February 4, 2020 (Tuesday) - Friends in the City - A Reflection on Mark 5:21-43

When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet 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.” So he went with him. And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?’ ” He looked all around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” 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?” But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. When he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” 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. He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!” And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.

One day, a Jewish leader went to Jesus telling him that his daughter was dying; could Jesus please come and heal her. From the descriptions of the various encounters that Jesus had with the Jewish leaders of his time, we tend to have the impression that they were always confrontational, but this is not the case. I am sure there were a lot of leaders who had a lot of admiration and respect for Jesus, and we see that in this story where one of them goes to Jesus asking him to heal his daughter.

Even if this was one of those leaders who hated Jesus, but now out of total desperation went to Jesus, it was still an act of admiration and respect. Jesus showed no reluctance. Immediately, he set out for the man’s house, ministering to people along the way. By the time he arrived, the leader’s daughter was dead, but Jesus brought her back to life, and I cannot even begin to imagine how much her life changed as a result. As for the leader, he probably became a life-long follower.

We are also called upon to bring the dead back to life — and while on the odd occasion we might bring the physically dead back to life; after all Paul did — it is the spiritually dead we are called upon to resurrect. This tends to be a largely thankless task, and although we might begin it with great enthusiasm, it wears off very quickly when faced with opposition on several fronts. Often this comes from people who should be on our side. Everybody seeking to do God’s will faces this opposition.

If we look at people in the Bible, they all went through opposition — from Ezra and Nehemiah to Peter and Paul. It can get discouraging. I remember in the early days of my ministry, it seemed that I had nobody by my side. Instead of helping me, they were hindering me. My bishop, who saw that I was getting discouraged sent me a short note that I have always carried close to my heart. He simply said, “Don’t be disheartened. Like Paul had friends in Jerusalem, you too have them here.”

If you are going through such discouragement, let me assure you that you do too. You may not see them now, but if you are really doing God’s work, he will ensure that you are able to continue it once you get past the days of testing. The testing is necessary to ensure we are long distance runners. God has little use for sprinters. So keep going, and like Moses once told the Israelites, you will “see the deliverance that the Lord will accomplish for you”.

So, remember. You have friends in the city.