June 27th and 28th - Mark 5:21-43
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit +
As we move through Mark, we end up seeing Jesus face more and more opposition, more and more complaints. Even as the crowds grow bigger, the complaints grow louder and louder still. And today, in Mark 5, we hear two healings, two examples of Jesus' care for folks all with crowds and complaints. As there's a lot in this text, let's just dive in with no further ado.
"When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about Him, and He was beside the sea." Jesus has been zig zagging across the sea of Galilee - that's the only time He's getting any rest. And He lands, and before He can even get onto the shore there's a giant crowd. And someone "important" shows up in that crowd. "Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing [Jesus], he fell at His feet and implored Him earnestly, saying, '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." A big wig - one of the most respected folks in the community. That's who Jairus is. Well respected. The hoitiest of the toitiest. And Jesus goes - He agrees to go heal this man's daughter.
Now, at first, this would be expected. Of course Jesus would go out of His way to help Jairus - Jairus is a good man. A big name. And this is that point where in Jewish society there would have been that sad resignation. Ah yeah, Jesus is making it big time. His fame is spread - He's too big for little people like us. Soon He'll be spending His time with the well to do - why, in fact, He might make it all the way to Jerusalem and hang out with the chief priests in the temple. And so there would have been resignation in the crowd - Jesus is moving beyond us - but also excitement. So the crowd follows Jesus.
And in that crowd, there was a woman. This is what we hear about her. "[She] had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and [she] had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse." A discharge of blood - what we might simply today call "lady problems" and skip the details. But here's the thing - in Jewish society, under the rules of the Old Testament, any woman with a discharge of blood was unclean - so you were to stay home, not do anything socially. No man could touch you, either. That was verbotten. So understand this woman's situation. She's in a horrible spot - and Jesus was her last hope. And what happens? He comes back! Today is the day, she will be healed... and, oh. Off He goes. To Jairus' house. And then surely He'll be wined and dined there... and He won't be around the little people like her anymore. She thinks her chance was missed. But she takes one last shot at getting healing. "She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment. For she said, 'If I touch even His garments, I will be made well.'" He's walking away, He's off to bigger and better things, I'm not worth His time - I know, I don't even have to bother Him. Even if I touch His robe, His cloak, I'll be better. And you know what - she was right. "And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease." And that could have been the end of the story for her - just a nice little footnote as Jesus is on His way to bigger and better things. But no - we hear that Jesus turns around and looks for her. It's funny, He asks who touched him, and the disciples don't get that anything has happened - "You see the crowd pressing around You, and yet You say, 'Who touched Me?'" Jesus, You are being thronged, hundreds of people have touched and bumped into You!
But Jesus stops, and He looks, and He finds this woman. He stops going towards Jairus' house... and as He pauses, we hear, "But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth." She hadn't listened to last week's sermon - you don't tug on Superman's cape. And Jesus noticed. And she thinks she's been caught with her hand in the cookie jar. And there's not just fear, not just that acknowledgment that Jesus is God, but there's trembling. She didn't ask. What if He takes the healing back? There Jesus is, on His way to the good people, and now He's stopped, He's paused, He's looking at her. She's gone and made a scene, and now the punishment should come.
"And He said to her, 'Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.'" Oh, that is a loaded sentence. So - who is this woman kneeling before Jesus? Is she a nobody? Is she beneath His notice? An annoyance? No. She is "daughter". As much as Jairus loves his daughter, so too Jesus loves this woman, and He will pause and spend time with her. And does she tremble? Go in peace - that's forgiveness language. That's the same language we hear in John 20 in the upper room - "Peace be with you, see My hands and side". Do not tremble before Me, for I am here to forgive you. Oh, and your disease - it's taken care of.
Such a heart warming scene... but then, we hear this. "While He was still speaking, there came from the ruler's house some who said, 'Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?'" Do you get the tragedy - Jesus is walking to heal Jarius' daughter, but then He stops. He pauses - and He deals with this other woman instead... and the little girl dies while he's dealing with her. Jesus, even talking to one He calls daughter, hears Jairus told about his daughter. Once again, the thought is "don't bug Jesus" - but death will not get the final word. Here He now stops the crowd - okay, Peter, James, John - you three with Me and Jairus, everyone else, stay here. And they go to the house, and the mourning is going on full force. The folks who thought that Jairus was stupid to spend his daughter's last moments looking for that crackpot healer are all there, and then Jesus walks in and says, "Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping." - And they laughed at Him. Their weeping is cut short by laughter, harsh, bitter laughter. But Jesus just sends them out, takes Jairus and his wife and goes to where the gal is. Little girl, arise. Wake up. And she does. And then we get the last line - "And He strictly told them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat." Alright - those scoffers - they'll see your daughter, see her alive. They don't need explanations - mockers don't get explanations. Now, go, take care of your daughter, enjoy your time with her.
So then - did you note the contrast in the text? The contrast that folks would have expected in Jesus day would be a contrast between rich and poor, between powerful and lowly. Surely Jairus is worth Jesus' time, but not that broke icky woman. That's the worldly distinction. But that's not the distinction Jesus makes. No, Jesus will spend time and deal with the both the woman and Jairus. He will listen to them, He will deal with them. Of course He will - they are both believers, they are His mother and brother and sister and daughter and son by faith - that's what we heard a few weeks ago. No, the contrast in the text is between these two faithful folks and the mockers. Jesus will tend to the woman, will tend to Jairus and his daughter - but the mockers? Eh, not even going to waste the explanation. This is what Paul spells out in Galatians - "for there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." That's the point of unity, of true equality - It's in Christ, in faith, in Baptism, heirs of the promise and completely worth Jesus' time. And they get to hear Jesus' words. That woman, she hears directly that she is forgiven and healed. Jairus is restored to his family - the daughter who was dead is now alive. The mockers can mock; but they miss out.
So, what of you here? Think on how often, here in this place, you are told, "peace be with you." Think of how often you are told that you are forgiven, that you will rise to life everlasting. Think of how often Jesus gives you something to eat so that you will rise again to new life? The whole point of this place is that here, this service, this liturgy, Christ comes to us in His Word and Sacraments and proclaims peace and life to us here. That's the whole point. Now, might a pastor in a sermon give some practical advice, or say something entertaining? Might the music be grand, the building beautiful, friends and family here with us? Maybe, or maybe not. But that's not the focus, the goal. Jesus is here for you. He doesn't go "big-time" on you, Jesus isn't too big for Herscher. He's not hurrying up to Chicago or something like that - no, He's here for you, the Baptized, His brothers and sisters, His sons and daughters - the Word is proclaimed, the Sacrament is administered. Think on that - Jesus has seen this place built so that you may hear Him preached, so that you may come to this rail and receive His Body and Blood from this altar. He's not too busy. I was going to say, "no skin off His back" - but that's not quite true - He was whipped and beaten and crucified, the skin was taken off His back to see this place built - but He has done it for you, all so that you would know His forgiveness.
And still even today the mockers mock, especially this week. Still even today folks still deride Christ and His Church... and they miss what happens here. Here we gladly hear preaching and His Word, holding it sacred - Here we are declared to be sacred and holy by Christ, His forgiven children. Rise, go in peace. Amen. In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit +