Jesus has just returned from a mission into truly uncharted territories on the Helenized eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee. As he arrived back on the western side, the Jewish side, he was greeted by a large number of people and another opportunity to teach and minister to large numbers all at one time. However we find Jesus turning away from the crowds to focus on one man’s need. Jesus takes time for Jairus the Synagogue leader whose daughter is ill and dying (Mark 5:24). On the way a woman who has been ill for many years touches Jesus from behind believing that she would be healed if she could simply touch him. And it happens, she receives her healing by only a touch of Jesus’ cloak. Jesus stops to seek out who it was that had touched him and received healing. Jesus is taking time for an individual. [It seems interesting to note that Jesus was aware of the power that had gone out from him to heal the woman, there was no psychological manipulation here, no trickery or charlatanry. The woman had touched him in faith from behind.]
These two incidents in the ministry of Jesus remind us of how important it is to take time for people. I’m sure that even in the larger context of group meetings where he was teaching and healing the sick Jesus was taking time for individuals. Undoubtedly as he met each person he had a knowledge of their whole life and the context of their need. But in these two encounters we see a personal interest in the individual beyond the needs of the whole group.
Another aspect of this story is that Jairus was a key person in the community, a leader of the Synagogue, and with that position came respect and honour in the town. So we can see the hand of God in the encounter as Jesus arrives at the moment that this man’s daughter is ill and needing God’s intervention. The healing of this young girl, the daughter of a community leader, would have an impact on the whole community. Everyone knew Jairus and would hear about what had happened in his life. The community would be opened up in a way that it wouldn’t otherwise have been. People would have come in curiosity to see and hear Jesus, now they would come because they knew he was sent by God. Jairus was “someone worthy to have you” (Matt. 5:11) , a man of peace, who opened up his community to the ministry of Jesus.
As for the woman who had been ill for twelve years, she was also known by many in the community. This woman wasn’t known for her authority or leadership, she was known because of her sickness that had kept her permanently unclean for twelve long years (Lev. 15:25). So was someone to be avoided, an untouchable. In healing this woman Jesus established his position of authority with the people and it furthered his teaching that it was by faith that healing came to those in need. This woman’s faith in Jesus was enough for her to be healed. There had been no need for Jesus to “perform” in any way, her faith was sufficient.
In the ministry of Jesus in Capernaum and the shore of the Sea of Galilee we see God at work as key people experience the transformation that Jesus could bring to their lives. At the start of his ministry Jesus had been rejected in his home village but with time things changed. Matthew 9 shows how Jesus brought real change to the community. Jesus ministry was not haphazard, it was Holy Spirit directed toward the individuals that were necessary for the Kingdom of God to truly impact a whole community. We have the same Holy Spirit waiting and ready to lead us. Are we letting him lead?