Proper 8B: Mark 5:21-43, Lam. 3:22-33
Desperate times call for desperate measures. And there is nothing like death and incurable sickness to make one more desperate. Quite honestly, it is because we cannot wait. We have this tendency to place ourselves in the middle of the universe and elevate whatever problems are going on as the most urgent. It’s why waiting rooms are so unpopular, with outdated magazines, people around that annoy us in some capacity, everyone waiting and upset when they are the next person called.
So it is that everyone is waiting upon Jesus. The crowd gathered because they all had a need to see Jesus. Let’s be honest, Jairus had just about as much of an emergency and definition of not waiting as anybody, his 12 year old daughter was dying! As any healthcare provider and ambulance driver can attest, traffic and crowds do not move aside even in cases of emergencies. With everyone’s personal agenda as top priority, trying to pull Jesus out of the crowd to take care of this little girl is difficult for Jairus.
You can’t help but wonder a bit, as we often do with our own situations, why didn’t Jesus make it easy on Jairus and Himself? He’s healed from a distance before, He could have just spoken the Word and she would have been better. For that matter, as many Christians ask and many non-Christians criticize, why doesn’t Jesus simply make His own universal healthcare reform with no need for tax breaks and subsidies by healing all disease in one fell swoop? Jesus however continues to make all matters of healing individualized.
With the death of his daughter on the line, Jairus is desperate. Imagine then the frustration. Imagine being in an ambulance, fully supplied with all that is needed and healing in sight. Imagine the frustration as traffic slows and not everyone moves over. Then, imagine the frustration as the medical team stops not for your emergency but along the way stops to take care of someone else. Which is precisely what happens.
This woman in the crowd has been bleeding for 12 years. Much more than a typical female problem, she’s been bleeding and probably very weak and ill through it all. Most of her resources have gone towards this issue and in fact any medical treatment she sought either did nothing or made matters worse. She probably didn’t think Jesus would dare lay His hands on her to heal her, for the law given clearly stated that touching such a woman made one unclean ritually (Lev. 15, 20, Ezekiel 18, 22, 36). So she takes a sneak attack. After all, what does she have to lose? He shouldn’t touch her according to the law but she knew He could heal her.
With a simple touch upon the garment of the Son of God, that which doctors, physicians, and medicine could not heal healed. Not just that the bleeding stopped, but that throughout her whole body she was made well. Then Jesus immediately turns and points it out and asks, “who touched me?” You can imagine the woman’s sense of embarrassment. She probably didn’t want her medical condition announced or known, but she was just happy it was healed. And besides, the Lord knew who touched Him but to the others it was a ridiculous question as everyone was crowded around Him.
But you see, Jesus isn’t about anonymous miracles. He takes everyone and everything in this creation very personally. He takes all conditions and all people personally. She’s slightly afraid, but Jesus consoles her with this simple proclamation, “daughter, your faith has made you well, go in peace.” She had already been healed of her bleeding, but at the Word of Jesus she was made well in body and soul. Already healed, her faith needed to hear it. For faith comes by hearing (Rom. 10:17). Faith, already received healing, delights in hearing and receiving more. In the midst of the crowd, in the midst of all the people around, it’s as if it is just Jesus and her. In the midst of the world, in the midst of our community, it’s Jesus speaking only to you, “your faith faith has made you well, your sin is forgiven, go in peace.”
Yet, Jairus awaits. His daughter still dying and time is ticking. This woman cost this girl precious time. “Your daughter is dead. That precious jewel of your life is gone. Don’t bother Jesus any more. There’s nothing He can do now.” Imagine the heartache.How those words must have stabbed Jairus deep into his heart. If only he had gotten to Jesus sooner. If only there wouldn’t have been this crowd. If only this woman hadn’t delayed him. If only….
As they would tell Jairus there is nothing Jesus can do for him, Jesus interjects, “do not fear, only believe.” Jairus had trusted Jesus in matters of healing while the girl was dying. But final faith and trust in Christ comes in the hour of deepest need, in the midst of death. While we gather here to pray, sing hymns, and pray the liturgy, notice that everything finds a culmination and leads to that which is inevitable in this passing world, death. Everything about faith in Jesus comes to a head in death.
Taking with Him what was required for sound eyewitness testimony, three disciples, He goes to the girl. The mourners thought Christ was foolish to say that Jairus’ daughter was sleeping and not admit she was dead. But to Christ, death is but a sleep. On the last day, He will raise all the dead from their sleep. But on this day, He raised this one little girl as testimony of the resurrection to come. In truth, the girl was sleeping; it was the mourners who were dead. They did not see in Christ what this father saw – the Lord of life who came to rescue you and me from death and the grave that we might live with Him.
To this girl Jesus speaks, again being completely made well by the spoken Word of Christ, “Talitha cumi, little girl arise.” Complete healing for this 12 year old girl just as complete healing came for the woman who bled for 12 years. These two daughters of God were brought together on this day as Jesus brings the Father’s mercy to heal them in all health and life.
Then a little, overlooked detail. He instructs them to give her something to eat. It matters. You see, this girl is physically alive. She is not spiritually raised by in body resurrected. When Jesus comes among His disciples after His resurrection He asks for and eats a piece of broiled fish. It’s a testimony of the resurrection, that is, this body is raised not just some spiritual aberration.
This woman waited and went to touch Jesus. Jairus waited patiently for Jesus to get to his daughter. “The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” Faith waits patiently, quietly, confidently trusting that in the end, Jesus will come through. Even if death intervenes first, that still hasn’t settled it. For He, the Lord, is risen and has authority over sin and death.
For Jesus it is always personal, not private as in “me and only Jesus in our own spirituality.” But among the crowd, within the congregation, within the world, Jesus calls you by name. He doesn’t cast a wide wand over all bleeding problems or any other concern we may think of, but He does care for us individually. He’s called you by name. In the midst of everything else in the world, He stops and speaks to you, “your faith has made you well, your sin is forgiven, go in peace.” In the midst of all who have died, in the resurrection, He calls you to arise to new life in Him. It’s why as you receive the Lord’s Supper, it is not just a broad stroke of one phrase for the whole table, but individually as He gives you the fruits of His sacrifice for the sin of the world, “take eat, the body of Christ given for you; take drink, the blood Christ, shed for you.” Take it personally, at that little touch of Christ with His Word which proclaims that which is true but is received by faith in the ear with great joy, your sin is forgiven.
What Jesus does for this woman and this little girl He also does for you. He died and rose to say to each one of us, “Your faith has healed you, go in peace.” He died and rose to extend His hand to each one of us and to say, “Child of God, arise.” He has died for your sin, conquered your death, baptized you into Him, and provides for you in life, in sickness, and in death. “Do not fear, only believe.”
In the name of the Father and of + the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.