Desperate Measures

I would like for you to consider the word desperate. What does the word desperate mean to you? Have you ever felt desperate about something? For the sake of someone that you love, or yourself what or how much would you be willing to risk?

Back in 1998 there was a movie that had somewhat of a short run. Even though it featured a couple of stars. It was titled, “Desperate Measures”, staring Michael Keaton and Andy Garcia. They go head to head in this riveting thriller about a cop forced to protect a vicious killer. It’s a parent’s worst nightmare and a cop’s harshest test: Frank Conner (Garcia) is a dedicated police officer and dedicated father. He’ll do anything to find a bone marrow donor for his dying son, including breaking into the FBI’s computer and soliciting the help of the only donor match, a ruthless killer (Keaton). But, when the killer escapes from the prison hospital, leaving scorched bodies in his wake, Frank must endanger innocent people or kill the only man who can save his son. Now, let me ask you again, what desperate measures would you be willing to take for the sake of a loved one?

In our Gospel Story this morning we heard the story of 2 people from very different backgrounds and status, the common link: they were both desperate for healing. The first a leader of the synagogue, a very respected man, quite well known, who held one of the top positions in the city. This man, Jairus comes out to meet Jesus with the surprising act of falling at His feet and begs Him to come to his house.  You might wonder, so what? What’s surprising about this is that grown men never did this in Jewish culture. Men of his stature wore long robes, had long beards, they didn’t show a lot of emotion. They wouldn’t run or appear to be in a hurry ever , and they wouldn’t prostrate themselves at another man’s feet!

This man was desperate! He was willing to risk religious ridicule and public embarrassment for the sake of his daughter. He had an only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she was dying.  Only a father can understand the love for a daughter. She was 12 years old, just short of becoming a woman, but still young enough to be his baby. From life experience, I know that love. There is no treatment too costly, no travel too distant no plea too humiliating. Jesus had compassion for Jairus. As they move toward Jairus’ home, they get caught up in a crowd. Milling people press in around Jesus.

Among the crowd was an equally desperate woman with an incurable blood disease, a discharge of blood for twelve years. She had spent everything that she had on physicians, and yet remained unhealed. Let me point out some important details here. First, she has an “issue of blood” a polite way of saying “an uncontrollable menstrual flow.” She was sick, probably in pain, and unable to have children. We know that this also meant that she was ceremonially unclean. She was not allowed to be touched. She couldn’t be in crowds or couldn’t go to public worship. She’s been this way for 12 years. Consider this, for 12 years no one has hugged her, or even laid a hand on her to pray for her. She had to be quite lonely. It certainly seemed that she was incurable. She had spent all her money on various doctors for a cure, and she’s beyond anything that they can do. She is now poor, she must feel quite hopeless. How could she not feel despair?

Our desperate woman develops a scheme to get close enough to touch one of the tassels on the hem of Jesus’ robe. Drawing upon the last ounces of her assertive energies, she enters that forbidden place (a crowd). Is it possible what she had heard about this man, and His power might be true? Even touching His clothes might be enough to heal her. Can you imagine her desperation? Was this the last chance for her to be healed?

 In a well-timed moment she lunges through the maze of moving legs, she reaches out and touches His cloak, immediately her hemorrhage stopped! She felt it, she knew that she had been healed! Jesus also knew that something had just happened! He felt it too.  He spins on His heel and throws a question toward the blur of faces, who touched me? Jesus knew the difference between an anxious tug of faith and the casual bumps of the jostling crowd. Jesus looked around, in the same way someone might do when looking for a stranger in a crowd. Hearing this account, one would probably assume that He didn’t already know who it was. I really cannot imagine that being possible, after all, He is God!

Kind of like a recent event at my house, our friends Dick and Mary Wagoner are the Dilly Bar suppliers for my grandkids. (You know, from Dairy Queen, vanilla ice cream coated in chocolate on a stick) They keep us stocked up and my grandkids know where they are stored, (in the freezer in our garage). One day I walked out into the garage and discovered the freezer door hanging open. I looked at 4 grandkids playing in the driveway, multiple pieces of wrappers thrown down in the grass, 1 child with chocolate on his face and shirt. I asked who has been in the freezer? Almost in unison all said, “I don’t know”!

