God's Power Made Perfect in Weakness #2
2 Sam 1:1, 17-27
We are in the second week of a three week series called God’s Power is Made Perfect in Weakness. Last week we went through the passage where Paul says this, in 2 Corinthians 12. We learned that when we are weak we can turn to God and receive God’s strength to overcome our struggles, our grief, our thorns in the flesh. When we turn to God in our weakness, we are filled with God’s strength and are able to show God’s strength and love to others. It is indeed good news that God is right there ready to help us, as our life preserver, whenever we face struggles of any kind.
This week we will continue to talk about how God’s power is made perfect in our weaknesses. We will look at this concept in our Mark passage this morning. First, we will look in detail at Jesus’ actions in all of this. And second, we will look briefly at Jairus and the unnamed woman.
It seems strange to focus on Jesus when we are talking about God’s power being made perfect in weakness, because Jesus is God and so shouldn’t he never be weak? Jesus is God, but Jesus is also human. And part of the reason why God became human in Jesus and dwelt among us is to give us an example to follow. What Jesus shows us about God’s power being made perfect in us through weakness is that God is at work through us even when we are overwhelmed with the busyness of life.
When I first read this passage, what struck me was how Jesus was absolutely bombarded by people. They simply wouldn’t give the man any space at all. The circumstances of life that Jesus faced in these verses were very intense and overwhelming. In verse 21, he had just gotten out of the boat, the crowds were pressing in on him, and by verses 22-23 Jairus came to him and begged repeatedly for Jesus to come and lay his hands on his daughter because she was dying. This scene with the crowd and then the emergency of Jairus repeatedly begging for Jesus to come is quite intense. (The video we watched is very calm and subdued, but I think that in real life this was overwhelming.)
By the beginning of verse 24 Jesus has agreed to go with Jairus. But the crowd is pressing in on him. Have you ever tried to get somewhere quickly when you are walking through the middle of a jostling crowd? It’s very stressful. Just imagine when you are flying somewhere on two airplanes, when your first flight is delayed and you might miss your connection. But the airport is crowded and you can’t get there because of all the people. Except that Jesus’ situation was worse because it was about life and death.
In the middle of this, the crowd, the emergency, the trying to get there in time, this woman comes and steals a healing. Jesus is on his way to help someone very important, Jairus, a leader of the synagogue, and this woman was an outcast. We know that because in verse 25 we learn that she had been bleeding for 12 years, which means that she would have been considered unclean and not allowed to be in the community. She was not allowed to touch people, but here she was, in verse 27 pushing her way through the crowd to come up behind Jesus and touch His cloak.
Power goes out of Him. And this is an example where Jesus loses control, which sounds really weird to say out loud. But, Jesus did not choose to heal her. He did not send his healing power to her of His own will. She takes it.
This is so descriptive of what often happens in our own lives. Sometimes we have so many things going on at the same time that we feel as if everything is pressing in on us, as if we have no space to breathe, or think, or have any idea of what to do next because we are just crowded. And then an emergency happens, and we try our best to respond, but with all the other things going on we just can’t get to it as quickly as we would like. And then, something happens completely outside of our own control and it just feels like everything is going to fall apart. The question is, how does Jesus respond to this? How is God’s power made perfect in this moment of weakness in Jesus’ life? When this happens to me, I am always tempted to respond with a passionate emotional outburst. And sometimes I do, like last Sunday, when Brett forgot to fill the car with gas on our way home from our Saturday outings and I found it empty on Sunday morning. I responded with a passionate emotional outburst. Thankfully, I have learned how to use the phone hands-free in the car and could call him a few minutes later to apologize. But how did Jesus respond?
In verse 30, Jesus turned around and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” While many of us might do that so that we could accuse or respond with a passionate emotional outburst, Jesus’ motivation for the question is compassion and amazement. How do we know this? Because Jesus wants to know who had the kind of faith that would enable them to be healed by simply touching him, without even asking for his attention. He also must have known, that whoever did this could not have asked for his help publicly in front of all of these people. He must have know that whoever it was would have been an outcast or a woman, and in this case, both. When Jesus asks who touched him, His goal was to know who it was so that he could validate what this person had done (stole a healing) and restore them to the community.
