Sermon: June 28, 2009

1 07 2009

When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.” So he went with him. And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?'” He looked all around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?” But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. When he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. Then he put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!” And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.

Mark 5:21-43

This morning the Gospel of Mark presents us with two stories.  In the first Jesus is on his way to the home of Jairus.  You see the daughter of Jairus, a well respected leader of the community and the leader of the local Jewish Synagogue, has become seriously ill.  Her dad, in desperation, seeks out Jesus in the hopes that He can heal her.  Now while they are on their way to the home of Jairus, a woman who has been dealing with hemorrhages for twelve years – a woman who has been to every doctor in town with no success, hears that a “Great Faith Healer” is coming to town.  She is desperate.  She seeks out Jesus.  She fights her way through the crowds.  She reaches out and touches Jesus and is instantly healed.

In the second story Jesus finally arrives at the home of Jairus only to be told that it is too late.  She has died.  Jesus goes into the house – into her bedroom.  Sends everybody out.  Takes the girl by the hand and raises her from the dead.  And then presents her to her father.

Now on the surface these stories seem pretty simple.  Jesus heals a woman with a hemorrhage.  Jesus heals a little girl who has died.  Jesus the Great Healer.  Jesus demonstrates His power as the Son of God by healing a woman and raising a dead girl.  I could then write a sermon on the power and the majesty of Jesus and how we too can tap into this power and this might.  That would be a great sermon.  And this Gospel Lesson certainly talks about that.  But I think that there is more here.

First the case of the woman with hemorrhages.   According to Jewish Custom a woman who was hemorrhaging was considered ritually unclean.  If you touched such a woman you would have to go through a whole series of ritual washings and cleanings before you would be considered clean once again and allowed to continue your activities or to be around other people.  In other words, once this woman touched Jesus, he should have immediately stopped what he was doing, entered into a time of cleansing and then be allowed to continue on His way.  He didn’t.  He continued doing what He was doing and continued on His way to the home of Jairus.

Second, Jairus’ daughter.  She had died.  Again, according to Jewish Custom if you touched a corpse you would once again be considered ritually unclean and you would have to enter into a time of cleansing and washing before you would be allowed to continue on your way or to be around other people.  Jesus should have stopped what He was doing and done just that.  He didn’t.

So what’s the point.  In Mark’s Gospel we see Jesus constantly confronting the customs of His day – from the time that He spends with Tax Collectors and Gentiles who were also considered unclean to be around.  Who also required a time of ritual cleansing after you had spent time with them.  To allowing women who are hemorrhaging to touch him to touching corpses.  Jesus was saying what God declares clean is clean.

Like Us.  Sometimes we too have a tendency to divide people into them and us.  Insiders and Outsiders.  We do it on the basis of religion.  We do it on the basis of cultures or languages.  We do it on the basis of sex – male and female.  We do it on the basis of skin color.  Or sometimes communities will do it on the basis of newcomers – those who have just recently moved into a town – and old-timers – those who have been around for several generations.  I have even seen churches do it – members – those we know – visitors – strangers – those we don’t know.

Jesus says there is only one community of faith – there is only one group in the Kingdom of God, and we call them all the children of God.  And so I think that the point Jesus is making to the people of His day in these stories and the point that He is making to the people of our day is that we are one in the eyes of God.  As Paul said in his letter to the Galatians:

You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

That’s the point He was making in His day.  It’s the point that He is making to us.  Treat one another the same way that you would like to be treated regardless of who they are or what they look like or how they sound.  Treat one another with Love.

By this shall all men know that you are my disciples in that

You love one another.

Amen!

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