[Jesus] said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”Mark 5:34
Three very different people are healed in Chapter 5 of Mark’s Gospel: The man named Legion, who was possessed by many demons; the poor woman who had been hemorrhaging for 12 long years; and the 12-year old daughter of Jairus, a leader of the synagogue.
I shared a devotion last month exploring these three miracles: United by a Shared Savior. In that devotion, I reflected on what it might have been like if all these people were all gathered in a room together. Kind of like what happened in a movie that came out last year, “One Night in Miami.” It is a fictional account of an actual event that took place in the 1960s, when Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Sam Cooke, and Jim Brown spent an evening together. Imagine their conversation! That is exactly what the movie did.
So, imagine a movie like that, but with these four people from Mark Chapter 5, gathered together, “One Night in Miami” style. What would their conversation be like? They really could not be more different from one another. Before they encountered Jesus, it would have been hard to imagine them finding anything to discuss with each other. But after they have been healed by Jesus, and had their lives completely transformed by Jesus’ healing power, they now had something incredible in common. And it is easy to imagine them having an animated discussion about their miraculous healings, and the man who changed their lives. They now had a common bond that was both unique and powerful. And it transcended all of their other differences.
And here is the point: That is also true of us. As Christians, we have a common bond that is both unique and powerful. We might wonder, on any given Sunday morning, what we have in common with those around us. Churches often bring together people from very different backgrounds, with very different views of the world. It would be easy to describe all the ways that we are different from one another, and to focus on that. But just like the people in this chapter of Mark’s gospel, what we have in common is far greater – for we have all been touched by the healing love of our Savior. We are all united by a shared Savior. We have all been saved, healed, and blessed by Jesus. And that is much more powerful than any differences that we might have.
The more we focus on our Savior, the more we will realize how much we truly have in common. So, let’s focus on our Savior this morning, by digging into this gospel reading (Mark 5:21-43) a little more, with these two great miracles: the healing of the daughter of Jairus, a well-known leader of the synagogue, and the healing of the woman who is hemorrhaging, unclean, and broke.
From Death to Life
Let’s start with Jairus and his 12-year old daughter. Every parent’s nightmare is to have a desperately sick child. This was the nightmare that Jairus and his wife lived. Even though Jairus was a prominent leader of the synagogue, no doubt a very faithful and religious man, their little girl was sick. He was desperate. Desperate enough to turn to Jesus.
What do I mean by that? Well, it is important to remember that the leaders of the synagogue have already had many run-ins with Jesus. In fact, when Jesus dared to heal someone in a synagogue on the sabbath, some of the leaders had already begun to plot to kill Jesus. And here is one of those same leaders coming up to Jesus in view of everyone, falling at his feet, and begging Jesus to heal his daughter.
In the eyes of the world, especially in the eyes of the religious leaders of Jesus’ day, Jesus was nothing more than a dangerous troublemaker. But Jairus, through the eyes of faith, and desperation, saw something quite different. Jesus was his daughter’s only hope for life. And so, Jairus summoned his courage, and risked his reputation and livelihood, in order to approach Jesus and beg him to heal his daughter.
When we are desperate, we can easily become discouraged. But when we are desperate and trust in Jesus, we can show tremendous courage.
Jairus was a desperate man. His daughter was dying. But Jairus also believed that Jesus could heal his daughter. And so, with the whole community watching, Jairus approached this troublemaker from Nazareth, and fell at his feet, and begged for a miracle.
And as we heard, Jesus went with Jairus to heal his daughter. But before they got to his house, his daughter had died. It was too late to heal her, in the eyes of the world. But in Jesus’ eyes, it wasn’t too late at all. “Why do you make a commotion and weep?”, he asked the crowd who was there. “The child is not dead but sleeping.”
Death seems so final in the eyes of the world. But not in the eyes of Jesus. As Martin Luther put it in a sermon on this text, “it is easier for Christ to awaken someone from death than for us to arouse someone from sleep.” Think of that. For the Lord, death is nothing more than sleep. We don’t need to fear death. We fall asleep in the Lord, and the next thing we know, we are awakened by the Lord. That’s what He promises to us all.
And to show us that he can fulfill this promise, Jesus goes with Jairus to his house, takes his little girl by the hand, and raises her to life. Jesus has the power to make the sick well; and he even has the power to bring the dead to life. And one day, all will be made well; and all will be made alive in Jesus. He went to the cross to make this sick world well, and to bring this dying world to life. Just as he brought this little girl to life.
By the way, did you notice that after Jesus raises the little girl, he tells those who were with her to give her something to eat? He invites them to take part in this miracle, just as he did in another famous miracle, the raising of Lazarus, when he invited those around Lazarus to unbind him and let him go.
Why did Jesus do this? Because he wants us to participate in the work of bringing his kingdom to our world. He wants us to help this sick, dying world. He wants us to reach out to those the world deems unclean. He wants us to participate in the healing that he came to bring, and to share the hope that we have in him, so all the world would not fear, but believe.
From Healing to Peace
On his way to help the little girl, Jesus was interrupted by a woman who had been hemorrhaging for 12 years. She was desperate. She had “endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse.” This poor woman had been sick for twelve long years. She had been to every doctor around. Spent all her money on treatments that did no good. She was out of options.
And, to make it worse, she was considered unclean because of her illness, so she was even isolated from her family and friends. She was very sick. And she was very alone.
But she had heard about Jesus. She heard that he can heal the sick. And that he loves even those who are unclean. He had recently touched a leper and made him clean. And she believed that Jesus could do the same for her. So, she found him in the crowd, touched his cloak, and was immediately healed.
She was healed, but Jesus wanted more for her. He wanted her to have shalom, peace. He wanted her to be restored to her community. So, Jesus stopped. Turned to the crowd and asked, “Who touched me?” The woman summoned her courage, and came to Jesus in fear and trembling and fell down before him. She need not have feared.
Jesus looked at her with love, called her daughter (the only time in the gospels that he did that); he claimed her as God’s own child. And he gave her peace. “Your faith has made you well” he said; “go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
And this is, to me, what is powerful about her story. This poor, desperate woman found more than just healing that day. She was restored to her community. And she was given peace. The peace which this world cannot give. The peace which only comes from Jesus.
To me, this is the greatest miracle of them all. Not just to be healed of disease, but to be claimed as God’s beloved child, and given peace. This woman would get sick again, like us all. Like Jairus and his wife and daughter. Like Legion, who no longer had to deal with his demons. They all will get sick. And so will we. But they have a hope and a peace that this world cannot take away. That sickness cannot take away. And so do we.
They know that God loves them. They know that Jesus can heal them. And bring them back to life, even after they die. And so do we. We are all united by our shared Savior. Who came to save us from our sin. And to give us peace. May we live in this peace, and share it with our world. To the glory of God. Amen.