Don’t let your faith be slain upon high places

Updated: Jan 30

The readings today place a focus on faith.


In David’s poem, The Song of the Bow, we see how Saul and Jonathan died because their faith was placed more on their abilities as leaders of warriors, than a faith that followed the commands of God.


Of that level of faith, David repeated the lyric, “How the mighty have fallen!”


That song was ordered to be placed in the Book of Jashar … meaning the Book of What is Right … What is Just … What is Upright.


Their deaths were not mistakes, but examples of what will always be found to be fair and impartial justice.


The justice of faith placed in the sword is double-edged … you live by the sword, you die by the sword.


live by sword

In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, he stated that “faith” was one area of growth that came into one’s life, once receipt of the Holy Spirit had occurred.


Paul’s suggestion to those new Apostles was to spread their excelled faith, by letting others see that they indeed had tremendous faith.


Increased faith cannot be kept private, but must be made public … as Luke wrote, “No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl.  Instead they put it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light.”


In the Gospel of Mark, we read the story of Jesus, Jairus and the woman in the crowd.  This story is steeped in faith.


Jesus openly displayed his faith so all could see … so those in need were attracted to him.  Jesus was a lampstand of light for those who came to him.


Jairus showed faith in Jesus, as a man who was known for having had produced miracles.


The hemorrhaging woman also showed faith, but in more ways than is readily obvious, such as when she sneaked a healing touch upon the cloak of Jesus.


The story in Mark’s Gospel is like an onion, with layers of deeper meaning … all concerning faith.


lampstand

We first see the faith of Jesus having attracted “a great crowd,” which “gathered around him” after he landed on the Galilee side of the sea.  His light of faith was radiantly attractive, like the flame that draws in the moths.


We then meet Jairus, who is said to be “one of the leaders of the synagogue.”  The Greek word written is “archi–sunagógos,” which is a title often used to denote THE elder of a synagogue.


Then and now, many synagogues only have one leader, such that a lone rabbi is deemed an “archisunagógos,” just as is the head rabbi at a large synagogue, who oversees many lower rabbis.  Both leaders are given the same title of respect.


It makes sense to assume Jesus landed in a large place along the shores of the Sea of Galilee – like Capernaum – where large crowds could quickly be gathered upon his arrival.  A place like Capernaum would be where multiple synagogues existed, with some having several rabbis, making Jairus more of an important figure in such a place.


Now, when we read, “Jairus came and, when he saw [Jesus], fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly,” that posturing before Jesus and pleading for help was certainly a sign of his faith in Jesus … albeit one born out of the desperation, from having a “little daughter at the point of death.”


Upon Jairus pleading for Jesus’ help, it is then important to see that Jesus had faith in Jairus.  We can assume that when Mark wrote, “[Jesus] went with [Jairus].”


Jesus’ faith was that Jairus would receive the Holy Spirit and assist – as an elder of the synagogue – in supporting the Messianic message later.  The faith Jesus had was confidence in a future gain, by helping Jairus then, at his time of need.


Jairus sought the bread of life from Heaven, and Jesus saw Jairus’ faith as deserving his omer of manna.


Then we read about the hemorrhaging woman in the crowd.  Mark told us that she “had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years.”


That is not an insignificant number, as we see when Mark later tells us Jairus’ “little daughter” “was twelve years of age.”


Twelve is a metaphysical number, with meanings too deep to get into more right now.  Just know twelve represents “completeness.”  It represents the end of a cycle of life.  It represents a higher octave of the number three … a spiritual awakening, ending a period of wandering.


Still, you have to peel down another layer and realize that for as long as the woman “had been suffering,” and had “endured much,” the time she “had spent all she had,” only to get worse in the care of physicians, Jairus had enjoyed the pleasures of a daughter that entire time.  For twelve years, Jairus had known the blessing that was she, who he still called his “little daughter.”


childhood

As an elder in that place (logically Capernaum), it goes without doubt that Jairus had encountered the hemorrhaging woman before, as she also was a Jew there.  Not once, I imagine, had Jairus seen the woman as someone else’s “little daughter,” a girl who had grown into a problem that was representative of her change from girl into womanhood, with ceaseless blame coming because she was suddenly seen as being full of constant sin, as a woman no longer a girl.


In a way, the woman had been a “little daughter” that had died twelve years prior.


The faith of Jairus would have led him to learn the Pentateuch, having him spend many years deeply studying the laws that told how such maladies would outcast the woman … as a sinner.


The faith of the woman had her try for twelve years to cease her uncleanliness, so she would be able to do all the things that normal young women yearned to do … including attend a synagogue, so she could openly pray to God.  If cured, she could demonstrate how strong her faith had remained through it all, such that the past twelve years would prove that she was not a sinner, she had not spent the years ignoring the laws in the scrolls.


