I’m going to try to get back to my bread and butter, which is devotional writing. Last one on Luke 8, I promise!
40 Now when Jesus returned, a crowd welcomed him, for they were all expecting him. 41 Then a man named Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue, came and fell at Jesus’ feet, pleading with him to come to his house 42 because his only daughter, a girl of about twelve, was dying.
As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. 43 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. 44 She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.
45 “Who touched me?” Jesus asked.
When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.”
46 But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.”
47 Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. 48 Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”
49 While Jesus was still speaking, someone came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. “Your daughter is dead,” he said. “Don’t bother the teacher any more.”
50 Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.”
Imagine a situation where you are at a restaurant having dinner with a cardiologist, when someone across the room has a heart attack and falls over. You say, “Quick, Dave, you’re a cardiologist, go over there and help him!” So Dave gets up and starts to hurry over, cutting his way between all the crowded tables of the restaurant, when suddenly he stops, and says, “Who touched my jacket? No, I’m not moving until I found out who touched my jacket.” All the while, the guy is gasping for air and falls on the floor…dead. Imagine how you would feel towards Dave and his decisions in that moment – you might have to un-Friend that guy on Facebook, the ultimate sign of modern antipathy.
But this description is not unlike what we read here in Luke 8. This story is interesting because it is not the account of Jesus’ interaction with just one person, but with two people at the same time. It is the interplay between these two people, the sick girl and the bleeding woman, that sets up one of the most intriguing and perhaps disturbing elements of the passage. Jesus stopping to heal someone usually would seem perfectly normal. But this situation is different because there is a life hanging in the balance, Jairus’ daughter is on death’s door, and if there is a delay of any kind, this girl will die.
And so when Jesus stops mid-step, there is a sense in which the apostles, but also we as readers, are incredulous – “You’re going to stop, NOW?” Just like our situation with Dave, it is easy to understand Jairus’ distress, and hard to understand Jesus’ reasoning.
But there is a reason!
It all hinges on our perception of God and of time, that we think that timing can stop God. We think that once a door is closed, it can never be re-opened, and nothing will ever come along to replace it. If God doesn’t something right now, if he doesn’t give me an answer or an opportunity right now, it will be too late and the opportunity will never come again. It’s as if time is bigger than God. I don’t know how many times I’ve found myself thinking this way.
And I don’t think we are alone in that sentiment, as I’m sure that many people throughout Scripture probably felt the same, that their last chance had passed them by. Think about Abraham, who had been promised a child by God – he was probably getting a little impatient and nervous by the time he’s eighty, and he still doesn’t have a child. When Joseph is in prison, he helps out a fellow prisoner who promises to get Joseph out as soon as he can, but the other guy forgets! I’m sure at that point, Joseph felt that his last chance had passed him by as well.
But we all know that God provides a son for Abraham and Sarah, so late in their lives that they both had given up hope. And Joseph is freed from prison, and made into the viceroy of Egypt, after 17 long years of imprisonment. So obviously, God doesn’t have the same sense of timing that we have.
And going back to Luke 8, it’s clear that Jesus doesn’t feel the same way we do either. He doesn’t feel that it will be too late if he talks to this woman, and then goes to the little girl afterwards. Even when you read ahead in the passage, people tell Jesus that the little girl is dead, it’s too late. But Jesus doesn’t say to himself, “Dang it! I knew I shouldn’t have stopped for that woman! Now I really messed up!” He simply turns to the father and says, “Don’t be afraid – just believe.” He doesn’t think it’s too late.
And I think this illustrates an important point, that when it comes to Jesus, it is never too late. We shouldn’t be so quick to assume that everything is our last chance, or that it will be too late for God to act in our lives, because if it wasn’t too late for Jesus to still go to this little girl, then obviously, there aren’t many doors and windows that Jesus can’t open when he wants to. When we say that Jesus is Lord over all, that means all, including the universe, from its smallest component to its largest…and time itself.
I have a feeling that in each of their lives, there is a situation upon which we are getting a little impatient with God, and wondering if it will soon be too late for God to answer us. And hopefully we will realize, that when it comes to God, it is never too late.