The healing of the daughter of Jairus, and the woman who touched Jesus' cloak highlights the power of faith and belief. The woman who was ill had spent all she had in her search for an end to her suffering. She had seen many different doctors, none of which, despite their knowledge and skill, had been able to help her. But now, after hearing that the man Jesus would be passing by she believed that, far more effective than all the different treatments and medications so far tried, she would only need to touch his cloak to be healed. The triumph of optimism over experience? Much more than optimism, this cure was secured through her faith.
Just as the woman was not discouraged by her previous experience, so neither was Jairus by the negative and pessimistic members of his household. 'Why trouble the teacher any more? Your daughter is dead.' A lot of people think that about the church. Why bother with it? It’s out of date, past it. Nothing can save it. Any idea that the church can continue as a force for the good, as an effective force for God must also be the triumph of optimism over experience. Jesus' answer to Jairus is relevant to us here today. 'Do not be afraid; only have Faith'. And because Jairus was able to trust fully in what Jesus was saying to him he saw his daughter rise up and walk, despite the mocking and laughter of the cynics standing around outside the room.
In each case healing came through faith and the love of Jesus himself. Paul, in his second letter to the Corinthians, commends the church there for its abundant faith. ‘You have the most of everything- of faith, of eloquence of understanding, of keenness for any cause.' In fact this letter is to remind the church of the need to help other Christians, particularly those Christians in need of healing who suffered persecution and famine in Jerusalem. Paul had previously set up a system of charitable giving, but the Church in Corinth had not been keeping up its payments. Paul, like Jairus and the woman who touched the cloak, knew that the key to healing both the Jerusalem Christians and the falling away of the Corinthians lay in the life and example of Jesus. Just as Jesus, who had been rich, the creator and ruler of all, made himself poor in order to serve mankind, so Paul invites the churches of Corinth, Galatia and Macedonia to share their wealth to serve their fellow Christians in Jerusalem.
The cure of the woman who touched Jesus cloak involved a redistribution of healing power. Jesus was aware that this power that he held had been drawn from him, even though many people must have touched him that day in the crowd He was aware that he had been able to heal one person whose faith had given access to that power. The power drain was not in itself excessive, we see Jesus go on to perform another healing miracle. In the same way Paul points out to the Corinthians that they are not expected to suffer hardship as a result of contributing to aid for other Christians. He draws their attention to the gathering of Manna in Exodus. 'At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality, as it is written, "He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little."
The loss of Saul and Jonathan in the battle of the Gilboa Mountains was a dreadful blow to the people of Israel. David's poem, today’s old testament reading, captured the grief and shock that must have been felt. 'How the mighty have fallen' But, of course, we learn that after the death of Saul, David took on the kingship and was able to build up the nation to a level it had never experienced before. We know that Saul's treatment of David had been less than commendable, but the poem ignores the jealousy and even attempted murder that had marred their relationship and built up a picture of what was good and honourable about the last king and his very special son.
We, like David's task of rebuilding the children of Israel, have the task of rebuilding the Church as an effective force for God in our area. As a church, once mighty but falling fast, we have been like the woman who touched the cloak trying cure after cure, family services, special evensongs, changing the words, keeping traditions. Perhaps it's time we learned to find Jesus, and trust him to lead us in all our actions, to touch his cloak. Like Jairus we will have to learn to ignore the voices of the cynics that tell us that the church is already dead and only believe. Like the church in Corinth our healing will come through the sharing of God's provision for us, and we can begin, as Paul commended what was good in Corinth and David, what was good in Saul, by building on what is good here, and by truly following Jesus' example.