Why Trouble the Teacher (Day 17 of A Simple Lent)
One of the most profound tools in the evangelist’s toolbox is the literary frame. It’s surprising, really when you think about it. You’re telling a pretty amazing story about a dude who can heal people and control the weather. The substance of the story is pretty stellar by itself.
The writer of Mark, however, gets you to see things, not only in the flashy substance of the story, but in the way the story is told. Often with great surprise.
In this passage, we find Jesus in the midst of two healings. One is a girl who is dying and the other is a woman who interrupts his path to grab at his clothes. The storyteller gives us two stories in one–telling them in such a way as so we’ll read them as a single story. The two accounts influence each other.
In the account of the suffering woman, she approaches Jesus, believing that her physical ailments can be gone if she were to simply touch Jesus’s clothes. This is a crazy thought, isn’t it? But she’s convinced, so she grabs his cloak.
Now here’s where it gets weird.
Jesus senses that some kind of power has left his body not of his design. He didn’t send the unknown power consciously. It just comes out of him. And he can somehow feel this happening and know where it was going (behind him) and can locate to whom it went.
Usually the gospels aren’t so weird as this. We have no expression for this power or what this means, but it takes no time for the disciples to get involved and try to push Jesus along. You could imagine the situation. How would he know who touched him? Seriously.
We know he would, but they don’t.
This is just like those good people who bring the bad news to Jairus that his daughter has died. They say that he shouldn’t even bother Jesus about it.
Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?
These people think they’re being helpful. Don’t trouble the teacher they tell him. It’s too late. Of course, it isn’t. But they don’t know that. They don’t know what they are doing or saying. Maybe this is what Jesus is thinking on the cross as his life is flashing before his eyes like some kind of montage and saying Forgive them. They don’t know what they are doing.
When are we helpful in our ignorance? When do we deprive Jesus’s work, or obstruct Jesus’s work, to, you know, help? When is our help not really help at all?
I’m thinking of the time I refused someone’s generosity and about broke their heart.
Or the times I’ve refused to ask for help because I don’t want to be a bother.
Or the times I’ve made it too easy for people to opt out of actually following Christ. Because it is too embarrassing to suggest that they really do need to go to church or really do need to change to be a more Christlike person.
Think of all the times Jesus breaks through these barriers and these ignorances and goes to those who need them, like these two “daughters”. He doesn’t stumble over these stumbling blocks. He removes them and says to those with profound faith that it is their faith that has made them well, the faith which has saved them.
Faith. Not Jesus. Not GOD. Not magic hand or power flowing out. Faith.
And certainly not this kind of help.
Daily Office Readings
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This week’s homework is to surround yourself with what brings joy to your life.
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