Let us pray: Dear Savior, these are not easy times for any of us. We’re beset by personal problems, national troubles, and world-wide issues that undermine our faith and confidence in You. We cry: “How long, how long?” And yet, to our senses, we don’t seem to get any answer. Today remind us that Your answers are grounded in patience and revealed by faith. Remind us that our sense perception isn’t always true or correct, but Your promises of grace to us are. And then give us the faith-born ability to see Your gracious hidden hand at work in our lives. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE MIRACLE WORKER
TEXT: Mark 5: 21-24a, 35-43
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
We all do foolish things. I know I have. I recall when I was about 14 and got up late for my Sunday morning paper route. It was winter. I was so angry with myself that I never checked the thermometer. Instead I saw it was bright and sunny outside. So I grabbed my coat and hat but left my gloves behind. I foolishly thought I wouldn’t need them. About half-way through my route my hands began to hurt. By the time I got home I had frostbite on my finger tips. You see, it was actually 10 below zero, but I hadn’t bothered to check. It hurt a lot. It lingered on another 7 or 8 years whenever my hands got really cold—a reminder of my folly born of temper. Foolish, foolish, foolish.
Then there have been the times I second-guessed myself and I made a fool of myself as well. A couple of times, even though I knew better, I sold investments at the wrong time. I listened to pundits and was sure they would go down, but I was wrong. I should have been more patient. I know many of you have similar stories. You’ve told them to me over the years. Turning yourself into a fool isn’t a good feeling, is it?
Today I want to key in on two groups of foolish people. Both groups should have known better than to belittle the Godly faith of their friend, Jairus, and to also belittle Christ’s power and goodness. Yet they did. And it’s a reminder to all of us not to engage in:
THE FOOLISHNESS OF SECOND-GUESSING CHRIST
Christ has raised a following, called disciples, and been busy for over a year engaging in miracles. The word has gotten around. People were excited. They looked up to Him. A certain synagogue ruler, a lay pastor we’ll call him, named Jairus, sought Jesus out. His 12 year old daughter was deathly ill and he wanted Jesus to heal her. His faith is evident in his words to Christ: “Falling at Jesus’ feet he said: ‘My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.’ So Jesus went with him.”
Jairus was a man of faith. He obviously accepted Christ as the Messiah, the chosen Son of God Who came to save hurting souls. Considering his position in the synagogue, no doubt he shared his faith with others. Some of those friends of Jairus then arrived with bad news. “Your daughter is dead,’ they said. ‘Why bother the teacher any more?’” That little phrase: “the teacher” is instructive. Obviously they were deferential to Christ. They knew of Jairus’ faith and the many stories of Christ’s miracles. And yet, right here, they reveal the foolishness of the human heart. Up to this time Christ had engaged in many miracles—including healing a paralytic and even casting demons. If Jesus had that kind of power, couldn’t He also raise from the dead? After all, the great prophet Elijah did. And so did Elisha! Even if Jesus was not the Messiah, but just a great prophet as well, couldn’t He help?
“Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, ‘Don’t be afraid; just believe.” That first group of “friends” to Jairus, reminds me of the Greek word: thoumodzo. It means: to marvel at, or to be amazed. Many times in the New Testament we run across groups of people who were amazed at what Jesus taught and did, but still didn’t take it to heart and truly believe. To be described as a “thoumodzo” isn’t a compliment. Instead, it is akin to being called a second-guessing fool.
Well, Jesus ignored such fools, and went anyway. When they got to the house the wailing committee was in full cry. When I read this section of Scripture, I’m always reminded of a funeral I did in Cambridge about 20 odd years ago. The deceased was a member of the old church down there. Upon his death I was called upon to bury him even though he hadn’t gone to church in years. The relatives here at the time, wanted me to do it, so I did. I walked into the funeral home and his grown, adult daughters were wailing over his casket and holding onto it for dear life. They had no comfort in the face of his death. They basically had no faith. God was an afterthought and funerals were just something you had to do. I did a slow burn as I waited. And then I took command and began to address them all concerning God’s truths of the 23rd Psalm. Within seconds the wailing ceased and they listened. At the end an elderly nun approached me and said: “Pastor, in all my years I’ve never heard the 23rd psalm explained in that way.” She thanked me. Christians never give up or second-guess God—especially in the face of death.
Well, Jesus then said: “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.’ But they laughed at him.” Again, they second-guessed the eternal Son of God. They mocked Him. They made Him out to be a liar. Supposedly they attended synagogue. Supposedly they were friends of this synagogue ruler. Supposedly they knew of his faith. And they should have known from the Old Testament that God always has power over death and that Christ had never lied to anyone. And yet, they second-guessed all this. Their human perceptions of the situation crowded out any faith. It’s very sad when you think about it. What a put-down of Christ! What a put-down of Jairus whom they were there to comfort.
Today none of us is facing immediate death. But we are all facing a host of problems and troubles that seem quite beyond our ability to control. Jobs are precarious. Economic woes abound. Out of control kids tear at our hearts. Government disappoints. World leaders seem clueless as to the “little people’s” ability to cope. We pray. We ask God to help, guide and assist us—just like Jairus did. And often we don’t seem to see any relief. So, we begin to question God, to doubt Christ’s love and compassion, and to drift in our faith. We just don’t see any evidence that our little picture fits into God’s big picture. Yes, we all are guilty of second-guessing Christ and making ourselves into fools.
And yet, that’s exactly why Christ wanted this story to be written. For thereby he comforts us and puts our faith back on an even keel. Taking mom, dad, and three disciples with him into her room, he took her by the hand and said: “Little girl, get up!” And immediately she arose from the dead, walked around, and ate a meal. You see, Christ never leaves His beloved believers without hope and certainty. He really does engage in miracles. Even death must bow before Him—as it did on Easter morning after He had died for our sins of second-guessing on the cross.
Here we see that faith, true confidence in Christ, is vindicated; while second-guessing Him is shown to be what it is: foolishness. So, when you pour out your heart to God in prayer, remember that. Be strong, take courage, and be willing to wait on the Lord….Amen