5TH Sunday after Pentecost
June 28, 2015
Mark 5:21-43 You can click on this link to read the Bible story in Oremus Bible Browser.
Falling in Love with Jesus All Over Again
If you could ask Jesus for one thing, what would it be? Would it be something you think of as hard to do? What would change for you if Jesus said, “yes?”
I want you to take a minute to really answer these questions, not just think of them as rhetorical questions.
In this morning’s story, we see two people who dare to ask for something hard. As the Evangelist Mark tells their story, they are pretty desperate. Both of them want healing, restoration. Jairus wants his child to be well. Mark tells us that she is 12 years old. I’ve spent the last week with a bunch of kids who are just about that age, right on the brink of woman-hood, lives full of promise, and their future still in the stage of dreaming. The other is a woman who has a chronic condition that has isolated her completely from ordinary life – no husband, no family, no community – because to touch a woman who has “female problems,” makes you as unclean as she is.
Jesus is surrounded by crowds, Mark reminds us. They have been with him for days, awed by his feeding a huge crowd and by his healing and teaching. He’s tried to get away with his disciples to hear their stories of their own mission, but it’s been impossible. Can you imagine the scene of the leader of the synagogue groveling at Jesus’ feet in the midst of the swirling crowd? Mark says that he begged Jesus to come and touch her. And Jesus simply goes with him, no more questions asked.
Can you see this woman in the midst of the crowd, struggling to get close and hoping that the crowd will cover her daring? Can you see her reaching out as quickly as she can to just touch Jesus clothes, expecting that no one will notice, least of all Jesus? If she asks for his touch, she will make him unclean. It’s too much to ask for. But we know that nothing like rules, even God’s own rules given centuries ago will get in the way of Jesus’ compassion for someone who suffers. And so he calls her out, to her great fear and embarrassment. She was right, just the touch of his robe was enough to heal twelve years of pain and isolation. But more than that, Jesus recognizes the change from outcast to wholeness by calling her daughter, and recognizing the power of her faith.
Suddenly Jesus’ and Jairus’ journey to heal his daughter is interrupted by the worst news. She’s already dead. There’s nothing you can do for her now, they are saying, but Jesus never stops. “Don’t be afraid,” Jesus says to Jairus, “keep on living by faith.” The racket of the mourners seems only to be an irritation to Jesus, as he enters the house. They laugh and mock him when he says she is just asleep. But when he takes her hand and tells her to rise, she does.
In one crowded afternoon, Jesus has crossed the boundaries of taboo with compassion to use God’s power to heal. Two desperate people had the nerve to ask for something impossible, and their prayers were answered. Jesus made it look easy.
The world looks pretty scary to me these days, how about you? There is so much hatred and violence in the name of religious causes and fear of people who are not like us, in the Middle East, in South Carolina, in our own back yard. So much hardness of heart in our search for our own security that we blame the victims of poverty and illness for their circumstances instead of joining with them to search for solutions that would create new opportunity. Those of us who have some comfort in life begin to think we deserve our blessings, and forget to be grateful for our privilege.
“Stop being afraid, and go on living by faith,” Jesus tells Jairus when he hears the news of his daughter’s death. What would it take for you to stop being afraid and dare to live by faith? How would your life change? What would it take for us as a community to live by faith and give up fear? How would that change us? Jesus didn’t hesitate to cross the boundaries of what was safe and acceptable to heal and restore desperate people who had the faith to ask for what they needed most. What are the boundaries we are being asked to cross to live without fear and live instead by faith?
Pray with me: Compassionate One, we fail so often to let your love lead us where we are called to live by faith. Forgive us our timid hearts and give us the courage to live boldly as your people in this world you love. Empower us to see the suffering around us and to ask for your help in being the healers you need. Amen.