Fifth Sunday After Pentecost
Sermon starts at 22:45 in the recording
Gospel: Mark 5:21-43
21 When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered round him; and he was by the lake. 22Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet 23and 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.’ 24So he went with him.
And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. 25Now there was a woman who had been suffering from haemorrhages for twelve years. 26She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. 27She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28for she said, ‘If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.’ 29Immediately her haemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, ‘Who touched my clothes?’ 31And his disciples said to him, ‘You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, “Who touched me?” ’ 32He looked all round to see who had done it. 33But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. 34He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.’
35 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?’ 36But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, ‘Do not fear, only believe.’ 37He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. 38When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. 39When he had entered, he said to them, ‘Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.’ 40And 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. 41He took her by the hand and said to her, ‘Talitha cum’, which means, ‘Little girl, get up!’ 42And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. 43He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.
Afterthoughts: All In
This week’s Gospel was an excellent illustration of what faith looks like.
In the reading from Mark, we see the story of Jairus and his sick daughter and the story of the hemorrhaging woman.
In the narratives that precede this reading,
Jesus is teaching about the importance of faith in God’s kingdom.
From these teachings, we know that:
· Faith is a belief in God’s working in our lives in ways that we don’t understand.
· Faith is an understanding that God’s seed implanted within us can grow and impact the world around us for God’s kingdom purposes.
· Faith is a conviction that God is present in the storms of life.
Fast forward to our reading from this week.
We have two healings,
But those involved are very different.
Jairus is a leader in the synagogue.
He is a man.
He has authority.
He has access.
He has faith enough to approach Jesus.
The woman who has been hemorrhaging for 12 years is a nobody.
She is not named.
She is a woman in a world where woman are second class citizens.
She is unclean.
She had tried everything she knew to take care of her malady.
She has zero access.
She has faith enough to approach Jesus.
Faith as illustrated in the story of the Woman, then, is seeking God first in everything.
As we navigate through this life, whether we are in dire straits or blessed thankfulness, we are called to seek God first.
Not trying to figure it out first and then going to God.
Seeking God first.
I want to take a look at both stories more closely.
The woman is clearly the focus of this particular encounter
(although the healing of Jairus’ daughter is important too).
As I stated above and said yesterday.
She has NOTHING.
To top it all off, her malady puts her in a more difficult position.
She is bleeding.
Why is this an issue?
Let’s take a look at Leviticus 15:25-28,
“If a woman has a discharge of blood for many days, not at the time of her impurity, or if she has a discharge beyond the time of her impurity, all the days of the discharge she shall continue in uncleanness; as in the days of her impurity, she shall be unclean. Every bed on which she lies during all the days of her discharge shall be treated as the bed of her impurity; and everything on which she sits shall be unclean, as in the uncleanness of her impurity. Whoever touches these things shall be unclean, and shall wash his clothes, and bathe in water, and be unclean until the evening. If she is cleansed of her discharge, she shall count seven days, and after that she shall be clean.”
Normally, a woman with abnormal bleeding could be clean after the bleeding had stopped.
This woman had been bleeding for 12 years.
She would have never been clean.
The result of this was she was a social outcast.
Anyone making contact with her would be unclean.
Anywhere she sat and then someone else sat would make them unclean.
If someone bumped into her, they would be unclean.
She would be viewed like a leper.
Disenfranchised from religious life, social life and any physical contact.
And so with this in mind,
Her act of faith really is an act of rebellion.
A faith that defies consequence.
She touches a Rabbi.
The law says He would be unclean.
She took the risk.
She was healed.
What is not talked about in this passage
are the implications for someone unclean touching Jesus.
No one says Jesus is unclean.
It is not even in the commentaries about this story.
For a culture obsessed with being ritually pure,
This is lacking the notice of everyone in the story.
But, I think it is important.
It tells us something about Jesus and something about us.
For us, it says nothing is “too bad” for God to deal with;
No sin too great to deal with for the person of faith.
Whatever it is that we deal with,
However difficult, shameful, or hurtful,
God can handle it.
Deep breath everyone.
And from all the sinners in world,
We shout a hearty “Praise God!”
For Jesus, it shows his desire to open access to God.
He didn’t scold the woman
(although she thought He was mad at her by her posture in the story).
He didn’t make a scene about being touched by someone unclean.
He simply wanted to acknowledge her faith in the midst of so much adversity.
And calls her daughter
An ontological change from sinner to saint.
From ritually unclean to a righteous daughter.
From outcast to access.
The story of Jairus is important too.
It’s just that it is a story of healing that is more “normal.”
It’s someone approaching Jesus, in faith, for help.
But there is something important for us to see here too.
As I stated earlier,
Jairus had access.
· He is a man.
· He is a leader.
· He is well known in the synagogue.
I can well imagine he could get anything he needed.
I feel this way living in Nevada County.
I have been around for a few years (43).
Went to school here.
Raised kids here.
Served in churches.
Was a hospice chaplain.
Am greeted regularly in the businesses I frequent.
I know that if I needed something,
I could access it.
This, I believe, is Jairus’ lot too.
Jairus had access.
And he uses that access.
Yes, it is his daughter,
Who, like the woman, is unnamed.
With no access.
He extends that access to her by bridging the gap.
Which is important for us to see.
And important for us to remember.
And important for us to manifest.
Do we use our access for the benefit of others?
Are we available to be that for another?
To stand in the gap?
To be an advocate?
This is a huge part of following Jesus’ commandment that we remember on Maundy Thursday,
“A new command I give to you,
that you love one another as I have loved you.”
Love like we have been loved by Him.
With reckless abandon.
And we can do that by remembering both stories from this week.
From the Woman-We are loved even at our worst.
From Jairus-We can love others, even at their worst.
Let us be the manifestation of the love of Jesus to a world that is undeserving because we ourselves are, also, undeserving.