Mark 5: 21-43

At this moment in Mark, Jesus’ ministry is building up and the crowds are really beginning to follow Jesus—he’s healing people, he’s travelling, he’s preaching. People have noticed. Many want to be close to Jesus—-they are reaching out, pursuing him, just trying to brush shoulders with him, to feel his presence.

And our story today is about two people who will do anything to know the healing touch of Jesus.

First, we meet Jairus. He’s a Jewish man and a religious leader in his community.  People listen to him, he’s powerful, tall handsome. Though not all Jews are supportive of Jesus, Jairus is desperate to meet Christ because he wants Jesus to heal his dying daughter. The crowd let him through easily because he’s a local celebrity. They see him each week at the synagogue., he’s leading as they go to the place of worship for religious rites. Maybe like a local politician, the mayor of the city, a well-known activist. The principal of your school. The point is, everyone know who he is, and many feel sad for him. His 12 year old daughter is dying. He’s lived such a successful life and given so much to his community.

He’s proactive in his search for Jesus, and the crowd parts because many believe he is worthy to know Jesus. His daughter deserves to be healed. He runs to Christ and falls at his feet, begging for healing.

But maybe there are some in the crowd who believe that Jairus is not deserving of the power of Jesus. Why does he get to go to the front of the line when so many others are hurting as well? Why did the crowd part for him when other people are dying, too? He’s had plenty of good things in his life—-a good job, status in his city, plenty of money, a nice family and home. It’s somebody else’s turn to meet Jesus.

Is Jairus really deserving of Christ’s healing touch?

Well, after Jairus, we encounter a second person, a woman who has been bleeding for twelve years…Maybe she is deserving of Christ’s healing touch. This woman is so low in her society that we don’t even know her name. She’s poor— she’s spent all of her money trying to get medical care. She’s been bleeding, she smells bad, she has no family. This woman is broken—-Jesus is the only one who can help her. Surely SHE, the outcast, is the one who deserves a break. Surely she should get jesus’ attention since no one has ever paid her much attention. In fact, she’s so humble that she doesn’t try to even speak to Jesus or look at him. She sneaks up behind him, reaching out and just hoping to touch his clothes.

But I bet not everyone agrees that this woman should receive Christ’s touch. I bet some believe she is a drain on the community. She gives nothing back, she’s exhausting, she complains about her condition all the time. She may be poor and sick, but that doesn’t mean she’s nice.

Is the unnamed and bleeding woman deserving of Christ’s healing touch?

We use that word DESERVE a lot.

Our world is one that is based on who deserves what, isn’t that true?

It starts young, doesn’t it? I remember my mom telling my cousins and me that we would get dessert if we behaved in the grocery store. We deserved dessert if we didn’t yell at each other.

This kind of attitude is just part of life…

Working on a college campus, that’s certainly the mentality we are taught in school. That’s the mindset of many students at Duke, and I would imagine across the country. If you work hard, you deserve a good grade. If you make yourself well-rounded in high school and volunteer and play sports and join clubs, you will deserve to get into a good college.

This idea continues after graduation as well.

The person who works hardest and puts in the hours is the one who deserves a raise.

The woman who grew up in a rough family with little money and has the opportunity for a wonderful career and home and family of her own DESERVES that.

The couple who has struggled with infertility and finally has a baby DESERVES that baby.

A student I work with is so kind and hard working. He wants to serve the world through education. He’s been a leader in so many groups relating to race relations and justice issues on campus. This spring he received a prestigious teaching fellowship in Europe, and I think, YES< this student DESERVES that.

We all have different ideas of who is deserving and who is not, don’t we? It’s hard not to see the lives of others and make judgements based on how they look or what they do or how they treat people. You could look at the life of Jairus and the life of this unnamed woman and say that maybe one is more deserving than the other, or neither..

Who deserves the healing touch of Jesus?

I think the point of this is that It doesn’t matter…. It doesn’t matter what the crowd thought, it doesn’t matter what you or I think….It doesn’t matter if Jairus lived a perfect life or not or was famous or not…It doesn’t matter if the unnamed woman needed a break or if she was miserable to be around.

The word deserve is not in Christ’s vocabulary in this story.

In our lives, we have to make judgements. We have to choose some people over others to be our close friends, to get the promotion, we have to choose some over others to be on sports teams.

But in Jesus’ eyes, the word deserving doesn’t exist. Gospel is FOR ALL. Christ’s life, death, and resurrection power have no limits on them based on who deserves salvation the most. and this story is a beautiful example of that. Christ’s healing power is not limited by Jesus.

Jarius and the unnamed woman are so different from one another, but In this story, the one thing They both recognize is their need for God. Both, needed a savior. Both needed the touch of Christ in their lives. Both sought out Jesus, and that is all that matters. Both realized their standing didn’t matter—- the unnamed woman had nothing to give but really, Jairus didn’t have much to give either.

Both move forward in faith. Both experienced the salvation of Christ.

t’s impossible to imagine a life that’s not measured in deserving, but the grace of God goes beyond our imagination. Christ’s new life is meant for those who barely have the strength to reach out and touch him, and those who look like they have it all together.

I wonder how this church community might be different if we eliminated the word deserve from our vocabulary. It’s tough.

I hope that for the many students who come to PCM+, it is one of the few spaces where they know they are freely given the love of Christ. My prayer is that the word deserve never enters their minds in PCM+. They are not loved by God because they deserve, Christ is not with them because they are more like Jairus or more like the unnamed woman. NO,

Some students come to PCM+ like Jairus—they are loud, they come to the front, they speak their minds, they are well-liked. Some students are more like the woman, they are afraid, they are timid, they come in through the side door and sit in the back.

Praise God and How hopeful to move forward into a life of faith, knowing that God’s grace extends to us no matter what we do.