“Daughters Delivered from Death and Disease” (Mark 5:21-43)

Sixth Sunday after Pentecost
July 1, 2018

“Daughters Delivered from Death and Disease” (Mark 5:21-43)

Our text today is the Holy Gospel from Mark 5, the account of Jesus healing the woman with the flow of blood and raising Jairus’s daughter from the dead. Today we will look at this text under the theme, “Daughters Delivered from Death and Disease.”

“Daughters,” plural. For we see not one but two daughters in this text. One of them is fairly obvious. It’s the young girl we all know as “Jairus’s daughter.” She is the one delivered from death. The other daughter we don’t normally think of as a daughter, but Jesus calls her that, and she is the one delivered from disease. So two daughters: one, a woman suffering from disease for twelve years; the other, a girl raised from death, who is twelve years old. Their stories are told in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, with each writer bringing in a detail here or there that the others may not include. And the stories of the woman and the girl always are interwoven, interlinked. We always go from the request for the dying daughter to the woman with the flow of blood and then to the raising of the dead girl.

The key to it all, and the key for us, is the one who accomplishes this healing from disease and this raising from death. That, of course, is Jesus. We look to Jesus in faith, as the people in our text do, because he will do for us what he did for them.

The story opens with the request for the dying girl. Jairus comes and tells Jesus the crisis that has hit his family: “My little daughter is at the point of death.” As the father of a daughter myself, I cannot imagine anything more gut-wrenching than that. It’s not supposed to go like that. Parents are not supposed to see their children dying, especially at the tender age of twelve. But even at any age, we hate to see our loved ones die. Death comes as a cold, silent intruder, stealing our friends and loved ones–even twelve-year-old daughters–from us. Jairus, what agony you must have been going through!

But notice, Jairus also comes to Jesus with expectation, with hope! He believes Jesus can do something about this! “My little daughter is at the point of death,” he says, but then adds, “Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.” This is faith speaking! Jairus had heard the reports of Jesus’ mighty works of healing, his compassion and great mercy, those hands whose touch could do so much. And we’re told that Jairus is the leader of a synagogue. So he probably knew the Scriptures, the prophecies of a deliverer to come, the Messiah who would bring blessing to God’s people and reverse the curse of death. Jairus looks to Jesus to do for him what God had promised.

Off they go to Jairus’s house. But before they get there, there is another daughter who needs help, a woman with a discharge of blood. “Female troubles,” as the expression goes. Twelve years she had suffered from this problem. On top of that, it says she “had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse.” Except there is one physician she hadn’t consulted yet, and that is the Great Physician of both body and soul, namely, Jesus. His treatment is free, gratis. And when Dr. Jesus treats you, you really do get better.

So the woman wants to see Jesus, but there’s a big crowd thronging around him. He’s hard to get to. The woman presses in. Her faith is persistent. That’s the way it is with faith: It presses in to get to Jesus. This woman, too, had heard the reports about Jesus, his power and his mercy. Faith grabs hold of this. She says to herself, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” So that’s what she does; she touches his garment. “And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease.” Then Jesus seeks her out, to reassure her and to let her know how this happened. He tells her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

“Your faith has made you well.” Your faith has healed you, saved you, made you whole. Not because it is “your faith,” as though you had done something great. On the contrary, there was nothing this woman could do about her problem. Faith comes to Jesus empty-handed, when you’ve run out of things you can do, and you realize only God can help you. This woman’s faith made her well, because it was faith in Jesus. Faith has value, faith saves, by virtue of its object, that is, because it is faith in Christ. And so to say, “Your faith has made you well,” is the same as saying, “Christ has made you well.” It’s not about you; it’s about Jesus.

Jesus is the Great Physician of body and soul. When he heals the body, he also is intent on healing the soul. So with this physical healing, Jesus lifts our sights to the ultimate healing that comes with the forgiveness of sins. For when Jesus speaks the word of forgiveness, with that forgiveness comes the undoing of the physical damage that sin brought on God’s good creation, including our bodies, which are subject to disease and death. Jesus is interested in complete wholeness of both body and soul. That’s why he came, to restore that wholeness. The healing of this woman’s disease points to the complete restoration of creation that Christ would win by his death on the cross.

