Blog / Book of the Month / “The Cure for Illness and the Antidote to Death” Mount Olive Lutheran Church Season Of Pentecost Sunday Sermon June 30, 2024 – Mark 5:21-43 & Lamentations 3:22-33

“The Cure for Illness and the Antidote to Death” Mount Olive Lutheran Church Season Of Pentecost Sunday Sermon June 30, 2024 – Mark 5:21-43 & Lamentations 3:22-33

“The Cure for Illness and the Antidote to Death” Mount Olive Lutheran Church Season Of Pentecost Sunday Sermon June 30, 2024 – Mark 5:21-43 & Lamentations 3:22-33

Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Rev. Ted A. Giese / Sunday June 30th 2024: Season of Pentecost: Mark 5:21-43 & Lamentations 3:22-33 “The Cure for Illness and the Antidote to Death”

And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about Him, and He was beside the sea. Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, 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.” And He went with him.

And a great crowd followed Him and thronged about Him. And there was a woman who had 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. 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.” And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. And Jesus, perceiving in Himself that power had gone out from Him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched My garments?” And His disciples said to Him, “You see the crowd pressing around You, and yet You say, ‘Who touched Me?’” And He looked around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth. And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

While He was still speaking, 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.” And He allowed no one to follow Him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. They came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and Jesus saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. And when He had entered, He said to them, “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at Him. But He put them all outside and took the child's father and mother and those who were with Him and went in where the child was. Taking her 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 (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement. And He strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.

Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in Your sight O Lord. Amen.

Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. Being sick for twelve years is a long time, especially when everyone has done everything they can do to help you in your sickness and they have come up short and the situation has not improved but grown worse: how frustrating it would be. (How dark a place that can be, how wearisome, and trying it is) Then a report that there is someone who is coming to town who could help, and you think, ‘if I could just touch him that would be enough.’ Such is the bleakness of your trouble, that just a touch might be enough.  

In today’s Gospel lesson we have an account of Jesus healing two women, a mature woman (The woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years) and a girl (The little daughter of Jairus the ruler of the synagogue). The first is a healing of a long term illness the second involves Jesus bringing the girl back from the clutches of death. All illnesses and sicknesses, all diseases and physical injuries are related to Death and left uncheck illness, sickness, disease and injury can, and sometimes will, end in death. Jesus is demonstrating His dominion over death in this passage. As was the case last week with the wind and the waves here Saint Mark is making this abundantly clear that Jesus likewise has dominion over death and everything associated with death. Jesus Himself is Life, remember what we hear in Saint John’s Gospel when Jesus says, “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”[1] Jesus, as the Life, is so potent that just touching His clothing heals the mature woman of her long term illness. Jesus is her cure and He is the antidote to Death for Jairus’ daughter. Because He is the antidote, because He is the cure, Jesus gives joy to all He heals, to all who seek Him out.

This is fantastic you think, ‘but what about me? I’ve been sick a long time and my joy is fading.’ ‘Someone close to me has suffered long, where is their joy?’ ‘I live my life in the dark pit of sickness and illness with no hope of relief.’ ‘My loved one is crushed under the weight of Death’s curse; it bats them around like a cat with a mouse. What about them?’ Dear Christian, you do have a hope in you, and there is a hope for your loved one too; it is never as dark as Death wants you to believe that it is. Your Hope, their Hope, is Christ Jesus, the very one who brought Jairus’ daughter back to life, the very one whose garment mysteriously contained life enough to beat back the illness of the mature woman and heal her of her persistent ailment. In the darkness He is your Light and He is your Life.

“It is only natural that those who are sick and suffering are anxious to be restored to health again. In His infinite goodness the Creator has given us many kinds of remedies and has likewise endowed certain people with much skill and wisdom to use them to our benefit. We may seek the best remedy and engage the most skilled physician obtainable, and if the results do not satisfy us, it is our privilege to try another remedy or to visit another clinic. But we should never forget that no matter how famous the doctor or how good the [treatment], the most important element in our recovery still is the Lord’s blessing, and in divine wisdom He sometimes withholds that blessing. It may be to test us or try our loved ones. It may be to prepare us for an early [passage] into the heavenly glory. Such a time, when all remedies fail and recovery doesn’t come, is often a time of special temptation.”[2]

You may be tempted to lose your hope, to lose your patience, to become a complainer. Yet in our Old Testament reading we find in the midst of suffering a voice of faith: in the face of lost hope, this voice calls out saying, “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in Him.”[3] In the face of lost patience, that voice calls out saying, “The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him.”[4] In the face of the temptation to complain, that voice calls out saying, “It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.”[5] Our readings today are filled with people, who had faith that believed, and we want this too; we cherish it when we have it, we desire it when it feels like we don’t have it: yet in our baptism this hope is ours; Jesus is yours whether you feel like He is or not. Even if He feels far away the writer of Lamentations[6] reminds you that, “the Lord will not cast off forever,”[7] and even if we in the darkness of Death’s shadow wallow in anxious thoughts worried that God is the “cause [of our] grief,” remember, “[God] will have compassion according to the abundance of His steadfast love; for He does not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men.”[8]

This is why we pray for a good death for the believer when the time is drawing near. That they would face death the way that Jesus faced death for us, as He went to the cross. We know that even in the face of Death, the love of God is steadfast, merciful, unceasing, and faithful. Don’t give up because life is hard or death seems near, Jesus says, “Do not fear, only believe.”

