6th Sunday after Pentecost
Rev. D. K. Schroeder
Mark 5:21-24a; 35-43 Sermon
July 16, 2006
Hymns (from The Service Book and Hymnal):
187 "Open Now Thy Gates Of Beauty"
379 "Rock Of Ages, Cleft For Me"
479 "I Need Thee Every Hour"
462 "O My Soul On Wings Ascending"
FAITH IN THE HEALER
TEXT (vs. 22-24a): “Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and seeing [Jesus], he fell at his feet, and besought him, saying: ‘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.’ And he went with him…”
This morning, I’d like to introduce you to some people who are very close to me.
Dr. Byron Tullis is my dentist. I thought of him first, because I have an appointment with him this coming Thursday. It’s time for my six month check-up—and I’m hoping that he doesn’t find too much wrong. And when I smile, you can at least get a glimpse of some of his work.
Then there’s Dr. Gerald Tussing who is my periodontist. I don’t have to see him very often, but there are those times that I do. I have some problems with my gums that need attention once in awhile.
Dr. Stephen Newburn is my chiropractor, and I see him regularly once a month. Thanks to him, he keeps my spine and neck and other parts of my body working well and relatively pain-free.
Dr. Max Linder is my ophthalmologist, or my eye doctor. He did lasik surgery on my eyes some years ago, and I have to go to him for routine check-ups.
Dr. Geoff Basler is my dermatologist. He’s removed various moles and skin tags on my body, plus he checks me over for signs of melanomas and carcinomas on my skin, just to be sure I’m not developing any skin cancers. I see him once a year—and I have to confess that I was due to see him in January, but due to the other activities going on in our family since the beginning of the year, I’ve put it off. I should really make an appointment to see him.
Finally, Dr. Shawn Semin is my personal physician. He’s an internal medicine doctor. Now I have nothing against general practitioners; but through the years, I’ve had better success with internists than I have with G. P.’s. It’s just personal preference, I guess. And this next week, I get to visit him for my annual physical, which means going in one day for lab work, and then going back the next day to actually see him.
That in a nutshell is my “personal entourage,” so to speak. There have been others too, like the specialist I saw when I broke my ankle, or the surgeon who removed my ganglion cyst and fixed my hernia. But by and large, the names of the men I just rattled off are the ones who take care of me on a regular basis. And just in case you are wondering, I am not seeing a psychiatrist or a psychologist—even though I wonder sometimes if I should be.
The people I’ve named know me well. Between them all, they have examined and dealt with each and every part of my body, from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. I’ve been felt, squeezed, thumped, poked, prodded, stuck, jabbed, cut, X-rayed, and about everything else you could imagine. They’ve seen parts of my body that even I haven’t seen. Suffice it to say, that between these men, they know me very intimately.
I know that I’m not alone here. I’d say that each and every one of you have your own entourage of health care professionals who look after you as well. When you are sick, or hurting, or something isn’t working right, you know whom to call. And if you don’t know, then you seek a recommendation from friends and family, or you get a referral from another doctor.
But as well as these people know us, the relationship we have with them is a professional one, and not so much a personal one. For example, I like Dr. Newburn very much. We talk about our families and a lot of other things. We relate on a personal level very well. However, we never see each other outside of his office. I suppose there’s no real reason why we couldn’t pursue more of a friendship, but we simply haven’t. But yet, we do have a good rapport, we like each other, and we are comfortable with the relationship we have.
As we get into our text for today, we witness one of Jesus’ great miracles. Jesus is being sought out as the great physician, the great healer. A twelve year old girl was at the point of death, and Jesus is summoned to help her.
Let’s look briefly at the events which led up to this point. Jesus had been teaching a huge crowd of people on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. There were so many people that he had to go into a boat out in the water to talk to them.
After that, he sets sail to the other side of the lake, where he calms the storm. On the other side, he heals the demon possessed man. And now, he has gone back across the lake and returned to his original point of departure. He has had one very busy itinerary, and it’s not about to let up either.
When he returns, a man by the name of Jairus approaches him. His daughter is sick and about to die. He knows that Jesus has the power to heal her, and so he does what any concerned parent would do. He gets the best medical help available 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. Rather, they were laymen who were in charge of the administrative duties at the synagogue—something along the order of a church council. 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.
