Saturday, June 27, 2009

Pentecost 4 - Proper 8 - Mark 5:21-43

When Jesus is needed, nothing can stop Him from helping. In the Gospel lesson for today we see Jesus refusing to take NO for an answer. Jesus is determined. He can overcome any obstacle. He may be interrupted and detained, but He carries on until the need is met. This miracle is interrupted by the case of a woman with an issue of blood when she toughed Him to be healed while He was on His way to Jairus’ house, He resumed His walk to heal the girl. When we cry to Jesus for His help in a desperate situation, He comes to us without fail.

When Jesus will not take “NO” for an answer…
1. The people following after them informed Jairus saying: “Your daughter is dead!” – v.35 Then came their gentle yet firm rebukes "don't bother the Master any more!" - People’s opinions can become an obstacle and a stumbling block to faith.

There are some people who live in a black and white little world. And it is their opinion that God is only able to help in certain circumstances. The circumstance has to be this; that there can be a reasonable expectation of a certain outcome, and with that expectation there is also an easy explanation. That is apparently the way those people were thinking. Sure, Jesus might have been able to help while the girl was alive; she could have gotten better, possibly Jesus knew of a greater physician. In a black and white little world you can always hold on and hope for the best as long as there is a possibility as slim as it may be.

In the black and white little world there is the rejection of anything miraculous. Miracles simply do not happen when the world is black and white.

Things turn out for the better because there is the possibility that things will work out. But once you get to the point of no return the possibilities for restoration ceases and desist. That's how it is in the black and white little world.

After the young girls had passed there was nothing anyone else could do; not even Jesus would be able to help. When you live in a black and white little world in that world there are limits to what even Jesus is able to do.

They said to Jairus: "Don't trouble the Master any longer! He can't help you. Your daughter is dead. There isn't anything else anyone can do!"

But it's even worse than that. Jairus, the girl's father, is a synagogue official. He too lives in a world of black and white He's trained in Old Testament religion. He knows that when God takes away a child at age twelve, that is not a sign of God's good pleasure toward him. In fact, it is the opposite. He knows the words from Sinai about God's "visiting the iniquities of the fathers upon the children."

Is the girl dying because of her father's iniquities? Is something "sick" in Jairus' link with God?

In Jairus' black and white little world God is already "visiting" them; touching their lives, and the touch is deadly. Is there anything that can bring a healing touch before all is lost? Anyone? No, in a black and white little world people have their own opinions of what is right and wrong and fair and just. God really can't help anyone in a black and white little world for the die is already cast. Oh, you can call it fate or providence or opportunity, or just plain luck. But those who live in a black and white little world will tell you miracles do no happen - they really don't at all.

What is Jesus' response to this? He ignores them. For He will not take no for an answer…even from those who live in a black and white little world.

2. People's opinions can hinder faith so can sarcasm. When Jesus took No for an answer what was the response of the people? “They laughed at him” – v.40 - Ridicule is just as damaging to faith.

Ridicule suggests that there is a lack of faith. Actually ridicule is a sign of fear. It is quite a claim to say that the girl is only asleep. It is something else to be able to raise that girl to life. "Just look at you Christian! How foolish you are. Do you really believe that this Jesus is able to raise the dead?

That doesn't happen in the real world. The dead do not come back to life. How could anyone believe in a God who promises life when it is obvious that life is gone! Not only is that a blind faith it is a denial of reality. Dead people do not come back to life and a mere man pretending to be God can not and will not raise the dead! You are living in a dream world if you really think that these sorts of things really happened! Do you really think that you can go to Jesus with your problems and your fears?"

But indeed we turn to Jesus--for He is the one to whom these fearful ones go for help. What makes such healing happen? How does Jesus stop that deadly touch and replace it with a healing touch?

The full story of His doing it takes us to the end of the Gospel story where He goes to the cross. It is there, at the cross, that He switches places with us.

He receives God's deadly touch, meant for us, and in exchange He offers us His healing touch. On Easter Sunday the Father comes to the tomb and "touches" Jesus back to life. With that the Father signals His approval of Jesus as healer, and verifies that when touched by Jesus we are healed with God as well. And when we are healed with God, healing spreads through every part of us.

3. Even the stark reality of death is no match for Jesus. Jesus speaking to the girl simply says: “I say to you, arise!” - v. 41 - The stark reality of death strikes fear in each of us. For it is appointed for us to die and after that comes the judgment. What awaits us at the end of our life? Will it be peace with God or will it be judgment and torment? Each of us must answer to God one day.

The Athanasian Creed puts it this way: "…He shall come to judge the quick and the dead. At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies and shall give an account of their own works. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting; and they that have done evil, into everlasting fire." What will we say when we open death's door?

Faith is the word for how this healing comes to us. Faith is reaching out our own hand to receive the touch that comes from Jesus. Jesus' touch does the healing.

Faith is nothing more than trusting Jesus to do just that: to touch us and heal us. Jesus tells Jairus to switch from fear to faith. And why does faith heal? It puts us in touch with the Healer. It's like plugging an electric cord into a power point. The power is all there inside the socket. Faith is plugging into, touching, the power-line so that life flows again where once it was dark and lifeless.

Jesus' final word is: "Go in peace." That is all the good news Jairus and his daughter needs to hear. They are to go back into their daily lives as new persons.

This little girl is not just healed of the frightful affliction or healed from social discrimination, but healed in the heart. There's faith now instead of fear. Now there is confidence in Jesus with no worries about any afflictions. At the root of it all is Jesus, who heals our sickness with God. No more worries about "bad" visits from anywhere--even from God. Christ is the Father's final Visitor. In Christ God has visited his people (see 7:16b) with peace. It's God's Final Touch. "Go in peace! You are forgiven in Jesus' holy Name." Amen.
Schnorr von Carolsfeld, woodcuts copyright WELS Permission to use these copyrighted items is limited to personal and congregational use.

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