In Nomine Iesu
Today’s Gospel is a story of two daughters. A 12 year-old girl, the daughter of a synagogue ruler named Jairus, and a woman who had suffered from a bleeding for 12 years, whom Jesus strangely calls “daughter.” Their lives are inextricably bound together by sickness, by death, by Jesus, who is Life and Healing, for them and for you too.
You can hear the despair in Jairus’ voice as he falls at the feet of Jesus, begging Him to come quickly to his home,”My little daugher is at the point of death. Please, come, and lay your hands on her, as you’ve done for so many people, so that she would be well again, and live. Please hurry. There isn’t much time. She’s only twelve years old. Please.”
You can sense his fathery anxiety as the crowds press in on Jesus so He can barely move around through the narrow streets. Progress is slow. Everyone is pushing and shoving to get in close to Jesus. A woman sneaks up behind Him. She’s suffered much over these twelve years. The physicans have taken all her money but only made things worse. (Luke, the physician, doesn’t mention this little fact.) She’d heard about Jesus. She figured she could grab a little drive-by miracle. “If I touch even His garments, I shall be made well. He won’t even know I was there. He won’t even notice.”
But Jesus did notice. As soon as she touched Him, she felt healing come into her body. Her twelve year illness was gone in an instant. She was healed! And at that very same moment, Jesus felt something too. Power had gone from Him. It’s as though the lights dimmed for moment. A sudden weakness came over Him. There are no cheap miracles, no free and anonymous healings. Each of them cost Jesus. He has the power of God to heal, and when He does, power goes out of Him. He has to know where it went? Who touched my garments? This is personal. Jesus will have no anonymous healing. He must see her, look her in the eye, speak with her.
She comes up to Him trembling, shaking, frightened. Who wouldn’t be? All the doctors in the world couldn’t cure her and Jesus simply walks along the road and she reaches out her hand as one of many anonymous people pressing and around Him and lightly grazes His garments with her fingertips and she’s healed. It seems easy but it’s not easy, for Jesus. He’s weakened by it. Power had gone out of Him. Healing comes at a cost. The healing of the world comes with His wounding to death on the cross. “By His wounds, we are healed.”
I’m sure many people had touched that robe, jostled Jesus, bumped into Him, even stepped on His foot. It’s the middle east, after all. Personal space is at a premium. And the crowd was pressing in all around Him. He could barely move. The disciples even noted, “Look at this mob. What do you mean, ‘Who touched me? Everyone is touching you!” But not everyone had faith. This woman did. She believed that simply touching His garment would bring her healing. She had faith. That’s what makes her different. That’s why her touching Jesus was different. That’s why power went out from Jesus. Faith receives what Jesus has to give. All the other faithless touches were no different than the bumping and shoving that occur in a crowded train station or at the airport. Incidental contact, nothing more.
But that little touch of that fearful woman who wanted only to be healed and not be noticed by the Healer, that was different. That was the touch of Faith. Trust. Jesus was all that mattered to her. She trusted Him to the point she didn’t even want to bother Him. Just touch His garment. That’s all. She knew she was considered unclean. No one would want to touch her. But if she could just reach out and touch Jesus, it would all be better. She believed that enough to stalk Jesus in the crowd and risk being caught. And that kind of faith tapped into the power of God in Jesus to heal, bring life, to restore order and harmony and peace, to cast out the demons and heal the diseases and turn back the tide of death that washes over all of us.
With trembling voice, shaking with fear, she confesses everything. And Jesus doesn’t scold her, He soothes her, blesses her, embraces her as family. “Daughter,” He calls her. Daughter. Not even the formal “woman” He calls Mary, His mother. But daughter. Your faith has made you well. Saved you. Go in peace. Be healed.” She believed Jesus. Her faith had saved her. Her Jesus had saved her. There is no power in faith except to receive. The power is in Jesus.
Time was wasting. This exchange was using up precious time. Some people come from Jairus’ house with the bad news. “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any more? It’s too late. She’s gone.” Those words must have stabbed deep into his father’s heart. His precious little girl, dead. So close. They were so close. He had Jesus by the hand. If it wasn’t for that crowd and that woman, they might have made it. But now it was too late. She’s gone.
Verse 36 is a pivotal moment. Jesus looks straight into the eyes of Jairus, who has just heard that his twelve hear old daughter was dead. He says, “Do not fear, Only believe.” Trust. You trusted me with her illness, when she was very sick to the point of death. Now trust me with her death. “Do not fear, only believe.” Faith is the end of fear. No matter what it is, focus on Jesus. Fix your eyes on Jesus. Trust Jesus. He’s the One who died and rose and reigns to save you. Do not fear. Trust.
