This week I return home, in a sense, after a number of road-trip reflections. Over the next month and more, I will return to reflecting on Jesus through the eyes of others. Specifically, I will focus on elements of Jesus’ life and ministry through the perspective of people whose encounters with Jesus will fill my upcoming online retreats. Back in May, I asked whose voices you wanted to hear, and a few of you have responded with excellent suggestions. I welcome more ideas, so please let me know whose perspectives you want to explore.
Today I’m focusing on Jesus and leadership. We think of him as a teacher and healer, but he also led a large band of followers around Galilee. I want to explore some elements of Jesus’ personality, such as his authority and his humanity, and also what it might have been like to live with him in that band of followers.
I also want to focus on elements of Jesus’ ministry style. For example, Jesus seems to have had no problem with interruptions. In Luke 8, Jairus, a local religious leader, asked Jesus to come heal his dying daughter. As Jesus traveled to Jairus’ house, perhaps walking along a crowded city street in Capernaum like the one pictured here, an ill woman reached out through the crowd and touched the very edge of his outer cloak. Jesus noticed that someone had reached out for healing and stopped the procession to find out more.
Notice how Peter responded. I can just imagine him, pointing out the jostling crowd and saying, in essence, “Why are you worrying about this rabble? Don’t turn aside from your agenda! Take care of Jairus’ daughter. He’s a man of power. He might sponsor you on a preaching tour if you play your cards right!”
But Jesus chose to allow interruptions. When he felt the Spirit at work, he wanted to learn more about the need and the healing.
Now, this wasn’t just any woman who reached out for healing. She was ill with hemorrhages. That flow of blood made her “unclean” according to Jewish law. In fact, it was terribly presumptuous—even sinful—for her to touch Jesus while she was unclean. That touch made Jesus himself unclean, which meant he would no longer be welcome in Jairus’ house. This is probably one of the reasons the woman did not speak up when Jesus asked who had touched him. She knew she was both a woman and in an unclean state.
Why then did she persist? I think it would be illuminating to pursue the story from the angle of what enabled this woman to break out of her place in society and reach out a hand in hope of healing. Alternatively, I could explore the story from the perspective of Jairus, who would have watched the scene unfold and knew that Jesus was now considered unclean. How would he respond? What would he do? We know from scripture that Jesus touches the daughter to raise her up—so what transformation had happened within Jairus for him to allow this to happen?
Of course, I could also explore this story from the perspective of Peter or another disciple. How would they respond to Jesus turning aside from aiding someone of power to helping the powerless? How would they feel about such interruptions?
As you can see, there are many angles to explore here. Take a few minutes to follow the scripture link and re-read the story. Which participant in the story resonates most in your heart? Whose perspective would you like to hear?