Thursday, July 2, 2015
To touch Jesus and be touched by Him. . .
Mark tells us a powerful story. A old woman with a 12 year hemorrhage watched her life waste away. She was a pariah from family, prodded and poked by doctors, and suffered the medical opinions of ordinary folk. Her life was almost over. On the other hand, a 12 year old girl who lay dying before she had had much of a chance to live at all. The woman believed that if she touched Jesus she would be healed and the girl’s father believed that if Jesus touched her, she would live.
In the midst of pain and suffering, illness and affliction, we found hope and faith in the touch of Jesus. Some might call it superstition. Strange how hard it is to know the difference; faith is often mistaken for superstition and superstition for faith. But Jesus knew the difference. And He still knows.
The bleeding woman and the father of a dying girl came to Jesus not for magic but for healing from the Healer whom they believed had power to address their hurts, their pain, and their death. But the woman touched Jesus before Jesus could touch the daughter of the synagogue ruler. At that point everything stopped. Jesus called out the woman. Perhaps she feared that Jesus would take back her grace. Instead Jesus commended her faith and sent her forth in peace that passed understanding.
Meanwhile the news from home was the worst it could be. The girl had died before Jesus touched her. In his despair, he would trouble Jesus no more. But Jesus had other plans. “Do not fear; only believe.” Taking Peter, James, and John, our Lord visited the dead girl. Where Jesus saw the moment ripe for grace and life, the people laughed at Him. But no one was laughing when she rose from death to life at Jesus touch.
You and I marvel at such stories. We want to believe but fear the power of illness and death are beyond the reach of God. Week after week our Lord has called us to faith, to trust in Him and in the power of His grace. For if we do not believe God can heal the sick or raise the dead, how can we trust Him for eternal life and salvation?
Interesting is the fact that the verbs to heal and to save are the same word in Greek. It is not different grace but the same grace that rescues us from our sins and restores our wounded bodies. It is not different grace but the same grace that raises the dead to life and restores our unity with God our Father. We might distinguish them, but God does not. Heal, save, make well – different words but the same grace and God at work.
In it all is one compelling truth. Jesus’ touch is enough. It is enough for the bleeding, for the dying, and for the lost. It is enough for the fearful, for the fallen, and for the future.
Faith is the hand that reaches out to touch Jesus, the heart that trusts in His promise, the mind that grasps His Word, the will that surrenders to His will being done, in us, among us, thru us.
Some of us come here today to touch Jesus. We reach out to Him when guilt shames us, when anger consumes us, when bitterness and skepticism imprisons us. We come to reach out to touch Jesus in the splash of baptismal water and in the bread and wine that is His flesh and blood.
Some of us come here to be touched by Jesus. We find it hard to believe anything or any one anymore. We have been disappointed too much and life has come crashing down on us. We come to feel the touch of Jesus in absolution, hear the voice of Jesus in His Word, and feel the presence of Jesus in His Holy Meal.
And what do we find? A woman who had bled for 12 years and a 12 year old girl. One died slowly and the other suddenly. Both found life at the touch of Jesus. Faith led them to that touch and faith did not disappoint them. Faith still leads us to the touch of Jesus that heals and saves and touch us He does. He touches our sins with forgiveness, our death with His life, our sorrow with His joy, our upset with His peace, our wounds with His healing, our afflictions with His patience, our fear with His power.
Like the old woman, some of us come after long struggles, long afflictions, and long lives. Like the young girl, some of us come at the dawn of life while everything is still new. No matter our age or our experience, all of us come as sinners in need of forgiving grace, as those who live in the shadow of death looking for the light of life. And we will NOT be disappointed.
If fear has brought you hear, believe. If faith has brought you hear, trust. If disappointment has brought you here, hope. For there is healing, salvation, and life in one name only, the name of Jesus. Before Him we come, praying, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief... Thy will be done...” Amen.