Bit of a longish post today. Sorry--I couldn't say it in 500 words or less. But stick with me. I think this is kind of cool. I wrote last week about how the early apostles answered the Savior's call--following him "immediately" and "straightway." I noted that because it is the first in what I think is an important pattern.
Consider some of the first beneficiaries of the Savior's miracles: the centurion, the woman with an issue of blood, and the daughter of Jairus.
I am fascinated with these people and what they can teach us. The woman with the issue of blood crawled through a crowd to touch the Savior's robe. I don't think anyone knows for sure what this woman's condition was, but pushing through a crowd must have been at least unpleasant for her. I would assume the loss of blood would have left her tired and weak. So mustering the energy to do this must have been a real challenge. And possibly dangerous: When I was in junior high, we had a girl in our school who was hemophiliac. We were warned very strictly to be very careful of her in the halls since even a moderate jostle could cause internal bleeding that could be fatal.
But her faith was so solid that she risked this for the chance to touch His robe.
Then, there's the centurion. A Roman soldier with authority and at least some degree of status. He most likely opened himself up to mockery at least by consorting with a rabble-rousing prophet of a subjugated people. He was used to giving orders, and the Romans saw themselves as being far superior to the Jews. But still, he came to Jesus himself. He sought the Master out and asked Him to heal the centurion's servant (possibly his son, according to the Greek). Then, he demonstrated his faith in the Savior's power and his own humility by noting his unworthiness and expressing absolute faith in the Savior's word. Again, for a Roman this is not typical behavior.
Then there is Jairus. He was the ruler of a synagogue, a man of status and position in the establishment. But his daughter was dying. It must have cost him something to seek out the anti-establishment Jesus--the one the Pharisees accused of being a blasphemer. But he loved his daughter, so he risked public opprobrium and asked Jesus to come to heal his daughter. When they arrived at the house, the daughter was dead and a huge to-do was being made by mourners and neighbors.
Jesus asked them to move and assured them that the girl was not dead, just sleeping. This was ridiculous and they "laughed him to scorn" (Matthew 9:24). I wonder how Jairus felt. He's brought a man into his home who many of his circle probably mistrust or dislike. Now the man says something that seems outrageous, possibly insane. His peers are laughing at him.
What is he to do?
In the next verse, it says that the "people were put forth" (Matthew 9:25). In a hierarchical society, no one would have been able to remove Jairus' friends--except Jairus. Certainly not Jesus.
I imagine that this was a moment where Jairus was faced with a difficult choice. Does he publicly side with the radical preacher who says difficult things and kick his friends and family out? Translated into contemporary terms, I think that would be a very difficult choice for most of us.
But Jairus cast his lot with Jesus--and his daughter was brought back from the dead.
Here's my point to all of this: if one looks closely, the stunning miracles that Jesus worked came about because the recipients first demonstrated a stunning degree of faith. In their situtation and their degree, they pushed themselves into the unknown, trusting in Jesus even when it was difficult or dangerous. Then the miracle came. Once, I saw this pattern, it became obvious to me--it's all throughout the New Testament. Almost every miracle I can find came about after an exertion of faith. And Jesus, of course, acknowledges this in his standard response: "Thy faith hath made thee whole."
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