Simmons: Desperate times call for … how about God?
Story by Rick Vacek
Photos by Gillian Rea
GCU News Bureau
No one wants to feel desperate. It’s uncomfortable. It forces you to take chances. You might not be able to solve the issue yourself (gasp).
Which means you might feel the need to turn to God.
The lead pastor of Redemption Gateway has a professorial approach to breaking down Bible passages, with a touch of common sense thrown in. On this day, he was reading from Chapter 8 of Luke, verses 40 to 56, a story filled with desperation as Jesus returned to Capernaum.
“This is a powerful story. It’s one of my favorite stories in the Gospels of Jesus,” Simmons said. “I just think one of the best things we can do, as people who are trying to follow Christ, is just look at Jesus. Who was He? What was He like? What did He do? How did He live?”
Amid the desperation of the people to whom Jesus was ministering, Simmons added, we can see three things: faith, hope and love.
There was the desperation of the powerful:
Then a man named Jairus, a synagogue leader, came and fell at Jesus’ feet, pleading with Him to come to his house because his only daughter, a girl of about twelve, was dying.
“Now, on one hand we think, well gosh, that shouldn’t be that surprising,” Simmons said. “… Capernaum was this home base of Jesus’ ministry. It was where He healed people and cast out demons and taught. Clearly, Jairus must have been part of hearing those things and seeing those things.
“And yet, on the other hand, it’s really kind of surprising that Jairus is there waiting. It seems almost like there’s this huge crowd and Jairus is there at the front of the line, and that’s surprising because who were the people that most resisted Jesus? Religious leaders. Well, who’s Jairus? He’s a religious leader.”
That’s what makes it so interesting. Jairus is a big deal … but he’s desperate.
“This is a striking thing,” Simmons said. “This powerful man, this important man, this religious leader … now think about it. He’s got lots of resources. He’s got lots of connections. He’s got lots of power. But he has found himself in a position that he can’t fix.”
The other striking thing about that situation was the crowd squishing toward Jesus and everyone around him, which Simmons called “an interesting window into the life of Jesus. This is just what it must have been like all the time. You feel like you’re busy and you’re surrounded by people? This was a whole different level.”
At the other end of the spectrum in that crowd was a woman who had been banished from society for 12 years because she couldn’t stop bleeding, which in those days people considered unclean. Simmons likened her to a “female leper.”
She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.
The woman didn’t have the access to Jesus that Jairus had, but she had every bit as much desperation … and something else.
“How did this woman get to Jesus? Through dogged determination,” Simmons said, emphasizing the last two words. “She knows she’s not supposed to be around people. She knows she’s not welcome.”
It is the perfect example, he added, that faith isn’t always about knowledge and understanding. In this story, it’s about desperation. Too often in today’s world, people think they just can rely on their intelligence or friends or technology or (ahem) money. Simmons suggested that God is just waiting for us to turn to Him instead.
“Faith isn’t having all the answers,” Simmons said. “Faith is having a lot of need and seeing that Jesus is your hope.”
But Jesus wasn’t through with the woman:
“Who touched Me?” Jesus asked.
When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against You.”
But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from Me.”
Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at His feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched Him and how she had been instantly healed. Then He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”
By having her come back and tell her story, Jesus was giving her a path back into the community. That’s the love in this story, Simmons said:
“Jesus is in the business of restoring people, restoring relationships. That’s what His love is about. It’s not just about getting His power on your behalf, it’s about connecting to Him.”
The hope in the story comes when Jesus is told that Jairus’ daughter has died. Jesus asked to be taken to her and, upon arriving, tells the mourners that she merely was asleep. The passage continues:
They laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. But he took her by the hand and said, “My child, get up!”2015 talk about dying.) Simmons considers Shrader a mentor, and here’s his takeaway from his loss:
“Don’t fear. Don’t fear today. If you find yourself afraid, desperately go to Jesus. He’s the One who loves you, He’s the One who knows you, He’s the One who will stop and slow down and look you in the eye and care for you. And He is the One who will raise you.”
● Chapel replay.
● Next Monday: No Chapel (Martin Luther King holiday)
Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or [email protected].