We baptized 21 inmates in prison ministry last night. It was glorious! All glory to God. As we gathered outside on the beautiful summer evening, I told this story to encourage them.
This is a story about a woman whose name we don’t know. I’m going to call her “Mercy” because that’s what she received. Jesus was having a busy day before he met “Mercy” in Luke chapter 8:
Jesus Calms the Storm
“One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and started out. 23 As they sailed across, Jesus settled down for a nap. But soon a fierce storm came down on the lake. The boat was filling with water, and they were in real danger.24 The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and the raging waves. Suddenly the storm stopped and all was calm. 25 Then he asked them, “Where is your faith?” The disciples were terrified and amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “When he gives a command, even the wind and waves obey him!”
Jesus Heals a Demon-Possessed Man
26 “So they arrived in the region of the Gerasenes, across the lake from Galilee. 27 As Jesus was climbing out of the boat, a man who was possessed by demons came out to meet him. For a long time he had been homeless and naked, living in the tombs outside the town. 28 As soon as he saw Jesus, he shrieked and fell down in front of him. Then he screamed, “Why are you interfering with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Please, I beg you, don’t torture me!” 29 For Jesus had already commanded the evil spirit to come out of him. This spirit had often taken control of the man. Even when he was placed under guard and put in chains and shackles, he simply broke them and rushed out into the wilderness, completely under the demon’s power. 30 Jesus demanded, “What is your name?” “Legion,” he replied, for he was filled with many demons. 31 The demons kept begging Jesus not to send them into the bottomless pit. 32 There happened to be a large herd of pigs feeding on the hillside nearby, and the demons begged him to let them enter into the pigs. So Jesus gave them permission. 33 Then the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the entire herd plunged down the steep hillside into the lake and drowned.
Jesus Heals in Response to Faith
40 ”On the other side of the lake the crowds welcomed Jesus, because they had been waiting for him. 41 Then a man named Jairus, a leader of the local synagogue, came and fell at Jesus’ feet, pleading with him to come home with him. 42 His only daughter, who was about twelve years old, was dying.”
At this point in the story of Jesus’ day, there is an “interruption.” He had already calmed a storm, cast out a legion of demons, been greeted by a crowd and urged to go heal a dying girl. It would seem hustling to heal the dying daughter would be the first priority. For Jesus, this encounter with “Mercy” was a priority. While he was talking with “Mercy,” the dying girl passed away.
“As Jesus went with him, he was surrounded by the crowds. 43 A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding, and she could find no cure. 44 Coming up behind Jesus, she touched the fringe of his robe. Immediately, the bleeding stopped. 45 ‘Who touched me?’ Jesus asked. Everyone denied it, and Peter said, ‘Master, this whole crowd is pressing up against you.’ 46 But Jesus said, ‘Someone deliberately touched me, for I felt healing power go out from me.’ 47 When the woman realized that she could not stay hidden, she began to tremble and fell to her knees in front of him. The whole crowd heard her explain why she had touched him and that she had been immediately healed. 48 ‘Daughter,’ he said to her, ‘your faith has made you well. Go in peace.’”
These points are true of “Mercy”…. and they’re true of each of us. The ladies getting baptized and all of us who celebrated with them can claim these truths:
- Jesus was aware of “Mercy” in the midst of the crowd. She reached out to Him and He knew it. He knows when we—no matter how long we’ve been in bondage or how insignificant we are-- reach out to him.
- “Mercy” reached out in faith and He healed her. Faith in Jesus is what saves us—not works or ceremonies. We can be assured when we reach out to Him, He will save us.
- “Mercy” realized she couldn’t stay hidden. She had probably been isolated all those years of being ceremonially unclean and suffering. Now that Jesus had touched her, she testified of her need and of Jesus.
- He called her “daughter.” We’re his daughter, too. He loves us so tenderly.
- He sent her away healed—physically and spiritually—and at rest. Jesus has freedom for us when we are spiritually healed.
The ladies who were baptized testified of the new life they are living as Jesus has saved them and set them free from their slavery to sin. After inmates were baptized, we sang this chorus:
My chains are gone, I've been set free.
My God, My Savior has ransomed me.
And like a flood his mercy reigns.
Unending love, amazing grace
btw: Jesus completed the trip to Jairus’ home and raised the dead daughter and her spirit returned to her. The “interruption” wasn’t an interruption to him. He has time for those who reach out to him. He’s not too busy. We’re never an interruption to him. Jesus is capable of getting all of His will done in His timing.
His mercy reigns!