Follow the Leader!

Desperation

Back in the late 1980’s my wife Heidi and I went out to Boston to visit her uncle, and he set us up with some football tickets.

The game was the Seattle Seahawks at the New England Patriots. We were really stoked!

Well we got to the game and it was an interesting atmosphere. It was a slow pace, kinda flat game with no energy at all.

Well a funny thing happened. During the middle of the game two guys ran out on the field with their shirts off and one of them was holding a sign saying put Doug Flutie in, who was the backup QB for New England.

Well the play on the field stopped and all eyes were on these two guys and as they were being chased by several security guards and police. The crowd started cheering for the two guys to out run the police.

They both made it back to the side lines, and one guy jumped the wall and ran into the crowd and the other guy got caught.

It caused such a commotion that after the play on the field had resumed most of the crowd still was watching the two guys. The guy who made it into the stands never got caught, but they searched for a long time.

What was so funny about this is that the play on the field had resumed but most of the crowd was still watching those two guys.

We all paid to see a football game but the interruption was more interesting than the game.

In Mark Chapter 5 Jesus is interrupted.

The big difference is that Jesus wasn’t interrupted from watching a football game but he was on his was to perform a miracle. Just a small difference.

Well today we’re going to take a closer look at this interruption that Jesus experienced and see what we can apply to our lives that will help us be better followers of Jesus.

Let’s Pray!

Read Mark 5: 21-34 21When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake. 22Then one of the synagogue rulers, named Jairus, came there. Seeing Jesus, he fell at his feet 23and 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.” 24So Jesus went with him. A large crowd followed and pressed around him. 25And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. 26She 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. 27When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” 29Immediatley her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. 30At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” 31″You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ” 32But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. 33Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. 34He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

(Give all four fill-in’s, Jairus, The women, The girl, Jesus)

So Jesus crosses over Lake Galilee and immediately a large crowd is on him. Almost like he’s a rock star. It would be like LeBron James showing up at Hoopfest. He would draw a huge crowd.

Just picture LeBron James at Hoopfest and he decides to just walk thru downtown and check out some of the games. Can you just imagine the crowd of people that would follow him? Everyone would want to get close to him and get an autograph.

So picture Jesus surrounded by this huge crowd. I think a lot of the people are just there to see a religious superstar.

They’ve heard about Jesus and they just want to rub shoulders with him and get his autograph. They wanted to hang with the superstar, so they could go and tell their friends about it.

I don’t think the entire crowd was coming to be healed by Jesus. I’m not sure that they all even recognized their need for Jesus. I think they were just hoping to see one of his miracles first hand, so they could have a good story to tell.

So there’s Jesus and this huge crowd and Jairus a temple leader approaches Jesus and falls to his knees and begs Jesus to come to his house to heal his dying daughter. Jesus agrees and they start walking to Jairus’ house and the crowd doesn’t leave, they come along.

Have you ever been in situation where someone was doing personal business, having a private conversation, maybe a family meeting and you were there? You didn’t want to be there but you couldn’t leave. Well this crowd didn’t care, they just stuck to Jesus.

So Jesus is walking to Jairus’ house and people are pushing and trying to get a piece of Jesus and then a women touches him.

Let’s call this women Maggie. It’s interesting how different Maggie is than Jairus.

Jairus is a ruler of the Jewish synagogue in Capernaum, a prominent and respected leader. And probably not a Christ follower, in fact it was Jewish officials like Jairus that strongly opposed Jesus and eventually put him on the cross.

But he was a man of influence, when Jairus spoke, people listened. (E.F. Hutton)

When he walked into a room, everyone stood up in respect. But now, he finds himself in a place where none of that matters anymore, he’s simply a desperate father.

Maggie is a women who is sick with an incurable disease. She has spent all of her money on doctors and none of them could heal her. To make things worse she is a social outcast, because according to Jewish law she is unclean.

For 12 years she has been unable to participate in any religious or social events. She couldn’t have any public contact because she would defile anyone she touched.

Can you imagine living her life for 12 years? You can’t go anywhere. You can’t just stop by Starbucks, even by yourself, let alone to meet some friends. Church was out of the question, the mall, sporting events, family reunions, you couldn’t do it.

And Maggie was also poor, because she had spent all of her money on doctor bills, with no relief.

