Jesus SEES You

Pastor Rachel B. Livingston 

I. Beginnings

Have you ever taken the time to pay attention to the movements of Jesus within scripture?  I mean it seems like we often pay attention to other people within the context of scripture, and not specifically the movements of Jesus, and the richness of what he taught – the transformational, life-changing theology, that breaks the foundations of the status quo within the teachings and life of Jesus Christ.  We know well the teachings, scriptures, and letters written by Paul and have even built certain theologies and religiosities around Paul and what he taught, but how often do we really look closely at the salvific power and liberative actions of Jesus Christ among those he came in contact with.  Now I’m not saying that Paul, was not an influential person within our faith, but how often do we take Paul’s word over the one we call Savior? It is then that we neglect to focus on Christ, taking in, only cursory glances of Jesus as a model for our lives, and ignoring the distinctly transformative message that comes in Jesus’s interaction with believers.  Within the actions of Jesus, we see that Jesus turned around social and religious norms that dramatically challenged the societal norms of the time – creating a new dichotomy of life, a transformed world through the work of a loving messiah, proclaiming the new age of a new Kingdom reigned by God. 

 II. Jairus’s Story

Our scripture places Jesus in the midst of a chaotic crowd filled with confusion and tension.  A synagogue ruler named Jairus, has pressed through the suffocating crowd that has closed in around Jesus.  You can almost see the scene before you:
Where is Jesus? Where can this miraculous healer, Jesus, be found? Can anyone point me in the direction of Jesus? These words, while not written in the text, can probably be heard in a state of panic amidst the crashing of objects from a father, Jairus, stumbling not paying attention to anything, as he rushes to find Jesus.  There is pain and desperation, as Jairus vocalizes every single word, for his child is at the point of death.  His whole universe is flipped upside down and crumbling all around him.  If only someone would point him in the direction of this healer, whose name has been spread throughout the streets.  Jairus was the sole provider for his family and yet he cannot provide healing for his child unless he reaches the feet of Jesus to request his assistance.  There is no time to waste, for the life of his daughter is hanging in the balance and dependent on what this man Jesus might be able to do for her. 

Jairus is carrying this heavy load, bringing forth his pain and cares of the world on his shoulders.  He carries a sadness within him and only one thing can bring about the remedy.  We see in the text that Jairus finally found Jesus and at that moment the hurt, pain, and anguish was so heavy on him that the only thing that he could do was to come to Jesus and fall straight to his feet, relieving this burden and casting all his cares before Jesus.  He opens himself to a state of vulnerability in which he unloads all of his burdens before the teacher, Jesus, in hopes that he might render some sort of help, some sense of salvation.  How many of us have had so much chaos that we have had to come straight before Jesus and lay everything bare, open up our whole souls with a sense of rawness and vulnerability? He pleads with Jesus to come and heal his daughter.  Jesus gives him a sense of hope and grants and accepts the leaders request.  And as they press through the massive crowd, a woman with her own plea for solace and salvation weaves her way through the crowd and reaches out to touch Jesus. And the hope for this man seems to be short-lived.  

III. The Woman With The Issue Of Blood

This woman, she is an unnamed woman, she has very little value in society, and her identity has been swallowed up within her ailment, for the text gives her no name, but she is named as the woman with the issue of blood, as if her name no longer matters, as if her ailment has encompassed all that she is.  She has been reduced to the sickness that lives within her and not the “isness” of her own humanity.  She had been ostracized by the community, because she had been bleeding for 12 years, she is unclean.  We don’t know the details of her family context, we don’t know if she is a single woman or a woman who comes from a large family, whether she is a mother, a sister, or a daughter, we just don’t know. All we can assume is that she is extremely isolated and cast out because of her circumstances.  She is a social pariah, and yet Jairus is a public figure, a synagogue ruler, a father, a family man and his daughter is dying.  In this passage, Jairus was the first to meet Jesus, but at that moment, Jesus’s whole thought turns to this random woman.  Yeah, that’s fine and good that Jesus stops to help this woman, but Jesus has stopped all that he was doing and turns away from this man to pay attention to someone else.  Jesus, how can you forget about the issue at hand? This man has just brought you all of his pain, can’t we worry about this later? We have a time constraint here.  The longer we wait the closer to death this girl becomes. All this man has gone through to bring his concern to Jesus and now the healing of his daughter seems to be at the back of the mind of Jesus. But if we pause for a moment, we might be able to take a look at the suffering of this woman.  Because the reality is that both of these people are suffering, both are somewhat standing at death’s door, waiting for a Savior to reach out to them, waiting for a savior to SEE them. 

