Preaching Resources

Fifth Sunday after Pentecost (June 27, 2020)

Assigned texts:

  • Lamentations 3:22-33
  • 2 Corinthians 8:7-15
  • Mark 5:21-43

In today’s text from Mark’s Gospel, Jesus is in a healing mode. Here, the stories of two healings are meshed together beautifully. They tell us a lot about who Jesus is, how healing works, and how much we need Jesus in our lives.

Jesus and his disciples are traveling once again, this time crossing the sea of Galilee back to the Jewish side. As they stepped off the boat, a huge crowd is waiting for Jesus. And out of this crowd comes one of the religious leaders from the community, his name is Jairus.  As he approaches Jesus, he falls to the ground and pleads for the healing of his daughter, who is more than just sick; she is at death’s door.  Without any more questions, Jesus simply turns and accompanies Jairus back to his home. The writer of Mark’s Gospel again notes the large crowd that has begun to follow Jesus. So crowded is it that they are pressing in upon Jesus, and I imagine making it difficult for Jesus to proceed.

The story now pivots away from this life-or-death situation to a poor and unfortunate woman who has been suffering from hemorrhages for years. Look at the verbs that the writer uses in describing this woman’s condition: She has “suffered” for 12 years.  She has “endured” uncaring doctors. She has “expended” all of her financial resources trying to find a cure, but she only “grew worse.”

Because the woman was bleeding, she would have been labeled as “unclean” permanently.  By law, she would have been unable to have physical contact with anyone and would have been excluded from the synagogue or any form of gathering.  Her condition would have also rendered her childless, which was a curse and legal grounds for divorce. Simply put, her life was not only in danger, but it was miserable from a physical, emotional, and spiritual point of view.

But the text says that she had heard about Jesus and had complete confidence that by simply touching his garment, she would be healed, and immediately, she was.  Both she and Jesus knew it. When Jesus inquires as to who touched him, the woman steps forward and acknowledges that it was her. His response to her might have been condemnation, but instead, he calls her “daughter.”  What must it have felt like for this woman, who has suffered from disease and social and religious rejection, to be called a daughter?  Jesus goes further by affirming her faith as the source of her healing and wishing her peace on her journey forward.  This interaction will have long-term effects.

Meanwhile, there has been a development on the sick child, who has now been pronounced dead. Has this interruption with the woman who has been sick for 12 years cost the life of a 12-year-old girl?  A screenwriter could not have done better than that Mark and working out this plot twist.

Jesus arrives at the house to see a grief-filled commotion, and Jesus boldly announces that the child is only sleeping.  This comment is bet by ridicule, which will only turn to celebration when Jesus extends resurrection healing to her.  Mark provides us with the translation of the words Jesus uses to wake the child “Talitha Cum” meaning “Little Girl, get up.”  Words any parent would use to get their child out of bed in the morning.

So how does all of this speak to you and your congregation?  Where does healing come from, and how does it happen?   Mark is clear that for the woman, it was her faith that made her well. But for the young girl, she was already dead, according to this account, making it impossible for her to have faith.  Was she healed by her father’s faith or by the power of Jesus’ name?  Perhaps there is a mixture of both.

Does healing happen today?  A quick perusal of the TV evangelists would suggest that healing is only for those willing to pay for a ticket to see one of these healers at a local hotel ballroom. Or perhaps healing can come by sending in a $50-dollar donation to their ministry attached to your healing request.

Our congregational prayer times are filled with requests for healing.  If those folks did not survive, was God not listening?  Or is there something going on here that only God can see at this moment?

From what do we need healing today?  The most profound healing that I see needed in our world today is discovering who we are at our core as children of God rather than our appearance, our jobs, our family name, or even our church affiliation.  In this busy and fast-paced world, fixated on financial success, we can very easily forget that we are a daughter or son of God.  Our biggest distraction is the constant bombardment of media that floods almost all of our waking moments, telling us how we should think, look, smell, and what we should eat.  These ads follow us around on bus billboards, radio, TV, magazines, and every time you open a web page.

Our physical, emotional, and spiritual healings are all wrapped up together, and they begin and end with our relationship with God.  Do you have faith that all will be well when we place all that we are and all that we love in God’s hands?  A thought worth pondering.

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