What would you dare to do for your own child?
The Gospel lesson today is a story within a story. So much is going on here that it is very easy to get lost in it all. You can pick apart the details of Jairus, the woman, the matter of ritual purity, the actions of the disciples and the crowd, but all those details end up being somewhat of a maze of distractions from the central point.
It’s really quite simple.
What would you dare to do for the sake of your child?
That is the central question.
Jairus is willing to seek out the touch of Jesus for his daughter.
This is not Jesus’ first “go around” within the synagogue. We have seen him cast out demons and heal a man with a withered arm.
We’ve also watched as the Pharisees and leaders of the Synagogue have been watching Jesus, trying to catch him in some impropriety.
Suffice it to say that Jairus as one of the “leaders of the Synagogue” was most likely one of those who had frowned upon Jesus’ activity there and was likely outwardly critical of Jesus.
All of that evaporates, however, when it is your own daughter that is at death’s door.
Jairus lowers himself to begging. “Come lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.” He pleads.
We are given no details of the daughter’s illness; just that it must be grave, and Jesus asks for none. When asked by this eminent leader of the Synagogue, Jesus simply responds and begins to make his way to the house. He follows Jairus through the crowds.
It is in those crowds that press upon them that there is found also this anonymous woman.
She also desires Jesus’ touch. She has suffered much under the touch of many physicians (so we are told,) whose efforts have simply made her worse. The hemorrhages from which she suffers would make her ritually unclean. She should not be in this crowd. As an unclean person she is obliged to keep her distance from others, and announcer her presence.
Jesus, a ritually clean Jewish male, cannot and should not touch her. He cannot touch her, or he will be made unclean himself.
She cannot even ask him for such a favor or gesture. Instead, what she determines to do is to simply touch the hem of his garment on her own. Just touching Jesus’ clothing will be sufficient to be healed she hopes, hopes to do that in secret so that none will be the wiser.
She will risk everything to give this a try, a last ditch effort to find some relief and release from her afflictions.
She touches his garment, and Jesus perceives immediately that touch. We are told that he knows that power has gone out from him somehow, and so he stops this procession to Jairus’ house. He must know who has done this.
The woman fesses up, and when she does, what Jesus says to her must have been a surprise to everyone, including her.
For, instead of lecturing her on the breaking of social codes, or the deceptive practices, Jesus simply says,–“Daughter, your faith has made you well, go in peace and be healed of your disease.”
“Daughter” – That is a word, I believe, that is chosen with intention.
This one, who had been left out of the community, is claimed and brought back in.
This one, who was unclean, and could not come near to anyone, is now restored, made family.
This one, who knew her place and could not dare to hope for the touch of Jesus. This one, Jesus calls “daughter.”
What will you dare to do for the sake of your own dear child?
We know that Jairus would lower himself to begging.
In the actions of Jesus here we discover what it is exactly that God will do to get back his daughter.
God will stop at nothing to seek out the lost one and restore her.
The disciples think Jesus is crazy for stopping to find an unnamed person in the midst of a crowd who presses on him. “Don’t you see the crowds?” They say. How could he help NOT being touched the way they press in on him?
But Jesus is not so concerned about the wisdom of the disciples here. He is concerned with only one thing, finding his child who needs to hear these words that will do more than just heal her physically.
He longs to give the words that will bring her back into the community.
What will God dare to do for his child?
In Jesus’ actions here we see that God will stop everything. God will risk looking like a fool in front of others.
God will even seem to have mixed up priorities if that is what is needed to get back the lost one.
Jesus does all this while in the midst of the urgent task of making his way to Jairus’ house.
Jairus’ daughter, remember, is near to death!
Jairus had pleaded with Jesus, and now Jesus chooses to stop so that this anonymous woman can be called, “Daughter!”
The hesitation is enough to cause Jesus to apparently be too late. Jairus receives the word, that his daughter is already dead.
The professional mourners have shown up on the doorstep to wail and to weep and to do the rituals required now that death has come.
“There is no need to trouble the teacher anymore,” they say.
We know what to do from here on out.
We know the established prayers to say, the death wails to do, we have all the means and practices for grief and for proper mourning to go through in the wake of death.
“No need to trouble the teacher, Jairus. We got this.”
What will God dare to do for his child?
In Jesus’ actions again, we find out God is willing to break all the social conventions! Jesus refuses to let even death be final. “She is not dead, but only sleeping” Jesus insists, and then calls her forth…”little girl, get up!”
“Give her something to eat!”
So, what will you dare to do if you are God for the sake of your own dear child? Let’s review.
Evidently, you will beg.
You will go immediately.
You will risk everything.
You will stop everything if you have to find to reclaim the lost one.
You will risk looking foolish in the eyes of those around you.
You will re-arrange the established priorities.
You will shift focus when an opportunity comes up.
You will throw out convention and established practices.
You will even defy death, and you won’t mind even being laughed at!
That is what you will do, if you are Jesus, if you are God, to save your own dear child.
Back in Mark 3 there was an episode where Jesus’ mother, Mary, and his brothers and sisters were asking for him. Maybe you remember it?
Jesus had chosen his disciples and he was once again surrounded by the crowds. He had been healing and teaching, just as he was here, and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.”
And Jesus replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”
God in Christ Jesus was sent to help us understand that we are all children of God.
In Jesus we see modeled and mirrored for us what it is that God is willing do for us.
This is what God will do for God’s own dear child, whether that child is the child of his arch enemy in the synagogue, or the nameless and unclean daughter in the crowd.
This what God will do to bring in the promised Kingdom.
This is also what God hopes we would be willing to for one another, that such a Kingdom may come in its fullness in our midst.
So, the question that this complex Gospel story begs is this, “What would you dare to do for one another?”
What will you be willing to do for the sake of the Kingdom now that you see that each and every one is a dear child of God?
People whose legacy is this story of Jesus, what will you dare do for one another, and for all those out there who have no names?
Would you beg for them, plead on behalf of others? Or will you dispassionately remark that the crowd presses all around, and how can we know who to touch, or worry about who touches us?
Would you go immediately when asked, or do you hesitate? Do you have other places, other things you find more pressing than helping your neighbor, than working for the Kingdom?
This is a stewardship question when you think about it. How will you allocate yourself, your time, and your resources?
What is your sense of urgency about the Kingdom? Is serving Jesus something you put at the top of your check register and your day-planner, or is it relegated to the “left-overs” or “if it’s not an imposition?”
Would you risk everything, or weigh your every action against what it might cost you personally to save a dear child of God?
Would you stop everything, or would you just keep going along the way?
Would you risk looking foolish, in the eyes of this world, in the eyes of your friends, your neighbors, in order to respond to the ones who need not just touching but reassuring that they can be made well and that they do belong? They do have a place in the family of God?
Would you re-arrange your priorities?
Would you throw out convention and established practice to intervene, bring things to a halt if it meant a life could be restored?
Would you dare to even defy death? Continue to work to change the inevitable and treat it as if it does not have to be?
These are the questions that this Gospel lesson presents to us, things for us ponder over.
We find out here what Jesus does.
We see here what Jesus models for us about what God will dare to do for this sake God’s own dear child, for the sake of each and every one of us seated here.
God has made us all daughters and sons, brothers and sisters, members one of another through the waters of baptism. The question now becomes, “What will we do, what will YOU do, for the sake of the daughters and sons of God you meet in this world?”