5 Pentecost Proper B8
Rev. Dr. D. K. Schroeder
Mark 5:21-43 Sermon
June 28, 2015
Click here for service internet broadcast/podcast.
Hymns (from The Lutheran Hymnal and With One Voice):
TLH 42 "O Thou Love Unbounded"
TLH 388 "Just As I Am, Without One Plea"
TLH 457 "What A Friend We Have In Jesus"
WOV 721 "Go My Children With My Blessing"
BE HEALED AND BE SAVED
TEXT (vs. 22-29): “22 Then one of the synagogue rulers, named Jairus, came there. Seeing Jesus, he fell at his feet 23 and pleaded earnestly with him, 'My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be [saved] and live.' 24 So Jesus went with him. A large crowd followed and pressed around him. 25 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. 26 She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 because she thought, 'If I just touch his clothes, I will be [saved].' 29 Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering."
In April of this year, I addressed a meeting of the Lutheran Laymen's League at St. John. I was there as a member of the Lincoln Chaplaincy Corps, a position I've had for the last 16 years. They wanted to know a little bit about the job and what it involves.
DeRoyce Volzke is the one who telephoned me and asked me to do this. I teased him a bit, and suggested that he must be scraping the bottom of the barrel to have come up with me. But they wanted to find out a bit more about the chaplaincy corps, and I was only too happy to oblige. And as most of you are aware, I am very supportive of the work of the Lutheran Laymen's League.
One of the things I have to deal with frequently are death calls; specifically people who die somewhere other than a health care facility. Because of this, I asked DeRoyce Volzke (a mortician) what he thought the leading cause of death would be on my calls. He guessed some form of heart failure, and for the most part that is an accurate statement.
However, I was after something a little different. I explained that the number one cause of death in my experience, is sheer stupidity. Allow me to explain.
When I have been talking to the families, here's a sampling what I hear: "I told him he needed to go to the hospital." Or, "He thought it would just pass." Or, "He didn't want to run to the doctor with every little thing." Or, "He didn't listen to what the doctor told him." Of course there are a lot of similar reasons.
I recall one man who had been in so much pain that he drank nearly an entire bottle of whiskey trying to kill the pain; and whatever was wrong with him killed him instead. And this man rarely, if ever drank alcohol. And yet, all he had to do was dial 911; touch three simple numbers on his telephone, and he would have received proper medical attention. But he decided to go it alone. And so, we can chalk up another death, most likely from sheer stupidity.
Our Gospel Lesson for this morning is an interesting one for several reasons. It's a long section, 22 verses to be exact. And in those verses we find two separate, but yet intermingled miracles. We meet two individuals, both in need of a healing miracle from Jesus. And these two individuals are about as different as different can be.
Person number one is a twelve year old girl. She is sick to the point of death. She happens to be the daughter of a very prominent person by the name of Jairus. And he was acting like a typical parent with a sick child. He was seeking help for her.
What makes this so noteworthy is that Jairus is an unlikely person to seek Jesus for help. Jairus was one of the rulers of the synagogue. The synagogue rulers were not Priests, or Levites, or Scribes, or Pharisees, or Sadducees. They weren't part of the Sanhedrin. Rather, they were laymen who were in charge of the administrative duties at the synagogue—something along the order of a church council, or a board of trustees. They were prominent men and worthy of the office they held.
Most of these synagogue rulers followed in sort of a lock-step with the Sanhedrin; and as a result, they were opposed to Jesus. They did not believe in him, or recognize him as the promised Messiah.
Jairus however was different. He didn't want his daughter to die because of his stubbornness or stupidity. In his time of need, he pushes all of his dignity associated with his office aside. He falls on his knees in front of Jesus, and asks for his help. He loved his daughter so much, that he sought out Jesus. He knew about the work Jesus had been doing, and he realized that only Jesus could help her. He would have had the means to summon any physician or healer he wanted to. Most likely that’s what he had done, and the experts basically told him that there was no hope for her survival.
For Jairus to come to Jesus took faith on his part. It was not a faith born out of need or concern. Rather, his actions reflected a true faith in Jesus, a faith that recognized him for who he truly was. He wasn’t just some itinerant faith healer, but the true incarnate Son of the most high God. And he certainly had the power to heal this young girl.
But now the scene changes a bit. Jesus is interrupted by a woman, although somewhat indirectly. She doesn't approach him in order to speak to him or make a verbal request of him. Rather, she just wants to touch his garment. She knew that Jesus had the power to heal her. She had been hemorrhaging for twelve years; and because of this, she was ceremonially unclean as far as the Jews were concerned.
But she had faith in Jesus. She knew who he was. And she, along with Jairus had become familiar with Jesus' healing miracles. Most likely, she would also have heard that Jesus didn't think anything about crossing the "clean" and "unclean" boundaries of the Jews. Even lepers found the cleansing and healing powers Jesus had.
Jairus and his entourage must have felt some irritation here. How could this man of God stop to help this woman? She had been having this discharge for twelve years. It obviously wasn’t life threatening. Besides, how could God’s own Son want to deal with anyone who was unclean? For her to even approach Jesus in her condition was forbidden. Because of her uncleanness, she would not only make Jesus unclean, but all the other people gathered around him as well. This was a very daring move on her part.
Jairus needed to learn a lesson in faith. In verse 34 we read Jesus’ words to this woman: “…Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
But now, people come from the house of Jairus. In verse 35 we read what they say: “…Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?”
