July 1, 2012 at Calvary Evangelical Lutheran Church – Mechanicsburg, PA
“Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing [Jesus], he fell at His feet 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.’ And He went with him.”
Jairus’ faith drives him to Jesus’ presence. He runs with haste to where Jesus was, coming with a plea for help. What does Jairus know while running to Jesus? He knows that his little daughter is ill, deathly ill. Nothing has been able to help her. But he also knows something about Jesus: that Jesus has the ability to help the situation, to give healing to the girl.
How does Jairus know this about Jesus? What has given him the notion that Jesus can help his little daughter? Jairus has seen and heard Jesus. Note what the Gospel Writer tells about him: “Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name….” Jairus’ vocation included being a leader of the faithful people in Galilee. He held the position that we might call a deacon or congregational chairman here in our parish. And what had Jesus been doing in the synagogues of Galilee? You heard that earlier in the Epiphany Season this year. Think back to the details that you heard in the Gospel Readings from January and February: “And they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath [Jesus] entered the synagogue and was teaching. And they were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes…. And He went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons…. [The healed leper] spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in desolate places, and people were coming to Him from every quarter.”
Jairus was familiar with Jesus’ words and works. This is what drives him to Jesus’ presence when his daughter was deathly ill. His desire is for Jesus to do what He is capable of. Just as Jesus had freed people from demonic affliction, made the paralytic walk, and cleansed the leper, so He could bring healing to Jairus’ daughter. That is what the ruler of the synagogue believed concerning Jesus. So he finds Jesus, “and seeing Him, he fell at His feet 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.’” There the begging request is made: “Do what You can and my daughter will live!” It is the cry for mercy that comes from the mouth of one who trusts in Jesus’ words and works.
But what happens as Jesus goes with Jairus? Jesus heals someone who comes seeking the same thing as Jairus. Mark writes: “And there was a woman who had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse.” But he also records: “She had heard the reports about Jesus and 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.’”
The woman’s faith drives her to Jesus’ presence. She comes with haste to where Jesus was, coming with a desire for help. What does she know as she approaches Jesus? She knows that she is deathly ill. Nothing has been able to help her. But she also knows something about Jesus: that Jesus has the ability to help the situation, to give healing to her. She knows this about Him because she has heard about what He has done. She has faith in Jesus’ words and works, something confirmed when Jesus says to her: “Daughter, your faith has made you well [saved you]; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
Trust in Jesus’ words and works. That ties both Jairus and the woman together to Jesus. They both come to Him because of their belief in what He can provide. And it pleases Him that they come. Jesus sends neither away. Even when worse news comes from Jairus’ house informing him of his daughter’s death, how does Jesus respond? “While He was still speaking [to the woman], there came from the ruler’s house some who said, ‘Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?’ But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, ‘Do not fear, only believe.’” He affirms that Jairus is right about Him. And when He goes into the house, Jesus provides the action that was sought: “Taking [the girl] by the hand He said to her, ‘Talitha cumi,’ which means, ‘Little girl, I say to you arise.’ And immediately the girl got up and began walking, and they were immediately overcome with amazement.”
What happens for Jairus and the woman is what Jesus desires to provide for you. His words and works reveal who He is and what He can do. They tell of His identity as a Redeemer, a Deliverer, a Savior. That is what Jesus is for you. Like Jairus and the woman, you have heard the reports of Jesus. You have heard what He has done. You have heard both the narratives of Jesus’ actions and the commentary about their significance. You have heard that Jesus went around Galilee teaching and performing great deeds, but that His greatest accomplishment was to bring about the atonement of sin and guilt, opening the gate to Paradise through His resurrection. He is a bringer of life—true life, everlasting life—to those who are under the curse of death because of their transgressions. Jesus has come to be the source of life for you who have broken the commandments of God, who have caused harm to yourself and others, who have even chased after the ways of death.
You are turned to Jesus by hearing of His words and works. They form the object of your faith, what you trust. They become the foundation that you build your hope on. Not just anything is believed concerning Jesus. No, it is quite specific: “For us men and for our salvation [He] came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried. And the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures and ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father. And He will come again with glory to judge both the living and the dead, whose kingdom will have no end.” This is what Jesus’ words and works declare.
So you turn to Jesus for what He provides to remedy your illnesses. Yes, you pray for healing of disease. But more importantly, you fall at Jesus’ feet and implore Him earnestly to cure what makes you deathly ill: your guilt incurred by your sins. Even when the Tempter comes and tries to dissuade you from asking of Jesus—the one who says to you, “Why bother Jesus? You’re dead in your sins. No one is able to help that guilt. Spend all you have, your time, and your effort, and you will always be a lost cause.”—you still come to Jesus’ presence. He speaks to you the words of invitation: “Do not fear, only believe. You have heard what I have done and what I have promised to do. You are right about Me. Ask for what I provide, for I am the One who has borne the sins of the world, even yours. Ask for the true remedy, for I am the resurrection and the life.” And when you come to Jesus, seeking out the forgiveness, life, and salvation that He provides, He speaks: “I say to you arise.”
This is the dialogue that Jesus has with you each time that you come here to this place where He makes Himself and His gifts present for you. Driven by your faith in Jesus’ words and works, you come like Jairus and the woman. You come either for yourself or others. You come with your little children, imploring that Jesus raise them to eternal life through Holy Baptism. You come with your illness and disease of sin and guilt that you can’t heal and that others can’t either. You do so, not just hoping to touch the hem of His garments, but to receive Jesus’ forgiving words that He places in the mouths of His sent ones. You come, even to eat and drink what Jesus provides—the Bread of Life that comes down from heaven, His own self given and shed for the forgiveness of your sins. And each time you do so, you hear the same words from Jesus’ mouth: “Your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
And so you make the confession of faith: “I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins, and I look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.” It is the outcome of Jesus’ words and works for you. It is the reason for your praise of Him, just as the psalmist of old gave: “O Lord my God, I cried to You for help, and You have healed me. O Lord, You have brought up my soul from Sheol; You restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit. Sing praise to the Lord, O you His saints, and give thanks to His holy name.” So you can speak, because your faith has driven you to Jesus’ presence. So you can speak, because He has answered your pleas for help. So you can speak, because He has raised you and made you well.
The Lord has been good to you who wait for Him, to you who have sought Him. And His mercies will have no end for you. Every morning, they are new to remedy your sin. His faithfulness is great, so that you may rely and hope in Him. This is what Jesus desires you to know and know well. As you do, the time will come when He will step into the chamber where you dwell and say: “You are not dead, but are just sleeping. I say to you arise!” And you shall be drawn up from the grave to dwell with Him forever with Jairus, Jairus’ daughter, the healed woman, and all who have benefited from Jesus’ actions that take the deathly ill to life everlasting. So His word and works declare for you.
+ In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.