A Dead Girl and a Sick Woman

Mark 5:21-43

J. R. Miller

JAIRUS was an important man in Capernaum. He was one of the elders. People looked up to him. He was influential in affairs, perhaps rich. But as we see him, we think of none of these things—what strikes us in him—is his anguish of heart. Grief brings all men to the same level. A father, as we see him battling with the world, may seem sometimes to lack the tender emotions. But let his child become dangerously sick, and his heart is revealed—a heart of tender love!

The next interesting thing in Jairus, is his going to Jesus with his grief. Perhaps he would never have gone to Jesus—if this trouble had not come to his own home. Not many men of his class favored Jesus, would invite Him to their homes, or care to be considered among His friends. But the sore sickness of his child, and the fact that Jesus was healing so many who were sick—made him ready to go to Jesus, in the hope that his child might be spared to him. We cannot know in this world—how much we owe to painful things. Many a father has been driven to Christ—by the sickness of his child. Many a mother has been taught to pray and to cling to God—by the anguish of her little one.

What Jairus said when he come to Jesus, shows that he had faith in His power to heal the sick child. With trembling speech he told Him that his little daughter lay at the point of death—but if only Jesus would come and lay His hands on her, she would not die. We may pray for our children, when they are sick. Not always is it God's will that they should recover. This may not be the best thing for them. We should pray in faith—but should then leave our request in God's hands, knowing that He will do what is best. It is right that we should go to Christ with every case of sickness in our home or among our friends. We should send for the physician, too; for God wants us to use human help so far as this will avail. At the same time we should pray; for whether through or independently of human means—it is Christ who is the Healer!

Jesus is always quick to hear the cry of human distress. He went at once with Jairus. He did not have to be urged. But on the way there, was an interruption. A poor woman, wasted by long sickness, crept up behind Jesus as He was hastening to the ruler's house, and very shyly and stealthily touched the hem of His garment with her trembling fingers. There was a prayer in that touch, a heart's cry, which Jesus heard—though no word was spoken. There was also faith in the touch. The woman may not have understood the theology of prayer. She knew, however, that the One who was passing so near to her had power to heal—and to heal her! So she did the best she knew, and touched the fringe of His garment, believing that in some way she would be healed. So she touched the hem of the garment, and instantly healing flowed from Jesus into her body—and she was made well.

She had meant to slip away and lose herself in the crowd, not letting it be known that she was healed; but Jesus called her. He would not allow her to go away without His speaking to her. He wished her to have a full blessing, not a half blessing only. Her disease had been cured—but He wished to give her also a spiritual blessing. Many people in their sickness have only one desire—to get well again. They send for physicians and faithfully use their medicines and try the remedies they prescribe—but they think of no other blessing to be sought. If they pray, it is only for physical healing. But this is most imperfect faith, most meager, inadequate prayer.

When we are SICK, there are two blessings we should seek:

We should desire to recover, if that is God's will. It is our duty to try to get well, that we may take up again our work and go on with it.

But at the same time—we should try to get some curing of faults, some enrichment of life, some new vision of God, some fresh strength for service from our sickness, before it leaves us. It has some mission to us. It would be a great misfortune to us—if we should fail to get from it the good, the benefit, the enriching it was meant to bring to us!

This woman had received her healing—but she was on the point of missing the greater help the Master wanted her to have. She was recalled by the Master, came to His feet and told Him all, and received salvation as well as physical healing.

This was a bit of our Lord's wayside ministry. He was going with the ruler to heal his child. We would say that in view of the fact that the case was so urgent; the Master would pay no heed to the woman's appeal—but would hasten on to the home of the ruler. The little girl was at the point of death, the father had said. Surely there was no time to lose. The child might die—if He lingered even a moment. Yet Jesus was not hurried by the urgency of the ruler's importunity. He did not tell the woman, that He could not wait to heal her. Nor did He ignore the pressure there was in her touch—and leave her unhealed. At once healing came to her. That was all the woman wanted, and He might have hastened on with the ruler. But he stopped and turned to speak to her. "Who touched My clothes?" The work of healing was only half done—and He would complete it. So abundant is His grace—that He never has failed to do one act of love—because He is in the midst of another.

No harm came from the interruption and the delay. True, the child had died before Jesus reached the ruler's home. It seemed, indeed, that Jesus had lingered too long on the way. If only He had not stopped to talk with the woman in the crowd! Now it was too late for Him to come. "Do not trouble the Master," the servants said; "your daughter is dead." Jesus heard what the messengers said, and comforted Jairus by saying to him, "Do not be afraid, only believe." Jesus had made no mistake. He never makes a mistake—He never comes too late.

Jesus went on with Jairus and soon gave back the child to her parents, alive. Some, whose little ones are dead, as they read this part of the story, may say: "If only Jesus had restored our child after it had died! But He did not!" He did not literally restore your dead, yet He comforted you in a way which wonderfully sustained you. Since Christ has died and risen again, dying in Christ means only passing into fuller, richer life. Your believing child is not dead. You see her not—but she never lived in this world so really as she does now. You have the comfort of knowing also that in the hands of Christ—all is well. Then you have the assurance of meeting her again by and by.

Christ has a heart of sympathy and love—which will lead Him to take a tender interest in every need or sorrow of ours, and to help us in the best way. Our need is our strongest claim on Him.