Ale & Teviot United Church

The daughter of Jairus was ill with a virus …

Sunday 15 August 2010 :    Matthew 9 : 18-26

Today, once again, we find Jesus conducting a ministry of healing, and if you wonder why I put such an emphasis from the pulpit on the importance of healing, it is for one reason only – simply because Jesus put such an emphasis on healing as He carried out His ministry here on earth. When Jesus brought the gift of renewed life and health and strength to the body for a time, it was a sign and a promise of His ultimate purpose to bring renewed life and health and strength to the inner being for eternity.

Acts 10.38 says : Jesus of Nazareth went around doing good, healing the sick. Today we will see this healing ministry of Jesus kicked up to another level in this remarkable double-header. Once more, Matthew exercises great economy of words to record a day’s work that was already very well known throughout the whole church, and is related in far greater detail in Mark 5 : 21-43. Most of us are familiar with these events.

Jesus is approached by a man called Jairus, the ruler of the synagogue – the parish minister, if you like – who has a major crisis at home. Stop right there. Before we even start to look at the actual incident, let’s consider Jairus himself. Can you imagine how much courage it took for a man in his position, a pillar of the religious establishment, to go to Jesus – who was anything but the religious establishment’s cup of tea – and ask Jesus to intervene miraculously to save his daughter’s life?

Whatever Jesus did for the wee girl, Jairus could very easily find himself hauled before the equivalent of Presbytery or the General Assembly and turfed out on his ear for this. But Jairus, unlike so many of his colleagues and contemporaries, was able to see the wood for the trees. He’s been paying attention to what Jesus has been up to, and has done so with an open mind, not prejudiced against this joiner from Galilee who does things differently. Jairus isn’t judging the book by its cover.

In John 10, Jesus has one of His many run-ins with the temple authorities and it’s very interesting to see how He challenges them. “The miracles I do in my Father’s Name speak for me, but you don’t believe. Don’t believe me unless I do what my Father does. But if I do, even if you don’t want to believe in me, at least believe the miracles”.

Jesus offers what He does, as an accurate reflection of His Father’s nature and purpose, as evidence of His identity. So many of the Jewish leaders didn’t want to know because He wasn’t “one of them”. Jairus, however, at great risk to his own reputation, did what Jesus called for, and he was about to receive the fruit of his faith. And how!

The situation he’s in is grave. Literally. His daughter has died. Matthew comes straight out with that, no beating about the bush. Mark has it that her life was in the balance, and that her death occurred as Jesus was on his way to the house. Whatever way you shake it, this is a case of the dead being raised. There aren’t many such incidents, even in the life of Jesus. You could count them on the fingers of one hand. Hundreds, if not thousands, of healings, but only a handful of cases of the dead being raised to life.

We may wonder why this is, but let’s think it through. If you or I die in faith, would we want to come back from the glory of heaven to this life? I wouldn’t want to come back unless the Lord Himself told me to do so and use the experience to encourage and witness to others. One well-known preacher, Creflo Dollar, was in a horrific car crash. The Lord told him “not time yet, too much unfinished business” and he emerged from that wreck, miraculously, and is carrying on a ministry all the more powerful.

On the few occasions when Jesus raises people from the dead, it’s out of compassion for the families – a young girl here ; a young man at Nain whose mother depended on him as breadwiiner ; and Lazarus, a personal friend whose sisters, hostesses to Jesus and the disciples, were beside themselves with grief. Not for nothing does Jesus say He does only what He sees His Father doing – He would carefully check out with His Father whether or not each individual should be raised again, or left in eternal glory.

So what, you ask, surely this doesn’t happen today. Not often, that’s for sure, especially in societies like ours where people are reluctant to acknowledge any sort of miraculous activity from God, and the medical community are very nervous about authenticating a raising from the dead, because of potentially alarming repercussions for law suits etc.

One minister we partner with, Andrew Wommack, based in Colorado, tells of his son being raised after several hours out of it, and there were about 30 or so medically certified cases associated with the Lakeland revival in 2008. It’s not unheard of, but not something we see every day of the week or advertise in the church notice board, OK?

Anyway, back to Jairus and his daughter, and see how simple and direct his request to Jesus is. “My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand upon her and she will live”. Now that is a model of intercessory prayer. State the problem, in as few words as practical, and then profess the faith required to solve that problem.

No Brownie points are awarded, no extra credit given, for going all round the three lochs before coming to the point. Eloquence is no substitute for humility and simple trust. God doesn’t need a full running commentary, in flowery pious phrases, on what’s going on, nor does He need buttered up to deal with it. God knows what’s going on, and how He’s going to handle it. He knows, but He wants to be sure you know, and that that you are in agreement with what His word says about your situation.

If – as we’re dealing with today – it’s a physical health issue, what God is listening for is your word of faith in what He has done in Jesus, as in 1 Peter 2.24. True faith is agreeing with God that, whatever hole we’re in, whatever mess we’ve made, whatever crisis we’re in the midst of, He is bigger and stronger and more powerful than that problem. Not only that, but God has already dealt with that problem through the atonement of Jesus Christ, and we’re not begging for a special favour, we’re going to the grace autobank to draw upon what the Bible says Jesus has already done for us.