Even though Jesus didn’t have the visible evidence like I had, I am sure He already knew who it was that touched Him. I pondered why do you suppose He didn’t just let her slip away quietly? Perhaps it was for her sake. Jesus intended to give her much more than physical healing, He gave her spiritual healing as well. Because of this encounter this hopeless, desperate woman has gone from being a cursed outsider to a blessed insider. He invited her to come forward. To publicly confess what she had done. She does come forward; this unloved woman confesses in the sight of all. Do you suppose she might have wondered: Will He reject me too? Will He publicly shame me?

Or is He angry because I have made Him unclean? Will I be cast out? I am not even supposed to be here, and everyone knows it!

If we are honest with ourselves, I think this is the central question for all of us in the Bible. What will it be like on that day to be exposed in all our defilement, guilt and sin, when standing before a Holy God? A God that already knows the truth about us. Now is the greatest moment of all time, a moment that should be reassuring to all of us. Jesus answers the question, He called her “daughter” a term for intimate endearment. A term for family, one that a father would call his child. This is the only recorded person Jesus refers to by that name. A tender relationship. The girl nobody wanted is adopted by the ultimate Father, the girl that no one would touch is embraced by the strongest most tender arms in the universe!

During Jesus’ conversation with the woman, people come from Jairus’ house with the devastating news, his daughter is dead. Jairus’ worst fears have now come to pass. There is no need to bother “the teacher” anymore. Jesus, however, simply tells Jairus, “Do not fear, only believe, and she will be well.” In other words, “You showed that you had a certain amount of faith when you came to Me, and your faith should have been helped when you saw what I did for the woman. Don’t quit now! Keep on believing!”  However, Jairus would have found it easier to have faith in the Lord when the child was still alive, and while Jesus was still walking with him to his house. Can you imagine the anxiety Jairus felt when Jesus stopped to heal the woman? Surely precious minutes were being wasted. Haven’t we all felt those feelings when sometimes God seems to be delayed and we wonder why? That is when we need that special “word of faith” from the Lord, and we receive it as we spend time in His Word.

When they arrive at the house they are greeted by the professional Jewish mourners who were always summoned when a death occurred.

It was traditional for them to wail loudly, to weep and to lead the family and friends to lamentation. The funeral had started. “The child is not dead but sleeps!” were our Lord’s words of hope to Jairus and his wife. The crowd laughed at him, knowing that the child was dead. To them, this statement was ridiculous, unbelievable, their laughter was more like yah right. He sends everyone except for a couple of the disciples and the girl’s parents. He raises her by taking her hand and saying, “Talitha cum, Little girl, get up!” The girl not only came back to life, but was also healed of her sickness, for she was able to get out of bed and walk around, ready for something to eat.

Jesus is facing the most feared, devastating enemy, the human race has ever known, death, and He simply takes the little girl by the hand and says, “Sweetheart, get up.” What He is showing us is that when He is holding our hand, even death itself is nothing but a little nap. Death even though seems so final. Is not, If you’re in Jesus. Death feels so alone, like your abandoned. You’re not. Jesus will be with us taking us by the hand. He died alone. He faced everything that brings us fear of death. Aloneness. Condemnation. Finality. Jesus redefined death as temporary.  Do you know that no one in the Gospels ever died in the presence of Jesus; no one in the presence of Jesus ever stayed dead? Remember: Lazarus, and The Widow of Nain. When Jesus is invited to a funeral, make no mistake, things are going to happen1

That is a message for us!

The point is this my friends, we, you and me, we, have a Father who knows all about “desperate measures.” The Gospel (Good News) is that there is a God who loves you so much He’s taken every ounce of curse into himself so that now He can relate to you entirely. He offers you blessing and will shower you with it. This Father of ours love is so great for us that He offered up His only Son! His healing, saving love isn’t for one group, class, or race of people (the well know like Jairus or even the unknown like the woman).

No one is too messed up, too unclean, or too insignificant to get Jesus’ attention. No one is too good, or too powerful not to need Jesus desperately. Unfortunately, there are many who won’t come to Jesus, there are lots of reasons: some because of unbelief that God could possibly love them. Some won’t come because of pride (I don’t need Him, I have it under control). Which ever it is, both will keep you away from His love.  The love and healing that only He can give. However, you can’t have it unless you come to Him. When you invite Him, things are going to happen!

The first person the little girl saw was Jesus when she opened her eyes. The first voice she heard was Jesus’ voice. The first touch she felt in her newly resurrected body was Jesus. This is a picture of what everyone who dies in Jesus has to look forward to!

Amen