FOLLOWING JESUS - Kenosis in Ministry
A Reflection on Mark 5: 21-43
“When Jesus had crossed again (in the boat) to the other side, a large crowd gathered around him and he stayed close to the sea.”
How many times have you entered a room filled with people and kept close to the outside? Maybe you just wanted to get a feel for the crowd, not sure of what to expect. Some people may look right through you, and ignore your presence, others will recognize and acknowledge you. Often times, approaching a crowd but still being separate gives God the room to work.
“One of the synagogue officials, named Jairus, came forward. Seeing him he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, saying, ‘My daughter is at the point of death. Please, come lay your hands on her that she may get well and live.’ He went off with him, and a large crowd followed him and pressed upon him.”
Think of a time when a large crowd has “followed” or “pressed upon” you. Maybe the crowd is all the demands of the day, the unfinished work on your desk. Our days can be crowded with things to do, people to see, places to go. Jesus stayed on the edge of the crowd and waited as if He knew the Father would bring someone to Him. Just as Jesus made the commitment to Jairus and his daughter, the crowd was all around Him. In ministry, crowds can press in on us quickly, crowds we don’t even recognize, and before we realize it, we are consumed. Often times our minds are crowded with our own agendas. When was the last time you traveled to an event certain that you knew exactly what would happen at a given time? You made the plan, you know the steps, and you are confident about how the experience will play out. It is simple, cut and dry, crowded by your control.
“There was a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years. She had suffered greatly at the hand of many doctors and had spent all that she had. Yet she was not helped but only grew worse. She had heard about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak.”
A touch is usually light, gentle, not forceful or abrupt. Have you been in a big crowd where you have gotten bumped or pushed? Amidst a pressing crowd where surely people were bumping into one another, knocking each other from side to side…. Jesus notices a touch… from behind. When you are in a crowd, your mind filled with many things to do or your own agendas, do you notice …a touch, from behind?
“She said, ‘If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured.’ Immediately her flow of blood dried up. She felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction. Jesus, aware at once that power had gone out from him, turned around in the crowd and asked, ‘Who has touched my clothes.’ But his disciples said to him, ‘you see how the crowd is pressing upon you, and yet you ask, ‘who touched me?’ And he looked around to see who had done it. The woman, realizing what had happened to her, approached in fear and trembling. She fell down before Jesus and told him the whole truth. He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.’”
Jesus noticed the difference between all the touches of the crowd and the woman’s touch from behind because He recognized the healing taking place. How do we notice the touch from behind? Only through kenosis, being in the crowd but separated from the crowd, being present to the crowd, and also present to God alone, are we able to feel the touch from behind. By being kenotic we empty ourselves and make room for the other. We become the path which God uses to reach the other, and the other can reach God in return, amidst crowded hearts, minds and lives. By being kenotic we cast out the crowds, and make straight the path for God’s healing touch to take place, through us, by faith.
“While he was still speaking, people from the synagogue official’s house arrived and said, ‘Your daughter has died: why trouble the teacher any longer?’ Disregarding the message that was reported, Jesus said to the synagogue official, ‘Do not be afraid; just have faith.’ He did not allow anyone to accompany him inside except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they arrived at the house of the synagogue official, he caught sight of a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. So he went in and said to them, ‘Why this commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but asleep.’ And they ridiculed him. Then he put them all out. He took along the child’s father and mother and those who were with him and entered the room where the child was. He took the child by the hand and said to her. ‘Talitha koum,’ which means, ‘Little girl, I say to you arise!’ The girl, a child of twelve, arose immediately and walked around. (At that) they were utterly astounded. He gave strict orders that no one should know this and said that she should be given something to eat.”
Jesus says to not be afraid but just have faith. Even though we experience the presence of God and the healing taking place all around us we still fall to doubt. Jesus faced ridicule and we will face the same ridicule when being kenotic in ministry. Let us always have faith that God will work through us and heal a suffering world as we... make room for the other.