Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: When we receive God’s grace, we end up taking Jesus seriously. When we do, Jesus will change our tears into joy and our skepticism into amazement. At that time we will find out what it means to be made whole.

A man was not feeling very well, so he decided to go to a doctor. While he was waiting in the doctor's reception room, a nun came out of the doctor's office. She looked very ashen, drawn and haggard. The man went into the doctor's office and said to the doctor: "I just saw a nun leaving who looked absolutely terrible. I have never seen a woman look worse."

The doctor said: "I just told her that she is pregnant." The man exclaimed: "Oh my, is she?" The doctor responded: "No, but it sure cured her hiccups."

The Gospel reading from Mark 5:21-43 is a pair of stories about faith and Jesus’ power over life and death. The woman with the hemorrhage showed great faith in spite of obstacles. The story of Jairus and his daughter demonstrated great faith on the part of a religious leader. Both came from different social classes. Jairus was a well-to-do member of the religious establishment-a group that often opposed Jesus. The woman with the hemorrhage was poor and a social outcast. The difference in social classes did not matter to Jesus. He treated both of them equally.

In each case, the “establishment” could not offer a solution to the problem, but Jesus could, in spite of opposition and laughter. Jairus was desperate because his child was dying, and as those of you who are parents know all too well, a parent of a sick or dying child will do almost anything to save the child. Jairus was so desperate he knelt at the feet of the one person who could help him-Jesus.

The woman with the hemorrhage also sought a solution from the one person who could help her. All the doctors she saw failed her. Society failed her because her bleeding made her unclean along with everyone and everything she touched. She is an example of women today who struggle to break through in business and society. She is an inspiration to women in religious settings who feel that their ministerial gifts are ignored or rejected.

Jesus did not fail her. He saw her as a person and as someone of value. She believed that by just touching the clothes of the one man who could help her, she would be healed, and her healing changed her, her heart, her body, her life and her soul. (Pause)

There are many Biblical texts that refer to the relationship between sickness and sin or between forgiveness and healing. These relationships exist not because God has decided to inflict sickness on some poor unfortunate souls, but because sickness and sin define everything that is wrong with our world. In other words, they define the mess that God comes to clean up. The religious leaders of Jesus’ time are good examples of the mess.

Some people believe that God should rid the world of sickness and death, and that belief does make some sense. If God protected everyone who believed in Him, then everyone would believe not out of love, but out of a calculated self-interest. People would believe only so that God would take care of them and their families. Unfortunately, we would also have no freedom to believe or disbelieve. We would be enslaved because of our fear of death, and that is not what God had in mind.

Jairus had to “lower” himself when he sought healing for his daughter. He had to move beyond the rules and expectations of the religious elite in order to be delivered from its assumptions and illusions. He had to move beyond the praises and promises and good intentions of the religious elite and go with what his heart told him to do. He used his social status and power in order to approach Jesus, and then he emptied himself of them. He came to Jesus in humility and earnest faith.

When Jesus brought the little girl back to life, he didn’t fill her empty stomach. That’s because God wants us to be a part of what he is doing. He brought the little girl back to life, but he wanted the people around her to give her something to eat and watch her enjoy every morsel. Then there would be no doubt that Jesus truly was omnipotent-all powerful and great in mercy.

Jesus came to raise the dead-both the physically dead and the spiritually dead. When Jesus is on a mission, nothing can stop him. He did not allow the professional mourners and their laughter to stop him from showing God’s healing power. The mourners represent people who refuse to accept Christ and the gifts he offers.

Only a select few were allowed to see Jesus bring the girl back to life. Jesus wanted the news kept secret. He knew that most of the people could not understand what had happened. He knew that the miracle of the dead being brought back to life could only be understood by those who believe in one who himself was raised from the dead-namely, Jesus.

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