21When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. 22Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet 23and begged him repeatedly, “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.” 24So he went with him.
And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. 25Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. 26She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. 27She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” 29Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” 31And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?'” 32He looked all around to see who had done it. 33But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. 34He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
35While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?” 36But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” 37He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. 38When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. 39When he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” 40And they laughed at him. Then he put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. 41He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!” 42And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. 43He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.
Jesus heals both the daughter of the synagogue leader and the woman who sneaks up behind him. We can imagine doing the same. All over the world there are people praying for something: praying for life, praying for a cure, praying for an end to illness, praying for an end to heartbreak. Sometimes it feels like the people of Jesus’ day were the lucky ones; they were the ones who could invite Jesus to their home or grasp at his cloak. Maybe we think that we could get what we needed if we had the same opportunity. But it’s not just the physical presence of Jesus that makes a difference. Here’s what Jesus says: “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease” and “Do not fear, only believe.” Jesus commends faith and belief. This isn’t just a simple equation, however. This doesn’t mean that we always get an end to our illness or our heartbreak based on same innate capacity for belief. Jesus assures us that the healing we ultimately receive is a gift from God. Faith and belief have their object in Jesus Christ. The same God who came as Savior to Israel is the same God who assures us of his Spirit and makes a way through death on the other side of the cross. This is the one who hears our prayers. How will he not answer?
Gracious God, in the compassion of Jesus you come to us in places of pain and suffering. Be present to us again where we need it—in anxiety and hopelessness, in hardship and struggle, in illness and pain. We put our faith in you, trusting that, in Jesus Christ, you work all to the good of those who love you. We wait for you, Lord, trusting that you will work through our prayers on behalf of those who are silent, or who do not know you, in the confidence that you love them, too. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.