OK. So, I’ve got to tell you that I find this entire series of events that we will be discussing in this PODCAST…
All of which I will remind you took place in less than 36 hours…
This entire series of events that took place in just one day in the life of Jesus…
I find to be remarkably REFRESHING, while at the same time to the followers of Jesus’ faith utterly unsettling…
Absolutely REVOLUTIONARY to me, while at the same time to the leading rabbis of Jesus’ day disgustingly revolting…
Undeniably IRRESISTIBLE to me, while at the same time to the Torah-teachers of Jesus’ day scorchingly scandalous.
So unsettling, revolting, and scandalous that they hated Him for it.
Yet so refreshing, revolutionary, and irresistible that we love Him for it!
It’s been quite a ride, really, this journey that we’re on together. Two years ago, we began our ongoing study of Jesus in High Definition. The stated purpose of which is to rediscover afresh who Jesus really is, and what Jesus is really like.
Much to my surprise and our delight, the biblical picture of Jesus that is continuously emerging EVERY SINGLE WEEK is that of a GENTLE Jesus.
A gentle Jesus who did some of the most delightfully surprising things.
A gentle Jesus who said some of the most surprisingly delightful things.
A gentle Jesus who is every sense of the word irresistible.
Let’s begin by looking at Mark 5:35
While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?”
Now, this verse comes on the heels of Jairus pleading with Jesus to come and heal his sick daughter. On His way, Jesus stopped when a woman who had been bleeding non-stop for twelve years touched his clothes in order that she might be healed. It is believed by many (and was at the time) that this pausing for the old bleeding woman is what caused Jesus to be too late to do anything for Jairus’ daughter. It was almost as if Jesus had chosen this wretched, unclean woman over the young daughter of one of Capernaum’s most heralded leaders.
But, before buying into this line of thought, consider this: Jesus stopped dead in His tracks in order to minister to someone whom His religious culture had deemed unworthy, simply because she needed Him.
To Jesus, she was as important as the synagogue leader. There was no favoritism at all. He was (and is) completely oblivious to a person’s standing within their community.
This was revolutionary.
If people wondered then WWJD? (What Would Jesus Do?) back then, the answer would easily be “whatever was the opposite from what the religious leaders thought He would do”.
Jesus, in the same 36 hours preceding Mark 5:35, taught parables that told the people “You may think you are my followers, but you really are not”; “There are people who seem to do all the right things that Christians do, but the devil plants his wolves right in the midst of the sheep in order to cause division, wreak havoc and bring shame to the Church”; “The Messiah isn’t coming to save your lives from the powers that be, but to save your souls from hell”; “God will change hearts and lives through subtle means, not the celebrity shows that people think”. It’s no wonder the religious people at the time hated Him.
Then Jesus went on to say to his twelve apostles: “In the short term, things are going to get really, really bad for us, but in spite of that, your future is incredibly bright”; “No matter how bad things get here, God holds you in the highest esteem”; “No matter how terrible things will get, a day of reckoning is coming and the righteous will be exalted!”. It left them staring in awe of Him.
Most pastors who might do the modern day equivalent of what Jesus did that day would probably be fired on the spot. After teaching the multitude, then privately teaching His twelve, He loaded up a boat and sailed off to Sin City – the Decapolis. On the way, a storm erupted, seemingly telling them to turn around. There’s no way that a God-fearing rabbi would actually take His group to the land filled with unredeemed heathens. Then, after cheating death at sea, finally made it to shore and they were met by a naked madman with a legion of demons residing in him.
Then, as they sail back, just after getting off the boat, they were encountered by the bleeding woman who stealthily snuck up behind Jesus.
They all asked the same question that we all ask today: Who is this man?
He turned contemporary religious thought on its ear, He took His chosen few to Sin City, He calmed the storm with just His voice, He cast out demons, He touched and healed an unclean, hurting woman… and then he did the unthinkable. He touched a corpse.
The Torah is very clear in Numbers 5:2 what to do with anyone who happens to come in contact with a dead body:
“Command the Israelites to send away from the camp anyone who has a defiling skin disease or a discharge of any kind, or who is ceremonially unclean because of a dead body.”
Likewise, Numbers 6:6 says this about Nazarites who are making themselves holy:
All the days that he separates himself to the Lord he shall not go near a dead body.
Number 9:6 talks about just one of the consequences of even the holiest of men touching a corpse:
Some people in Israel’s camp had touched a dead body and had become unfit to worship the Lord
Then there is the word from God in Numbers 19:11:
The Lord said:
If you touch a dead body, you will be unclean for seven days.
That’s what the Bible says. It’s as clear as crystal and as absolute and undeniable as anything can be.
Yet, still… as we read in Luke’s telling of the story of Jairus’ daughter:
Jesus took hold of the girl’s hand and said, “Child, get up!” 55 She came back to life and got right up. Jesus told them to give her something to eat. 56 Her parents were surprised, but Jesus ordered them not to tell anyone what had happened. (Luke 8:54-56)
Now, today, people say that since Jesus went into the room with the purpose of restoring life to the girl, then it was okay for him to touch her dead body. As if the absolutes of the Old Testament do not apply since Jesus had honorable intentions. But that’s not accurate.
For instance, He never touched Lazarus when Jesus raised him from the dead. So, it wasn’t necessary for Him to touch this girl in order to restore her life. He could have simply spoken from a distance and brought her back to life.
But instead, He took her hand.
As Jesus said, it wasn’t to abolish the Law. He said He came to fulfill it.
But maybe there’s a “higher law” that supersedes the obedience to the letter of the law. For instance, the Ten Commandments tell us not to lie. There’s no wiggle room there. Or is there? What about when Israel’s spies were hiding and Rahab lied in order to save their lives? Not only is she praised hundreds of years later in the Book of Hebrews, but there has never been anything written saying that her lie – her violation of the Ten Commandments – was a sin.
So, when is an absolute not an absolute?
Maybe there are times when love trumps truth.
Some call that “Compromise”.
I just know that Jesus did it. And therefore, as a Christ-follower, there may be times when I am called to touch someone who is deemed “unclean” or “untouchable” by our Christian standards.
You see, if Jesus made contact with a demon-possessed man, a bleeding woman and a little girl’s corpse all in the same 36 hours, who am I to ignore the people I meet who need God’s love?
Jesus cleansed the unclean. And so should we.
You see, in Jesus’ day, the predominant view of God, as taught in the synagogues, was that God looks for every reason to exclude people. It was all about defining who was “in” and who was “out”. Sadly, I don’t think that has changed much in the 21st century.
Jesus’ example demonstrated, in no uncertain terms, that God is interested in including all those who seek after Him. Regardless of how unclean they may be.
The bottom line is this: Our God is powerful enough to still a storm, powerful enough to put thousands of demons to flight, powerful enough to heal disease, and even powerful enough to raise the dead – all of which He did in one day. But He is gentle enough to touch the untouchable.
Which is why I love Him so much.
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