SCRIPTURES – Lamentations 3:22-33; 2 Cor. 8:1-9, 13-15; Mark 5:21-43
[The woman] said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” … Jesus said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
We see two great things revealed in this Gospel today: the great damage that sin brings; but then, the even greater healing and restoration that faith in Christ receives.
The great damage that sin brings is evident in many ways in our world. Its final damage is death. Now, sometimes we see death as a blessing: “Her sufferings are over, and she is at peace… He had a long and a good life, and, thank God, doesn’t have to endure years of decline.” But, the death of a 12 year old girl? There’s no blessing there, no covering up the damage and loss with nice-sounding words. The deaths of children have become less common in our day, but they still happen. They happen because, from our beginning in the womb, we are all sinners; and, as Scripture says, “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). From infants to the elderly, we all have to pay this piper, as surely as we all will suffer from this loss. Death is sin’s final and greatest damage in this life, and it comes upon us all.
The woman who had suffered for 12 years from bleeding – probably vaginal bleeding related to menstruation – suffered what could be called a living death. Physically, she was probably anemic, and so was constantly tired and weak. But, worse were the social and emotional sufferings she endured. Her bleeding rendered her unclean in Jewish society. Her bed was unclean, as was anything she sat upon. So also was anyone who sat where she sat or lay in her bed or had any physical contact with her or anything she touched. Undoubtedly, then, she was not married. She had few, if any, friends. People would avoid her, and she was supposed to avoid them. In fact, she couldn’t even go into the synagogue to hear God’s words and worship, or enter the temple to offer a sacrifice or pray for God’s help. The unclean were not allowed there. And, how do you think she was looked upon? People viewed her as being punished by God for her sin (“which,” they whispered, “was probably sexual sin”). She endured critical glances. She was damaged goods. She lived alone and in the shadows, and so approached Jesus from the shadow of the crowd.
For all our talk of how open and welcoming and understanding we are today, people still talk. And today, it’s not only in whispers behind the back but through anonymous shouts over the internet. And so, we still seek to hide our sins and conceal our problems. Perhaps it’s the embarrassment and uncleanness that sexual sins (past or present) and desires bring; or, maybe it’s because of physical and mental decline. People look down on you because of them. We even look down upon ourselves and feel less of a person because of them, and so sin against ourselves. Great is the damage that sins and sicknesses bring! What can we do? Where is there help and hope?
Go to Jesus, as did Jairus, the synagogue ruler, and as did the woman with the flow of blood. How amazing that, even after 12 years of going to doctors and praying to God and yet finding no relief, she still held onto hope and went to Jesus! How could she do so? How could Jairus do so, when his little daughter seemed beyond help? Perhaps they held onto the words of Jeremiah in Lamentations 3: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” We do know that they heard of such steadfast love and mercy in Jesus; it was reports about Him that drew the woman out from the shadows to Him. Both Jairus and the woman looked to Him in faith; and their faith was not in vain. The woman was healed. Jairus’ daughter was raised to life. Their hopes and prayers were answered.
In fact, they received far more than they expected. The woman expected to be healed, and then to remain in the shadows. “She came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, ‘If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.’ ” Jesus not only healed her. He called her forth from the shadows to praise her faith and restore her as a beloved daughter of Israel. Now, not her shame but her faith would be talked about! She would be respected and honored. And Jairus, he not only saw his daughter healed. He saw her raised to life from the dead! His small spark of hope in Jesus was now fanned into a bright and glowing flame.
Jairus and the anonymous woman were blessed because of their faith in Jesus. “Your faith has made you well; go in peace,” the Lord said. Your situation, your needs and your problems may be different. But, you believe in the same Jesus, do you not? In fact, we know more about Him than they did at the time. We know that He went to the cross and offered His life as a sacrifice for us, to take away our sins. We know that His sacrifice was accepted by God the Father, for He raised Him from the dead in triumph and has received Him again to His right hand in heaven. Your Jesus is a great Savior whose steadfast love never ceases and whose mercies never come to an end! In fact, they are new every morning. So, what do you expect? What do you need? Trust in Him and cry out to Him in your need! He will hear and help, and you will be saved.
You can be sure of this because faith makes you His son, His daughter. You are never anonymous to your Lord and Savior! No matter who you are; no matter how small you may seem to others, or even to yourself; no matter what you are dealing with and how great a problem it may be; your Jesus knows you even better than a mother knows her child. He sees your trust in Him, and it is great in His sight. It makes you great in His eyes. He will never ignore or disappoint your faith in Him. Right now we have to be content with touching only His garment, reaching out for His healing through His Word and the Sacraments of Baptism and Absolution and Holy Communion which He has given us. Just as surely as His garments conveyed His healing presence and power to the woman, His Word and Sacraments convey them to us. He has promised this. Believe Him and receive them! For then, the day will come when He will call you forth from the shadows, even from the valley of the shadow of death, to stand you before Him and everyone and praise you for your faith. He will raise you from this world of sin and death to life eternal with Him, and your healing will be complete.
Faith in Christ saves you! Believe, and go in peace. In the name of Jesus. Amen.