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Church, Proclaim: Christ the Restorer

The Sixth Sunday after Pentecost, 1 July 2018
A Sermon on Mark 5:21-43 by Samuel Zumwalt, STS

Mark 5:21-43 English Standard Version, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers]

21 And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about him, and he was beside the sea. 22 Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet 23 and implored him earnestly, saying, “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.” 24 And he went with him. And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. 25 And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, 26 and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. 27 She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. 28 For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” 29 And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30 And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?” 31 And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’” 32 And he looked around to see who had done it. 33 But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. 34 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” 35 While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler’s house some who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” 36 But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” 37 And he allowed no one to follow him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. 38 They came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and Jesus saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. 39 And when he had entered, he said to them, “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping.” 40 And they laughed at him. But 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. 41 Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” 42 And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement. 43 And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat. The Gospel of the Lord.

Church, Proclaim: Christ the Restorer

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God, our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Parenting is a life sentence. Once children come into our lives whether by biology, adoption, or even by marriage, they take captive our hearts, our calendars, our wallets, and they change us. They are the gift that keeps on taking. If you are a parent, you try to remember how it used to be back in BC (before children). New parents wonder when they will ever get a full night’s sleep again. Empty nesters and grandparents notice how everything changes with and after visits. What hurts our children hurts us worse, because we know how old hurts can stay with us a lifetime.
Our heavenly Father’s heart has been broken time and again by His rebellious creatures. Given the gift of life, breath, all that we have and are, we take and take His gifts and, in return, pretend that we have gotten them by our own reason and effort. Through Noah and his family, the Father tried to create a servant people when creation had majored in rebellion. It did not work. Through Abram and Sarai, He tried to create a servant people when men and women had sought to make a name for themselves inviting communication breakdown at the macro level.

Through Moses, He rescued Israel in bondage in Egypt and made covenant with them, again, by grace, but His chosen delighted in other gods which could not save or deliver them. Through judges, kings, prophets, and priests, the Father blessed His people and sought that they would be a blessing to all the nations of the earth. But their disobedience led to painfully logical results, and the Father suffered as parents suffer over their children’s woes. Like a slow-moving train wreck, the history of our rebellion against God has unfolded. There could be only one choice.

At the right time, the Father sent His beloved Son, born of the Virgin Mary, to share our nature and our lot. At the right time, the Son of God appeared on the stage of human history. Anointed with the Holy Spirit, the long-promised King from David’s family entered into our history of rebellion to save and redeem His lost and condemned creatures. From the moment of His Baptism in the Jordan River, the Friend of sinners began an unrelenting attack on the old evil foe, whose wicked lies had ensnared and broken all creation at the micro level. This is what Mark has shown us thus far. The Son of God, whose name means “God saves”, is reclaiming what belongs to God alone. He is Lord over nature, over demons, over disease, and death itself!

Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures

This week’s gospel is another Markan sandwich, one story inside another. Jairus, the ruler of the synagogue is desperate over his daughter’s failing health. He begs the Lord Jesus’ help, and the Master agrees to come. On the way, surrounded by a large crowd, the Lord is not conscious of a woman in the crowd, someone’s daughter for certain. She is worn out from years of bleeding with all the attending physical, financial, spiritual, emotional, and relational consequences. Was she suffering with endometriosis? Was she infertile? Did she have no husband and no parents? Like Jairus, she is desperate. If only she can touch the hem of Jesus’ cloak, she might be healed.

Faith is no heroic thing. It is not something to be commanded or demanded. Faith is trust, and such faith is found when we are flat on our backs, or prone on the floor and racked with tears, or just so worn out and despondent and terrified and broken and crushed and afraid that we finally rediscover the cry of our lonely hearts: “Lord, have mercy!” “Please…God!” “Help me, Jesus!” Children can bring you to your knees. Children can post you outside their closed doors at night pleading for them. Grown children can take aging parents to places they haven’t been in years or perhaps before. Faith is Jairus’ heartfelt plea for his daughter. It is the woman’s reaching hand.

There is nothing heroic about Jairus or the woman in the crowd. These are not moments to enshrine in the Museum of Self-Sufficiency. They need God’s Son Jesus. He alone can save and deliver them from the old enemy’s reign of terror. “Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me!”

St. Paul speaks of this in Romans 8 as he describes all creation groaning in labor pains, yearning to be made new. Paul tells us that the Holy Spirit prays with us with sighs too deep for words. Yes, the Holy Spirit creates the faith of a tiny mustard seed as the story of the searching, saving Son of God reaches our desperate ears and registers in our heart of hearts. “Oh, perhaps Jesus can help me now. Oh, perhaps Jesus can draw me from this murky morass. Oh, perhaps Jesus can do what I know now I cannot do and no one else can. Oh, Jesus, please help me!”

Daughter…Father…Son…Little Girl, Arise!

Jesus taught us our Father knows what we need before we ask. We need His Son, Jesus. We all need Jesus. The woman in the crowd was crying “Daddy” when she reached for His Son’s robe. Jairus was crying “Daddy” when he came worried sick to Jesus and so much more when the servants told him his little girl was dead. The disciples all but said “Yeah, right” when the Lord asked them who had touched him. The professional mourners and neighbors laughed in Jesus’ face when He declared Jairus’ little girl was only sleeping.

When Jairus came asking for Bread, the Father did not give him a stone. When the woman came asking for Fish, the Father did not give her a serpent. Jairus and his little girl received the Bread of Life, Jesus. The bleeding woman in the crowd received the One whom the early Church called Ichthys (the Greek word for “fish” and an acrostic in Greek: “Iesus” Jesus; “Christos” Christ; “Theos Huios” God’s Son; “Soter” Savior).