As we discuss this woman’s condition, I do not want to be crass, but we have to understand that this woman had been bleeding for 12 years, non-stop.  Now this may be something that only women can understand, but it would be literal hell to be “that time of the month” for 12, long years.  This woman was dealing with this for 12 years, 365 days each year – that is 12 years of weakness, 12 years of bloating, 12 years of cramping, 12 years of pain, 12 years of light-headedness, 12 years of headaches, 12 years of carrying a foul smelling stench – 12 years with absolutely no rest, where her life was surrounded by having this issue of blood, this womanly issue that should never have lasted this long.  Her personal pain, her daily discomfort, her utter inconvenience.  And beyond the discomfort, in the Ancient near east tradition, during a woman’s time of the month she was ostracized and shunned, deemed unclean until she stopped bleeding and went through a ritual cleansing to re-enter into society.  No one could touch her, no one could be near her for fear that they might become unclean too.  So, she was pushed to the margins of society for 12 long years, separated from her family and friends for 12 year long years, no one daring to touch her, or they might be labeled as unclean.  We as people are designed to live in community to love on one another – to hug, to care for one another – what might it be like to be denied the hug of loved ones, to be denied the holding of a hand when the weight of the world gets to be too much, to be denied the thoughtful touch of a friend as they wipe away tears from deep sadness, for 12 long years.  We have been without hugs for just about 1 year because of COVID, but what might it be like to have to avoid human interaction for 12 LONG years? It is likely that this woman saw doctors over and over again, and each time she was denied any sense of healing.  For 12 long years, life has been flowing from her, drop by drop. We don’t know what disease she may have had, but we know that for 12 long years she has dealt with this issue and she has been given no remedy, no medicine to stop the issue.  How long can a person linger in pain and suffering, how long can life’s blood continue to drip from her?

And despite all this, what has the community done for her? Absolutely nothing other than shun her existence.  Anyone who would have bumped into her or tapped her would be deemed unclean, and would have to remove themselves from the community and go through a process of ritualistic cleansing.  How many times have we suffered, been in pain, cried deeply to ourselves and the world looked away with no regard, the world looked away in disgust?

But this woman had heard about a healer who could do things that no one has done, a miraculous redemption, so she was desperate to get to this man, Jesus.  As the woman crawled her way to Jesus, she did not want to subject Jesus to social ostracization to help her, but she just had to reach him, because he was her only hope.  Sometimes we have grown so accustomed to our ailments and degradation of society, that we begin to disregard our own needs, devaluing our own selves for the sake of keeping others in comfort.  If she could crawl through the crowd and reach out to the hem of his garment without anyone else knowing, then maybe, just maybe her life could be turned around. And Jesus might be saved from any ostracization in the process. So she reached up behind him and touched his clothes. And Jesus immediately replied, “Who touched my clothes?”  Of course, in the midst of a huge crowd, where everyone is pressing in on them, the disciples were confused, “what do you mean who touched you? Jesus, everyone touched you!” Was Jesus losing his mind?

But no, in that moment, Jesus recognized a touch of faith.  Jesus recognized a suffering individual who needed not only to be healed from her physical ailment, but acknowledged.  She needed to know not only had she been healed but that the savior sees her and feels her pain.  Forget ostracization, Jesus was not concerned with what the world says, he does not have to worry about becoming unclean because he is that balm that makes all of us clean.  Jesus was willing to SEE her and get down and dirty to heal her ailment.  I am so glad that I serve a savior who is willing to move beyond all the mess to respond to my need.  She may have been made well from a touch of his garment, but she also needed the warm touch of a savior.  Society had beaten her so low that she felt like she had to creep to Jesus in secret, but Jesus had to be that balm in Gilead that saw her to reject what society had done to her and say, I SEE you.  Jesus was not offended by her issue of blood, but saw her need. He offered her more than just a healed body, but a release from the prison she had endured for the last 12 years saying, “Your faith has made you whole.”  Jesus gives a holistic healing, a wellness of body, mind, and spirit.  Saying that society may have rejected and neglected you, but I have not, I am here and I SEE you.  You do not need to shudder in the darkness away from the world any longer because I SEE you, and have made you whole. 

 IV. Jesus Breaks Societal Norms

But we return to the larger story as well.  This woman is not the only one who is desperate and feels forgotten. Jairus had come to Jesus first. He was in need of Jesus’s healing for his daughter.  To make the problem worse, as soon as all of this probably begins to set into this father’s mind, people are rushing to his side to say, “Leave Jesus alone because your daughter is dead.” On top of that, Jairus’s maleness alone would have made him a priority by society, but he was also a synagogue leader, so his status should have made him a priority, but yet Jesus is stopping to say, “Who touched my clothes?”  Watch this. In this moment Jesus was rejecting normal societal protocols and gave attention to a woman, and not just any woman at that, but a woman who was poor, unclean, a woman who had been contaminated.  Society may have rejected her because she was a woman and because of her issue of blood, but Jesus stood there saying, I love you, I don’t care about societal standards, but I SEE you and your need.  Thank God we have a Christ who sees us despite the oppressions and protocols that society tries to put on us.

