What does comprehensive immigration reform look like? I don’t know, but I know what it does not look like.
What if we treated every desperate person at our borders who was at the end of their rope as if they were a part of our family? How would this influence our decisions?
This is what Jesus did the day he met Jairus and an unknown woman on the edge of the Sea of Galilee. A description of their encounter can be found in Mark 5:21-43.
I chose this text for my Father’s Day sermon this year because it describes two good fathers who are great role models.
The first is Jairus, a prominent leader in the synagogue. His 12-year-old daughter was seriously ill; out of desperation, he approached Jesus for help.
This man who was accustomed to having people fall to their knees before him to plead their cases was now doing the same in front of Jesus. How difficult this must have been, especially in public. Why did he do it?
He loved his daughter and was about to lose her. He was not going to let this happen without turning to Jesus for help.
Jesus was touched by Jairus’ humble and urgent plea and agreed to go to his house.
On the way, Jesus was interrupted by a woman who had been hemorrhaging as long as this girl had been alive.
She did not approach him as boldly as Jairus did. Instead, she slipped through the crowd surrounding Jesus and merely touched the hem of his garment.
Why did she do this? Obviously, she did not want to be noticed and for good reasons.
She had been rebuked far too often by religious leaders who declared her unclean and considered her unfit to enter the synagogue.
She had also been shunned and shamed by those who refused to get near her because touching her would require they go through an elaborate process of purification to enter the synagogue.
She had been rebuked far too often in public to have it happen again. She was content to merely touch the hem of his garment and then quickly disappear.
How did Jesus respond to her once he realized what she had done? He treated her the same way he did Jairus, with respect and compassion.
He healed her and then said the most comforting and encouraging words she had heard in 12 lonely years, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering” (Mark 5:34).
Daughter? Was Jesus her father?
He was that day. He did everything for this woman that Jairus did for his beloved daughter. This woman, who had no one to run interference for her, found an advocate in Jesus.
What if we treated every desperate person we encounter as if he or she was a member of our family? How would our response to their plight change?
Is it too much to ask that we do this for the desperate immigrants at our border who have been in the news lately?
To be candid with you, I believe it probably is. This outpouring of mercy and grace is too much Jesus for most people in our country, including many religious folk.
I understand. Heaven knows the Sermon on the Mount reveals the limits all of us place on Jesus’ influence upon our decisions.
I confess there have been times in my life when I have said, “This is too much Jesus,” and I did not follow his advice or walk in his footsteps.
Perhaps Jesus has set the bar too high for us when it comes to making room for desperate parents fleeing threatening situations. Making hope visible to them comes with too high a price, or so we think.
So, I get it. We probably cannot treat all the desperate parents at our borders as if they were members of our families. It is not fair for us to impose our religious convictions upon every citizen.
However, if we settle for less than what Jesus would do, let us not convince ourselves we are honoring God or following Jesus’ example. We are not.
Bob Browning is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Frankfort, Kentucky.