Saturday, 10 March 2018

Twelve Years

In the gospel of Luke, chapter eight, we read of three instances of healing.
Jesus and His disciples sailed across the Sea of Galilee to an area called Gerasenes or Gadara, an area inhabited predominantly by Gentiles. There they encounter a man possessed by demons, living not amongst the townsfolk, but in an area of burial tombs. His life had been one of torment, for he had been captured and chained, but demonic strength had enabled him to break his chains and escape into the outskirts of the city. He was naked and no doubt often cold and hungry. The writer tells us that he had lived this way for many years.
Jesus cast out the demons from the possessed man. He sat with Jesus, clothed and completely sane, then returned to his homeland and witnessed what the Lord had done for him.
Later Jesus returns to the western shore of the sea, where crowds are waiting for Him. Jairus, one of the leaders of a local synagogue pleads with Jesus to come to see Jairus’ only daughter who is gravely ill. The child is about 12 years old.
We don’t know the circumstances of the child’s illness. Perhaps it was a recent malady, alternatively it may have been something that had afflicted her for years. She had no siblings- perhaps her parents had lost other children. We often speak of “the good old days” without regard for the high rates of infant mortality, inadequate medical care and knowledge, and chronic suffering which was a part of life in centuries past. Regardless, the girl’s parents were understandably distraught at the prospect of losing their daughter.
As they proceed, Jesus and Jairus are interrupted by another sufferer. This unnamed lady had been haemorrhaging for twelve years and had sought cures to no avail. In Jewish culture her condition made her unclean, a shameful and lonely situation. She does not seek to get Jesus’ attention. She approaches Him from the rear and touches just the hem of his garment. Perhaps she did so because the crowds were so thickly gathered around Him. Perhaps she did so because Jesus was with a noted leader of the synagogue. Perhaps she did so because she considered herself too unimportant for Jesus to attend to. Perhaps she was embarrassed and ashamed as a woman to discuss her health problems, particularly in a crowded place. We can only surmise.
Jesus asked the woman who touched the hem of His garment to identify herself. Why? To humiliate her? Jesus would never do that. He wanted her to know that she was worthy of His love, His power, His healing. He was never too busy or too important to give time and personal attention to those who needed Him most. He acknowledged her faith and trust in Him.
Jesus went to the house of Jairus and restored the girl, who had died, to life and health again. Jesus was not constrained even by human timing. We can only imagine the amazement and joy of her parents.
In each of these three cases we see people driven by despair and desperation. One has been stripped of his sanity. Another couple are about to lose their only child. A third has lost her health. In at least two of these cases the suffering has encompassed their lives for many years. Then we see three encounters with Jesus that utterly transform their lives, giving them great joy. Each sought Jesus, found Him, and were given a future full of promise.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
Jeremiah 29: 11-13

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