Thursday, April 15, 2010

What if...?

Our Life Groups are discussing selected Gospel stories of Jesus and his disciples. The discussions are uniquely designed so that together the group draws out what the selected story teaches about Jesus, and what it teaches us about ourselves as we identify with the various characters or elements in the story. It always amazes me how I learn more from these studies then I have from reading numerous commentaries, studying the Greek, and examining the passages in minute detail. Not to deny the importance of scholarly study, but I am constantly amazed at the deep and varied insights each group collectively draws out from the passages by simply asking a few questions and letting people share their insights. I’d like to begin sharing some of those insights with you each week. Our goal in our Life Groups is to come to know Jesus more, then share that adventure with others. So let me begin to share it with you.

We are about eight weeks into our Life Groups, and this week our passage was Mark 5.21-43, the story of Jesus raising Jairus’ daughter from the dead and healing the woman who had a hemorrhage for twelve years. While the groups drew out many cool things the passage teach about Jesus in these healings, let me simply share two. First, there’s the desperate desire of each of these two people to get to Jesus. As a Jewish synagogue official, Jairus had much to lose by going to Jesus, yet he did not let that stop him. Similarly, the woman with the hemorrhage, who would have been ceremonially unclean according to the Law of Moses, risked embarrassment, humiliation, and condemnation from the Jewish religious leaders because she risked making others unclean should they accidentally touch her. None of this would keep her from Jesus. They both were keenly aware of their urgent need, and the power of Jesus’ touch to fulfill that need. Jairus asked Jesus to lay his hands on his daughter. The sick woman wanted only to touch Jesus’ garment. Do we have that same desire, that unstoppable compulsion to be touched by Jesus? To be in his presence? To experience his power? Are we desperate enough to seek it out no matter the cost?

Second, what about the strange statement of Jesus at the end of the story, where he gave strict orders to Jairus and his wife to tell no one about how he raised their daughter (Mk 5.43)? Each of our groups talked at length about this. We noted that the Gospels, especially Mark’s, actually record Jesus giving such orders on many occasions of his healings, and it seems that people seldom complied with Jesus’ orders (cf. Mt 9.26). As we discussed several possible explanations for Jesus commanding them to be silent and the people’s refusal to do so, a troubling question arose: While people who were healed or delivered by Jesus during his earthly ministry refused to keep quiet about it even when Jesus ordered them to tell no one, why do we remain strangely quiet about Jesus when we’ve been ordered by him to “shout it from the rooftops”? They were healed and not even Jesus could stop them from telling everyone. We are saved and commanded to tell everyone (Mt 28.18-20), yet most of us tell almost no one. Why is that? Why don’t we have that same unstoppable compulsion to tell the world what Jesus has done for us?

Maybe it goes back to the first thing we noticed about their keen awareness of need and unstoppable compulsion to touch Jesus and be healed. What if we lived with as keen an awareness about our need as Jairus and the poor bleeding woman did in regard to theirs? And what if we were equally as aware of the power of Jesus to fulfill our every need? Would anything stop us from accessing Jesus? And once experiencing his power, would anything stop us from telling the whole world about him? What if…?

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