Dr. Charles Franklin DeVane, Jr., Pastor
Lake Hamilton Baptist Church
Hot Springs, Arkansas
May 18, 2014
While he was saying these things to them, behold, a ruler came in and knelt before him, saying, “My daughter has just died, but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.” And Jesus rose and followed him, with his disciples. And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, for she said to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.” Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well. And when Jesus came to the ruler's house and saw the flute players and the crowd making a commotion, he said, “Go away, for the girl is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. But when the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose. And the report of this went through all that district.
— Matthew 9:18-26, ESV
Life is a narrative in which one thing always leads to another. To quote Gandhi, “Thoughts become words, words become actions, actions become habits, habits become values, and values become destiny.” The writer of Proverbs said it more succinctly, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life” (ref. Proverbs4:23). What you think leads to what you do, and what you do influences the value, good or bad, of your life and others’.
Jesus fills life with good news and good things, and one thing leads to another. Take this typical day in His life and ministry. The Lord was sharing the good news when He arose to do a good deed in the house of a synagogue elder. Then, one thing led to another, as on His way He was able to do another wonderful work for a woman with a woeful medical condition.
Providence brought these two together, a popular man and an ostracized woman. We know from the other Gospels that his name was Jairus, an elder or ruler of the local synagogue. No one seemed to know the woman’s name, and neither will we until we get to Heaven. But, we know from looking at their collective fears, hopes, and dreams, that one thing indeed leads to another.
Desperation Led Them to Christ
One thing these two disparate people had in common was desperation. In one case, it was born of twelve years of joy; in the other, twelve years of pain. One was about to increase, while the other decreased.
Jairus’ daughter was about twelve years old when she was overtaken by a terminal illness. I was not at Jairus’ house that day, but I’ve been in the intensive care units of children’s hospitals and held the hands of parents who were holding the hands of their dying child. I do not think there is any pain any deeper in any other place in the world.
I’m sure this little girl’s parents were concerned when she first fell ill. They probably were hopeful when fellow synagogue members prayed for her and the local physician gave her some medicine. But they became totally desperate when the sickness became so strong that it was about to take her life.
That’s when Jairus’ desperation led him to Jesus Christ. Capernaum was only fifteen or twenty miles away from Nain, where Jesus had earlier raised a poor widow’s son from the dead during his funeral. This and other stories of Jesus had no doubt reached Jairus’ ears. So when nobody else knew the sorrow in his heart, when nobody else could help his dying little daughter, in desperation Jairus turned to the Lord.
Jairus turned to Jesus, Jesus turned to go to his house, then a woman turned Jesus around with another grasp of desperation. To put it bluntly, her time of the month had turned into a twelve years of constant bleeding. It was embarrassing, exhausting, and caused her to be exiled from any gathering of family and friends, including synagogue services. At this point it was probably about to extinguish her life.
Jewish doctors could not help her, limited as medical science was in that day. Jewish religious leaders had shunned her, pushing her from the back of the synagogue to the exit. The Jewish Messiah was rumored to be found in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, and now He was passing her way. That’s when she swallowed her pride, fought through the crowd, and reached out her hand in one final act of desperation.
No woman would have wanted to be in her shoes. No parent would like to trade places with Jarius or his wife. Desperation is a sick feeling that makes you surrender every ounce of energy you have in your body, mind, and will. But as one thing leads to another, desperation is the very thing that leads some people to give their body, mind, and will, and other precious things, to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Christ Led Them to Miracles
Desperation leads people to Christ, and Christ never leaves the desperate disappointed. In the case of Jairus’ daughter and the bleeding woman, the desperation that led them to Christ led them to a miraculous outcome.
On the way to Jairus’ house, Jesus healed the woman from her flow of blood. Our Lord made it clear to her that this miracle was not due to any superstition she may have held to in holding on to His cloak. He made it clear that a tax-deductible contribution was not a prerequisite for her real and complete healing. Jesus told her plainly, “Your faith has made you well.” Of course, faith must have a giver and an object, both of whom in this case is God.
Faith played an obvious part in the resurrection of Jairus’ daughter, too. I do not believe that Jairus would have come to Jesus for help if he did not believe in his heart that Jesus could help him. Actually, when he left to go get Jesus, his daughter was still living. Upon arrival, Jairus was told she had died, and furthermore told not to bother Jesus anymore. But faith is no bother to Jesus, and Jesus went on to conquer death in this little girl’s life.
By the way, I love the scene at the little girl’s wake. By the time Jesus and Jairus arrived, the funeral traditions had begun. Jewish custom called for the hiring of at least two flute players and one wailing woman. That’s right, women in Jesus’ day actually got paid for crying and complaining. I’ve known a lot of church ladies in our day who could have made a fortune in Jesus’ day!
Obviously, the crowd at the funeral did not believe. They actually laughed at Jesus’ suggestion that the girl could be brought back from the dead. Our modern world laughs at that fact today. Jesus response, at Jarius’ house and at His second coming, is to shut out the unfaithful crowd and let the faithful few in on an indescribably awesome resurrection.
One thing led to another. Desperation led these people to Jesus, Jesus led them to a miracle. But it is important to understand that these miracles were special, not normative. Christ nor His Apostles are here with us to perform such miracles on demand. Desperate prayers for cures don’t come with immediate answers today as often as they did in Jesus’ day. But, as one thing leads to another, the great miracles that Jesus did on this day led to even greater miracles that still happen every day.
Miracles Led Others to Christ
The last sentence of Matthew’s version of the story tells more than the story of desperation and miracles. It tells how the greatest miracle of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone is shared by so many. After Jesus’ displayed His deity and His charity through His power and His love, “the report of this went through all that district.”
After two thousand years, we are still talking about those two miracles today, along with all of the other things recorded in the Gospels that Jesus said and did. And millions and millions of times, when stories like these are told, miracles and resurrections take place. Perhaps you have been the recipient of a miracle likened to the healing of a disease or the resurrection from the dead.
It comes to you when you become desperate to have your sins forgiven. Sin makes you sick in the soul and it is a very terminal illness. Such desperation may drive you to physicians, therapists, or religious leaders. If you are blessed with desperation that is deep enough, it will drive you to the power and love of our Lord Jesus Christ. When desperation, or conviction, is combined with the other Spirit-induced qualities of repentance and faith, a miracle unfolds. It is a healing, from the penalty and power of sin. It is a resurrection, from spiritual death to eternal life. And when you experience the grace that raised you from death to life, you live to tell others about it. The story, the gospel story, gets told from person to person, house to house, district to district, country to country.
You see, one thing really does lead to another. Desperation leads to salvation, salvation leads to propagation, and the greatest story ever told gets told over and over again. It is this way because Jesus came to earth. It will be this way until Jesus comes again. One thing leads to another.