Jesus called the woman in the crowd, “Daughter.” The Son of God answered father Jairus’ cry for help as a Father answers a son’s helpless cry. And to the little girl, the Lord said, “Arise!”

Dear ones, this life is not forever. These bodies will not last. Today’s crises are not a cosmic joke from a heartless, headless universe. We have a waiting Father who yearns to embrace us. We have a searching Savior who does not do a cost benefit analysis before going to the cross for us. We have a Holy-ing Spirit who is calling to fatherless daughters and daughterless fathers and doubting disciples and loveless laughers to be joined to the Son’s saving death and amazing resurrection in the washing of Holy Baptism. And, through the saving Son to be brought to His Father’s forever, loving grip that will not let us go.

So, then, what do you give those who in Holy Baptism have been restored to a right relationship with the Father through no effort or merit of their own? What do you give one daughter who has been restored from weakness and another from death? What do you give a father who has been restored to his daughter, disciples who have been given the eyes of faith, mockers who have had their derision turned to joy? Why you give them something to eat! You give them what they need the most, yes, what we need the most, yes, what everyone needs!

We need Christ the Restorer in the Host and Cup. We need our Lord Jesus’ true Body and most precious Blood. We need Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Savior to say: “For you!” And receiving Jesus in our empty hands, we arise from His Table, fully fed, forgiven, and freed from the old enemy’s deadly despair in sure and certain hope that Jesus will make all things new forever. And we shall be restored and restored with all of our dear ones who are already with the Lord!

In the name of the Father, and of the +Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

©Samuel David Zumwalt, STS
szumwalt@bellsouth.net
www.societyholytrinity.org “
St. Matthew’s Ev. Lutheran Church
Wilmington, North Carolina USA

Church, Proclaim: Christ the Restorer

Praying

“In your loving kindness, O God, you have adopted us into your family as children of light: Grant that we may not become entangled in the darkness of error and lies but may always live in the brightness of your truth; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen” (The Daily Prayer of the Church, 616).

Listening

Mark 5:23 “Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.”

St. Peter Chrysalogus [5th century Bishop of Ravenna, Italy]: “Those who are sick do not lay down the conditions of how they are to be cured. They only want to be made well. But this man was a ruler of the synagogue and versed in the law. He had surely read that while God created all other things by His Word, man had been created by the hand of God. He trusted therefore in God that his daughter would be recreated, and restored to life by that same hand which, he knew, had created her…He who laid hands on her to form her from nothing, once more lays hands upon her to reform her from what had perished” (Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: Mark, 73).

Mark 5:27 “She…came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment.”

St. Jerome [late 4th – early 5th century translator of the Latin (Vulgate) Bible]: “The woman with the hemorrhage had spent all that she had on doctors. Hungering and thirsting, her spirit had died within her. Having lost everything she possessed, because her life was wasting away within her, she cried out to the Lord in anguish. Her touch on the hem of his garment was the cry of a believing heart. In this she is the figure of the assembly of God gathered from all the nations” (73-74).

Mark 5:39 “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping.”

St. Peter Chrysalogus: “Here surrounded by her family and by the sympathy and affection of her relations, a daughter lies upon her bed of suffering. She is fading in body. Her father’s mind and spirit are worn with grief. She is suffering the inward pangs of her sickness. He, unwashed, unkempt, is absorbed wholly in sorrow. He suffers and endures before the eyes of the world. She is sinking into the quiet of death…. Alas! why are children indifferent to these things! Why are they not mindful of them? Why are they not eager to make a return to their parents for them? But the love of parents goes on nevertheless; and whatever parents bestow upon their children, God, the parent of us all, will duly repay” (77).

Mark 5:41 “Taking her by the hand he said to her, ‘Talitha cumi,’…’Little girl, I say to you, arise.’”

St. Ambrose [4th century Bishop of Milan]: “And what shall I say about the daughter of the ruler of the synagogue, at whose death the people were mourning and the flute players were playing their music? On the assumption that she was indeed dead, solemn funeral services were already being performed. But her spirit returned immediately at the voice of the Lord. She arose with revived body and partook of food to furnish proof that she was alive” (77).

Reflecting

1. Do I try to set conditions upon God when I pray for healing for myself or others?

2. Do I understand that all healing in this life is penultimate and that complete healing will not be given until I and those I pray for have finally departed this life with its sin-sick bodies?

Learning

(Read this aloud daily until everyone in your home can say it from memory.)

Table of Duties

Certain passages of Scripture for Various Holy Orders and Positions, by Which These People Are to Be Admonished, as a Special Lesson, about Their Office and Service

To Workers of All Kinds

“Servants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as servants of Christ doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord whether he is a slave or free” (Ephesians 6:5-8; see also Colossians 3:22).

To Employers and Supervisors

“Masters, do the same to them and stop your threatening, knowing that He who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with Him” (Ephesians 6:9; see also Colossians 4:1) (Luther’s Small Catechism).

Doing

1. Pray for every unbaptized child and adult you know and for the child’s parents, too.

2. Pray for your unchurched loved ones and friends. Invite one or more of them to worship.

3. During the summer months (especially fathers!), bring your household to the services of God’s house. If you are on the road, worship while you are away and bring back the bulletin for Pastor Zumwalt to see. Do this for accountability and to let the pastor see what other congregations are doing.

4. Consider all your relationships in life as the very places where God is calling you to be faithful.

5. Hang a crucifix or cross opposite your pillow so that the last sight you see before turning out the light is your Lord’s cross and the first sight of the new day reminds you to pray.

For Husbands and Wives

Repeat daily: “I (name) take you (name) to be my wedded wife (husband), to have and to hold from this day forward; for better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health; to love and to cherish until death do us part, according to God’s holy ordinance, and thereto I pledge you my faith.”