Jairus and the woman had both placed their faith in physicians, seeing men who knew the arts of healing … knowing what herbs to eat, what salves to spread over wounds, what salts to soak in water for cleansing … as instruments of God.  They took on the importance of the snake lifted up by Moses, to whom all eyes were then raised.


But that faith had been weakened in both Jairus and the woman, by this day they both encountered Jesus.


medicine

For Jairus, the failures of his personal physicians, unable to save his daughter, had driven him out into the crowd in desperation.  In a panic Jairus was seeking a man, Jesus, who had a record of miracle working.  Jairus sought out Jesus as a last resort.


The woman had lost her faith in medicine men long before; but she had no other recourse, because of her religious faith.  She was told what hoops she had to jump through, as steps towards her possibly regaining good standing within the Jewish population.


She, we read, had said to herself, “If I but touch [Jesus’] clothes, I will be made well.”  That was a statement of faith.


Mark told us that Jesus was, “immediately aware that power had gone forth from him,” after the woman touched his cloak.  This caused Jesus to turn and ask, “Who touched my clothes?”


The response of Jesus’ disciples tells how ridiculous that question seemed to them.


They must have thought, “Um … hello?  There is a large crowd gathered and following you here.  We are so squeezed in around you that it might have been I who bumped into you by accident.”


Still, you have to see the question of Jesus as faith related, because he felt how the Holy Spirit’s power had been transferred to someone in his presence.  Jesus asked who it was, from his faith allowing him to KNOW that there was a spiritual need present.


Jesus wanted to know who also had the faith of need?  It was someone other than Jairus.

Now, it is important to understand that an unclean person – like the hemorrhaging woman – touching ANY clean Jews (as Jesus, the disciples and Jairus were), that touch would have caused them to be unclean also … simply by them coming in contact with an unclean person.


Some, who have written about this story from Mark’s Gospel, say that Jesus did not care about such laws that called for purification after encounters with the unclean.  They argue that Jesus regularly touched them, as a necessary part of their healing.  However, that actually is not the case.


Remember, it was large vats of purification water that Jesus turned into wine.  So, all Jews knew that had to be ritually clean.

Remember, it was large vats of purification water that Jesus turned into wine. So, all Jews knew that had to be ritually clean.


Jesus did not break any laws set forth by God, through Moses.  An unclean woman had not actually touched his robe, although an unclean woman planned to go beyond that legal barrier.  But, it was a miraculously healed (cleaned) woman that touched Jesus.


You see, when she had said to herself, “If I touch him I will be healed,” God immediately healed her, via His Holy Spirit.  As such, when Jesus told her, “your faith has made you well,” it was to make sure she did not run off happily telling everyone that Jesus had healed her.


Knowing she was clean, the woman could approach Jesus as had Jairus – from the front – displaying the same posturing of respect, begging before Jesus for forgiveness, offering her confession.


To have her go out saying, “Jesus healed me,” would have been wrong the wrong message for Jesus to allow into the world.  If only Jesus could heal, then how lost would the world be after Jesus’ death?


Jesus asked, “Who touched me,” so he could tell the mystery person in the crowd, “I did not make you well … your faith was known by God, so God healed you.”


It is so extremely important to then realize that amid this conversation held by Jesus, with the woman … whom Jesus called, “Daughter,” telling her to “go in peace, and forever be healed of your disease” … Jairus was there … eyes wide open and mouth probably agape.  He had personally witnessed a miracle!


Jairus knew this woman and knew how long she had suffered.  He knew how little the physicians had helped her … and now look at her!  She has been healed.


Realizing that, Mark then wrote, “While [Jesus] was still speaking [to the healed woman], some people came from [Jairus’] house to say, “[Jairus,] your daughter is dead.”


When those messengers saw how Jairus had found Jesus, they then asked him privately, “Why trouble the teacher any further?”


Now the Greek word used to identify Jesus as a “teacher” was not “Rabbouni,” but “di–dask–a–los,” which means an “instructor with an acknowledged mastery in a field.”  This identification is important to grasp.


As an elder of the synagogue, the first treatment Jairus would have sought for his daughter’s health would have been faith-based – as prayer.  Certainly, Jairus and many other friends and family had prayed for the girl to return to health.  But, in addition to the prayer group, such a high-ranking citizen would have had a team of physicians come into his home, doing all that the advancements of medicine allowed them to do.


One can then be assured that the people who came from Jairus’ house were armed with an official diagnosis – pronounced by a lead doctor – that Jairus’ daughter was indeed dead.


