Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:4-7

15 February 2010

Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.

It took me a little while to get used to my new Bible (which isn't really all that new any more) with its different font and layout.  Of course the words are all the same.  But as it turns out, even though it is sometimes a bit harder to fine a particular verse these days, a different layout does have its benefits.

As I read Mark 5 and 6 recently, instead of having the story of Jesus raising Jairus' daughter and healing the woman subject to bleeding for twelve years on one page and Jesus being scoffed at by those in his hometown over the page, there they were, separated by a column, on the same page.  Side by side.  And seeing them side by side made for a striking comparison. 

On the left hand side of the page there was Jairus, the synagogue ruler and a sick woman. 

Seeing Jesus, Jairus fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, "My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live." So Jesus went with him.  Mark 5:22,23

And then a little down the track...

While Jesus was still speaking, some men came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. "Your daughter is dead," they said. "Why bother the teacher any more?" Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, "Don't be afraid; just believe." Mark 5:35,36

"Just believe," said Jesus.

And Jairus, in the tumult of that moment, in the midst of a large crowd pressing in on Jesus, even when his own worst fears for his daughter had been realised, even still, Jairus believed.  At the end of that chapter we read that Jesus went to Jairus' house and his daughter was brought back to life.

In the middle of the Jairus story is another of a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years.

She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, "If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed." Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. Mark 5:26-29

This woman had experienced twelves years of increasing weakness due to her condition, consistently ritually unclean according to Jewish law because of her bleeding and as a result of both, poor and marginalised in every respect.  She dared to be in the crowd (which would have cause all who brushed up against her to become ritually unclean as well) and then despite her circumstances, she dared to touch Jesus.  Like Jairus, she believed.  And Jesus healed her.

Really, you couldn't hope to meet two more different people.  Jairus was a respected male leader of the synagogue.  The woman was a ritually unclean female outcast.  But there were many similarities too.  Both approached Jesus with reverence and honour -  Jairus prostrating himself at Jesus feet and pleading for help, the woman approaching him trembling with fear.  Both believed that Jesus could help them and pursued him with a desperation and urgency founded in trust and faith.  Both experienced healing because they believed.

And then on the right hand side of the page...

Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed.
"Where did this man get these things?" they asked. "What's this wisdom that has been given him, that he even does miracles! Isn't this the carpenter? Isn't this Mary's son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren't his sisters here with us?" And they took offense at him.
Jesus said to them, "Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor." He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. And he was amazed at their lack of faith.
Mark 6:1-6

No falling respectfully at the feet of God's Son here. No taking risks to be in Jesus presence. No faith or trust driven by a sense of urgency. No reverence.

Seeing these two groups of people side by side was striking.  I was truly amazed at the faith of Jairus and the woman.  And all the more for the scoffers sitting on the other side of the column. 

It was amazing and yet it was condemning.  When I read these passages, flat from too many busy days and too many late nights in a row, I felt more like the folk in Jesus hometown than Jairus or the woman.  No, I wasn't scoffing at Jesus with my words.  But my tired, yawning ambivalence spoke louder than words.  That morning I didn't approach Jesus with a sense of desperate hunger or reverence. There was no urgency or honouring Jesus.  And I was ashamed.

But shame brought repentance.  And repentance brought forgiveness.  Jesus came for all.  For men and for women.  For adults and for children.  For the esteemed and for those marginalised and cast out.   "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." Romans 3:23,24.

I am forgiven.  But I am still challenged.  And that is a good place to be for now.


Cathy McKay said...

Thanks Meredith,
I love being drawn into someone else's Bible reading.
I will pray for rest of all kinds and refreshment for you.


Meredith said...

Thank you for your prayers Cathy. Of course the late nights and cluttered days are completely my own doing and have since been reigned in. But I value your prayers for the bigger stuff. Praying for you too.