You see, the woman’s flow of blood is healed, ultimately, by virtue of Christ’s flow of blood! His holy, precious blood, shed on the cross, flowing from his hands and feet, flowing from his pierced side–this is what heals this poor woman. And this is what will heal you! Nothing but the blood of Jesus can cleanse our souls and heal our bodies. By Christ’s completed work on the cross, your sins are forgiven, all of them. And that in turn is the guarantee that you will receive healing for all of your diseases, in the perfect wholeness of the age to come. “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

Notice, Jesus calls her “daughter.” I said earlier that there were two daughters in this story, and she is one of them. The reason Jesus calls this woman “daughter” is in order to draw her close, to address her with a term of affection and relationship and great dignity. For she is a daughter of Israel, a child of the covenant God made with his people. She had received the promises of the kingdom, the promise of blessing that belongs to God’s children.

So it is for you. You were brought into God’s people, the church, through your baptism. You stand in line for the inheritance promised to God’s children, the forgiveness and wholeness, the healing and peace Christ has won for us. Brothers and sisters, we are sons and daughters of the kingdom, and Christ would have us know who we are by faith in him.

Now the story moves on. Or, I should say, the story stops dead in its tracks! For a messenger comes from Jairus’s house, telling them that his daughter now is dead. In other words, “Don’t bother Jesus any longer; there’s nothing he can do now.” But this is the kind of challenge that Jesus likes. It’s right up his alley. Disease cannot stop him, and neither can death. “Do not fear; only believe,” he tells Jairus. On we go to Jairus’s house.

When they get there, the scene is not peaceful. There is much commotion, weeping and wailing. The household is in mourning and grief, and understandably so. But Jesus says something that at first sounds rather ridiculous, almost offensive: “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping.” “‘Sleeping’? Are you kidding, Jesus? She’s dead!” No wonder they laughed at him; it makes no sense. But Jesus does have a point he’s making. Because he, the Son of God, the author of life, is right there, present, willing and able and ready to give life to this child who has died. In that sense, then, she is not dead but only sleeping. Because sleep is something you get up from. Sleep is not a permanent condition. And this girl is about to wake up.

Jesus will wake her. He takes her by the hand and says, in Aramaic, “Talitha cumi,” “Little girl, arise.” Jesus speaks life to her dead body, and she comes alive! Jesus’ words are life-giving! He wakes up the sleeping! The little girl gets up, just like Jesus says.

So it will be for you, my friends, “in that great gettin’-up mornin’.” On the day when Christ returns, he will call us from the graves in which our bodies rest. Sister in Christ, Jesus will say to you on that day, “Talitha cumi,” “Little girl, arise.” And he will say this also to our loved ones who have fallen asleep in the Lord. This past week our dear sister Gertrude fell asleep in the Lord. But when Jesus comes back, he will say to her, “Gertrude, arise.” No, wait, maybe in Gertrude’s case it’ll be in her native German, “Mädchen, ich sage dir, steh auf!” And so it will go, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, for all of God’s people. All of us who have fallen asleep in the Lord will awaken and arise, with glorified bodies, no longer subject to disease or death. And we will live with Christ forever in his everlasting kingdom.

When we lose the people we love, naturally there will be weeping and sorrow. We miss those dear ones. But Jesus comes to our house today and asks, “Why all this weeping and wailing? Your dear one now is sleeping, but he or she will wake up.” And this gives us comfort in the midst of our grief. As the psalmist says, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” We look forward eagerly to the dawning of that new day when Jesus returns.

So this is what Jesus is showing us in this story of the two daughters, the woman healed of disease and the girl raised from death. He’s showing us that by his death and resurrection he has defeated death and delivered us from disease and all the other consequences of our sin. He’s showing us that he is indeed the Great Physician of both body and soul. Jesus is telling us today, “Do not fear; only believe.” Trust in me, Jesus is saying, and this faith will save you.

Sons and daughters of the kingdom, you who trust in Christ for your wholeness and salvation: You will indeed be delivered from death and disease. Son, daughter, your faith has saved you and made you well, for it is faith in Christ, the Lord of life.

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Published in: on June 30, 2018 at 9:17 pm  Leave a Comment  
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