NOTE: Pastor Dan was gone for the past two weeks, hence the reason for the two week gap in the sermons. We pray that the Lord will continue to edify you through our sermons and ministry. Thanks for your patience!
4 Pentecost Proper B8
Rev. D. K. Schroeder
Mark 5:21-43 Sermon
June 28, 2009
Hymns (from The Service Book and Hymnal):
438 "Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee"
568 "If Thou But Suffer God To Guide Thee"
406 "How Sweet The Name Of Jesus Sounds"
387 "I Know That My Redeemer Lives"
SICKNESS AND DEATH
TEXT (vs. 22-29): "22Then one of the synagogue rulers, named Jairus, came there. Seeing Jesus, he fell at his feet 23 and pleaded earnestly with him, 'My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.' 24 So Jesus went with him. A large crowd followed and pressed around him. 25 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. 26 She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 because she thought, 'If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.' 29 Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering."
As most of you are aware, this past week is notable for the deaths of three rather famous individuals, people who for one reason or another are familiar names to the public.
The first death was that of a man by the name of Ed McMahon, who wore many hats in the entertainment world. He was most notable for being the side-kick of late night talk show host, Johnny Carson. For many years he also hosted the famous TV show, "Star Search." He did lots of TV commercials. And many people remember him because his picture and name were on those junk mail envelopes people receive from the magazine publishing house that say, "Mr. John Jones, you may have won a million dollars in our sweepstakes!" And if you were the winner, Ed McMahon himself would show up at your door and hand you the check.
Ed McMahon had his share of troubles too, both financial ones and health related ones, including bone cancer and pneumonia. Finally at the age of 86, he passed away on June 23.
Then two days later on June 25, we learned about the death of former Charlie's Angels actress Farrah Fawcett. Here was a very beautiful, blonde-haired woman who tried to always do the right things with regard to her diet, health, and physical fitness. And then at age 59, she began to experience strange symptoms of fatigue.
The diagnosis was a rare type of rectal cancer. But she was going to be persistent about treatment and not give up. Not too long ago, Alana Stewart hosted a documentary entitled, "Farrah's Story." This show, which aired just last month and attracted some nine million viewers, went into detail about what was happening to her and what she was doing to combat her illness. Her once beautiful body had succumbed to the ravages of her illness. Her locks of blonde hair had fallen victim to the effects of chemotherapy. She prayed for a miracle cure, but God had other ideas.
And so this past Thursday, at the age of 62, her battle ended as she breathed her last breath of life on this earth.
However Farrah Fawcett's death on Thursday wasn't the only notable one on that day. Pop singer icon Michael Jackson went into cardiac arrest at his home on June 25th, and was unable to be revived.
Even though his cause of death is not conclusive, there is substantial reason to believe that he died because of a lethal combination of various pain-killing drugs. This is especially ironic because in 1984, he went to the White House where he received an award from President Ronald Reagan. This award was given to him because of his generous support of charities that helped people overcome alcohol and drug abuse.
In describing Michael Jackson in later years, I'll read a quote from an Associated Press article: "As years went by, Jackson became an increasingly freakish figure - a middle-aged man-child weirdly out of touch with grown-up life. His skin became lighter, his nose narrower, and he spoke in a breathy, girlish voice. He often wore a germ mask while traveling, kept a pet chimpanzee named Bubbles as one of his closest companions and surrounded himself with children at his Neverland ranch, a storybook playland filled with toys, rides and animals. The tabloids dubbed him 'Wacko Jacko.'"
So now out of these three deaths this week, which one do you think has received the most publicity? That's basically a rhetorical question, because we know the answer already. The tabloid antics of Michael Jackson have somehow made him the most newsworthy of them all. Scandal seems to be the trump card when it comes to publicity; because, as the old commercial says, "Enquiring minds want to know."
This morning, I'm going to put these three individuals "on hold" for a little bit as we look at our Gospel reading for today. This reading is an interesting one for several reasons. It's a long section, 22 verses to be exact. And in those verses we find two separate, but yet intermingled miracles. We meet two individuals, both in need of a healing miracle from Jesus. And these two individuals are about as different as different can be.
Person number one is a twelve year old girl. She is sick to the point of death. She happens to be the daughter of a very prominent person by the name of Jairus. And he was acting like a typical parent with a sick child. He was seeking help for her.
What makes this so noteworthy is that Jairus is an unlikely person to seek Jesus for help. Jairus was one of the rulers of the synagogue. The synagogue rulers were not Priests, or Levites, or Scribes, or Pharisees, or Sadducees. They weren't part of the Sanhedrin. Rather, they were laymen who were in charge of the administrative duties at the synagogue-something along the order of a church council, or a board of trustees. They were prominent men and worthy of the office they held.
Most of these synagogue rulers followed in sort of a lock-step with the Sanhedrin; and as a result, they were opposed to Jesus. They did not believe in him, or recognize him as the promised Messiah.
Jairus however was different. In his time of need, he pushes all of his dignity associated with his office aside. He falls on his knees in front of Jesus, and asks for his help. He loved his daughter so much, that he sought out Jesus. He knew about the work Jesus had been doing, and he realized that only Jesus could help her. He would have had the means to summon any physician or healer he wanted to. Most likely that's what he had done, and the experts basically told him that there was no hope for her survival.