“Do not fear, only believe.” He says that to you this morning, here and now. Do not fear, only believe. You may be that woman, suffering a chronic illness, your healthcare run out, the doctors whittling away at your life’s savings, desparate, alone. Do not fear, only believe. Maybe you’ve heard the death sentence from the doctors – you have six months, ten months, no more than a year or two. Do not fear, only believe. You may be Jairus, the anguished father, praying for your child to get better. Do not fear, only believe.
Your prayers may go unanswered, you feel as though God has put you on hold, that He’s interruped your call with another and put you on call-waiting while He deals with someone more important, more urgent, more pressing than your problem. Do not fear, only believe. You may be in despair, trapped by your own sin or the sin of others. You may have lost faith in institutions, in your fellow man, in your country. You may be alone in a crowd, isolated and cut off, surrounded by people yet connected with none of them. Do not fear, only believe.
Jesus came to save all. That woman on the road. Jairus and his daughter. He came for all of them, and for you too. He came to bring healing from the sickness of Sin, to bring order to your disordered life, to bring light into the deep recesses of the darkness. He came with you in mind. For the joy of your salvation, He endured the cross and scorned its shame. In Baptism He touched you in a way that was as personal, even more personal, than that encounter on the road with that woman or in the room with Jairus’ dead daughter.
No, you didn’t touch His garment. No, He didn’t take you by the hand. He did much more. He baptized you. He gives you His body and His blood to eat and to drink. His touch doesn’t get more personal than that. The hem of His robe is nothing compared with His Body and Blood. And it has the same power of life. This is the Body and Blood that went to death for you, that was raised to life again, that conquered Death and the Grave, that is glorified at the right hand of the Father. Yours to eat and to drink. There is no medicine in the world like this. Had we invented it, the doctors would be rich. But because God gave it, it goes largely ignored by the world.
Jairus and Jesus came to the house. He took Peter, James, and John along. (Andrew never gets to go on these things; I don’t know why.) Everything must be established by two or three eyewitnesses. These are the eyewitnesses who swore to their death that they saw it with their own eyes.
The mourning had already begun. The people of Jesus’ day were very open and public with their grief. No quiet, stoic sobs. There was loud weeping and wailing. This was the synagogue ruler’s daughter, after all. The whole congregation was there.
Jesus looks over the scene and says, “Why all the weeping? She’s not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at Him. He’d turned their weeping into laughter, but not the laughter of joy. The laughter of incredulity, of unbelief. They knew dead when they saw it. The little girl was dead and lifeless, not sleeping soundly.
Jesus throws everyone out of the house except the girl’s father and mother and the three disciples. He goes to her bed. He reaches out His hand and takes her cold little hand into His. He says to her, “Talitha, cumi.” Like a Dad waking up his daughter for school. “Little girl, get up. Arise.” And she did! Immediately, she got up and walked around. And Jesus told them to give her something to eat. She’s alive. She has to eat. Rising from the dead apparently creates an appetite. And by the way, “Don’t tell anoyone about this.”
Why not? Why not tell everyone what He has done? Because this is not how He’s going to deal with sickness and death. Not one at a time. Widow’s son here, a synagogue ruler’s daughter there. His friend Lazarus. He raised three dead people that way. But that was not the way He was going to bind the strong man and plunder his goods. Jesus didn’t come to save a few but the world. He didn’t come to dole out personal favors to those who believe. He came to die and rise for the sins of the world. There on the cross He is most Son of God, most Lord, most Savior. For you, for all. That’s the Jesus faith locks on to – the One hanging on the cross whose wounds are our healing, whose death is our life, whose shame is our glory, whose weakness is our strength. On the cross, power went out of Him, life went out of Him, strength and healing went out of Him. And by faith into you.
We may feel very much like that desperate woman on the road or Jairus with his dying little girl. Helpless in this world. Impotent against the forces of Sin and Death. We may feel that God isn’t listening to all those prayers. We may wonder at times if there even is a God in heaven or have we just made Him up like some fairy tale to get us through the difficult times. We may be tempted to hand-wringing anxiety, worry, despair.
This word today from Jesus to you: “Do not fear, only believe.” Whatever it is that causes you to fear, use Jesus against it. Don’t focus on the source of fear. That’s what makes it an idol. Fix your eyes on Jesus. Fix your faith on Jesus. That’s where the power is. That’s where the mercy is. That’s where the Father’s love for you is found. That’s where you are “son” and “daughter.” In Jesus. Baptized and believing, you are God’s child, and nothing can harm you. Though you die, yet you will live, and living and believing in Jesus, you never die forever. That woman on the road would tell you. Jairus would tell you. His little daughter would tell you. Peter, James, and John would tell you. Mark is telling you. Faith in Jesus is never empty, never wasted, never without effect.
Do not fear, son, daughter, child of God. Your faith will save you. Your Jesus will save you. Do not fear. Just believe.