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The title of my message today is “WDJDWI – What did Jesus do when interrupted”.
I am often asked why I always have a title for my sermon. I guess there are two reasons. One is to give you an idea of what I am talking about. Second it helps me to keep on track when writing.
A few years ago I heard a story that I was reminded about this week.
A Bible college submitted sermon to his preaching professor for grading, and when he met to speak with his professor about his sermon, the professor started out very positively. He said to the young man, “I like your exegesis. You have presented the meaning of the text in a helpful and clear fashion. Your three points make sense, they show balance and progression. Your introduction and your conclusion both show a great deal of thought. The illustrations you used seemed most appropriate. However, I am going to give you a D on the sermon.” The student was taken aback and said, “Why a D if it’s all that good?” The professor said, “Well, frankly, it’s because of your sermon title. It is one of the worst I’ve ever seen. Nobody will want to come to hear a sermon entitled: ‘The Pericopes of Jesus in Relationship to the Eschatology of the Apostle Paul.’ I tell you what I’ll do. You see if you can come up with a better sermon title and I’ll reconsider the grade. What you want is a title that will reach out and grab people by the heart, a title that will compel them to come and hear what you have to say. Imagine that title out on the sign in front of a church with such impact that if a bus stopped in front of the church and the people on the bus saw the sign, it would be so powerful it would motivate them to immediately get off the bus and run into the church.” The young man said he would give it his best shot. So he went home and he wrestled with this task all night long, sweating bullets. The next morning he showed up at his professor’s office and handed him his new sermon title, which read: “Your Bus Has a Bomb on It, the only safe place is in the church!”
I am not sure he understood or if the professor changed his grade. But it would get you attention!
Back to the sermon: All of us know what it is to be interrupted. We have all had time where we were ready to undertake a task and the phone rings. We are all set up to do something and there is a knock at the door. We are on our way out somewhere and someone pulls in the driveway behind you and they want to talk. We stop what we are doing and talk to the person. Sometimes this can be frustrating and annoying, but we do it anyway.
Today I want to look at two passages from the Bible where Jesus was interrupted and how He responded. What the need was, what He did and the result. We have all heard that saying WWJD – What would Jesus do? Today I want to WDJDWI – what did Jesus do when interrupted!
Interruption 1 – The lady who was bleeding
The first passage I want to look at is Mark 5:21-34.
Jesus got into the boat again and went back to the other side of the lake, where a large crowd gathered around Him on the shore. 22 Then a leader of the local synagogue, whose name was Jairus, arrived. When he saw Jesus, he fell at His feet, us 23 pleading fervently with Him. “My little daughter is dying,” he said. “Please come and lay Your hands on her; heal her so she can live.” 24 Jesus went with him, and all the people followed, crowding around Him. 25 A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding. 26 She had suffered a great deal from many doctors, and over the years she had spent everything she had to pay them, but she had gotten no better. In fact, she had gotten worse. 27 She had heard about Jesus, so she came up behind Him through the crowd and touched His robe. 28 For she thought to herself, “If I can just touch His robe, I will be healed.” 29 Immediately the bleeding stopped, and she could feel in her body that she had been healed of her terrible condition. 30 Jesus realized at once that healing power had gone out from Him, so He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched My robe?” 31 His disciples said to Him, “Look at this crowd pressing around You. How can You ask, ‘Who touched Me?'” 32 But He kept on looking around to see who had done it. 33 Then the frightened woman, trembling at the realization of what had happened to her, came and fell to her knees in front of Him and told Him what she had done. 34 And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over. 35 Mark 5:35-43 While He was still speaking to her, messengers arrived from the home of Jairus, the leader of the synagogue. They told him, “Your daughter is dead. There’s no use troubling the Teacher now.” 36 But Jesus overheard them and said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith.” 37 Then Jesus stopped the crowd and wouldn’t let anyone go with Him except Peter, James, and John (the brother of James). 38 When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw much commotion and weeping and wailing. 39 He went inside and asked, “Why all this commotion and weeping? The child isn’t dead; she’s only asleep.” 40 The crowd laughed at Him. But He made them all leave, and He took the girl’s father and mother and His three disciples into the room where the girl was lying. 41 Holding her hand, He said to her, “Talitha koum,” which means “Little girl, get up!” 42 And the girl, who was twelve years old, immediately stood up and walked around! They were overwhelmed and totally amazed. 43 Jesus gave them strict orders not to tell anyone what had happened, and then He told them to give her something to eat.”
In this passage Jesus has just arrived at the shore with the disciples. He had just healed the demon possessed man at the cemetery and they headed back across the lake. There were large crowds of people there and one man wanted Jesus to go with him. He was the leader of the synagogue and his daughter was dying. Jesus sets off with the man. I can’t imagine too many more distressing things for a father than a sick and dying child. So, this was very important to Jesus.
On the way we see a lady who had been sick for many years touched Jesus. The precise nature of the woman’s ailment is not stated. Bible scholars tell us that it is probably some sort of uterine disease caused the bleeding that had persisted for twelve years. Mark tells us that she had suffered much, had been treated by many doctors, and had spent all she had. But her condition had gotten worse.