The prominence and power of Jairus was in great contrast to Maggie.

He was upper class and she was lower class, he was included and sought after, she was excluded and pushed away. Jairus is named in the text, the women is unnamed.

But both of them shared something in common, desperation.

Both Jairus and Maggie had run out of options, they could not fix their problem on their own. They were in desperate need of help.

So Jesus and the crowd are walking with Jairus to heal his daughter and Maggie sneaks up behind Jesus and touches his garment, and everything stops. (All lights go out except for a backlight on Matt)

(Pause) Can you imagine, she just wants to touch Jesus and sneak off. But Jesus stops and says who touched me.

Interruptions are uncomfortable. Silence can be painful. (Lights back up)

ILL: We’ve been short a car in our family so I borrowed a 35 year old car from my mom and dad. It’s a lot of fun to drive because it’s a classic, but there’s a big problem, the radio doesn’t work, there’s no stereo, and no cup holders either.

I have a 30 minute one way commute into the church each day so when I found out there was no radio in the car, nothing to plug my IPOD into, and no cup holders, I was a mess.

No more caffeine and classic rock to get my blood pumpin’ every morning. What am I going to do?

But this has been a great interruption in my life. It’s allowed me to drive in silence for 30 minutes (sounds painful doesn’t it). I’ve spent my time meditating on what I’m reading in scripture and I’ve been praying for my family. It’s been really good.

So, what needs to be interrupted in your life? Are you so busy running from place to place, that your life is filled with constant noise? What about silence in your life? Are you able stop and pause and be silent before God? I mean really stop?

ILL: I have a friend who was deciding if he should get married or not, so he went off to a quiet place and he was silent before God for 36 hours straight. Wow!

What do you do when you have a big decision to make? I rarely stop for 30 minutes straight, let alone 36 hours when I’m making a big decision.

Here’s my point, Jesus was a busy man. He had a lot on his mind, don’t you think? But he interrupted his busy life for people and to pray.

Mark 1:35 “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed”

Luke 5:16 “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed”

In Luke 6 when Jesus was choosing the twelve disciples it says, Luke 6:12 “Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.”

Remember when Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane and he was agonizing over going to the cross he finally said:

Matthew 26:42 “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”

Jesus interrupted his busy life to focus on God and he also allowed others to interrupt him. In this story Jesus allowed Maggie to interrupt him.

Maggie wasn’t as important as Jairus. Her need wasn’t as big as Jairus’. His daughter was dying.

If I’m Jairus I’m telling Maggie to get in line. I don’t like it when people cut in line at McDonalds, I definitely wouldn’t like it if I’m standing in line to see Jesus and someone cuts.

Especially if my daughter is dying.

Jairus was important and had an important need, Jesus is important. They both allowed Maggie to interrupt them.

It doesn’t matter how important or unimportant you think you are, Jesus see’s everyone the same.

So Maggie just wants to touch Jesus and sneak off. She just wants to steal a healing, in a good way. She didn’t want to be seen and I believe she really didn’t want to interrupt Jesus.

But she also knew by touching Jesus he would be unclean. She is so scared physically and emotionally, I can just picture her saying “If I just touch him”.

It’s like she’s fighting the fear trying to get enough courage up. Like giving herself a pep talk. “If I just touch him”.

Maggie touches his garment and shrinks back into the crowd. But Jesus stops and says someone touched me, who was it. He felt power going out of him.

Have you ever just wanted to be anonymous?

Maybe you come to church and sneak in the back a few minutes late and then during the closing prayer you sneak off. Hoping to grab something of spiritual significance but also go unnoticed.

And let me say that if you’re new, just checking us and God out, that’s great. It’s not our style to pressure or suffocate people when they walk in the door, I love that about LC.

But I’m talking more to the person who has been around here for a while and God has been nudging you to engage on a deeper level. To become known by God by and others.

What I love about Jesus is that he didn’t let Maggie just disappear. He asks who touched me? You can just feel the drama. It had to have been intense, everyone is looking around to find the person who touched Jesus.

Jesus wasn’t unaware of what had happened, and He didn’t need to be told who had touched Him. (Someone snagged all the cookies)

Jesus knew Maggie’s need before she ever reached out to touch Him.

