We started last week doing a little refresher course on who we are and what we’re about. And I hope it will become ingrained in the DNA of this congregation. Here’s what we should be about: We must be a church where everyone can come and experience God’s love, grow in God’s family, and serve in God’s kingdom. We began last week talking about how important it is that everyone who comes here should experience God’s love. But that won’t happen until we ourselves have experienced God’s love.
This morning, I want us to think together about how we can be the conduits of God’s love to others who come among us.
When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake. Then one of the synagogue rulers, named Jairus, came there. Seeing Jesus, he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” So Jesus went with him. A large crowd followed and pressed around him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” “You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ” But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” Mark 5:21-34
If there is one thing about Jesus that truly astounds me, it is that he was never too busy to be bothered. If anybody could be excused for being insensitive to people and needs, Jesus could have. His time was short, his mission was crucial, the demands on him were enormous. Nobody would have faulted him for brushing past lesser priorities in his march to the cross.
And that’s what’s so amazing about Jesus. He didn’t brush past the woman on his way to heal Jairus’ daughter. He didn’t dismiss the Greek woman’s request for her daughter, or the lame man’s needs at the pool of Siloam, or the blind beggar’s cry for mercy. There was nobody who was too unimportant, there were no needs that were too insignificant. People did not get in the way of his mission – people were his mission.
That’s what’s so amazing about Jesus. He paid attention to people. He responded to requests. He had his antennas up at all times – he was sensitive to the needs of the people he came in contact with. And if there is one quality about Jesus that will absolutely, radically transform this church that is it. When we are as tuned in to the needs of the people around us as Jesus was, this church will truly be a place where everyone who comes will experience God’s love.
I want us to notice a couple of things about Jesus and about this woman in our text this morning.
Jesus was legitimately busy with important concerns.
It was not only important, it was urgent. This isn’t busy work or committee meetings – a life is at stake and Jesus’ attention is essential. There was an urgency about Jesus’ task at hand – we learn later that Jairus’ daughter dies while Jesus delays his mission by stopping for this woman.
We sometimes make it sound like our reasons for coming to church are of lesser importance. But when you come to church you come to worship God, learn from his Word, fellowship with friends, maybe serve in some capacity such as lead a prayer or teach a Bible class or greet visitors. All of these are legitimate and important concerns.
So, let’s not dismiss or minimize why you are here in the first place – your being here and your reasons for being here are important.
But having said that…
As important and urgent as Jesus’ mission was to save Jairus’ daughter, it was put on hold momentarily to care for a need that presented itself.
· Jesus is pressing through the crowd, spurred on by the pleadings of this desperate father, when suddenly Jesus stops the procession dead in its tracks – “Someone touched me.” “Someone touched you?!?” Everyone is stunned – Jairus is stunned, the apostles are stunned. “Jesus, we don’t have time for this. You must be imagining things.”
· Only two people know what has happened – Jesus and the woman. What’s so amazing is not just that Jesus stopped, but that he even cared in the first place. But he did care, and he did stop. He interrupted an important mission to take care of the needs of one lowly woman.
· We get busy – I’ll be honest – I get busy. Too busy to notice, let alone stop and do something about the needs of people around me. It takes time and energy – time and energy which I’ve usually committed to some other important task.
· But what I’m learning from Jesus in this passage is that there are times when you stop what you’re doing to take care of a need. And just as important – you pay attention to what’s going on in the lives of people around you.
Notice this woman – She came not wanting attention, not wanting to be noticed, but having a real need that she hoped would be met.
· She wasn’t like blind Bartimaeus who hollered out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” until Jesus took care of him, or the lame man who was lowered down through the roof by his friends, or the lepers who came and asked Jesus to heal them.
· She snuck up on Jesus from behind, hoping just to touch the hem of his garment and then disappear into the crowd.
· I’m sure she never thought that she would merit the attention of such an important person as Jesus. Maybe she was a little embarrassed, or shy, or just very private.
· Think of all the reasons why someone would come to church here and want to blend into the crowd and not be noticed. They may be embarrassed, or shy, or just very private. Or there may be other reasons why they come and sit in the back or don’t fill out a visitors card or leave early so no one stops them to talk.
· The one thing I do know is that, like this woman, they are here by divine appointment. She had a need that Jesus was going to take care of. Our guests come with needs that God wants to fill. They may be physical needs, or emotional needs, or spiritual needs. Some of those needs may be pressing and urgent, other needs they may not even be aware they have.
· But of all the places they could have gone, of all the things they could have been doing on a Sunday morning, they showed up here. They are hoping to experience the presence of God as they worship. But they are also seeing if this is a place where they can connect and feel that they are cared for. But they won’t come out and say it. Like the woman they will show up and blend in and hope for something. It’s up to us to meet them where they are.
And here’s where you fit into this story. You’re here on a mission this morning – an important, urgent mission – for all of those things we mentioned a few minutes ago – to worship God and study his word, to serve or teach, to have a few minutes of fellowship with the friends you have here. But somewhere in this room is someone who has come with needs – they are here because God has brought them here. And in a few minutes they are going to slip out.
Now, you can say to yourself, “I sure hope somebody spoke with them and made them feel welcome.” You can excuse yourself and say, “Isn’t that what our ministers and elders are for?” You can just keep on walking through the crowd, because you do have important things to do in a short amount of time and nobody should expect anything more from you.
I want to challenge you this morning to be more like Jesus, who was willing to stop everything to take care of a need. Here’s what you can do.
Look for somebody new – The easiest thing to do is to slide into your comfort zone – Talk with people you know, look for your friends, don’t move from where you’re sitting. Instead, intentionally look for an unfamiliar face – somebody you haven’t met – and walk to where they are. There are three crucial times to do this:
Show up early – when you show up right at the start of services, you rob yourself of the opportunity to interact with people and look for visitors. During our greeting time – Those 3 or 4 minutes are very important to look for visitors. We’ve already created an expectation that they will be greeted, but I’ve seen so many visitors standing by themselves while little groups of friends stand five feet away chatting with their backs to them. Go find a visitor and greet them. Take it a step further and go and sit next to this new person. I don’t think anything would impress me more as a visitor than to have somebody move from their seat to come sit near me (Don’t sit too close!...) Immediately after services – Before you head for the door, look for our visitors. Don’t let them get out the door without a friendly word from you. In fact, go further than that. Invite them to lunch – take them to lunch! Invite them to your Life Group. Help them to experience what you’ve experienced – the love of God.
Ask questions, show interest, convey caring – When you greet our visitors, do more than be friendly – offer friendship. Be interested in who they are and where they come from. Ask about their family and their interests. Ask if they have a church home, and is there any way we can be of service to them, or anything we can pray for with them.
Introduce them to others – Turn and ask someone standing near you, “Have you met Joe yet?” or tell them, “I want you to meet one of our elders / minister.” We want them to experience many familiar faces the next time they come back.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re here for you. This isn’t ultimately about what you get out of it. It’s about what you bring to give. You come to give praise and honor to God. You come to give encouragement and strength to others. You come to share the love of God with the people around you.
Jesus was tuned in and sensitive to others – it was dynamic, it was transforming. He still has that power today – through each of us – Jesus still reaches out to meet the needs of others. He still is willing to stop everything to focus on the one who has come to seek him out.
Illust. – The Skin Horse
Posted on Sun, May 5, 2013
by John Roberts