Prepare Our Hearts – October 12

A Devotional from Central Presbyterian Church.Find another day here.

Monday, October 12, 2020
Mark 5:21-24

 And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about him, and he was beside the sea. 22 Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet 23 and implored him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.” 24 And he went with him.
And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him

Every year over Christmas break our family loads up the van for the 1500 mile round trip adventure to visit family in Ohio and Pennsylvania for the holidays. As luck would have it, for the last several years along with giving and receiving gifts from our lists, we have also “shared” the things that no one would want; sickness. With all of our girls either in elementary or preschool, it seems that every year once the calendar turns to December we are fighting one bug after another. This year, as our trip was winding down and we were preparing to return home, our youngest, who already struggles with asthma and allergy issues, came down with the sniffles on New Years Day. Out of an abundance of caution, hoping to protect the extended family from our latest germs, she stayed at grandma’s house with mom while the rest of us attending a New Years party. On the way back across the city, I started to get worried messages that the sniffles had turned at first into a cough and then wheezing and now uncontrollable fits of coughing. Our excellent pediatrician suggested we seek treatment right away, so as we pulled up to the house, the car was already running with the three-year old strapped in, ready to head to the children’s hospital. Being the height of flu-season and having a mother with chronic lung issues, grandma and I hopped from one car to the other and began the trip to the emergency room, constantly serenaded by coughs and gasps that sounded more like a barking seal than a child. Of course, if you have been in the unfortunate position where you had to go to the ER on a weekend or holiday, you would not be surprised to learn that the digital sign above the entrance to the waiting room announced a 280 minute wait time to see a doctor. Because her condition had continued to deteriorate all the way to the hospital, I wasn’t even able to finish telling the nurses at triage why we were there before they immediately rushed us into a private room where she started to receive the treatment she needed to finally be able to catch her breath and begin to rest. Just two hours later we were back at grandmas house with a completely different child than the one we left with. Unbeknownst to us at the time, January 1 was a perfect way to usher in the strange new world that awaited us in 2020.

When Jesus returned to the shore at Capernaum, the crowds once again embraced the man whom others just earlier that day had begged to leave them. Remember that it wasn’t until after Jesus left, as the transformed demoniac faithfully testified of his life-altering encounter with Jesus to the people in the Decapolis, that their fear-fueled rejection was replaced with wonder.

Back in Capernaum, where the size and desperation of the crowds a few days before had led Jesus and the twelve to the water in search of solitude, word quickly spread of Jesus’ return. People from all walks of life, each with a unique story to tell, gathered round to get a glimpse, or in some cases a piece, of Jesus. The crowd parted for as Jairus, a well-respected ruler (think elder) of the local synagogue, made a bee-line for Jesus. Jairus was well acquainted with the ministry of Jesus, having witnessed with his own eyes, right in his own synagogue, a demonstration of divine power when Jesus had previously healed another demon possessed man on the Sabbath. While other Jewish leaders openly questioned Jesus’ credentials and accused Him of violating the commandments by healing on the Sabbath, the people in Capernaum marveled at both His teaching and healing touch.

Like many other Jewish rulers, Jairus was desperate to get his hands on Jesus, but when he finally broke through the crowd he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet in anguish instead of anger. Jairus’ beloved twelve-year old daughter, an only child in a culture that highly valued large families, had fallen ill, near to the “point of death.” When word reached Jairus that Jesus had returned from across the lake, he left his precious daughter’s bedside to beg Jesus to come and lay His miraculous hands on her just as He had done for so many others. Jairus believed with all his heart that if they could only get back to the home in time, his little girl would live to see another day. Seeing his heart and his faith, Jesus agreed and they began to work their way back through the crowd now thronging around them.

Where do we turn when we have run out of places to turn? Unlike us, Jairus did not have the luxury of a modern medical facility specifically designed to treat the needs of his daughter in Capernaum. As she grew more ill, his prayers continued to go unanswered, but then, at just the right time, Jairus heard about Jesus. He remembered what Jesus had done for others and he hoped against hope that He could do it again.

Sometimes I read the Bible and wish that God would perform incredible miracles for me just like He did in the days of Jesus and the early church. At times life appears to be nothing but one problem or illness or disaster after another and another and God doesn’t hear my prayers for relief and deliverance. But just as with Jairus, Jesus is never ignorant to our needs. In fact, when I look back over the course of my life, time and again I see how God actually has been moving and working even in the midst of my accusations otherwise. His methods rarely align neatly with my expectations, and He doesn’t always give me everything that I want, but He has always proven faithful.

The Bible tells us that at just the right time when, like Jairus, we had no where else to turn, Jesus showed up in this world to accomplish His greatest work. Instead of a powerful word or a healing touch, the crowds demanded His very life. His bloodthirsty enemies cried out for justice, and He conceded in a way that they could not have possibly fathomed. Because of His great love for us, His unjust punishment became our undeserved deliverance, His death brought us life.

Prayer for Today:
Lord Jesus, we thank You that You know exactly what we need before we even ask. Although we don’t always recognize it, Your ways are perfect. While we were still Your enemies, You loved us enough to go to the cross, that we might be forgiven of our sin when we place our hope and trust in You. We ask that today You would give us our daily bread, that we might know and grow in our love for You. We ask that You bring us humbly to Your feet as we call upon Your name, Amen.