Despair Interrupted by Hope

Text: Mark 5:21-43

Sunday Sermon

The Rev. Dr. D. William Faupel
Priest-in-Charge

June 28, 2015

I.

Good Morning. My name is Jairus. I’m a respected leader in my community, I run our local synagogue. I’m a man in a hurry and used to getting my way. I always looked up to my superiors, and have to admit, looked a bit askance at those that I saw as beneath me. However, that was before my world was turned upside down.

It all started when my beloved daughter, my only child, became ill. I called our doctor. He came and treated her but she only got worse. After a while he came out of her room and shook his head. I don’t think she is going to make it. I was frantic. Was there no hope?

Then someone mentioned that there was a miracle worker who lived in the next village. His name was Jesus. Normally, I would not have given him the time of day, but I was desperate. I set out immediately to find him.

When I arrived at Capernaum, to my disappointment I leaned that he had left the day before for the other side of the Sea of Galilee. Several other boats had gone with him but had returned to port when an unexpected storm arose. But not Jesus. He plowed on through to the other side. (I understand those of you who were in church last week learned about that little caper). Anyway they were expecting him to return on this date.

Already a large crowd had gathered on the shore looking off into the sea watching for the first appearance of his boat. At last a shout went out as he was spotted. My heart leaped to my throat. Would he come to my home? Would he get there in time? Would he be able to help her?

I stepped forward to introduce myself. The crowd recognized me as a man of importance and made a passageway for me to walk up to him. I told him about my little girl. He had such kindly eyes and a sympathetic smile. He agreed to come at once. But just as we turned to go there was a commotion at the back of the crowd. Jesus turned and said “Who touched me?” My world suddenly came to an end.

One of my servants came and pulled me aside. The look on his face confirmed my greatest fear. My world had just ended. My daughter was dead.

II.

The events that followed next are a blur in my mind. I was overcome with grief. Yet in retrospect when it was all over, what took place next transformed how I looked at life.

The person who interrupted us was a nobody. We didn’t even know her name. Oddly enough, we do know quite a bit about her despite that fact. She had been hemorrhaging for twelve years. Ironically, her problems started the same year my little girl, the joy of my life, was born. Apparently she once was a woman of some means, but she spent all of her money on various doctors who guaranteed that they could cure her. Of course they could not. When she spent all of her money they lost interest in her. She in turn lost her home and became a street person.

In our culture, a woman with a hemorrhage was ritually unclean. We males believed a woman’s blood could curdle milk. Worse still, we were convinced that if we touched a woman during her menstrual cycle we would become sexually impotent for at least a week. Your English translators are so delicate. Your King James Version says that when the woman touched the hem of his garment, all the virtue flowed out of him. Well, do you have any idea what the literal translation is? That’s right. All the sexual potency drained from him. Can you imagine the reaction of the crowd?

The woman had pushed through from behind to get to Jesus, touching only God knows how many people to get to him. All of them were now ritually unclean.

“Who touched me?” Jesus said again. The woman confessed that it was her. A gasp went through the crowd. But Jesus smiled at her and said. My daughter, your faith has made you well, go and live in peace.

At that point I became overcome with rage. He called this nobody daughter, when my precious daughter was dead. He stopped to heal this outcast. I, Jarius, the important leader was left to hurt. It was not fair.

Then he mocked me. “Do not fear, only believe, your child is not dead, only sleeping.” Did he think me a fool? Everyone knew no one returned from the dead. But he would not be denied. He asked me to take him to our village and to my home. He went into the room where my little girl was laying. Gently, he took her hand and said in my language. “Talitha cum” which means “Get up, little girl.”

And do you know what? To my absolute amazement, that is exactly what she did!

III

I said this experience changed my life. It changed the way I look at things. I had always seen myself as a person of privilege, deserving of the respect and honor my society placed upon me. But when my little girl lay dying I realized I was on equal footing with that woman. Desperate, needy, willing to do anything if only my little girl would live. Before then, I would have looked at this woman with contempt or at best with pity.

But I came to see her as Jesus saw her. She was a child of God, beloved, even as I loved my little girl. I came to see that God loved us both equally. I came to realize I should not judge by outward appearances. I came to recognize that out of her great need came her faith. The timing of those two events, the healing of this woman and bringing life to my little girl changed the way I look at things.

From that day, I became a follower of Rabbi Jesus. I’m so glad he came. Aren’t you?

Amen