“Stupid Questions” (see below) on separate powerpoint slides
You’ve probably heard the phrase “there is no such thing as a stupid question” before. It often pops up when people are starting a new job or school, or are in a place that they are unfamiliar with. I suppose the idea is to put people at ease, to make them feel better about asking for help or information. And in one sense it is true, you learn more by asking questions than you do by keeping quiet but in another sense it really isn’t.
I’m sure most of us, if we’re honest have asked some really stupid questions – and we’ve probably heard other people ask them too. Here are a few that I found online that I particularly enjoyed.
From Yahoo Questions:
Does it rain in Australia? My friend and I are having an argument, she says it rains in Australia but it can’t because rain falls downwards at the top of the world so surely at the bottom it would just fall into space?
From Yahoo Questions:
How big is the Specific Ocean?
What is President Obama’s surname?
From An American Tourism Website:
Can you drive to the UK from London?
[Amazingly if you look this up on Google they will actually give you directions from central London to somewhere just north of Manchester…]
Reading: We had someone else read the passage with the preacher interrupting with the bits in bold. Make sure the person doing the reading knows that the interruptions are coming.
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. Then a leader of the local synagogue, whose name was Jairus, arrived. When he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet, 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.”
Jesus went with him, and all the people followed, crowding around him. A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding. 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. She had heard about Jesus, so she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his robe. For she thought to herself, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.” Immediately the bleeding stopped, and she could feel in her body that she had been healed of her terrible condition.
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?”
Now if the disciples had been scousers their response at this point might have been “Are you messing?!” because this, to them, must have seemed like a monumentally stupid question. Jesus is surrounded by people, pressing in from all sides and he wants to know who had touched him?
“Look at this crowd pressing around you.” the disciples said, “How can you ask, ‘Who touched me?’”
But he kept on looking around to see who had done it. 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. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.”
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.”
But Jesus overheard them and said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith.”
Then Jesus stopped the crowd and wouldn’t let anyone go with him except Peter, James, and John (the brother of James). When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw much commotion and weeping and wailing. He went inside and asked, “Why all this commotion and weeping?
If the people surrounding Jesus had thought that the previous question had seemed stupid then they must have thought that this question was in a league of its own… A young girl has died.
The child isn’t dead; she’s only asleep.”
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. Holding her hand, he said to her, “Talitha koum,” which means “Little girl, get up!” And the girl, who was twelve years old, immediately stood up and walked around! They were overwhelmed and totally amazed. Jesus gave them strict orders not to tell anyone what had happened, and then he told them to give her something to eat.
So what is it about Jesus’ questions in this story? At first glance they seem a little strange.
Well in the first instance we know that Jesus knows that something has happened, the passage tells us that he is aware that someone has touched him, and that power has gone from him. So why does he ask the question? I think it is because he wants the woman to identify herself. He doesn’t want her to remain anonymous, he wants people to see who she was as he wants to teach them a lesson.
When the people saw who it was that had touched his cloak they would no doubt have been horrified. The woman was classed as unclean which meant that to touch Jesus would have been to make him unclean too. When she stepped forward I imagine they thought Jesus would be angry but instead of criticising her he publicly praises her faith and tells her that she is healed, something radically different to what those watching would have expected.
Jesus’ next question is addressed to the people outside Jairus’ house. This is a small town, and everyone in the house would have known that Jairus was on his way to find Jesus but what little hope there was of saving the little girl had faded as the news came through that she had died. Jesus’ question “Why all this commotion and weeping?” is a challenge to them – don’t you have faith that I can heal her? Their laughter suggests that they didn’t.
But even if they believed that Jesus was too late, Jairus must have had some small spark of faith still alive – when news came through about his daughter he could have told Jesus not to bother, but he didn’t – He continued to have faith in Jesus even when others were laughing. His faith was justified when he saw his daughter restored to full health.
Jesus’ questions in this passage highlight the faith that people have in him.
The woman had faith that she would be healed and demonstrated it by reaching out to touch Jesus even though she shouldn’t have.
Jairus had faith and showed it by coming to kneel in front of Jesus despite his position as a leader in the community. He risked scorn because of Jesus’ unpopularity with other religious leaders of the day and continued to show faith even when it seemed like all was lost.
So here is a question for you: Was it Jesus’ power that made the difference in these two stories or was it the faith of the people who came to him in their need?
Both – The theologian Tom Wright says: “faith is the channel through which Jesus’ power can work”
That isn’t to say that it’s all about how much faith you have. Faith isn’t a currency, you don’t to build up a supply of it to buy what you want from God. The woman in the first story wasn’t full of confidence, she didn’t approach Jesus somewhere where she would be seen, she snuck up to him in a crowd. Jairus didn’t use his position as a religious leader to demand that Jesus heal his daughter, he came to him as a parent desperate for one last chance to save her.
How much faith do you have this morning?
However much faith we feel like we have we should be inspired by these stories that it is enough to allow Jesus’ power to work in our lives.