The woman’s hearing about Jesus’ healings and her belief that he could help her led her to come to him. She reached out to Jesus in faith hoping a touch of Him would heal her. Bible scholars tell us that a woman who is bleeding from her monthly cycle is considered unclean and cannot take part in religious duties. If she touched someone she would have made them unclean for ceremonial purposes. This is why we think she did not approach Jesus directly and ask for healing, so she didn’t make Him unclean from a strict religious perspective.
Now in the story we see that Jesus stopped and turned to the crowd. He asked who touched Him. The disciples thought it was a silly question because the crowd was all around Him. But Jesus knew someone had touched Him in faith and power had left Him. In verse 33 it says, “Then the frightened woman, trembling at the realization of what had happened to her, came and fell to her knees in front of Him and told Him what she had done.” Remember she was unclean because of her condition and would have made Jesus unclean too. In verse 34 we see that rather than telling the lady off for touching Him, Jesus told her that faith had made her well. Jesus told her to go in peace.
We see WDJDWI in action. He stopped His vitally important mission of healing the sick daughter to engage to lady who touched Him. Because He did we have it recorded in the Bible today. If He just went on His way we would not have His example.
As we see from the remainder of the story, the sick daughter died. But Jesus still went to see her and raised her to life. It was a bigger miracle than just a healing, Jesus brought her back to life. By Jesus stopping and taking the time to speak with the lady, the miracle became bigger and God received more glory.
WDJDWI – He took time for the healed lady and raised the daughter to life.
Interruption 2 – Healing and feeding the crowds
The next passage I want to look at is Matthew 14:13-22
As soon as Jesus heard the news, He left in a boat to a remote area to be alone. But the crowds heard where He was headed and followed on foot from many towns. 14 Jesus saw the huge crowd as He stepped from the boat, and He had compassion on them and healed their sick. 15 That evening the disciples came to Him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away so they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16 But Jesus said, “That isn’t necessary–you feed them.” 17 “But we have only five loaves of bread and two fish!” they answered. 18 “Bring them here,” He said. 19 Then He told the people to sit down on the grass. Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, He gave the bread to the disciples, who distributed it to the people. 20 They all ate as much as they wanted, and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftovers. 21 About 5,000 men were fed that day, in addition to all the women and children!
Immediately before this passage, Jesus had heard the news that His beloved cousin John had been killed at the whim of Herod’s step daughter and her mother. She wanted his head on a platter because John had called out their immoral lifestyle.
Jesus wanted to mourn the loss of John, so He and the disciples went away in the boat to a lonely place to find space. But as they often did, the crowds found Him. You could forgive Jesus for sending the crowds away to take time for Himself. But we see in verse 14, “Jesus saw the huge crowd as He stepped from the boat, and He had compassion on them and healed their sick.”
Not only did Jesus heal all their sick, later that evening He fed them all. This is the famous story we see that Jesus took the five loaves of bread and two fish and turned them in to a massive banquet for thousands of people with 12 baskets of leftovers!
We see in the last verse of the passage Jesus did eventually send the people away. But in the meantime, He allowed Himself to be interrupted.
WDJDWI – He healed the sick and fed the multitudes.
Reflections on these passages
When we go through the gospels, we see that Jesus never discarded any of the interruptions that came along His way. He always made the best use of those interruptions. In fact, some of the greatest miracles that Jesus had performed were through interruptions He had while doing something else!
Today we looked at two examples of Jesus being interrupted and how He responded. There are many more…
- When speaking to a crowd in Luke 5:17-19, Jesus healed a lame man brought to Him in the middle of His message.
- When asleep in the boat in Luke 8:22-24, a storm threatens, and He calms the storm and calms the terrified disciples.
- When travelling to Jericho in Mark 10:46-52, Jesus healed a blind man who cried out to Him from the edge of the road.
- When talking with his disciples in Luke 12:11-21, someone comes to ask about an inheritance and He tells the parable of the rich fool.
- When praying in a solitary place in Mark 1:35-39, the disciples find Him.
- When celebrating at the wedding in Cana in John 2:1-12, he was celebrating a wedding and He had to turn water in to wine.
Never once is Jesus ‘thrown’ by these interruptions. He doesn’t even lose His temper. But He uses each occasion as a golden opportunity for some priceless teaching or wonderful miracle.
For us today as Christians, God sends certain interruptions into our lives to catch our attention. He knows that we have schedules to keep and work to do, but He wants us to look to Him. He wants our attention on things that are more important to Him at that present moment. Let’s pray and ask Him for the wisdom to discern what He may be trying to say through interruptions.
We never know how a listening ear, a helping hand, or a kind encouraging word can do in someone’s life. Maybe if we take the time to stop, God may perform and amazing miracle through us.
So WDJDWI – He showed compassion, helped and healed people. It didn’t matter if He had something pressing to do, if He was travelling, if He was mourning, if He was at a party, if He was resting. He allowed Himself to be interrupted.
When we are interrupted we should follow Jesus’ example and be there for people too.
- Mark 5:21 - 34
- Matthew 14:13 - 22