So why then, did Jesus ask this question? More than this, why did Jesus stop at such a critical time to ask the question? Certainly Jesus knew the importance of time. Jairus’ daughter is dying.

I think it was important that Maggie knew Jesus noticed her. You may feel like you get lost in the crowd, maybe even here at church. It’s important for you to know that God notices you and you are of deep value to him.

And I think God is inviting you to a deeper relationship with him and with others.

God isn’t going to let you sneak out of here forever. Maybe if Jesus was standing on this stage today and looked out and said “who touched me”?

And the heat of his attention is on you, not to shame you, because there’s nothing in this story about shame.

In fact it’s totally the opposite. Jesus could have really dropped the hammer because Maggie was unclean and shouldn’t be touching anyone.

But Jesus calls her out, not to tear her down but to build her up. To encourage her and let her healing be a witness to everyone.

What about you? Even though Jesus knew it was Maggie, he didn’t point her out in the crowd, but He gave her the opportunity to respond to him.

I think even though you and Jesus know it’s you, He’s not going to embarrass you. He’ll just throw out the invitation.

At the end of the service I’m going to give you an opportunity to respond to Jesus. I won’t point you out, draw attention to you or embarrass you in any way. It will be totally up to you to respond of not.

I think Maggie could have slipped thru the crowd and walked off and no one would have known it was her.

Even the disciples didn’t have a clue. I think there’s a whole separate lesson here with the disciples but we don’t have time to talk about. I’m a lot like the disciples, clueless, sometimes on what God is doing around me.

Mark 5:32-33 “But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. 33Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth.”

Maggie didn’t sneak off, but she responded to Jesus and fell at his feet just like Jairus, and it says “she told him the whole truth”. That’s everything.

We don’t know exactly what she said to Jesus but I have to believe there were no excuses, she let it all out. 12 years of anguish, pain and emotion.

What about you? Some of us are really good at using excuses, we’ve done it so long and we’ve got it polished so well, that people really believe us.

Not Jesus. He wants the whole story, not to shame us but to heal us and to set us free. His heart is full of compassion for us.

This story is a great example of how personal Jesus is. The crowd was huge and everyone was pushing and shoving no doubt brushing up and bumping Jesus, but when Maggie touched him he knew it.

When you reach out to touch Jesus he knows it’s you, and he will respond to you as if you’re the only one in the crowd.

Mark 5:34 “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

I think the “go in peace” speaks of reinstating her socially. I think Jesus wanted to publically say you’re clean and you no longer have to sneak around in isolation full of guilt and shame.

I think Jesus also wanted to communicate to her and the crowd that this isn’t some kind of magic (not Vegas). There wasn’t some karma in the garment.

Jesus made it clear that it was her faith in Him that had saved her, not his clothing. It was her relationship with Jesus by faith that made her whole.

We all need Jesus and nothing else will bring about healing in our lives. We’ve all tried other things to make life work and nothing does but Jesus. (Internal energy)

ILL: I have a friend in California that grew up riding in the back seat of the getaway car as his parents robbed banks for a living. They would live in the car or out in obscure areas in a tent.

His life was a mess, but when he was in middle school he realized that his parents were trying to make life work on their own and they were failing.

He put his faith in Jesus and it changed his life. He’s now a solid Christian with a business, a family and an elder in his church. People that knew him are amazed.

I love Maggie’s simple faith. She knew there was a different answer to life than what she had tried and she didn’t have to wait to see a miracle from Jesus before she believed, she just believed. That faith changed her life.

So, Jesus heals Maggie and says “go in peace” and Jairus is still standing there.

There’s no record of anything that Jairus said during this interruption. He isn’t seen impatiently pulling on the robe of Jesus to hurry Him along.

He doesn’t interrupt Jesus’ conversation with Maggie. He just waits until Jesus is done and can continue on with him.

This is a response of faith. Here’s a man who has come to the place where he knows that he cannot solve his problem. He has placed that problem in the hands of Jesus and he has left it there.

What a hard lesson to learn. Don’t we often take back the things we’ve given to Jesus? Maybe we think he’s forgotten or is too busy.

Regardless of our issue, life, death, salvation, pain, relationships, whatever, when we bring it to Jesus, he wants us to leave it with Him and let him do his thing. Letting go and letting God, is so difficult.