They would have put a mirror under her nose.  They would have felt her pulse.  They might have even pricked her body with a pin.  Thus, the news sent to Jairus had come from the mouths of professionals, not people who were clueless about how to determine death.


death certificate

This means they addressed Jesus as if he was known to have been sought by Jairus, as being a man who could give some miracle working instructions to Jairus’ doctors, or that Jesus was recognized as a master miracle worker, who had studied magical arts well enough to have learned “tricks” that could heal and prevent death.


But … raising people from death?  Nobody could do that!


They recommended that Jairus no longer needed those “services,” the kind offered by one lesser-respected, less-trusted than were those men of the cloth and medicine.


It was then from overhearing this message to Jairus that Jesus immediately told Jairus, “Do not fear, only believe.”


Now, that is not a recommendation, as much as it is a command.  It was THE instruction of utmost importance, which came from this master whom Jairus had sought.  “Do not fear” says, “Do not have any doubts.”  Thus, “only believe” says, “Have faith.”


After seeing the hemorrhaging woman – a “daughter suffering for twelve years” – healed before his very eyes, Jesus told Jairus to have faith that his twelve year old daughter, who had suffered only recently, would likewise be healed.


Having just heard Jesus say to the healed woman, “Your faith has made you well,” Jarius’ love of his daughter, his love of his God, and the love he now had for Jesus and someone else’s daughter who Jesus had just healed – that LOVE gave him also the faith to heal his daughter.


By the time Jesus, Jairus, the girl’s mother, Peter, and James and John of Zebedee had gone into the bedroom of the “little girl,” she had already come back to life.  She was no longer dead.  Jairus’ faith had healed his daughter as they still walked to his home.


So, Jesus spoke the truth when he said to the family and friends lamenting the daughter’s passing, “Why do you make a commotion and weep?  The child is not dead but sleeping.”

Their laughing was a sign that they lacked faith in miracles, having put all their faith in physicians, prayer and scrolls that tell Jews the proper way to mourn a death.


Their lack of faith had them removed from the house.


"Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall."

“Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall.”


That was Jesus practicing the Jewish law that forbids the faithful from mingling with those without faith – sinners who hemorrhaged laughter uncontrollably at faith.  The same law had banished the hemorrhaging woman from the synagogues of which Jairus was an elder.


Again, some writers of the meaning of this story say that Jesus disregarded the cleanliness protocol by touching the hand of a dead girl.  That defies belief in the purity of Jesus, as the Son of God.


The girl was not dead, just as the woman’s hemorrhaging had stopped immediately before she touched Jesus’ garment.


The moral of this story, which falls in line with the faith theme of the 2 Samuel reading, is Saul and Jonathan had misplaced their faith and suffered.  They had become the unclean who were banished from Israel.


Likewise, the hemorrhaging woman had placed her faith in those who would not allow her in the synagogues, while telling her to go put her faith in physicians … not God.  She had faith in blind rabbis and blind doctors, neither of which could see how to save one’s soul.


Their failures are no different than the deaths of Saul and Jonathan, as the seemingly high mountains of priesthood and medicine men had failed.


“How the mighty have fallen!”


So many examples to choose from.

So many examples to choose from.


Jairus knew firsthand how his faith in men meant the death of his baby girl, but his faith in God’s Holy Spirit meant the rebirth to his “little daughter.”


In Paul’s letter to his Christian children in Corinth, he advised them not to forget how Jesus was rich with the Holy Spirit, but had willingly become poor – through sacrificing his physical life, so others could be rich with the Holy Spirit.   Paul knew the Holy Spirit made its recipients excel “in faith.”


That presence of the Holy Spirit meant those Apostles had to go serve others, just as had Jesus served … “in order that there may be a fair balance.”


Those who have faith, but have not yet received the Holy Spirit, they must have faith that the Holy Spirit has already been sent by God.  It will come in the hands of those who are trusted to go to others and share that wealth – those riches of God’s power – to spread the feel of increased faith.


In that spirit of sharing, Paul then quoted Exodus, as Moses had said after God had given the Israelites His manna – His bread from Heaven.  Manna was God’s food of life to those starving to death in the wilderness, just as Jesus was manna to Jairus and the hemorrhaging woman.


Moses wrote, as Paul remembered, “The one who had much did not have too much.”  That was because his gifts were the amount needed, for those whom he would return to serve that bread to … fairly.  Jairus, as an elder, would serve many through that he had gathered for the needy.


“The one who had little did not have too little,” was representative of the woman, who had to begin anew, from her life of banishment, where her closeness was only to a few in need.


If you have the Holy Spirit, then share with those in need.


If you are in need of the Holy Spirit, then have faith that God will send your fair share through one of His couriers.


Ask and you shall receive, but by all means, “Do not fear, only believe.”


Amen

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