In Saint Mark’s Gospel the twelve disciples are starting to understand that Jesus is more than just a good moral teacher, He is showing His dominion over the natural world when He clams storms at sea; Jesus shows His dominion over the spiritual world when He casts out demons and forgives sins; Jesus shows His dominion over the body when He heals the sick and touches the leprous without harm. And now Jesus is showing them that He holds dominion over death. This is who He is. His dominion over Death is shown in Saint Mark’s Gospel most clearly in Jesus’ final act of triumph over this foe, when at the cross Jesus laid down His life and died nailed to the wooden beams of the cross, and then three days later picked up His life once more and was resurrected from the dead, to life, to live in perfection for all time, filling all things with His love and presence. This is Jesus, who is the Life. Death is now a defeated enemy as is every kind of sickness ... for neither death nor any kind of illness, nor “tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword,”[9] “nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”[10]

The healing of the mature woman in this Gospel lesson today, the raising up to life of the dead daughter of Jairus, all point to the cross and the empty tomb, and because of Jesus’ resurrection we trust the promises of God in these matters; and when you have a hard time trusting and seek out both forgiveness and strength from the Good Lord, Jesus hears your prayers. Jesus comforts us saying, “I Am the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die.”  Jesus concludes this by asking, “Do you believe this?”[11] The mature woman who reached out just to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment believed this, that Jesus was Life, He was her hope. The father Jairus believed this, Jesus was his Hope for his daughter. Therefore, “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer”[12] no matter what the situation might be and, “hold fast the confession of [your] hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.”[13] Now I often point out in that verse from Laminations chapter 3, that when it says “great is Your faithfulness,” is not about the faithfulness of the one who is sick but is rather it is talking about the faithfulness of the LORD towards us. So when Jesus says “though [a man] die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die,” Jesus is making a promise. He is both pointing to the Life a Christian has in their baptism into Him and to the future life that they have inherited in Him which He will bring to completion:[14] Jesus points to the resurrection of the dead and the life to come, the time when all illness, sickness, disease, injury and Death its self will pass away and be removed for all eternity: this is the promised last and final everlasting healing. In fact during the commendation of the dying, just after the litany there is a prayer that I pray that points to this very thing:

“Almighty God, You breathed life into Adam and have given earthly life also to [name], Your dear child and servant. With faith in your power to heal and save, we commend [him/her] to You; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.”  

Just think, alongside your rescue from the clutches of death you will also have healing: if you have acne, or irritable bowels, or cataracts, or cancer, or arthritis, or eczema, or schizophrenia, or congestive heart failure, or dementia or blindness or whatever the case may be it will all be healed on The Last Day, on The Day of Resurrection, even if it was not healed before your death it will be healed on That Day. On That Day Jesus is be revealed to have authority over sickness and death, not just to the mature woman with her twelve year long discharge of blood or to Jairus and his daughter or to His disciples, as was the case in our Gospel reading today, but rather on That Day Jesus will be revealed to have authority over sickness and Death to all mankind and all creation. On That Day this will be revealed to you and to all people. It will be revealed that Jesus truly is the antidote to Death, to pain, to suffering, and the cure of every illness. On That Day He will, without a doubt, be revealed to be the one who has dominion over Death and everything associated with it.

For this reason the Christian can have a different perspective when facing bouts of sickness, when challenged with chronic illness and when confronted with death; in the midst of these things unlike others in the World who have no hope you have your hope in Christ Jesus: and He who is The Life has life for you. This is an encouragement as you are called to wait quietly for the LORD,[15] a reminder that the one who comes to you and calls you to Himself is good and has healing and salvation in His Almighty hands, and He does not simply have healing and salvation in His Almighty hands in general, He has healing and salvation in His Almighty hands for you. Amen

Let us pray:

Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy, Lord Have Mercy, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.

[1] John 14:6
[2] WM. A. Lauterbach, Ministering to the Sick, Concordia Publishing House 1955, pg 159.
[3] Lamentations 3:22-24
[4] Lamentations 3:25
[5] Lamentations 3:26
[6] The Old Testament Prophet Jeremiah a man made hard as bronze and as tough as iron by the Lord, Jeremiah 1:18
[7] Lamentations 3:31
[8] Lamentations 3:32-33
[9] Romans 8:35
[10] Romans 8:39
[11] John 11:25-26
[12] Romans 12:12
[13] Hebrews 10:23
[14] Philippians 1:6
[15] Lamentations 3:25–26

Photo Credit: main photo detail of Christ healing a bleeding woman, as depicted in the Catacombs of Marcellinus and Peter from wikimedia commons.