Someone once asked Ghandi what he thought about Christianity. He confessed that the Jesus of the Bible was very attractive, but Jesus' modern-day followers did a terrible job of representing him, and this was why he (Ghandi) wasn’t a Christian. This is actually quite common: People reject the church all the time but they find themselves drawn to the Jesus presented in the Gospels.
One of the reasons why people find him attractive is his power mixed in the right amount with compassion, which we see in today’s passage. A ruler came to Jesus and pled with him to come and heal his sick little girl. Every father reading this can certainly relate, for this would be every parents’ worst nightmare: watching your little girl slowly dying right in front of you as you stand by helplessly.
But on the way to the sick girl, Jesus had a little diversion from the agenda. A woman who'd been bleeding constantly for the last twelve years was ready to make one last desperate attempt to get healing. Mark’s version adds the detail that she'd spent all she had on doctors, and her situation had only worsened. Couple this with the physical pain which she undoubtedly experienced, and this was a horrible life for her. And worst of all was the isolation. She was ritualistically unclean 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Everyone who touched her was made unclean. She was forbidden to enter the temple and worship God there, which would only add to her isolation and misery.
To me the most touching thing about this woman is her faith. She didn’t have the faith to come up to Jesus and ask for healing. She didn’t even want to make her presence known. But this teaches us an important lesson about faith. It’s not so important how strong your faith is as much as the object of your faith. Imagine me crossing a rope bridge across a chasm. I might have a lot of faith in the bridge and walk across without a moment’s hesitation. Or I might have a wavering faith and take each step gingerly until I reach safety. But the determining factor is the object of my faith. If the bridge is sound, I’m fine. If it isn’t, then I’ll find out as. . .well, you get the idea.
Maybe you don’t have the faith of Abraham, willing to pack up and move everything you own and leave everyone you know behind, just because “God told me to.” Maybe you don’t have the faith to reach out and grab hold of Christ’s hand. But if you have the faith to just touch the edge of his garment, that one little tiny step of faith will make all the difference both now and in eternity.
And in the rest of the story we see an illustration why. People thought it was too late. The Master had enough power to heal a sick person, but a dead one? To take a lifeless corpse and breathe life back into it, to recall the soul from the afterlife and bind it once again with its body? Surely this Healer wasn’t that powerful, was he? Uh, yes he was. In fact, it just took a word from him to bring this girl back to life and give her back to her joyful parents. Like I said yesterday, now that's authority! And he has just as much power and authority now as he did then.
So, are you trusting him? Are you willing to place everything in his hands? My friend, trust and obedience are two sides of the same coin, and you can’t have one without the other.
Lord Jesus, I do believe in you, I do. But my faith is so wavering at times, and I want to trust you so much more. Only you can change me and give me more faith. Please.