“Soon I Will Be Done”

Mark 5:21-43

28 June 2015

The Rev. Todd R. Goddard, pastor

West Walworth: Zion & East Rochester United Methodist Churches

 

Mark 5:21-43

 

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.

 

Prayer.

 

The story of Buster Kilrain,

Though fictional,

Could have been the story of scores of soldiers

Set off to war

For some nobler cause,

Never to return home.

Kilrain,

Michael Shaara wrote,

(The Killer Angels, 1975)

Was a sergeant in the 20th of Maine,

Under the command of Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain,

Who on July 2, 1863

Was wounded twice defending Little Round Top

In the Battle of Gettysburg

From repeated Confederate uphill charges.

His second wound would prove to be mortal,

Though not immediate.

Shot in the stomach

Kilrain endures through the end of the day,

The long night,

And dies the next morning in a gruesome field hospital.

His life ebbs away;

Slowly draining,

Spilling forth emotional visits from fellow soldiers

And Colonel Chamberlain himself;

Each coming to pay their respects

Before the darkness falls.

How would life be defined?

What values and ideals did he stand for?

What message must be forwarded to the next generation?

 

The story reminds me of the old spiritual we sang in High School chorus.

It’s been done numerous ways, but this is how I remember it:

 

          Soon I will be done with de troubles of de world,

          De troubles of de world, de troubles of de world.

Soon I will be done with de troubles of de world,

Goin home to live with God.

 

I want to meet my brother,

I want to meet my brother,

I want to meet my brother,

Goin home to live with God.

 

Life draining away.

 

Life draining away.

Day in and day out,

For twelve years

This ostracized, unclean woman

Had been hemorrhaging out her life blood,

Wasting away the best of her childbearing years,

So anemic her strength had simply vanished.

Chronic fatigue had become routine,

Life defining,

And soon, unless something miraculous this way comes,

Life ending.

Life was draining away.

 

About the same time this woman began to hemorrhage

Twelve years earlier,

A little baby girl was born.

She was the daughter of a leader from the synagogue.

Yes,

A daughter would have been disappointing on the one hand,

But, on the other, a good Jewish daughter

Grows up to be a strong Jewish mother.

The promise of grandchildren,

The strength of maternal wisdom residing in the home,

The wisdom that flowed from the mother at the head of the family table,

Would have made the new father, Jairus,

Beam with pride.

This was his daughter,

Who would grow his family

And deepen his legacy.

However, his daughter,

Just arriving at the age when Jewish girls

Would begin the process of courtship and marriage;

Right when she was so filled with potential,

Abruptly died.

 

Childhood mortality was common at the time of Jesus,

So it wasn’t unexpected.

But that doesn’t mean that it was any less painful

Than the death of a child today.

 

In poignant contrast,

Our Gospel lesson sets the table

For Jesus to act and speak to us today.

So what do these stories say?

 

First, let’s talk about healing.

There is one school of thought that believes

That anyone can be healed simply if they have enough faith.

Proponents will point to Jesus lifting

This unnamed, newly healed, formerly hemorrhaging woman

And speaking to her,

My “daughter, your faith has made you well.”

(Mark 5:34)

If only your faith is sufficient,

Then anyone can be healed,

Or so some believe.

This places the entire responsibility upon the one who is seeking healing.

This line of thought victimizes the sick,

And when life doesn’t turn out the way one had expected,

The rest of the world is left with the message

That their faith had been inadequate.

 

By couching this one story with in the larger story

Of Jesus raising Jarius’ daughter from the dead,

St. Mark the Evangelist is clearly making a powerful counter-point.

The twelve year old girl was dead.

It wouldn’t be her lack of faith

Or her super abundant faith that would determine her outcome

Because she was already dead.

With masterful strokes,

The message is loud and clear:

Healing is not solely dependent upon the faith of the person being healed.

Healing is about faith,

Yet, more than just about faith.

 

There is another school of thought

That healing can only come from one who is divinely gifted as a healer.

You and I have heard and seen this many times

Especially via the tele-evangelist and their dramatic,

Emotion wrought demonstrations of faith healing.

