Sunday sermon 9.00 am 1 July – “twelve”

Readings:

Psalm 30

A psalm. A song. For the dedication of the temple.Of David.

I will exalt you, O Lord,
for you lifted me out of the depths
and did not let my enemies gloat over me.
O Lord my God, I called to you for help
and you healed me.
O Lord, you brought me up from the grave[b];
you spared me from going down into the pit.

Sing to the Lord, you saints of his;
praise his holy name.
For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favour lasts a lifetime;
weeping may remain for a night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.

When I felt secure, I said,
“I will never be shaken.”
O Lord, when you favoured me,
you made my mountain[c] stand firm;
but when you hid your face,
I was dismayed.

To you, O Lord, I called;
to the Lord I cried for mercy:
“What gain is there in my destruction,[d]
in my going down into the pit?
Will the dust praise you?
Will it proclaim your faithfulness?
10 Hear, O Lord, and be merciful to me;
O Lord, be my help. ”

11 You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
12 that my heart may sing to you and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever.

 

Mark 5:21-43

New International Version 1984 (NIV1984)

A Dead Girl and a Sick Woman

21 When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake. 22 Then 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.

30 At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”

31 “You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ”

32 But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. 33 Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

35 While Jesus was still speaking, some men came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher any more?”

36 Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”

37 He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. 38 When they came to the home of the synagogue ruler, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. 39 He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” 40 But they laughed at him.

After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. 41 He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). 42 Immediately the girl stood up and walked around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. 43 He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat.

 Message:

In a previous congregation where I served there was a shower off the vestry. The story goes that the pastor could walk along the beach, have  a shower, and then share the Sunday sermon with the congregation. One of the previous pastors was rumored to have done that.

One Sunday I listened to him speak on this text.  The focus was about the woman touching the garment of Jesus and being healed. Somehow the preacher got us inside the story – and we touched the garment of Jesus and trusted Him for our own healing.

That’s a great option today. But if we study the text, the two stories are intriguing – Mark weaves them together in an fascinating way considering that everything else he shares in his gospel is very short and sharp and to the point.

And what is the fascinating thing that the two stories have in common?

  1. Two women
  2. Two daughters
  3. Two lots of twelve.

The woman who had suffered the “issue of blood” had endured this ordeal and the social exclusion it would have brought (being unclean etc.) for the same number of years – twelve years –  that the Talitha – the little girl had lived!

Some suffering is a very long drawn out affair. The older woman’s struggle was as long as the child’s whole life.

But the word was out that this Jesus could help. And she had little chance of making an appointment – she was ritually unclean and he was a Jewish man and rabbi.

And she was not as important and probably not as erudite as the synagogue leader called Jairus. Interesting that he is named – but the woman is not.

The ironic twist of verse 26 is also poignant.

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.

Perhaps she had not had the best care – there were probably not too few quacks around – and she was broke. No status. No doctor willing to treat her. No buying power, and social excluded as unclean, things had not gone well.

In the meantime Jairus had access to Jesus – and in fact Jesus had already responded to Jairus and was on his way to his house.

And the unnamed woman is a distraction – an interruption.

Hmm – sounds like some of my days when I feel stretched in different directions. It’s often the interruptions that are the real moments when you can make a difference in ministry.

And of course (verse 24) there’s this large clamouring crowd. Who knows why they were there? Like people who stop at an accident – or bystanders at a tragedy?

I watched video footage this week of a man crossing a street (jaywalking) in front of a taxi. The taxi stopped, reversed and drove up the pavement and into the man, such was the road rage of the driver. And then – that’s not all – he gets out of his taxi while the guy is lying on the ground, and kicks him senseless. More bizarre was the two men who stood still on the sidewalk watching with interest. Not making any move to stop this senseless violence.

Crowds gather for all kinds of reasons. And the woman is in the crowd on this day. The throng following Jesus were no doubt intrigued by his words and deeds.

Jesus – on his way to Jairus’ house to heal  “twelve” number one, the girl, the daughter of this important official – the crowds pressing in – and this woman – ‘twelve’ number two if you like – has the audacity, the gall, to touch Jesus’ clothes. We pick the story up in verse 27:

. 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.

Our storyteller has that magical insight of a narrator of course – telling us what her inner thoughts are about the potential of this encounter.

What we don’t know is what had happened in her mind and heart over those years. Such a long time of struggle.

Perhaps she was able to say afterwards, from Psalm 30:

O Lord my God, I called to you for help
and you healed me.

11 You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
12 that my heart may sing to you and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever.

THE MYSTERY

It is an unusual account. Jesus knows something has happened. Listen again:

30 At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”

31 “You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ”

32 But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it.

The disciples are perplexed by his response. There is something illogical here. It could have been anyone or a number of people bumping into Jesus.

But he knows this is different – and he engages her face to face – commending her for her courage and her faith:

33 Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

There is something warm about the word “daughter” here. And of course the uncleanness does not flow to Jesus – rather the healing flows from him to the woman.

And our “twelve” number two – in this case it is the father’s faith that results in action. The Talitha dies – the messengers suggest Jairus gives up his quest for help – and Jesus has to face another crowd – this time of mourners.

Jesus is undeterred by the negative message. He encourages this synagogue ruler to keep trusting: 36 Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”

And touching the little girl is again breaking custom – Jesus too would become unclean as a result. He persists. And In a caring way when she gets up, he makes sure she is fed.

WHAT’S TO BE DONE TODAY?

I guess there’s a good basis for us to get involved with the needy – the unclean of our generation – and to help people to trust Jesus for solutions to their problems too!

Beyond the physical healing in these accounts there is acceptance, intimacy, and love. Relationships make us human. Without others we cannot be ourselves. (John Macmurray – “I need you in order to be myself”.

WHAT WE CAN DO –REACH OUT to Jesus today! “Reach out and touch the Lord as he passes by…” – is the first line of a song we used to sing.

We can reach out for our own needs (like the older daughter) or like the Father of the younger daughter – come to Jesus and ask him for help. Either way we come in faith and trust.

We are not out of reach – nothing we have done can make us untouchable or unclean. Such is the grace of God.

 

Advertisements

About robinpalmer

I am a Presbyterian Pastor living and working in Browns Bay on the North Shore of Auckland in New Zealand. We moved here at the end of March 2011 after spending five years in Wellington the capital city. I am passionate about what I do - about communicating and writing. I also enjoy my counselling work, especially with young people.

Posted on July 1, 2012, in Sunday Morning Sermons. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: