Pardon the Interruption – Luke 8

When my kids were young I had two wishes, 1. to finish a cup of coffee while it was still hot and, 2. to take an uninterrupted shower.  Two simple wishes that I think every parent or caregiver of young kids understands.  Is it a law that my phone will only ring when I it is on the other side of the room and I am sitting in my favorite comfy chair AND it is just a  phone solicitation?  Is there a bulletin that goes out saying, “She’s reading, start your conversation now!”  Why are these little interruptions so darn interrupting?

After being asked to leave the swine herders, Jesus gets a warm welcome at his next stop, (Luke 8:40) where He is met by a man named Jairus,  Unlike the Gerasene demoniac, Jairus was an important and highly respected man.  He is also a desperate man, a loving father whose daughter is dying.  He falls at Jesus feet, pleading for Jesus to come and heal his daughter.  I understand Jairus desperation; God taught me how to pray as I prayed for my children, when they were sick, when they were struggling, when they rebelled.  In those times, I prayed fervently and without ceasing, often without words but with groans and tears.  Desperation will drive you to your knees at the feet of Jesus and there is no better place to be!  Jairus came humbly but also confidently; he expected Jesus to answer, he expected Jesus to act.  When we lay it all down before Jesus we can have that same confidence; that if what we ask is in His will, He will hear and answer, how glorious!

BUT…

…an interruption…

A woman pushes and shoves her way through the crush of people and touches the fringe of Jesus’ cloak.  The briefest touch by a single finger and a quick withdrawal but Jesus notices – He always notices.  I love that about Jesus!  I am very goal oriented, I can be so focused on my agenda, my “to-do” list, that I miss the people around me, I miss an opportunity to give a kind or encouraging word.  If I am not listening to God’s voice, I can see interruptions as annoyances and not as divine appointments.

Jesus not only notices her, He draws attention to her and she is forced to proclaim her shame.  The hemorrhage would have made her “unclean” and unable to worship in the temple.  During her 12 years of suffering, she endured much at the hands of physicians and spent all she had seeking a cure.  And she shares the news of the immediate, miraculous healing she just experienced to the crowd – she must have been smiling as she told this good news.

In the meantime, Jairus is waiting.  Jairus knows every second counts, his daughter, his only daughter, is dying – why is Jesus taking so long?  So, another…

…interruption…

News comes, the worst news, Jairus’ daughter has died.  “Don’t trouble the teacher”,  (Luke 8:49) in other words, don’t bother Jesus, we don’t need Him any more.  Jesus always knows what is best and His timing is perfect; He knows what we think, He knows how we feel so He tells Jairus not to be afraid, He will make his daughter well.  Jesus goes to Jairus’ house.  The mourners laugh; it can be easier to laugh than to accept Jesus words as true and I wonder how foolish they felt when Jairus’ daughter got up!

Jesus orders that someone get her something to eat.  Jesus is both miraculous and practical.  This reminds me that after an amazing encounter with Jesus, I need to get back to the everyday business of living life, a changed life, a new life, an ordinary, interrupted life made extraordinary by Jesus!

Scars You Cannot See

What did you want to be when you grew up?  At various ages and stages, I wanted to be a model, an airline stewardess, a teacher, a dancer, and a secretary.  It turned out I have been exactly none of those!  Lots of girls my age wanted to be nurses; I knew at an early age that anything medical was not for me.  I cannot stand the sight of blood, it’s difficult for me to be around sick people and I am famously not compassionate; yep, the Gift of Mercy completely bypassed me.

Years ago, my husband had surgery on his knee – it did not go well.  He was in the hospital for two weeks and came home on crutches with the knee swathed in a huge bandage.  He needed help changing the dressings.  As much as I wanted to help, I could not do it.  He had to first manage to cover the wound so I could not see it; then and only then was I able to help him finish the wrapping process.

When a man covered in leprosy comes to Jesus and Jesus touches this man, my stomach twists.  Leprosy or Hansen’s Disease, can cause severe disfiguring skin sores, large lumps and nerve damage.  Damage to the nerves of its victims results in further injury since burns or cuts are not felt, the injuries easily become infected which causes more severe damage and scarring.  Leprosy is not actually as contagious as thought years ago and can be cured with antibiotics.

In Jesus day, the priest was the one who would examine and diagnose the person who suspected leprosy and in that day, it was a death sentence.  The leper was required to shave his head, tear his clothes, and shout, “Unclean, unclean” when approaching people or towns.  A leper could not worship at the temple and was required to live outside the city walls; alone, isolated, unable to work, a leper suffered physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

The leper in Luke 5 comes to Jesus and falls at his feet. He implores Jesus with the words, “Lord, if you are willing, You can make me clean.”  There is so much to learn in these words and in Jesus response to this man:

  • He fell on his face – what better place to be – at the feet of Jesus!  The man totally humbled himself, he held nothing back.  What are the things I think I can handle myself?  Is there a part of me I am holding back from Jesus?
  • He calls him, “Lord” – Jesus is Lord and is worthy of worship!
  • He implores Jesus – he recognized his condition was desperate.  I need to recognize how desperate I am for Jesus ALL the time!  Jesus is the answer to every need, every question. I need to come to Him quickly and often, not just in times of crisis.
  • He understands Jesus right to refuse any request – God is sovereign and nothing happens without His permission.  Sometimes His answer is not what I am hoping or asking for; I need to trust Him to respond with what is best.
  • He believes Jesus is able – Jesus ability is limitless.  I need to approach with confidence in Him, not myself or the urgency or intensity of my need.
  • Jesus touched him – how long had it been since this leper had felt a human touch, seen a kind look on another face?  Jesus knows what I need and can touch the most wounded place in any heart.  How willing am I to extend a hand to someone who is hurting?  To risk rejection or hurt for another’s sake?
  • Jesus was willing – Jesus stands ready to help, to save all who ask and He knows exactly how and when to help.

Jesus heals the leper and sends him away with instructions to tell no one and follow the law by visiting the priest and offering the required sacrifices.  I wonder what the leper’s life was like after his healing.  He probably failed on the “tell no one” part since the next sentence (Luke 5:15) says that crowds were coming for healing so somebody said something for sure!  But how could he keep silent?  He went from a life of daily suffering and torment to a pain-free life of freedom and that is heart of the story, the heart of Jesus right there.  Jesus is willing to take us from a half-life to a whole life in every aspect.

Not all of us carry visible reminders of past injuries.  My husband still has deep, very noticeable scars on his knee, nearly 30 years later they remain.  When the leper in Luke 5 was healed, all of him was healed.  Jesus healed him of all visible wounds and marks, restored any lost fingers and toes, fixed the disfigured face, smoothed out the lumps.  But what about the scars that cannot be seen; the scars on his heart of rejection, fear, loss family and friends, of feelings of uselessness and ugliness.  These scars that you cannot see are universal; not all of us carry scars from physical injuries but all of us are wounded and hurting in some way.   Jesus is willing to heal the deepest wounds of your heart and the scars on your broken spirit; the scars no one can see.  Jesus took the leper from a life of pain to a life of happiness; from barely surviving to thriving; from isolation to crowds and He can take you, too.  Ask Jesus for  what you need, He is listening, He is willing, trust Him for the best answer – not what you want but what you need.  He is Lord.