Jairus was probably fit to be tied. Oh, if only I could have gotten to Jesus sooner. Oh, if only Jesus wouldn’t have stopped to take care of that unclean woman. If only, if only, if only….
But Jesus ignored them. Instead he tells Jairus in verse 36, “…Do not fear, only believe.” Jairus had already shown faith by summoning Jesus in the first place. He witnessed the faith of the woman with the hemorrhage and what that accomplished. And now, he learned what it was to put his entire faith in Jesus.
As I studied this text, I came across something very interesting. The Greek word that is translated "healed," or "made well," or "restored," is "so-zo." It is used a lot in the Bible. And if you look at our Gospel lesson for today, you will see the words "made well" appearing three different times. And if we consider how these women were afflicted, it makes perfect sense.
However, this word is almost always (84 out of 103 times) translated as "save," as in redemption, atonement, salvation, etc. If you noticed when I read the text at the beginning of the sermon, I substituted the word "save" in the text. Think about these verses: Jairus says, "Jesus, come and lay your hands on my little daughter that she may be saved and have life."
Having heard about Jesus, the woman with the hemorrhage says, "If I touch even the hem of his garments I will be saved." Jesus answers her, "Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace."
Now if we go to verse 34, let's handle this a bit differently. The word "heal" might be better understood as "being restored and made whole again." So the verse would read, "Daughter, your faith has saved you; go in peace, having been restored and made whole again." Doesn't this shed some new light on these words?
As we think about the situation we have in our text, sickness and death are two of the great equalizers. It didn't matter that one was the 12 year-old daughter of a high official, and the other was an outcast woman who had been unclean for 12 years. Jairus had physicians attending his daughter, and the woman had spent virtually every penny on doctors. But it was all for naught. They were like Humpty Dumpty. Both needed Jesus' healing touch, and their steadfast faith in him brought them to him for his help. Both of them needed to be saved by Jesus.
When we examine life upon this earth, we see sickness and death around us all the time. These are reminders that we live in a world that's far from perfect. Sin permeates everything and everybody we know.
When we realize this, then we can see what sin has done in our own lives as well. The evidence is all around us for sure; we live in a world that has had many negative influences upon us.
But when Jesus enters the picture, everything is suddenly on a level playing field. And when a person comes to Jesus in faith, they will experience a type of healing that they could never imagine. They will be saved. Even though Jesus may or may not heal a person's body according to his will, yet we have the guarantee that he will provide spiritual healing for our souls.
That's what Jesus came to do. He came to save us. And all of the miracles he did while he was here on earth was to show himself to be the one true God, who took on human flesh and came to this earth to minister to a world lost in sin. And so we hear those words he speaks: "Go in peace; your faith has saved you."
Isn't this what Paul reminds us of in Ephesians chapter 2, verses 8-9? "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast."
The world needs Jesus for the healing he provides and for the salvation he so freely gives. The world needs to see him as the Saviour from sin and the person who will provide rest for weary souls. That's why we need him too. The Holy Spirit has worked faith in our hearts so we can accept him into our lives and provide the spiritual healing we all so desperately need. When we come to Jesus in faith, we are healed and we are saved.
In our Gospel lesson for today, two people were the recipients of a healing miracle from Jesus. Both Jairus's daughter and the woman with the hemorrhage were healed; in fact the daughter was even brought back to life after she had died. These were tremendous miracles indeed.
So what effect do you think this had on their souls? We know that Jairus's daughter and the woman both died later on. We know that there aren't a couple of 2,000+ year-old women wandering around today. The miracle Jesus performed in their lives didn't give them an eternal life on earth. Rather the saving miracle of faith the Holy Spirit worked in their hearts guaranteed them an eternal life in God's heavenly home.
Everybody needs the healing touch of Jesus for their souls. I need it and you need it too. It's something we have through faith in Christ Jesus alone.
It doesn't matter the place in life and the step on the social ladder that people have. The only way a person will enter into heaven is through the healing and saving Jesus gives them. If people don't reject it, then they will enjoy the paradise that has been promised them. Of course we can't say for sure what a person's faith is just by outward appearances, so we have to take them at their word. Only God knows what is going on inside of a person. Healing and saving is indeed God's plan, and this is shown in the person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ.
But we know one thing. Through faith in Christ alone, we will have our eternal reward. And we will one day meet up with some of the great examples of faith who are also enjoying their reward in heaven.
At the beginning, I pointed out how people have died by their stubbornness and stupidity. By not seeking out the help they need, they have cut their lives short. Help was frequently very close too; all they would have had to do is pick up the phone and touch three simple numbers: 9 - 1 - 1, and the paramedics and an ambulance would have been there within minutes. How many people today do not come to Jesus to be spiritually healed and saved for much the same reason?
Today Jesus points to the examples of a man by the name of Jairus and a woman suffering from a hemorrhage to show us just what true faith can accomplish. A woman was healed from a terrible condition. A little girl was brought back to life. Their relationship with Jesus came through a simple touch that healed and that saved.
That powerful touch of Jesus has saved us too. By the power of the Holy Spirit, we receive it through the promise connected with the waters of Holy Baptism. And when we go to the Word, that promise is a continual refrain through the pages of Holy Scripture. The Gospel through word and sacrament touches our very lives and brings us to the throne of grace where we are completely restored through faith in Christ Jesus our Saviour.