’ve seen the love of Jesus in action, the Holy Spirit has been at work drawing you to Jesus and telling you that yes- you are loved. Yes, Jesus died so that you can be reconciled to God. Yes, Jesus’ love for you is greater than any sin you’ve committed.

Will you trust Him this morning to save you? Will you believe that He loves you and died for you? There’s room at the cross for you this morning. Will you go to Him? You say, well Richard, what does that look like? This woman reached out and touched Jesus’ robe. Jairus begged Him for help. We saw their faith in action. What must I do to be saved?

Scripture tells us that if we simply believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, we will be saved. No more trusting in our own goodness. No more reliance upon our own self-sufficiency. It’s about humbling ourselves and offering our hearts and lives to God. And you can do that right where you sit. Faith in action for you could simply be a conversation between you and God where you admit that He’s holy and you’re not, that you recognize your sinfulness…but also that you’ll trust His Son to save you. Will you do that this morning?

Jesus has now demonstrated His power and authority over the natural and the supernatural, over sickness, even over death. Historical fact tells us that this was no ordinary man- this was the Son of God.
In these next few moments as our band plays, I’d like for us to think about our Journey Marker for the week, and that is this:

There could be no better object of our faith than Jesus.

Will you trust Him to save you?

Maybe you’re here this morning and you have trusted Christ as Savior, yet still you feel like an outcast before Him. Would you recognize this morning that you are no less clean today before God than this woman who Jesus healed? Would you recognize this morning that you, too, have been given new life, just as Jairus’ daughter was given new life?

Can you imagine, church, what we would look like if we lived in peace, in true inward recognition that God has truly forgiven us, that we are sons, daughters, holy and acceptable?

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