This story is so rich that it’s one of those on which I could spend a week, if not more. It’s what some scholars like to refer to as a “sandwich”, so called because it is two stories where one is interrupted by the other. First you have the story of Jairus’ advocating for his daughter who is dying, and that gets interrupted by the story of the hemorrhaging woman. You could pull the latter out completely and both stories would make sense other own. But putting them together gives both of them a certain richness as it forces us to compare and contrast them, as well as it further demonstrates Jesus’ power; that is, Jesus can multitask. This is also one of those stories that I think is a great one on which to mediate and wonder. I don’t want to say too much about it, because it is one that I encourage people to sit in and examine for themselves. Read and re-read this story, making sure you have its plot understood, and then start to seek God through it, noticing what stands out to you in it, and what message the spirit of God might have for you through it. Imagine yourself being there and witnessing these things. What kind of emotions would you feel if you witnessed this, if you were the woman, the girl, Jairus, Jairus’ wife, a disciple, and so on? Do some real wondering, imagining and contemplating on this story.
That being said, there is one thing I want to point out here, which is a thick running theme in Luke and which we will see really taking off over the next few chapters (also see the link below to hear my sermon on this last Sunday at Aldersgate Church in St. Louis Park, MN). That is, the lowly being uplifted and those of high stature being brought low. One commentary I heard on this pointed out for me how there is a leveling in this story. Jairus is the leader of the synagogue. This means he is in charge of their version of worship services and other matters and in this holds a high position. He is well regarded, knows the law, and furthermore would know who has what kinds and levels of scriptural and religious authority. Remember, despite not necessarily being endorsed by any known religious authorities, Jesus has established his innate authority from God the Creator through the Spirit in the earlier chapters of Luke. So here comes Jairus who has the humility to not just ask Jesus for help but to fall at his feet. He has lowered himself. Meanwhile this woman who has been bleeding for 12 years, and because of this would be deemed unclean and therefore be a total outcast comes and touches the “fringe” of his garment. Physically speaking, she and Jairus are at the same level in Jesus’ presence. They both believe that his touch can heal, they both are humble at his feet, and they both are desperate for him. It is (as many stories have been and will be in Luke) reminiscent of what Mary, the mother of Jesus, sang in The Magnificat before Jesus was even born: “He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly” (1:52).
In Christ we truly are all one. We all are in need of grace; that is we are in need of the active work of the triune God in our lives. We live in a world of titles, accolades, degrees, levels and ranks, and this is the way of the world. But in God’s kingdom we are all one true humanity. As we move through our world, may we always remember that. Our titles, accolades, degrees, levels and ranks are only as good as they hold up at the feet of Jesus.
“Irresistible vs. Immovable” (Aldersgate UMC | St. Louis Park, MN | 02.07.16)