“Just say the name of Jesus and be healed!”

The healer will shout

As they smack their palm against

The wheelchair bound individual’s forehead.

It is as if God selects certain individuals

To go away to some secret healing seminary

To learn the top-secret potions for healing individuals.

The cook book says,

If they’re in a wheelchair, do this.

If they aren’t in a wheelchair, give them one.

If they insist on standing, smack them this way.

If they reach out to touch you, let them only touch the hem of your garment.

 

Yet, here again, St. Mark the Evangelist

Uses these two contrasting healing narratives

To complete debunk this school of thought.

One doesn’t have to be uniquely gifted,

Or follow some divine recipe,

For healing to take place.

Indeed, Jesus mixes it up.

He employs different methods with each.

The observation that healing power

Had already passively flowed from him

Through her touch

And into her body,

Is very different than our Lord’s stern command,

“Little girl, get up!”

 

The message that we can hear today,

Is that healing comes from God,

That it comes as God so chooses,

And on God’s own terms.

 

Sometimes healing is cure.

Other times healing is restoration of relationships.

Jesus didn’t have to stop

When he felt the power of healing had gone forth from him.

Jesus didn’t have to “out” this woman.

But by doing so,

This woman’s healing, faith, and testimonial

Would restore her back

Into her community of family, friends, and neighbors.

The unclean was now clean.

Return to your life …. And live.

This woman’s social fabric

Was now mended.

Her life was transformed

Into a living testimonial to the power and presence and love of God.

 

Sometimes healing is resurrection.

Other times healing is spiritual revival.

Just when our soul feels

Like all faith is lost,

Every breath is labored,

Each drop of blood has drained us spiritual dry,

God’s touch of healing

Can revive our soul right out of the grave.

Endless church debates,

Controversies over money and morality,

And a lifetime of tedious board meetings

Can kill a person.

Lots of people lose their soul in organized religion.

Pssss: it even happens to clergy.

Yet, by God’s hand,

In God’s time,

And by power that can only come from God almighty,

God is able to resurrect the dead

Both literally and spiritually.

God’s in the resurrection business, people.

So get in line!

 

Secondly, it is important to recognize fear,

Especially since this passage comes on the heel of last Sunday’s narrative of Jesus stilling the wind and calming the waves.

In today’s Gospel,

The hemorrhaging woman isn’t afraid to approach Jesus.

She isn’t afraid of the fact that by touching him, she would make him unclean.

What makes this woman afraid?

It was when Jesus stops and asks

“Who touched my cloths?”

(Mark 5:30)

By the act of “knowing what had happened to her,”

She “came in fear and trembling,

Fell down before him,

And told him the whole truth.”

(Mark 5:33)

Knowing caused her to fear.

Likewise,

A Father’s fear is palpable

When Jairus seeks out Jesus,

Falls at his feet,

And begs for him to heal his daughter.

 

Knowing God

And knowing what God is capable of doing

Should cause all of us to get down on our knees before the Lord

With fear and trembling.

Knowing what God has already done for us

Should cause each of us to come clean,

To confess ourselves spotless,

To witness to the whole truth of our less-than-perfect lives.

 

Fear is a double-edge sword.
Fear can keep us away from Jesus,

… For a time.

But at the end of the day,

The same fear that drove us away

Is the same fear that can bring us round back home to our Lord’s feet.

Fear is a good thing when it drives us home to Jesus.

Weather it is when we are in a storm tossed boat

Or when Jesus has outed our sins

For all the world to see,

Fear is God’s bucket of ice water in our face …

… “snap out of it” …

And get yourself back into the presence of Jesus,

Because that is where healing takes place.

 

Few things sap the life right out of us

Like illness or injury,

Like fatigue or death.

Similarly, rolling in the slop of sin

Can cause a hangover of regret

That can bend and break even the strongest man or woman.

 

Know this to be true:

Healing comes from God

At the feet of Jesus.

 

Fear not!

Healing is restoration.

Healing is cure.

Healing is salvation.

Healing is leaving behind the troubles of this world.

Healing is going home to live with

… To abide with …

God.

Amen.