June 30, 2021
Laity, Rising Fawn UMC
Scenic South District
Are You Just Standing There?
21 When Jesus had crossed again in the boat[a] to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. 22 Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet 23 and begged him repeatedly, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.” 24 So he went with him.
And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. 25 Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. 26 She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. 27 She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” 29 Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30 Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” 31 And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?’” 32 He looked all around to see who had done it. 33 But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
35 While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?” 36 But overhearing[b] what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” 37 He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. 38 When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. 39 When he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” 40 And they laughed at him. Then he put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. 41 He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!” 42 And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. 43 He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.
For most of my Christian life, I could summarize my Christian faith in three sentences: Jesus walked on the water. I believe it to be true. Let’s move on. Most would say that my belief system was very shallow and they would have been right.
I was like one of the people in the crowd mentioned in verse 25. Some were there thoughtlessly, just moving with the crowd. Many I think were there out of curiosity, waiting for the next miracle.
Or some, maybe, we're just waiting for another free meal. I am sure that there were people who truly admired and loved Jesus, as best as they knew how. And I am sure I would have been there, as just another one in the crowd, waiting to see what happens next.
How did my faith change? How did I go from just another one in the crowd to being more like the woman who reached out for the hem of Jesus’ garment? Well, I was like the woman, not physically ill as she was, but like her, I was also in crisis.
I have a theory about personal faith. I think it’s rare when someone has a deep re-examination of their faith just because of words being spoken. I didn’t say it couldn’t happen, I just think it’s rare. I do believe that Christian actions have a greater influence on a person. But still, I believe that is not the number one reason that a person has deep reflection and desire for a personal one-to-one relationship with Jesus. The biggest catalyst for this type of self-evaluation of faith is crisis. That was what changed me. It was the reason the woman took a huge chance and reached out.
Remember, she was considered to be unclean and was to have no contact with anyone due to the risk of making them also unclean. And this had been going on for 12 years. She was an outcast. A person on the margin. Her just being there, in the crowd was a violation of the law of Moses. She was in crisis. She was desperate. She took the chance.
Crisis can occur in many forms. An unfavorable medical diagnosis, death of a loved one, loss of a job, and livelihood can cause a person to experience crisis. However, there is another reason crisis can occur. Thomas Khun published, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, in 1962. His research on the acceptance of new (scientific) ideas (Copernican Revolutions for example) showed that a new idea (the sun is the center of our solar system as one example) was not accepted until it became obvious the current model (the earth is the center) failed all the tests as science evolved.
Crisis in the community followed and the scientific community was forced to accept the new idea. This rejection of the new until the old failed was really the rule of change rather than an isolated example. According to Khun, crisis is one of the best catalysts for change.
The point of this previous example is that crisis just does not occur from personal health, wealth, or relationship loss. Sometimes there can be a failure in the model. That is, our faith model. Is it so surprising that a person such as myself, with a belief system that is based on three sentences, can have a crisis in faith? For sure, that model fails.
When I came to the realization that my faith system did not function, it was then I had a crisis. It was my crisis in faith that caused me to reach out, to desire an intelligent connection with my Savior. Since that day, the day I answered His call, I can’t get enough of His word. Deeper study and a more personal relationship with Jesus have brought new understanding. With this also has come many “WOW” moments. I can honestly say that over the last four years I have said to myself, “I had never thought of it that way” so many times.
Of all the people in the crowd that day, it was not the ones who stood alongside of Him. But it was the one who was in crisis and took the chance and dared to touched Him that was blessed. I believe that my crisis has forced me to take chances. I was forced to reexamine a lifetime of following a belief model that served me well until I realized that the model was weak and could not hold up under the tests that life had sent my way. Like the woman with the sickness, I reached out for the hem of Christ’s garment and He in return blessed has me many times over.
The point of this devotion is: Are you just standing there in the crowd, enjoying the food and the fellowship of the crowd? Are you just being entertained by your faith? Or, are you reaching out, trying to touch the hem of Christ’s garment?
Father, sometimes we are just so amazed by Your works that we can’t help but just stand and watch and wait for the next wonder that is placed before us. We are so taken by Your greatness we easily forget that we are not to be just spectators but active participants in Your kingdom here on earth. We pray Father that you will place the words, actions, and yes even crisis in our path that will cause us to reach out and touch the hem of Your garment in that we will come to know You.