So what’s your impossible situation? Leave it with Him by faith, and trust Him to deal with it in His time and in His way.

Jairus showed amazing faith, strength and patience by waiting on Jesus.

Mark 5:35-43 35 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?“ 36Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” 37He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. 38When they came to the home of the synagogue ruler, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. 39He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” 40But they laughed at him. After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. 41He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!” ). 42Immediately the girl stood up and walked around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. 43He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat.

The story goes on and Jesus finally arrives at the home of Jairus and his daughter has died. Jesus can’t figure out what all the commotion is about and says she’s not dead but she’s asleep.

Well the professional mourners who were at the home laughed at Jesus. Jesus just calmly asks them to leave the home and then He heals the girl and she gets up like nothing had ever happened.

So we’ve got Maggie and Jairus’ daughter who are healed by Jesus.

It may be hard for us to relate these two healings to our lives today. We’ve all witnessed the opposite of this story, haven’t we, where there’s not a happy ending.

Here’s the reality, the outcome may not be what we want or what we think it should be.

Just because a person believes in the power of Christ, that doesn’t mean healing will always happen the way we think it should. We’ve prayed for people and they were healed and then we’ve prayed and people weren’t healed.

I have had some very godly friends who have not been healed physically, and things didn’t play out the way I thought they should. I think most of us have experienced that.

I wish I could stand here and give you a bunch of answers. Unfortunately there’s way more questions than there are answers. I think part of it is the mystery of God and His plan for each of our lives.

I do know that the Bible says there’s more to life than what we see here on earth. But it’s hard because this is what we see.

Bottom line I think Jesus wants us to surrender to him. He wants us to come to him with our problems knowing that we cannot fix them ourselves.

Surrender is a difficult word in our culture. Jarius and Maggie surrendered and that was hard for both of them in very different ways.

But once they came to the point that nothing else would work, they fell on their knees at the feet of Jesus. They gave up trying on their own. That’s surrender.

The international sign of surrender is hands up. Falling at the feet of Jesus is the same thing. It’s giving up and placing the control of my life in the hands of Jesus.

It’s like driving in a car with Jesus and we slide over to the passenger seat and give him the steering wheel.

The great thing is that Jesus doesn’t have a gun pointed at us.

What do you need to surrender to Jesus? What are you desperate about today? What keeps you up at night?

Maybe it’s about giving up the control of your life, surrendering to Jesus. Maybe it’s a relationship you need to surrender, or your health, your finances, or your future.

Whatever it is bring it to Jesus, give it to Him and let him do his thing in his time. Let go of it and hear Jesus say “go in peace”.

Conclusion

ILL: In June of 2005 CNN reported a story about a 12 year-old Ethiopian girl that was abducted by a group of violent men, intending to force her into marriage. The men held the girl for seven days, beating her repeatedly.

Such incidents are common in Ethiopia, as several men band together to abduct young girls for the purpose of securing a bride. The girls are typically beaten into submission and raped. In this particular instance, there was not a human being within earshot to hear the cries of this girl. But her cries were heard.

The unlikely heroes were three magnificent Ethiopian lions. Famous for their large black manes, these lions are the national symbol of the country.

In response to the girl’s cries for help, three large lions leapt from the brush and chased her captors away. Perhaps the girl thought she had traded one danger for another, but remarkably, her heroes formed a protective perimeter around her.

A half-day later, when the police arrived, the guardian lions simply stood up and walked away. Sgt. Wondimu Wedajo said, “They stood guard until we found her, and then they just left her like a gift and went back into the forest.”

Among the explanations for the lions’ unusual behavior, one wildlife expert suggested the girl’s whimpering could have sounded like a lion cub. For whatever reason, the predator served as protector. The carnivore became a guard.

Sgt. Wondimu said “Everyone thinks this is some kind of miracle,”. David Slagle, Decatur, Georgia; source: Anthony Mitchell, “Lions Rescue, Guard Beaten Ethiopian Girl,” Yahoo News; “Lions Free Kidnapped Girl,” CNN.com (6-21-05)

This 12-year-old girl was desperate and helpless, powerless to change her horrible circumstances. Her deliverance had to come from a power greater than herself.

In the same way, we are powerless to deliver ourselves. Our only hope is in Jesus, the Bible calls him the Lion of Judah.

Let’s pray.