July 1, 2018: Proper 8B (English)
Proper 8B: Lamentations 3:22-33; 2 Corinthians 8:7-15; Mark 5:21-43
July 1, 2012
Pastor Anke Deibler
Grace be to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
A number of years ago, a sad story went through the new about a 15-year-old boy who bled to death just 35 feet from the doors of the emergency room at a Chicago Hospital. Apparently, the teenager had been hit as an innocent bystander, caught between two warring gangs. His friends had managed to carry him to just outside the hospital doors and had left him there. Out there on the sidewalk, the young man we left unattended for 25 minutes.
The problem was not that he was not discovered in time. The staff was aware of him being out there. The problem was that hospital policy allowed doctors and nurses to treat only those patients who had been brought into the ER. The policy did not allow for them to go outside to treat people; they had to be delivered to them inside.
Therefore, the medical staff had to wait for an ambulance to drive over there, pick up the boy, transport him those 35 feet, and bring him into the ER. By the time he got there, he was dead.
This is a tragic story indeed. Just because the friends didn’t carry the boy those last few feet, just because hospital policy kept medical staff from meeting the boy outside, a life was lost.
Our gospel story today shows us how Jesus was at work to overcome problems just like this. Two people are in need of healing, and two people end up being healed by Jesus, each in a different way.
The first sick person we hear about is the daughter of Jairus, a leader of the local synagogue, a prominent member of the community. His little girl was very sick.
Jesus was returning here to an area along the Sea of Galilee where he had been before. As Mark tells the story, when Jesus was in that area before, he had cured many diseases among the people. Jairus must certainly have heard about Jesus and his ability to heal people.
So when word gets around that Jesus is coming back to the region, Jairus goes right away to meet him. He is a leader, a prominent community member; I bet it wasn’t hard for him to make his way towards Jesus. Folks make way for a person like that. But what must have been hard for Jairus was what he did next: fall at Jesus’ feet and beg. Repeatedly, we read, Jairus begs Jesus to come to his house and heal his daughter. This father in distress is lowering himself onto his knees in the midst of this crowd that’s usually looking up to him, all for the love of his daughter. Jairus has no doubt that Jesus can heal his daughter.
Jesus sees this love, this devotion, this faith of Jairus. His heart goes out to this man, and he agrees to follow him to his house.
This little girl had a great family. Her father went to great length and was willing to humble himself and to beg and to reveal his faith, all for the sake of his little daughter. He didn’t just bring her within 35 feet of Jesus and drop her off and leave her there, hoping Jesus would find her and tend to her in time. No, this father made sure help and healing came to the girl where she was.
The other person who gets healed is an older woman. She has a problem with ongoing bleeding. For twelve years she has suffered with this disease. Doctors tried to help her without success. She was exhausted and broke.
Not only was she suffering physically from her illness, but this illness also caused her emotional and spiritual pain. According to the laws in Leviticus, people with bleeding issues were considered unclean; they could not attend religious services. Thus this woman was cut off from worship and the worshipping community.
This poor woman, abandoned by doctors, rejected by the community, restricted from contact with God, this poor woman did not have family members or friends who could have brought her to Jesus. No father would beg on her behalf. So she had to take matters into her own hands. She pushed herself through the crowd and managed to get close enough to Jesus to touch the hem of his cloak.
She, too, had heard about Jesus’ healing powers when he had been here before. Jesus was her only hope. Her hope and her faith in Jesus were so strong, she believed that just touching the hem of his garment would cure her. And it did.
Yet Jesus doesn’t go for anonymous healings. When touching his coat had healed the woman, he knew immediately that healing power had gone out from him. He turned around and looked for the person at the receiving end of his power. He wanted to know who it was who so believed in him.
When he spots the woman, he talks to her. He calls her “daughter”. This woman who was an outsider in the community, who was labeled unclean, who had no family or friends to help her, this woman is called “daughter” by Jesus Christ himself! Jesus is adopting her into his family. Jesus wants to make sure she is never be alone or abandoned again.
Jesus heals her. Jesus makes her part of God’s family. When Jesus says to her “Your faith has made you well”, then ‘well’ means more than just healthy. ‘Well’ means happy, at peace, whole. The woman had just wanted to touch Jesus’ coat and get the bleeding stopped. But Jesus wanted more for her: he wanted to know her and have a relationship with her, he wanted to make her part of his family and bless her with joy and peace and hope.
To achieve this, Jesus was willing to step outside of his usual work space. He was willing to be interrupted in his plans. He was willing to forget about policies and laws. Jesus cared so much for this sick lonesome woman that he stepped outside of the norm to heal her and make her part of the community. In that, he was very different from the medical staff at the Chicago hospital which waited too long and let a young person die.
Jesus heals two people. He heals a little girl whose loving father acts on faith and brings Jesus to her. And he heals a lonesome, bleeding woman who reaches out to him and is made part of his family.
These two people, the little girl and the woman, represent the two different ways in which people find their way to Jesus, the source of all healing and peace. Most of us here this morning have come to Jesus by one of these two ways.
Some of us had loving, doting parents who acted on their faith and brought Jesus into our lives. They shared their beliefs with us, taught us to pray, read us Bible stories, brought us to church and Sunday school. Like Jairus, they put a lot of love and humility and faith, and maybe begging?, into bringing Jesus into our lives. As a result, Jesus touched us. He took us by the hand and helped us to walk: walk in the faith, walk in the light of the Lord, walk in the assurance that Jesus cares, walk with the peace and joy and hope only Jesus can give.
Maybe it was parents who did this for us; maybe it was grandparents, or godparents, or neighbors, or Sunday school teachers. Someone cared enough to bring us into the presence of Christ and the family of Christ. Thank God for these people, because our lives have been better and happier with Jesus in them.
Some of us came to Jesus like the bleeding woman. No friends of family members were around. But we were desperate for a word of comfort, for a healing touch, for a sense of hope. We reached out to Jesus and came to worship. And here, Jesus turned around and looked us in the eye and called us “son” and “daughter”. Jesus adopted us into his community and made us family. Now we have brothers and sisters in Christ who pray for us and who shake our hands and who care about us and who, through all that, bring Christ’s healing presence into our lives.
Thanks to Jesus, we are better off than that young man outside the Chicago hospital. Through Jesus, we have family and friends who won’t let us lie abandoned, but who bring us to the source of healing.
Through Jesus, we are a new family, a family united by baptism and faith, a family of caring people who bring others to Jesus, a family of unconventional people willing to step outside the rules and norms of this world in order to save the lonely and the desperate, the ill and the lost.
We are a family to whom Jesus has said: “Your faith has made you well. Go in peace.”
We are family living in the assurance that on the day we die, Jesus will come and take us by the hand and say: “Little child, get up.” And he will raise us into heaven. Thanks be to God. Amen.
And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.