The Rev. Kenneth H. Saunders III
Year B - 5 Pentecost (Proper 8) - June 28, 2015
|2 Samuel 1:1, 17-27|
|2 Corinthians 8:7-15|
The Gospel story this morning is interesting. It’s actually a story within a story or is it a story within a story? For the evangelist, Mark, this is a bit strange. See, Mark most always gets straight to the point and doesn’t usually include a lot of extra details. So if he is giving us this much detail, it’s probably something to pay attention to. So, let’s take a close look at the story within the story within the story.
Jesus and the disciples have just endured the great storm. Remember last week when the storm was tossing the boat around and all the disciples in the boat were freaking out? They went to Jesus, who was on the stern of the boat asleep, and woke him up. And Jesus got up and rebuked the wind saying, “Peace, be still!”
Well, the portion of text we just heard follows that great storm. Jesus is with a great crowd that has surrounded him. His reputation has preceded him... They have heard of his great healing powers and have come out to see for themselves. A leader from the nearby synagogue, a man named Jairus, came by and asked Jesus to come with him and heal his daughter who was very sick. Jesus agrees and started to go with him through the crowd, and that large crowd that was gathered started to press in on him.
Here is where we get to the story within the story... During all the commotion, the mingling and the pressing in on each other, Jesus stops and asks, “who touched me?” The disciples think that he is crazy because they are surrounded by so many, how could they know who touched him. Jesus knew something had happened, even in all the busyness around them. He felt the power go forth from him.
A woman, who was sick with what the scripture calls a hemorrhage, reached out and touched the hem of his cloak because she thought that just touching this amazing healer would be able to make her well. She had been under the care of physicians and spent all her money. (some of us know what that’s like) However, with one touch, she felt that she was healed of her disease.
Who touched me? Jesus says... and the woman who was healed, comes forth with fear and trembling and falls down before him. She explains what happened and he says very simply, "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease."
And then the original story continues... with some who come from the house of Jairus to tell him that it is too late, that his daughter was already dead, not to bother Jesus any longer. Jesus tell Jairus to believe and takes him with Peter, James, and John to the house. When they get to the house, they see lot of commotion, weeping and wailing. Jesus asks them why they are weeping and carrying on like that when the girl is only sleeping.
Jesus takes Jairus and his wife and Peter, James and John into where the girl was and takes the girl by the hand, and as Mark’s story (that is not know for the details) - Jesus says “Talitha cum” ... “Little Girl, get up.” The little girl got up and began to walk around, and Jesus told them to give her something to eat.
A story within a story within a story... So we’ve heard the story, and the story within the story, but what’s the story of the story within the story that I just retold you? What do you think the reason is that Mark spends so much time giving us the intricate details, up to and including the Aramaic words that he spoke when he told the little girl “Talitha cum?” What is the significance of having a story nestled within the story?
I think that Mark uses these intricate and interlaced stories to tell us something about the Kingdom of God. First of all, God knows that we have busy lives and that the stresses and pressures closing in on us. The story reminds us that Jesus is there for us and responds to us. Jairus came to Jesus and Jesus responded to his need. As Jesus does throughout the scriptures, he always meets people where they are and responds to their need.
In the Kingdom of God, God knows what we need, and God responds. God always responds to our needs.
The story within the story reminds us that in order to receive the Kingdom that God has in store for us, we must have faith... and if we are bold enough and have faith enough to claim the Kingdom for ourselves, and then we will receive the healing that we need. The woman that was sick with a hemorrhage was bold and daring... she was a risk-taker, and she reached out in faith knowing if she could just touch the hem of Jesus’ garment, then there was a good chance she would be well for the first time in 12 years. Bold and daring... she violated everything that society said was right. She was bleeding, and yet touches another person, a great healer and teacher, risking his ritual cleanliness – and her possible ridicule and death... Nevertheless, she knew it was the only chance she had left to be well. She dared to receive the Kingdom of God and was made well.
And in the story of Jairus’ daughter, one would think that all was lost, that Jesus had lingered too long tending to others. That it was too late, she was already dead. But Jesus continues on, forward in mission to show others the Kingdom of God in their midst. He goes into the house and into where the girl was... knowing she was thought to be dead, and then risking everything (ritual impurity by touching the dead) he takes her by the hand and says, Talitha cum! Little girl, get up.
Do we let the Kingdom in? Even after we think all is lost? Even after we have given up all hope? Do we let the Kingdom in and let it takes us by the hand and raise us to the new life that is found in Jesus?
If we are bold enough to reach out in faith and grab the hem of Jesus and let him heal us, then we need to be willing to let Jesus take us by the hand and raise us to new life. We have to be willing to take a risk on behalf of our faith, and let it be proclaimed by our actions in the midst of adversity.
When the stresses of life start to close in on us, pressing on all sides, we must be willing to be bold and ask for help... reach out for the Kingdom of God and grab it by the hem... let it take you by the hand and raise you to new life... A new life of peace & love.
Jesus was present to all the situations that surrounded him, yet stayed on task and purpose through all the chaos that surrounded him. He was the calmness of the storm that surrounded the disciples, and he was the peaceful presence today in the midst of the chaos.
In the Kingdom, there is no chaos, there is only peace, love, and understanding. Reach for the Kingdom, and be willing to let it take you by the hand, and raise you to new life in Jesus Christ our Lord.