Back by popular demand -- can't say "popular" but more like three people -- the Tues thru Thurs devotionals are back!
Of course they can disappear again. That comes with the territory of having an ENFJ pastor, the "F" being stronger than the "T."
I'm thinking, as we move forward, let's focus on Jesus in the Gospel readings. Not everyone is tres familiar with Jesus of the Gospels. Besides, we can all benefit from spending our morning devotionals with Jesus.
Let's get started, shall we?
40Now when Jesus returned, the crowd welcomed him, for they were all waiting for him. 41Just then there came a man named Jairus, a leader of the synagogue. He fell at Jesus' feet and begged him to come to his house,42for he had an only daughter, about twelve years old, who was dying. As he went, the crowds pressed in on him.43Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years; and though she had spent all she had on physicians, no one could cure her. 44She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his clothes, and immediately her hemorrhage stopped. 45Then Jesus asked, "Who touched me?" When all denied it, Peter said, "Master, the crowds surround you and press in on you." 46But Jesus said, "Someone touched me; for I noticed that power had gone out from me." 47When the woman saw that she could not remain hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before him, she declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. 48He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace."
49While he was still speaking, someone came from the leader's house to say, "Your daughter is dead; do not trouble the teacher any longer." 50When Jesus heard this, he replied, "Do not fear. Only believe, and she will be saved." 51When he came to the house, he did not allow anyone to enter with him, except Peter, John, and James, and the child's father and mother. 52They were all weeping and wailing for her; but he said, "Do not weep; for she is not dead but sleeping." 53And they laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. 54But he took her by the hand and called out, "Child, get up!" 55Her spirit returned, and she got up at once. Then he directed them to give her something to eat. 56Her parents were astounded; but he ordered them to tell no one what had happened.
The healing of the woman subjected bleeding is an episode we've covered before in a sermon or two. It's a powerful and moving story of faith-in-action, that through her desperate yet confident faith in Jesus' ability to heal, she in fact gets healed as soon as she touches the fringe of his clothes. And she, in turn, is commended by Jesus for having such a faith, departing with the blessing of Jesus' Shalom.
But for our devotional this morning, I draw your attention to Jairus' daughter. Jairus is an important man, a leader of the synagogue. His daughter has fallen ill. The nature of the disease we do not know. We know she is twelve years old. (Twelve years is also the length of time for the woman with the bleeding condition. When we read similarities in numbers or other features in these stories, they are telling us something -- pay attention -- there are parallel lessons here!)
People everywhere, especially before modern medicine, knew acutely when someone was seriously ill. Where disease and death were familiar, people developed a keen sense for the severity of an illness. Jairus' daughter is deep trouble, health-wise.
By the time Jesus gets to Jairus' house, it's too late. (This reminds me of Joe Ferrante's quip about God's timing: "God's timing is always ... too late.") Had Jesus been there in time, they were all thinking, the girl's sickness could have been reversed and the young girl could have been saved. Jesus was definitely a "P" and not a "J" in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.
But Jesus was "P" here on purpose. Did Jesus not discern that the daughter would die? By his own reaction to the news of the young girl's death, we can tell that Jesus was not surprised. "Do not fear," He says.
Everyone, including Jesus, knew Jairus' daughter had died.
Yet, Jesus says something that will trigger laughter -- not the laughing with you type, but the laughing at you type -- a scornful laughter at Jesus when He says, "Do not weep; for she is not dead but sleeping." Sleeping? Are you serious, Jesus? This is no time for a joke! Sleeping?!
Question for us, the readers: Why didn't Jesus say, "Do not weep; I know she is dead but I will bring her back to life"? At least this response would have been straightforward. People would have stared at Jesus with incredulity we can be sure. But they would have understood exactly what He was saying. Why add the "sleeping" part?
Jesus speaks very intentionally. He says things that He knows will confuse people. He says things that, only later, will be understood by His hearers.
Such is the case here. I'm certain that everyone, including Jesus' disciples, were confused about Jesus' use of the word 'sleeping'.
So, intentional confusion on the part of Jesus. But much like a morning fog on some flat farmland that dissipates with the rising of the sun, the confusion lifts with the realization of Who Jesus Is.
From Jesus' point of view, the child really is "sleeping." Death as Finality is rejected by Jesus. Jesus as the Messiah, as the One Anointed by the Holy Spirit, can bring back to life someone who has died. Therefore from Jesus' point of view, the child who has died is the child who is merely sleeping. Death is overcome. Waking someone from a deathly state is like waking someone from a deep sleep -- from Jesus' point of view.
Jairus' daughter and Lazarus, in the ministry of Jesus, experienced coming back to life from the dead, what we would call 'resuscitation'. (Both Jairus' daughter and Lazarus would die again, in their own eventual time.) But this story was written down by Luke after Jesus' Resurrection. Stories like these were always heard with echoes or foreshadowing of the Resurrection of Christ. And with echoes of our own anticipated Resurrection. That is why in the Lazarus story in John 11, Jesus says to Lazarus' sister, Martha, "I am the resurrection and the life."
Death is not Final. The Resurrection and Life to Come in the New Heavens and the New Earth with the Triune God are Final.
Let's pray: Lord Jesus, we confess that You are the Resurrection and the Life. That in You we have Life, Life Eternal. And though physical death is experienced before Your Return, we know that death is not the final outcome. The Final Outcome for us is in fact Our Resurrected Life in the Restored Creation with You. We also acknowledge in the meantime that You are still able to accomplish amazing miracles -- like healing of extreme diseases and even the raising of the dead. So, we confess, that You, O Lord, continue to do your marvelous things from Your point of view! In Your Name, Amen.
L'Shalom [Shalom = Peace; the prefix 'L' means "to" or "toward," so L'Shalom means "go toward peace" or "go in peace"]