In reading about Jesus and his dealings with the sisters Martha and Mary, and their brother Lazarus (John chapter 11), it occurred to me that the timetable Jesus kept was often out of sync with that of his human counterparts. He was not punctual by human standards; He delayed two days before setting off to help His dear friends. The One who transcended time and space operated according to His own timetable and I doubt He would have carried a Day-Timer or used an iCalendar, had they been available to Him.
Why did He choose to be late in so many cases? Yes, it appears to have been a deliberate choice, and He must have had a reason for it. I would like to explore this issue by cataloging, in a series of articles, some of the instances in which Jesus chose to be "late."
First, a story from the book of Luke, chapter 8 verses 40-56. Jairus, ruler of the synagogue, implored Jesus to come to his house and heal his only daughter, twelve years old and the apple of his eye. Willingly, Jesus followed the man but on the way was interrupted by another needy person, the woman with the issue of blood. After she surreptitiously touched the hem of His garment, she was miraculously healed. Jesus stopped and in an unhurried manner coaxed forth the woman's testimony of healing and made proclamation of her faith. This little incident stole precious minutes from the urgent errand of Jairus, who accordingly received the dreaded news, "Your daughter is dead. Do not trouble the Teacher."
Jesus, however, refocused His attention on Jairus' need and reassured him with the words, "Do not be afraid; only believe, and she will be made well." And indeed, the spirit returned to that little girl and she arose and ate and was restored to her parents.
The delay of only a few minutes was the difference between life and death to that little girl. Jesus must have known the urgency, must have seen the desperation in the eyes of Jairus. Why did He allow Himself to be detained by the seemingly insignificant touching of the hem of His garment?
Here is also a study in contrasts. The woman with the issue of blood would have been considered unclean and was therefore not permitted to worship in the synagogue. Conversely, Jairus was the ruler of the synagogue, one who had daily access. Jesus chose to minister first to the outcast, to allow her to be more important for that moment than the "important" synagogue ruler. He, the one who was by position in the forefront, had to step aside for the woman who was the outcast. He had to wait for her needs to be met first.
Jairus was forced to take the lowest place, to be placed on the bottom shelf. As ruler, he was now relegated to the position of least. Perhaps Jesus was giving him a lesson in "he who is first shall be last" and "he who is greatest shall be servant of all." Servant leadership was Jesus' specialty. He modeled it consistently.
What lessons for those of us in positions of spiritual authority? What lesson for me?
- A delay is not fatal, contrary to outward appearances.
- Go to the back of the line, rejoice in the victories of others ahead of me.
- My need will be abundantly met in His own good time.