Jesus is saying I have come to do a new thing, I am busting all societal norms and I am bringing transformation. Jesus interrupted and reversed the status quo to restore a dying woman.  But there is still a frantic father, a man who is also suffering. To an outsider looking in may look like, when a parent has two children, both trying to get the attention of that parent, when one child falls and scrapes his/her knee. The parent stops to help the child and as soon as that hurt child is cleaned up, the parent turns around in enough time to keep the other child from doing something they are not supposed to do.  That is what is happening here.  Both are in desperate need of God.  But to Jairus, it may seem like he is being ignored, remember Jesus had already healed her physical ailment, but he stops to acknowledge her faith? 

 V. Where Is Jesus?

We can all identify with Jairus in this situation in different ways.  There are times in our lives when we bring our concerns before Jesus and along the way Jesus seems to be silent.  We have brought our problems before the Lord and at the beginning God seemed to be right there with us, but in the thick of it, somewhere along the journey God seems to be a quiet bystander that is concerned more with the problems of others. Others are getting their healing and transformation, but where is mine Lord, what about me? Both people are standing at deaths door, in need of Jesus and desperately needing Jesus to grant them life, in desperate need for God to SEE them. But we are reminded this morning that Jesus saw both of them, fully, and was aware of their need.  And even as we go through the turmoil, the stresses and strain of life, God SEES each and every one of us. We just have to remind ourselves that God is there. God has never left us, nor forsaken us. 

Jesus all of a sudden turns around and says have courage.  A statement that lets the man know that he has not gone anywhere.  I know it seems like I have forgotten, but I have never left you I am still here WITH you.  Don’t forget that I have already granted what you have requested and have all power in my hands. I have never forgotten you, you are still my child and I am still aware of your struggle, take courage in what I have in store for you.  Jesus was there to catch him before he fell.  It is almost as if Jesus was telling Jairus that he knew what he was going through and how his distraction may have made him doubt, but he was still with him, meaning that what he has granted still has possibility.  We must take heart in the fact that even if it seems like Jesus has redirected his attention away from us, he has not, he is right there walking with us along the journey.   

VI. Jesus SEES You

 The blessing of this tale, however, is not just that Jesus has healed this woman or granted this man’s request but in the depths at which Jesus is willing to go through in order to achieve SEEing us, to really heal us fully and bring us not to just a healed life but a transformed life. The wailing and moaning show us that by all accounts this girl was dead and it was unthinkable for Jesus or anyone to touch a corpse , because that was deemed as unclean. Jesus was not afraid to cast aside societal standards and become unclean in both of these testimonies.  Jesus was saying that I am not concerned with the blood that makes you unclean, but it is my blood that cleanses, it is my blood that makes you whole, it is my blood that brings redemption that you might have a renewed and transformed life, it is my blood that grants eternal life that we might join in communion together again one day in final glory. One thing that we must be thankful for is a God who does not conform to the whims of society.  Not only was Jesus able to do what people thought was beyond possible, but Jesus was willing to get down and dirty to heal this woman and to answer this father’s prayer.   Jesus is not beyond helping you with you and your problems, no matter how difficult or how shameful they may be.  It was Jesus who went through an embarrassing death in which he stretched out his arms on a cross for the whole world to see for our redemption.  There is nothing that you are going through, that Jesus would consider too disgusting to handle. 

One thing that we must remember, is that life continues to bring struggles and pain, moments where it seems like we are all alone in the thick of it.  Jesus however is saying that he is right there with you and has never left you along the way.  Jesus sees each and ever one of us.  So in this moment, this transformational moment, let us keep our eyes on Jesus because Jesus is doing a new thing that shakes up societal norms, that we might build genuine relationship with him. So as we join together with God, responding to our genuine need, let us also see that God it not just transforming us but transforming our world as well: turning around child abuse, turning around police abuse, turning around brutality against men and women, turning around injustice of homophobia and xenophobia, turning around racism, sexism, and classism, turning around ageism and ableism.   Because God is not put off by political correctness or societal taboo, but God is concerned with SEEing people and bringing in a transformational healing that brings a social morality of love, peace, and justice.  And we are a witness to what God can do, because God has SEEN us, and surely SEES the world. After a stressful week, that should have broke me, I know that God truly SEES me, and God is at work healing and transforming the world as God SEES not just us but the ailments of the world, transforming situations soaked in death, and  bring about new life, Amen.