That is exactly what He does in verse 34. First he calls her daughter, which means that she is part of his community in an intimate way. He is saying, “You are one of us.” Then he says, “Your faith has made you well. Go in peace and be healed of your disease.” Here He is saying publicly to the crowd that this woman has done nothing wrong. That’s important because, she is a nobody in this community and the crowd could very well be angry with her for interrupting Jesus on his way to heal their synagogue leader’s daughter.
In this moment with the unnamed woman, with all these people pushing in on him, and the emergency weighing on his mind, after this experience of not having control of his healing power when the power went out of him, Jesus manages to be still and calm. Last week I talked about praying with Psalm 46 when I was very scared about a medical test (that went fine). It says, “God is our refuge and strength,” and through praying with the Psalm I received God’s strength. Another thing it says in Psalm 46 is, “Be still and know that I am God.” Jesus was always going off and praying by himself. Whenever He could, he sought that time of stillness with God in prayer. That discipline of prayer helps us when life gets busy and out of control, to find that stillness in the presence of God in midst of it. Jesus’ ability to be still and calm in the midst of chaos enabled him to treat the unnamed woman with compassion even though he really didn’t have time for her. She managed to be healed by touching his cloak, but Jesus took it one step farther and restored her, the unnamed, outcast woman, to the community by validating what she did and declaring her to be healed.
When life gets busy, we often don’t have time to help people who come to us. The ability to be still in the midst of the busy-ness or chaos of life helps us to turn to God and receive God’s strength so that God’s power of healing and restoration can move through us even in the middle of our own weakness. We often don’t know what other people have been through. This woman who snuck up behind Jesus had been through a lot of suffering. We learned in verse 26 that she had seen many doctors and they had taken all of her money, but only made her condition worse. God’s power was made perfect through Jesus in that moment of weakness (when he was overwhelmed with life) because Jesus did not tear her down but built her up.
I am very much in awe of Jesus’ response here. Sometimes we think we don’t have time for things, when actually we do. But Jesus here really didn’t have time for this woman. And we know that because in verse 35 while he was still speaking to her, some people came from Jairus’ house to say that his daughter had died. Again, what is Jesus’ response? First to think of Jairus and to encourage him in verse 36, “Do not fear, only believe.” It would be very tempting in that moment to feel like He had failed. Or to be angry with everyone for making Him late. But, again, Jesus has this stillness about Him, where He can zero in on the heart of the matter and give everything else to God. Instead of assuming that all was lost, He took it one thing at a time: reassure Jairus, go to the house, clear everyone out, do what must be done.
In the busyness of our own lives, when things seem out of control, when deadlines are missed, and we fail to do everything that needs to get done, it is important for us to remember that in those moments we are weak. And to remember what Paul said in our passage last week: when we are weak, then we are strong. Because of the power of Christ that dwells in us, it is God’s strength that gets us through these times of weakness. By relying on God’s strength and focusing on God, in the midst of the chaos, we will be better able to response like Jesus, with compassion, building up instead of tearing down.
Finally, I’d like to look briefly at Jairus and the unnamed woman. Last week we talked about how the suffering we experience in life is sometimes too difficult for us to handle on our own. In our weakness we can turn to God and receive God’s strength. We remembered what Stevie said on VBC Sunday, that Jesus is our life preserver. He is with us in our struggles, helping us to keep our head above water, giving us the strength to get through it. Some of us might ask, will God really do that for me? The answer is yes. Jairus was a well-known leader in his community. The unnamed woman was a nobody. In their suffering they both sought Jesus. Jesus responded to their requests for healing without distinction. Jesus sees each of us as human and precious in God’s sight. When we turn to Jesus in our weaknesses, Jesus responds to each and every one of us with the grace and compassion of our God who loves us. The woman was healed and Jairus’ daughter was raised from the dead. Sometimes God responds with miracles like that. But sometimes, the miracle is that God gives us the strength that we need to get through it, both by filling us with God’s own strength and also by giving us a community that can help us. We are the body of Christ. As God helps us as individuals so we are called to help each other with the strength that God has given us.
As we face all of the circumstances of our lives, let us remember that God’s grace is sufficient for us, for God’s power is made perfect in weakness. By the power of Christ dwelling in us, when we are weak, then we are strong. Amen.