What’s on your agenda for the day? I’m a list person, so my list starts at 4 a.m. and concludes at 9 p.m. I used to fill up every 15 minutes of the day with “to do’s.” Then, I realized I wasn’t leaving any margin at all for the divine appointments God had set—about which I did not yet know!
Divine appointments are known in the world as interruptions. But Jesus never treated anyone as an interruption, which leads me to believe that people, in particular, are in my way because they’re on God’s way for my day.
Jesus’ interaction with Jairus, whose 12-year-old daughter is dying, and the woman who has suffered for 12 years with an issue of blood is recorded in both Mark 5 and Luke 8. It is instructive for us when we think about what in the world we’re in the world to do and how we’re expected to treat people along the way if we’re going to authentically represent Jesus Christ and His Kingdom principles.
Mark tells it this way (ESV):
“And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about him, and he was beside the sea. Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet and implored him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.” And he went with him. And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him.” (Mark 5: 21-24)
“And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’ And he looked around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” (Mark 5: 25-34)
“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.” And he allowed no one to follow him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. They came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and Jesus saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. And when he had entered, he said to them, “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. But he xput them all outside and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him and went in where the child was. Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement. And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.” (Mark 5: 35-43)
These are desperate people whom the world has failed. Jairus has access to the best of everything and yet his daughter is at the point of death. He comes to the One who alone has the power of life and death. But as Jesus is headed to Jairus’ home, a woman interrupted. A woman whose condition would have put her out of fellowship with everyone; a woman whom everyone had failed but had been taken advantage of by many; a woman whose suffering had been ongoing for 12 long years; a woman whom the Jews, including Jairus, would have considered unclean and untouchable interrupts. What does Jesus do? He keeps the divine appointment that God the Father has set and he treats her with dignity equal to that with which he is treating Jairus. Jesus shows no partiality. He stops and hears her out and heals her. By then, much time has passed—but no time has been wasted, as some might think.
Jairus’ servants arrive to report that his daughter has died but Jesus, who is the Lord of life and death and time, assures Jairus that God never arrives too late. There is yet time and there is yet hope because there is yet Jesus. Pause in that moment—put yourself in Jairus’ sandals. He is a leader of the synagogue, he is a Jew’s Jew, he is a respected religious leader in his community, and he is being asked to put his faith and hope in Jesus, who just touched a woman that Jairus’ own rule-bound religion would have never touched. The next person Jesus would touch would be Jairus’ little girl. There are so many things we could talk about here! But the particular point we’re considering today is the way Jesus treats people whom we might be tempted to consider interruptions.
Have you ever been in desperate need? Did you cry out for help and someone passed you by? This is the circumstance of the man who was assaulted on the road in the parable Jesus tells about the priest, the Levite, and the Samaritan. We call him the “good Samaritan,” but we could just as easily call it the misrepresentative priest. Those of us who are Christians know that we are the representatives of Christ in the world today. God is making His appeal for reconciliation through us. What message do people get about Jesus when we’re too busy to be interrupted by the divine appointments God has set?
God has prepared good works in advance for us to do. Those are the things on God’s agenda for us today. May we be found to be faithful representatives of Christ, recognizing those opportunities for what they are and relying on God to work out the timing of everything else yet down the road.