The Unexpected Daughter

This was the sermon Beth preached at JPUSA today (9/30/12), based off the reading of Luke 8:40-56; the healing of the bleeding woman.

Even in the crowd, she was alone. She was considered "unclean" and "unworthy", probably through no fault of her own. She had lived for over a decade without the sympathy and understanding of people, without any regular everyday fellowship and kindness. She had been broken by harsh judgements and the knowledge that others viewed her as "undeserving"; this had seeped into her own soul and she began to believe it, and she lived accordingly. She stumbled along after Jesus, at a safe distance.

Jesus was being hurried to the deathbed of a child. Not just any child; the child of an important and religious man. Everyone felt that this was a worthy mission. Word traveled quickly; this was no ordinary miracle, this was special! This was a young person with a good name, truly a justified miracle. In everyone's eyes, she was deserving of healing and health. After all, she was a little girl.

Her father, Jairus, had openly begged Jesus to heal his daughter, physically flinging his body at Him. He was loud and desperate, so different from the woman's secret faith. The sick woman was timid and private, but she had faith. Maybe, for the first time in a long time, she had hope as she watched Jesus. In the rushing moment, in the churning crowd, the woman took her chance...
...she crouched low and touched Him.

While she was timid and private in her faith, in her life and in her self, Jesus was aware, public and relentless, wielding a love that is beyond all reason; a love that is in completely uncharted territory. It was no mistake, He knew the answer to the question, "Who touched me?" Even the timing was no mistake; the comparison between the Deserving and Undeserving in this passage is unmistakable. The sweet child, who's life was slipping away, and this filthy rag of a woman who was alone, trailing behind and so easily forgotten. She carried her inferiority with her, yet her faith was there too, even while the excited crowd pressed ahead toward the beautiful, dying youth. The urgency and worthiness of a miracle for this child was palpable, but who would stop for the "undeserving"?
She, with her shred of faith, grasping and cringing, hoping to remain invisible in the crowd....
...yet believing that, maybe, just maybe, that she could be healed!

She didn't have a band of dedicated friends, willing to demolish someone's roof, willing to lower her down before the face of Jesus, so that He could see and heal her. No one begged on her behalf. She didn't seem to have children or a spouse. She was alone and Jesus knew this.

We can just imagine the entourage that accompanied Jairus. He was a leader of the Synagogue, he had more than a few servants and followers, separating the crowd, pushing back the riffraff, so he could plead before Jesus and quickly lead him to his dying child.

The noisy parade had come to a halt; they were angry with this pause in the journey, and why shouldn't they be? Standing before them was this child's father, so desperate to save his daughter's life. The procession had stopped, because Jesus clearly wanted this lady to be noticed. He wanted her faith noted! He stopped everyone, frustrated everyone, making even his disciples question and search. Did they think this was the moment, the opportunity for Jesus to get his foot into the synagogue's door? To get in with the religious leaders? But these were not thoughts in Jesus mind. His thoughts were on more important matters, they were on "His daughter", trembling in the dust. Can't you just imagine the harsh and angry faces in the crowd, in sharp contrast to the expression on her Father's face; and how did she respond? The verse says, "When she realized that she could not remain hidden, she came trembling and fell down before Him."

Still, it is clear; she did not desire attention, and she did not feel worthy of the miracle she sought.

By contrast, the Bible says; Jairus and his wife "were astounded" by their daughter brought back from the dead. They were certainly grateful, indebted and filled with disbelief, but the nameless woman on the road fell trembling in the dirt. The private woman was intentionally given a public reception by the Son of God. How many were there? Dozens, hundreds, or thousands in the crowd? The passage says, “the crowds pressed in on Him”; this was not just a crowd, but crowds.

Yet, on the other hand, this very prestigious and public man was not allowed outside witnesses to see his daughter's resurrection. He was ordered to be silent about the matter. Again, the comparison is distinct and we should take notice of it; Jesus made a spectacle of this shamed and forgotten woman, turning everyone's attention on her and lovingly calling her "daughter", while Jairus is commanded not to speak of the matter. No attention. No production. It seems that Jesus had more to say to the dead child, than to the leader of the Synagogue.

The woman was alone, but only up to the point when Jesus called her "daughter", then she was no longer alone. She was taken into His family, in a way that her reach of faith could not have predicted.
She was "daughter".
She was "family".
She was home.

Is there a part of us that believes, He would rather not be touched by us, even on the furthest fringe of His robe?
It is not so. 
His yearning for our simple, flawed acts of faith is so great, we cannot comprehend them.

Even in our most pathetic pleas for help, He sees these. When we feel we are the least likely candidate for love, acceptance and healing of any kind, He is there calling us… "daughter"… "son"… Just like that dusty day, on the road to something important, surrounded by the moving crowd, He looks back, stops and calls us… "daughter"… "son".

"Behold what manner of love the Father has given unto us,
that we should be called children of God
and that is what we are."
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