For Jairus to come to Jesus took faith on his part. It was not a faith born out of need or concern. Rather, his actions reflected a true faith in Jesus, a faith that recognized him for what he truly was. He wasn't just some itinerant faith healer, but the true incarnate Son of the most high God. And he certainly had the power to heal this young girl.
But now the scene changes a bit. Jesus is interrupted by a woman, although somewhat indirectly. She doesn't approach him in order to speak to him or make a verbal request of him. Rather, she just wants to touch his garment. She knew that Jesus had the power to heal her. She had been hemorrhaging for twelve years; and because of this, she was ceremonially unclean as far as the Jews were concerned.
But she had faith in Jesus. She knew who he was. And she, along with Jairus had become familiar with Jesus' healing miracles. Most likely, she would also have heard that Jesus didn't think anything about crossing the "clean" and "unclean" boundaries of the Jews. Even lepers found the cleansing and healing powers Jesus had.
Jairus and his entourage must have felt some irritation here. How could this man of God stop to help this woman? She had been having this discharge for twelve years. It obviously wasn't life threatening. Besides, how could God's own Son want to deal with anyone who was unclean?
Jairus needed to learn a lesson in faith. In verse 34 we read Jesus' words to this woman: "...Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease."
But now, people come from the house of Jairus. In verse 35 we read what they say: "...Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?"
Jairus was probably fit to be tied. Oh, if only I could have gotten to Jesus sooner. Oh, if only Jesus wouldn't have stopped to take care of that unclean woman. If only, if only, if only....
But Jesus ignored them. Instead he tells Jairus in verse 36, "...Do not fear, only believe." Jairus had already shown faith by summoning Jesus in the first place. He witnessed the faith of the woman with the hemorrhage and what that accomplished. And now, he learned what it was to put his entire faith in Jesus.
As we think about the situation we have in our text, sickness and death are two of the great equalizers. It didn't matter that one was the 12 year-old daughter of a high official, and the other was an outcast woman who had been unclean for 12 years. Jairus had physicians attending his daughter, and the woman had spent virtually every penny on doctors. But it was all for naught. They were like Humpty Dumpty. Both needed Jesus' healing touch, and their steadfast faith in him brought them to him for his help.
If we think about the three deaths that occurred this week, Ed McMahon, Farah Fawcett, and Michael Jackson have all come to the end of their earthly lives. It's kind of ironic that the most notorious seems to be getting the most publicity. But it doesn't matter to any of these three; press coverage and media hype isn't going to change their situation in the least. Sickness and death has had an equal effect on them all.
When we examine life upon this earth, we see sickness and death around us all the time. These are reminders that we live in a world that's far from perfect. Sin permeates everything and everybody we know.
When we realize this, then we can see what sin has done in our own lives as well. The evidence is all around us for sure; we live in a world that has had many negative influences upon us. Just look at the lives of those three people that died this week. For Ed McMahon, he knew financial woes, legal battles, and the sicknesses associated with aging. For Farrah Fawcett, her physical beauty and healthy body were no match for her cancer. And with Michael Jackson...well, we could say a lot about him and his vanity and his perverse lifestyle.
But when Jesus enters the picture, everything is suddenly on a level playing field. And when a person comes to Jesus in faith, they will experience a type of healing that they could never imagine. Even though Jesus may or may not heal a person's body according to his will, yet we have the guarantee that he will provide spiritual healing for our souls. That's what Jesus came to do; and all of the miracles he did while he was here on earth was to show himself to be the one true God, who took on human flesh and came to this earth to minister to a world lost in sin.
The world needs Jesus for the healing he provides. The world needs to see him as the Saviour from sin and the person who will provide rest for weary souls. That's why we need him too. The Holy Spirit has worked faith in our hearts so we can accept him into our lives and provide the spiritual healing we all so desperately need.
In our Gospel lesson for today, two people were the recipients of a healing miracle from Jesus. Both Jairus's daughter and the woman with the hemorrhage were healed; in fact the daughter was even brought back to life after she had died. These were tremendous miracles indeed.
So what effect do you think this had on their souls? We know that Jairus's daughter and the woman both died later on. We know that there aren't a couple of 2,000+ year-old women wandering around today. The miracle Jesus performed in their lives didn't give them an eternal life on earth. Rather the miracle of faith the Holy Spirit worked in their hearts guaranteed them an eternal life in God's heavenly home.
Everybody needs the healing touch of Jesus for their souls. I need it and you need it too. It's something we have through faith in Christ Jesus alone.
It doesn't matter the place in life and the step on the social ladder that people like Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, and Michael Jackson have. The only way they entered into heaven was through the healing Jesus could give them. If they didn't reject it, then they are now enjoying the paradise that had been promised them. Of course we can't say for sure what a person's faith is just by outward appearances, so we won't know where these people are this side of eternity.
But we know one thing. Through faith in Christ alone, we will have our eternal reward. And we will one day meet up with some of the great examples of faith who are also enjoying their reward in heaven.
Today Jesus points to the examples of a man by the name of Jairus and a woman suffering from a hemorrhage to show us just what true faith can accomplish.