Fifth Sunday after Trinity Mark 5: 21 – end
Sickness could be called ‘the great Interrupter’ of life. It enters without knocking, upsetting our plans, mocking the idea of certainty, and diminishing hope for the future. It intrudes like a burglar in our home, touching every part of life.
Such an interruption occurred to a woman in our reading today.
The incident takes place on a city street packed with a crowd of excited people trying to catch a glimpse of Jesus.
At the request of Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue, Jesus is on His way to restore to health his dying daughter and the crowd is following Him in order to see Him perform this miracle. Suddenly His walk is interrupted by a very sick woman. We do not know who she was, not even her name. We know that she was a woman in pain and that for twelve years she had suffered. Twelve years is a very long time. We know she wants relief, restoration, health and life. Above all she hopes that Jesus can heal her.
In prolonged sickness there is always loss. Loss of control. Suddenly the body, rather than obeying you, has its own agenda and behaves any way it pleases. This was the embarrassing condition of the woman. She "had been subject to bleeding for twelve years" Her body was out of control.
There is loss of identity. Sick people become defined by their illness. Isn't it interesting that the lady in the story is not called by name. Simply, "A woman was there who had been subject to bleeding." The same is true today. We speak of the woman who has cancer, or the man with Parkinson’s. There is the loss of place in society. Prolonged illness often puts a strain on relationships, on jobs, and on families. The sick person often feels more at home in hospital with other sick people that they do with healthy people. There is definitely a loss of resources. The woman in the story "had spent all she had." She was financially bankrupt, emotionally spent, and physically weak. Perhaps the most chilling aspect of this lady's life was that she had tried everything "yet instead of getting better she grew worse," she had lost of hope. She was at her wit's end.
As a last resort, she comes to Jesus hoping against hope that He could heal her. She was desperate enough to try anything.
Maybe she thought. "If I just touch His clothes, I will be healed" This woman believes in Jesus' power. Or, at least, she is desperate enough to give it a try. While others bump into Jesus, she reaches out and touches Him.
As the women touched Jesus, He sensed that healing power had gone out of Him. No one noticed her -- no one but Jesus. He turned around to see who had touched Him, He looks for her, then she comes forward and Jesus says to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering" Jesus calls her daughter, what a wonderful intimate moment for her. In an instant, she is granted a new identity, she now has a certain future, she regains her place in society, she is restored to wholeness, and she discovers hope. In an instant, Jesus heals her sickness, eases her suffering, grants her freedom, and saves her soul.
It was a miracle and the only miracle recorded in scripture where no word was spoken.
But there is another miracle lurking here?
Notice, she did not meet Jesus in the temple. She met Him on the street. She had no private audience with Jesus, she touched Him in a crowd.
She touched Him in faith - in desperate believing faith and He stopped. That is the miracle. The touch of one anonymous woman in a crowd halted the Lord of glory. She touched Him. And so can we.
It is easy to crowd God and never touch Him. A great many people in the church, and perhaps a great many outside the church, are doing just that. We come with our shopping list of prayers and requests but never actually touch Him. It is like missing a train. You may miss it by one minute and that's pretty close but you have missed the train.
The question for us this morning is How can we touch Jesus? It is one thing for that woman long ago, but how can I touch Him today. We come back time and time again to the same word, FAITH and you know by now how to spell it RISK.
To dare to give God a chance. By all means take your problem, whatever it may be, to Him in prayer. Tell Him about it, just as if He did not know a thing. Hold nothing back. Dare to be honest.
Believe that God will hear you and that He cares what happens to you. Be willing to wait – be willing to be silent. To listen for a still small voice.
Touch him in the Eucharist – this morning, as you come to the table, hold the bread lightly – it is a sacrament of faith, and as you eat, receive God into your life afresh. Drink the wine with reverence and awe, for it is by faith that his life flows into us as we drink. The message of this miracle is that one woman, at the end of her rope, had the courage to step out of normal procedures to find healing and hope.
She touched the Lord of the Universe. And He stopped for her. He will stop for you, too.
This morning don’t miss your miracle.