Summary: Is your faith strong, is it weak? Does God love you any differenly if it is?
Sermon 062809 Mark 5:21-43
Sometimes things don’t make sense unless you look at the whole thing. If you look at or Gospel Lesson this morning you can tell even before you read it that it’s a long lesson. The next thing that becomes noticeable is that there are two very separate accounts going on here. First we start with this guy named Jarius whose daughter is sick and comes to Jesus. Then Jesus interacts with this woman who has been bleeding for a long time. And then we go back to Jarius. The temptation is to remove the middle verses and for preaching’s sake deal with one person or the other. But here is a teachable moment from Holy Scripture. If scripture is inspired, and God-breathed, then let’s not be so quick to un-stick things that God has stuck together! And as we move through the lesson today, I think you will see that there is a very powerful message for us if we learn from Jarius and the woman together.
I am reminded of a joke I heard about a man who comes across two guys working in the heat of the sun. One guy is furiously digging holes in the ground, and the other guy is working just as hard filling in the holes as soon as they are dug. The man asks, “what are you doing?” And the first guy looks up from his shovel and says, “oh yeah, it probably looks funny, but I dig the holes, this guy here fills them in, and in between another guy usually plants a tree, but he called in sick today.” Let’s not do that with the lesson.
As we get into this account, we realize that this story began 12 years prior to what we read today. 12 years ago, this guy Jairus and his wife celebrated the birth of a little girl. And 12 years ago this woman began to experience a medical problem. 12 years later, the little girl is deathly ill, and 12 years later, the woman is penniless and hopeless after countless doctor visits have done nothing to help her. They are united in despair, but here is where the similarities end.
We meet up with Jarius as he is desperately trying to outrun death: And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about him, and he was beside the sea. Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, 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.”
Jarius did everything right and openly. He is a man of good standing in the community. Not only is he a faithful member of the synagogue community, he is a leader and most likely a benefactor of the synagogue. He meets Jesus face to face and immediately falls at his feet. Jarius recognizes who Jesus is, he acknowledges him, makes his request of Jesus, and acknowledges that Jesus does in fact have the power to heal his daughter. And Jesus responds to him, after all this we simply read, And he went with him.
But on the way, we meet someone totally different. Where Jarius was a man in good standing in the community and in the synagogue, there is a woman who is in every way on the margins of society. Mark tells us about her in great detail: And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse.
First off she was a woman, so in ancient middle-eastern culture, she was in many ways a second class citizen. As far as synagogue life goes, she would not have been allowed in one for the last 12 years. Her continual bleeding would have made her constantly ritually unclean. And if that wasn’t bad enough, she was totally broke. She had been desperately trying to get help from the local healers (physicians is a stretch) and over the last 12 years that gladly took her money, but were totally incapable of helping. She was worse now than when she’d started.
And on top of all that, she didn’t have the kind of problem that she felt comfortable just announcing to everyone. But what she did have was faith – amazing faith. She had heard of the Jesus and she believed in Him. She trusted that he was exactly who He said He was. And she saw him as so powerful, so good, so awesome (classic sense of the word), that she said, I don’t even need to tell him my problem for, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” And that is exactly what she does!