November 7, 2021 | Desperate Faith


 Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who with the Holy Spirit are three-in-one.


 It’s all about trust… There was a man who was lost in the desert. After wandering around for a long time his throat became very dry and he was very thirsty, about that time he saw a little shack in the distance. He made his way over to the shack and found a water pump with a small jug of water and a note.

The note read: “pour all the water into the top of the pump to prime it, if you do this you will get all the water you need”. Now the man had a choice to make, if he trusted the note and poured the water in and it worked he would have all the water he needed. If it didn’t work he would still be thirsty and he might die. Or he could choose to drink the water in the jug and get immediate satisfaction, but it might not be enough and he still might die. After thinking about it the man decided to risk it. He poured the entire jug into the pump and began to work the handle, at first nothing happened and he got a little scared but he kept going and water started coming out. So much water came out he drank all he wanted, took a shower, and filled all the containers he could find. Because he was willing to give up momentary satisfaction, he got all the water he needed. Now the note also said: after you have finished, please refill the jug for the next traveler.” The man refilled the jug and added to the note:  “Please prime the pump, believe me it works”!


Faith, it’s a precious commodity that we don’t just give to anyone or anything. To gain someone’s trust, you must prove yourself worthy of it by your actions and your beliefs. No one simply outs their faith in everything. Faith is earned. That’s not to say, of course, that people don’t put their faith in the wrong things and the wrong people every day.


Our Gospel lesson this morning has everything to do with Faith. First we have the example of a public figure, Jairus, choosing to put his faith in Jesus even though it might mean public scorn from those he serves with at the synagogue. Secondly we have a woman who has trust in Jesus but does not want to make a public stand by acknowledging it. In both cases we have faith driven by desperation.


 Jairus belonged to a group of those who argued with Jesus about whether it was legal to heal on the Sabbath. He was part of temple leadership who had not accepted the ministry and works of Jesus.


He was well known for these positions and well known and respected in the community. Coming to Jesus meant taking on the largest of risks. Desperation caused him to reach out for help, even from a person he most likely mocked as a heretic.


But put yourselves in his shoes. His precious 12 year old daughter is near death and he has run out of options. He is at the end of his rope and desperate to find any solution that would mean his daughter might live.


All his questions about Jesus become secondary to the fact that He might be telling the truth about who He is. His position as a synagogue leader becomes secondary to his position as a father.


 The woman in our lesson had lived with a discharge of blood for twelve years. Putting this in context, the woman has been a social outcast for as long as Jairus daughter has been alive. Not only does she have to suffer physically, but even her husband is not allowed to touch her because she was unclean according to Jewish law. Every year Jairus’ daughter lived, she was in torment.


She tried medical remedies but medical knowledge at this time was very limited and illness was thought to be caused by evil spirits. One method of healing called for seven pits to be dug, with vine branches not yet four years old burned in them, and then the sick person was asked to sit down in each pit and say, “Be free from my sickness.” People would go into temples where they would wait for a dream to show them a cure or they would go to a hot spring hoping the hot water would free them from the evil, disease causing spirits.


 Both of these biblical characters sought a solution, and both were desperate for anything that would provide a way to find it. They were near the end of their hope and willing to reach out for anything that might work.


In the end, they both sought out this wandering preacher, this son of a carpenter, this religious fanatic, this Jesus of Nazareth, a town from which nothing good comes, this one who claimed to be from God, even God’s Son. How could someone put trust into someone who, seemingly, seems out of His mind? God’s Son?? Are you kidding me?? Isn’t this the greatest of all blasphemies??… Yet, out of desperation, they begin to wonder, “Could what He has been saying be true?”


Despite any doubts they might have had, they desperately reached out for Jesus and He gave them hope when they needed it. Even the mourners laughed at Jesus, yet Jesus gave Jairus hope because He took a chance and reached out to Him. Despite the throng of people, the hope of the woman gave her the strength to fight the crowds and stretch out her hand so that she might just touch Christ’s cloak and be cured.


No one told the woman to touch Jesus’ cloak. There was no prescribed healing ritual in place. All that mattered was that she reach out to Jesus in faith. All the arguments against Jesus Christ did not deter Jairus in his time of need. He was well aware of the possible consequences of his actions. Yet he took a chance and reached out to Jesus in faith and his prayers were answered. Faith is a result of trust. Trust is something that is earned, Faith comes by way of that trust being verified.


Though the healing of the woman was greatly important to her, it was important to Jesus as well. Jesus didn’t want the healing of the woman to be an invisible one. Jesus wanted her to acknowledge before the crowd the source of her healing.  Romans 10:9 says, “Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”  Her affliction drove her to trust that if she simply touched Christ’s cloak she would be saved, her faith was shown in that she acknowledged her trust fulfilled. Because of her trust this woman found faith.


We are not at all unlike these two. We too, sometimes have to be driven to our knees before we put our complete trust in God. It’s a shame that, sometimes we have to be pushed into deep valleys in life to understand just how awesome God really is and how much He truly cares for His people.


It is important for us to remember that Jesus always makes time for legitimate need. The woman was not important to society, especially compared to Jairus, yet Jesus stopped from an important mission because a “nobody” reached out in trust and received that in which she trusted in Jesus to provide, a cure.  When somebody, anybody, cries out to Jesus, putting complete trust and faith in Him, He will always make time for them.


 1 Peter 3:12, “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are attentive to their prayer. 


Verses 35 and 36 from our text, “While He was still speaking, there came from the ruler’s house some who said, “Your daughter is dead, why trouble the Teacher any further?” But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “ Do not fear, only believe.”


Jesus says, “just trust me.” Jairus hears that his daughter is dead, that it’s too late, nothing can help her now, don’t bother with God any more. But Jesus turns to Jairus and says two important things:

  • First he says, “Don’t be afraid.” Jesus over hears them speaking and interrupts saying, in effect, “What you are hearing and seeing is likely to bring fear into your heart, but I want you to disregard it. And then he says,
  • Only believe.” This is a command. In essence Jesus is saying, “trust me, no matter what.”

Jairus’ anxiety drove him to trust in Christ but there was still the most important factor in the relationship between him and Jesus Christ, that Jairus believe. It is one thing to momentarily trust someone out of desperation, it is another to put your undying belief in him.


In the end, Jairus and the woman trusted in Jesus and received a miracle, but had they refused to trust Jesus, they would have missed the miracle and would have missed seeing God in action.


Waiting for a miracle can be hard. Have you ever prayed and prayed for something and it just didn’t seem like you were ever going to get an answer? I’m sure that woman anxiously prayed for years and years over her sickness. However, for her, she needed also to reach out to Jesus to find the solution she longed for.


She needed to do more than pray, she needed to trust. With the kind of trust that produces faith which is the foundation of belief, a belief born out of desperation.


The greatest thing the woman learned was that only Jesus brings real healing, joy, satisfaction and peace. If you’ve run all your life trying to find a way to get ahead and find yourself only more behind – reach out for Jesus.


If worldly solutions have only brought you closer to being a slave to them – reach out for Jesus.


If your trust has been given to things and people who have constantly fallen short – reach out for Jesus.


Maybe our problem is that we simply aren’t desperate enough for Christ. Because our lives are relatively calm and our stress is managed, we put God on the backburner until we need Him. There is no longer any desperation. Our prayers have been answered, we have no use for God anymore.


What we need is a desperate faith. In order for any man, woman, or child to look in faith to Christ alone for their eternal salvation, there must be some sense of desperation. We must realize that there is absolutely nothing that we can do to make ourselves acceptable before a holy God. We must have come to an end of all our human resources to heal ourselves of the appalling disease of sin and the inevitable consequences of that sin, eternal death. Without a desperate faith to some degree, there is no salvation. For without a desperate faith, we will continue to look to our own worthiness (in some sense) as sufficient for our salvation.


Jesus knows our every need and He simply asks us to trust Him and believe in Him when needs are present. He knows our every hurt and every pain both physically and emotionally and He calls out to us and says, “Don’t be afraid, only believe”! Come to Jesus, trust in Jesus, reach out for Jesus.  May it not take calamity to bring us to our knees but rather a desperate faith, a desperate trust born out of love for Christ. Amen