So Jesus goes with them to the house. But there was an interruption in his journey to the house, something that Jairus had not counted on.
If you notice in our Gospel reading for today, there is an ellipsis—which means there was a section not included. These are verses 24b-34 from Mark chapter 5. What these verses tell, is the account of a woman who had been hemorrhaging for twelve years, probably a discharge from an earlier childbirth. She comes up behind Jesus, touches his garment, and is healed. So this healing miracle takes place while they were enroute to Jairus’ house.
This interruption is important for a couple of reasons. First of all, there was a real sense of urgency with Jairus’ request to Jesus. He had to hurry if he was going to heal the sick girl before she died. And secondly, it was against the Levitical law for Jesus to have any contact with a person who was experiencing a discharge of blood. It would make him ceremonially unclean.
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 needed to learn what it was to put his entire faith in Jesus.
The others laughed at Jesus when he said that the little girl was only sleeping. They knew what death was, and the difference between someone being dead and someone simply being asleep.
But Jairus knew better. He didn’t argue with Jesus when he took him and his wife along with Peter, James, and John to the girl’s bedside. Even though he might have had doubts about raising the girl to life again, yet he knew about the other miraculous things Jesus had done. And so, he goes to his daughter’s side with every hope intact. Jesus takes the dead girl by the hand—even though he would be declared unclean according to Levitical law for touching a dead body, and says: “Little girl, I say to you, arise.”
Verse 43 of our text deserves some attention. Here Jesus gives some directives: “He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this…” Why do you suppose he said that?
I would suppose that Jesus didn’t want to simply be labeled as this guy who blows into town and does a lot of nifty miracles. He didn’t want to be known as the “go-to guy” when you wanted a bunch of loaves and fishes multiplied.
Rather, he wanted to be known for something which was, at that time, yet to happen. He wanted to be known for that ultimate work of grace which would be accomplished on the cross.
He wanted people to see him as God’s only begotten Son, the promised Messiah, the Saviour of the world. The healing work Jesus was sent to do was healing the sin-sick souls of people, redeeming the whole world by his death on the cross. When we gather for worship, we celebrate his resurrection from the dead, and the fact that our sins have been paid for in full on Calvary’s cross. Through our faith in Christ our Saviour, we know that we have been healed from our sin, and that our souls have been cleansed and restored.
At the beginning, I listed the various health care professionals I have looking after me. I have a certain amount of faith in these people and what they can do. I have to. Even though I’ve taken anatomy and physiology in college, and I know a few things, I’m hardly a medical doctor.
But I also know their limitations. I know that I won’t go to the chiropractor if I have a toothache, nor will I go to the dentist to have a mole removed from my back. These things are outside of their field of expertise.
I also know that I won’t go to any health care professional and have faith that they will heal me. Medical science can only go so far. The first time we met with my dad’s Oncologist, he made the statement, “I’m not God; but I sure talk to him a lot.” That doctor knows, as we all should know that God is in charge of the healing. Medical science is limited; God is not.
I also mentioned earlier that even though our health care professionals know us very intimately, there is still that chasm between a professional relationship and a personal one. This is where Jesus, our great physician is different. He is intimately involved and interested in every facet of our lives. Certainly he knows about all of our physical ailments. But most importantly, he knows about our lives and our souls. He knows the hurts, the sorrows, and the affect sin has had on us.
When Jairus came to Jesus, Jesus did not reject him. When the woman with the hemorrhage touched the hem of Jesus’ garment, he did not reject her. And when we come to him in faith, we know he will not reject us either.
To conclude this story about Jairus’ daughter, we know that she got up. Her parents gave her something to eat. She was a growing girl, and would probably grow up and be a wife and mother. She knew what Jesus had done for her, and most likely she would have recounted the story throughout her life.
But she was human. Her life on this earth eventually came to an end. But through faith in Jesus her Saviour, her heavenly home awaited her. She was healed, both physically and spiritually.
God doesn’t always heal the way we want him to. We pray for healing, but we pray according to God’s will. We leave everything up to him and his good pleasure.
Whatever happens to our earthly bodies, we know that through faith in Jesus our Saviour, our souls are healthy and fit. Jesus has indeed healed us, our sins have been forgiven, and we can be assured of our place in God’s family forever.