Jairus didn’t have a New Testament in his hands like we do, but even on his relatively less knowledge of Jesus, he was very clear in his own mind that Jesus could do the job. That’s faith, slap bang in the middle of horrible circumstances. But his faith was soon to be put to a very severe test. There was an unscheduled diversion. As Jesus is making his way to Jairus’ home, suddenly this woman turns up with a problem of her own.

And Jesus stops to deal with it. Again, if you check Mark’s parallel version, you’ll see it was quite a little saga. The woman comes up behind Jesus in the midst of a crowd and touches the hem of his coat. Jesus stops, turns round, and demands to know who touched him. The disciples are anxious, impatient, trying to shoo Jesus on to this urgent appointment, but he’s having none of it. There’s another job to be done first.

We’ll think of the woman in a minute, but just consider what must have been going on in the mind of Jairus. Time is not on his side. Every minute Jesus spends dealing with someone or something else is a minute not devoted to dealing with the parlous plight of his daughter. But again Jairus gives us an object lesson in dealing with delay.

He kept his faith solid, and kept his trap shut. It would have been so easy for Jairus to have opened his mouth and stuck his foot right in it by speaking a negative confession. Our words are important. Romans 10.10 : It is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. Proverbs 18.21 : The tongue has the power of life and death and we will eat the fruit thereof.

It is just so in line with human nature, when things are going wrong, to complain to people about it, and because you’re talking about it, you think about it, and because you keep thinking about it, you talk some more, and so you get into a tailspin of unbelief and doubt and just generally hinder God’s plan. In the trade, we say you get “hung by the tongue”. Far better to keep talking about the promises of God’s Word, and because you’re talking about them, you think about them, and because you’re thinking of God’s Word, you speak more Word, end you encourage and build yourself up in faith.

I don’t know for sure, but I suspect while Jesus was busy ministering to this lady with the long-standing blood loss, Jairus was giving himself a good talking to, reminding himself over and over again why he had approached Jesus, and keeping his faith high. While we’re at it, this lady had some faith too. The bald outline of the story doesn’t make it clear, but in Jewish society, her health problem made her ritually unclean and subject to harsh disciplinary action – like stoning to death – if she mixed with a crowd.

The woman also was putting everything on the line because she had faith in Jesus. She, in fact, was risking her neck going out there, crawling on her hands and knees through this mass of people, for just one touch of the Lord’s coat. She had a determination to receive from God, and to do what it took to receive it. She wasn’t seeking attention for herself – but she knew exactly what she needed, she was humble, and she was sure – she didn’t need to be up on stage giving her testimony before the TV cameras in order to be healed, quietly would have been enough for her – but not, however, for Jesus.

Jesus knew power had gone forth from him, but He was determined to find out who it was that touched Him because there was more than just a medical issue at stake here. There was someone who genuinely believed in Him, but who was imprisoned by the attitudes and traditions of others. For this person to enjoy shalom, the social exclusion factor had to be dealt with as well. He would not let the matter go till this woman was willing to stand up, stand tall, and be counted. She went away from that encounter healed in every way it is possible to be healed. Where someone is ready to give it all to Jesus, Jesus gives it all back – there are never any half-measures with our Saviour.

And for the patient, trusting Jairus, this incident – far from being a distraction – turned out to be an encouragement. He was reassured to see, once again, what Jesus could do, and by the time he got home I am convinced Jairus was completely at peace, totally unmoved by all the weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth. I can just see it – everyone else in the village clad all in black and red-eyed with grief, and Jairus large as life, full of the joys, singing “Shout to the Lord” or whatever his favourite praise song was.

And do you see what Jesus did when he went in to the house? He cleared out all those who were boo-hooing and howling, indulging in bouts of doubt, unbelief and negative thinking, and only those who believed in Him were allowed anywhere near that prayer time with the wee girl. A bit of advice. If you ever need someone to pray with you, or for you, make sure it’s someone who truly believes what the Word says!

You know the people who always see the worst and talk the worst case scenario. Don’t let them anywhere near you for prayer, because their negative worldly mindset of doubt and unbelief will just get in the way. Thank you for your kind offer, but no thank you. Make sure you surround yourself with prayer partners who will walk in agreement with you on God’s promises. Matthew 18.19 : If two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, says Jesus, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.

Now that is a heavy-duty industrial promise for believers. Two of us standing firm on a word from God in the Name of Jesus – sorted! It’s called the prayer of agreement : not one believer and one praying vacuous hot air that they don’t believe, but two believers identifying a promise in the Word and holding firm to it, whatever – and your story will have a happy ending too, just like Jairus, who had the pleasure of taking his daughter for the equivalent of a Happy Meal at McDonald’s that night. And I bet it tasted good!

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