Turning to Jesus
Updated: Jun 30
June 27, 2021 Rev. Dr. Darlis Swan
The Gospel Reading Mark 5:21-43
When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.” So he went with him. And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” Immediately her hemorrhage stopped, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease.
Immediately aware that power had gone
forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, "Who touched my clothes?" And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?’” He looked all around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?” But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. When he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. Then he put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!” And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.
Grace and peace to you from God the father and our lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Life is full of disappointments. Sometimes they are just as minor as not getting tickets to a concert we really wanted to see. Other times they are about losses we can’t even begin to describe as they seem too painful to bear. People disappoint us because sometimes when we really love someone, that love is not returned. And sometimes we disappoint ourselves by our failures and flaws.
In today’s gospel lesson, we read about two people who were disappointed. There was Jairus, who was the leader of the synagogue, and an unnamed woman who has suffered from hemorrhages for twelve years. They don’t seem to have much reason to hope. Jairus’s daughter is at the point of death, and in fact is reported to have actually died before Jesus reaches Jairus’s home. The woman has spent all she had on physicians and has found no relief. It would be so easy for them to simply give up – to give in to despair. Nobody would blame them. While Jairus may have been wealthy and the unnamed woman poor, both the girl and the woman were considered to be unclean. They were female and they were Jewish. They were on the underside of society. They both had some kind of disease that made people want to stay away from them. The woman who was bleeding wasn’t even given a name. The paint was coming off their lives, and in both cases, dry rot had already set in. Jairus and the woman were two desperate people. Yet in their need they turn to Jesus. They had tried everything else. Nothing worked! These two people were different because one was a somebody, and the other a nobody. One had status, and the other one didn’t. One was a man – the other a woman. But what they had in common was their faith in Jesus Christ.
Jesus did not disappoint them. Jesus was not afraid of these unclean people who were sick. Jesus wasn’t afraid to touch them. He healed them in ways that went beyond their desperate dreams to be well again! It is important to remember that this was not the end of their suffering. They would each eventually die, but they would probably remember this moment when they encountered Jesus Christ. Jairus and the unnamed woman were so different, but in one way they were alike. They had a strong faith in the power of Jesus Christ. And they believed that if they were touched by his power and compassion, they could experience healing. And perhaps, so will we. Here at Christ Lutheran you call your congregation “a place of healing”, and from what I know and have experienced in the last few weeks, that is the perfect title.
We Lutherans have been accused of focusing too much on faith, but I don’t think we focus enough on faith! The entire gospel of Mark is about faith. Here, this woman reaches out in faith – not to flatter or impress Jesus into healing her. She definitely “called out” to Jesus. And Jesus tells her, “your faith has made you well.” A better translation might be “your faith has saved you” as it is closer to the Greek.
This whole idea of healing and wholeness is found in our other lessons for today as well. The reading from Lamentations talks about pain that is real. But even in deep grief or trouble, a child of God can hope to be whole again because “the mercies of God are new every morning”, (Lamentations 3:22-23). What a wonderful expression of hope is found in that hymn, “great is thy faithfulness.” In 2 Corinthians 8:7-15, the poverty of the Jerusalem church is addressed. Generosity contributes to the wholeness of both those who give and those who receive.
Back to our gospel lesson. These two stories so beautifully entwined are miracles of Jesus. Jesus died so that we might live – now and in the life to come. Jesus’ miracles also point to the great glory and wonder given to us by the one who challenged and finally defeated death itself. The lord will destroy death forever. God will wipe away the tears from every cheek. (Isaiah 25.8).
There were so many barriers that these two faithful people had to face. They must have felt like giving up! But they called out and trusted in Jesus!
Quite a while ago, I was called to make an unusual hospital call here in Harrisburg. When I arrived in the parking lot, I literally faced barriers because part of the parking garage had been blocked off for repairs. I drove around and around and finally found a place and had to walk quite a distance in the hot sun. Finally I got into the hospital to find that the woman I wanted to see was located in a completely different building. I found the building with some help. I encountered one person who complained to me about how pastors dress. She pointed out that she was complementing me on my professional appearance, but she just wanted me to know that she didn’t like the appearance of most pastors she encountered. When I finally arrived at the patient’s room, there was a large stop sign on the door. It read, “Do not enter this room without checking at the desk.” I went to the desk, and the person there told me that the patient I wanted to see was in isolation. This woman who was already lonely, suffering, and elderly was in isolation. I wanted to offer her the body and blood of Jesus Christ. That’s what I was there for. But I left all that I was carrying at the door and put on a robe with tight cuffs and then put on plastic gloves and entered the room. She welcomed me and offered me a chair. She laughed at how she didn’t recognize me – pointing out that the gown covered my clerical collar. Was this woman without hope? No. She talked about her pain, but she shared her faith, and I was able to touch her in spite of the plastic that separated us.
When the world kicks us around, and things look desperate, we may just want to run and hide.But instead, we who have faith turn to Jesus. Sometimes we find it hard to adequately express what Jesus has done in our lives. But that’s why Jesus brings us together as a community of believers. There will always be obstacles or barriers to living our hope in Jesus Christ. Sometimes that is our own fear. In our gospel lesson the unnamed woman believed that Jesus would touch her. She believed that so strongly that she broke all the rules about cleanliness, and Jesus praised her for her faith. Faith means not letting obstacles – even death – defeat our hope in Jesus Christ. Those Jesus healed took courage to face the future. Perhaps, so will we. Amen.