Summary: Jesus heals Jairus’ daughter and a woman suffering from hemorrhages for 12 years.
Sermon for 3 Pent Yr B, 29/06/2003
Based on Mk 5:21-43
Grace Lutheran Church, Medicine Hat, Alberta
By Pastor Garth Wehrfritz-Hanson
Ole went to Sven limping badly. ’Sven’ says Ole, ’do yiew know of a good doctor? M’leg hurts.’
’Ya’ says Sven, ’Go see my cousin Hilding, I give you da number.’ Finally getting an appointment, Ole explained to Dr. Hilding in his office, ’M’leg is hurting me, bad!’
’Let’s take a look’ said Hilding.
’Yust vun minute’ said Ole, ’I tell you someting about me. I am vun of dos special Norwegians dat is gifted. I tell you I haf the gift of a TALKING LEG!’
’Another crazy Norwegian,’ thought Hilding. But, he decided to humor Ole, ’OK, Ole, explain.’
’Vell, I haf no stetoscope so I can’t hear m’leg. Yust put yur stetoscope on m’leg... on m’tigh an listen.’ Hilding placed the stethoscope in his ears, then put the other end on Ole’s thigh. His hair [what little he had] stood on end as he heard, ’I need forty dollars!’ Stunned, Hilding jumped back, but Ole said, ’Now put it on m’knee!’ This time, Hilding heard ’I need tirty dollars!’ ’Now on m’ankle!’ said Ole. From the ankle, Hilding heard ’I need tventy dollars!’
"Well, I’ve never heard of such a thing’ said Dr. Hilding. ’I must go check m’books!’ Hilding went into his inside office and Ole could hear him shuffling and muttering to himself. After about 5 minutes Dr. Hilding came out with his glasses perched on the end of his nose, saying ’I found what’s wrong Ole, hear it is right in my book. The problem with your leg is, is that it’s BROKE!’ 1
Unlike Sven, Ole, and Dr. Hilding in this joke, which leaves it up to us to conclude whether or not Ole’s leg got healed; our gospel today is a remarkable one in that it tells of Jesus definitely healing two people. It unfolds in a most interesting way in that the story of Jesus healing the woman with the 12-year hemorrhages is sandwiched in the middle of the story of Jesus healing Jairus’ daughter. By being sandwiched together, these two healing stories display at least three similarities. Let us take a closer look at these similarities to help us develop a clearer picture of these two incredible healings of Jesus.
One common thread in both of these healings is the appeals to Jesus directly for healing. Notice that in both of the healings Jairus and the woman suffering from hemorrhages APPEAL TO JESUS IN DESPERATION. It is as if Jesus were their ONLY LAST HOPE. No doubt Jairus, described here as “one of the leaders of the synagogue,” WAS A MAN HIGHLY RESPECTED IN THE COMMUNITY AND A MAN OF MEANS. Most likely he had already sought out EVERY OTHER RESOURCE WITHIN HIS JEWISH COMMUNITY BEFORE HE HAD COME TO JESUS. Quite likely he and his family, along with others in his synagogue had poured out their prayers and had done all of the prescribed rituals of their faith in order to heal the daughter from her death-threatening illness. Yet, nothing had happened. So now, in a last desperate effort, respectable Jairus, who had obviously heard of Jesus comes directly to him, and Mark tells us Jairus “FELL ON HIS FEET AND BEGGED HIM REPEATEDLY.” This is truly a sign of despair and humility on the part of a synagogue leader such as Jairus. In a similar manner, notice the details that Mark provides us with concerning the woman suffering from 12 years of hemorrhages. “SHE HAD ENDURED MANY PHYSICIANS, AND HAD SPENT ALL THAT SHE HAD; AND SHE WAS NO BETTER, BUT RATHER GREW WORSE.” She, like Jairus, had exhausted all of her possibilities and resources. Now she was in desperation. So she, like Jairus comes directly to Jesus in despair and humility because she too had heard of Jesus’ reputation. Twelve years of hemorrhages was long enough; after all, according to Leviticus 15:2-27, she was classified as an unclean and impure person. She was to be avoided by others in the community. She was forbidden to attend worship services at the synagogue. Her life would have been a very lonely one, and filled with one rejection after another. So she comes to Jesus out of humility and desperation. And later, when the healing occurs, she, like Jairus goes to Jesus “IN FEAR AND TREMBLING, FELL DOWN BEFORE HIM.” Is it also not true that even today Jesus still continues to welcome and heal those who come directly to him often out of desperation and with humility, like Jairus and the woman in today’s gospel? We do not have to be perfect to seek Jesus’ healing. Rather, we are invited TO COME AS WE ARE. For as Jesus reminds us elsewhere at Mark 2:17: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.” SO WE ARE INVITED TO COME AS WE ARE TO JESUS DIRECTLY FOR HEALING BECAUSE WE ARE ALL SINNERS IN NEED OF JESUS OUR GREAT PHYSICIAN.