Miraculous healing is the theme of the biblical text for this week (Mark 5 21-43).
Seriously miraculous, like … she was dead and then she was not.
It also deals with faith in the face of insurmountable disease and suffering.
As a reminder, here’s the shortened version of the story. Jairus was a leader in the synagogue. A religious man, religious in the ‘rules is rules’ way. His daughter gets very sick and he runs to an unknown maverick teacher called Jesus and on his hands and knees begs this unknown, nonreligious type to heal his daughter. Jesus agrees and they set out for Jairus’ home. On the way a woman who has been bleeding for 12 years comes to him out of desperation and knowing she can’t get near him for the crowds (and perhaps not feeling herself worthy enough to get near due to her ‘uncleaness’ and lowly status) settles for touching his cloak.
Whilst Jesus is speaking to the woman (he realises someone has touched him and so stops to find out who it was) whilst he reassures the woman that her faith is what has healed her, the young daughter of Jairus dies. Or so we are told in v35. ‘The situation is hopeless, don’t worry to bring Jesus, all is lost’. But Jesus IGNORES them and says to Jairus, ‘don’t be afraid, just believe’ and off they go to bring to back to life the young girl who has died. We read – ‘he took her by the hand and said “little girl, I say to you get up”’ (v41) and immediately she does.
As I began my sermon prep for this text my thoughts turned to the obvious theme, the rich man of means, religious and upstanding and the lowly woman of ‘unclean’ unimportant status. Different backgrounds, different social standing, one common need. Healing. Jesus responded to both equally and unequivocally.
And as I thought of the congregation that would hear this message I thought to myself, the problem today though is that rich means medical aid and top medical care, the people who will read and hear this text have no medical aid, they have little financial means. This is good news for them on a spiritual level, but it’s not always true for them on a physical level. Equal access to healing is not the experience of many of the impoverished in our society today. If they don’t have medical aid, or ‘miracle aid’ do they get the care that they need, that they deserve, that everyone should have a basic right to?
God? Help a girl out here.
Enter Jesus. (v 40) TA DA!
I feel the Divine whisper of memory, ‘ahem, P, did you not see some of this for yourself this past week?’
On Wednesday I went to visit a friend at King Edward Hospital in Durban. King Edward is a government hospital, not a fancy privately funded hotel as some of our hospitals are. This is a basic, basic hospital for those who do not have medical aid. This friend had been there, in ICU for 26 days. We have been praying hard for her! Very hard.
But Wednesday my cousin and I go in to visit and there she is looking ok. Alive, ill, very ill, but alive and in actual fact quite bright and quite perky considering what she’s been through.
This is what she told us.
She died. After her first operation she is sure she walked the path of death.
She came back.
Her surgeon told her that morning that only 2% of patients, in his experience, survive what she has.
He told her that when she got home she was to get on her knees and say thank you to whoever it is that she prays to because it is only through a power outside the control of modern medicine that she is still alive.
She’s got no medical aid, she’s in a government hospital and she survived what 98% of people succumb to. She’s got no medical aid but it would appear she’s got herself some miracle aid.
I asked her mom on the way out how her experience of the hospital has been, and she told me that my friend believes she is alive because of God and because of King Edward hospital. The level of care has been that deep and that miraculous. In her mind, she wouldn’t have survived if she had been anywhere else.
And so I re looked at this text, this time with an open mind and with some added prompting. It’s not only rich people who can be healed. It’s not only ‘religious’ people who receive the hope and care that they need, we can all receive it. Jairus and the bleeding woman both displayed open minds, open hearts, faith in the work of God to work miracles against all the odds, they believed and hoped in the power of God.
Death cannot be cheated. I am all too aware of that, sometimes even the most fervent prayers seem to go unanswered with regard miraculous healing. But once in a while you come across someone who says ‘I had faith, I “just believed”, my people prayed and against all odds I got well’.
My friend is not out of the woods yet. And as I haven’t asked if I can share her story I have not included her name. But we can pray, we can still pray. For her, for her loyal, loving and totally devoted family and praying community and we can pray for those whom we love who are, against all odds, struggling with illness. We can pray for our medical communities. Not everyone gets physically healed in this world, but no one is ignored, not by God. God’s son shows us this in this text. NO one is ignored when it comes to matters of healing.
For those struggling with illness themselves (Wendy P and Elaine T I am thinking of you), God sees you, your community sees you and when Jesus walks into a room (v40) bringing the healing power of God, anything can happen!
Sometimes we just need to ‘believe’.
How about that?
Now all glory to God, who is able, through God’s mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think (Ephesians 3:20)