Mark 5:21-43 (Sixth Sunday after Pentecost/Proper 8—Series B)
“The Great Physician”
Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer, Enfield CT
July 1, 2018
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Our text this morning is the Gospel lesson recorded in Mark 5:
21And after Jesus again crossed over in the boat to the other side a great crowd gathered together about Him, and He was beside the sea. 22And one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, came and, when he saw Him, he fell at His feet 23and pleaded with Him a lot, saying, “My little daughter is dying. [I ask] that you come and lay your hands on her in order that she might be healed/saved and live.” 24And he went with her. And a great crowd began to follow Him and began to press against Him. 25And a woman who had a flow of blood twelve years 26and had suffered much at the hand of many physicians and had spent all that she had and without being helped at all, but rather had gotten worse, 27when she heard about Jesus, having come in the crowd from behind, touched his outer garment, 28for she was saying, “If I should touch even His clothing, I will be healed/saved.” 29And immediately her flow of blood dried up and she knew in her body that she was healed from her affliction. 30And immediately, Jesus, when He recognized in Himself that power had gone out from Him, turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothing?” 31And his disciples said to Him, “You see the crowd pressing against you and you say, “Who touched me?” 32And He kept looking around to see the woman who had done this. 33And the woman, becoming afraid and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth. 34And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed/saved you. Go into peace and be healthy from your affliction.” 35While He was still speaking, they came from the house of the ruler of the synagogue saying, “Your daughter has died. Why do you still bother the teacher?” 36But Jesus, upon overhearing the word as it was spoken, say to the ruler of the synagogue, “Stop being afraid. Only believe.” 37And He did not allow anyone to follow along with Him except Peter and James and John, the brother of James. 38And they came into the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and He observed an uproar and [people who were] weeping and crying a lot, 39and upon entering He said to them, “Why are you making an uproar and weeping? The child has not died but is sleeping.” 40And they began to laugh Him to scorn. But He, upon throwing them all out, took the father of the child and the mother and those who were with him and He went into where the child was. 41And upon grasping the hand of the child, He said to her, “Talitha koum,” which is interpreted, “Little girl, to you I say, ‘Arise.'” 42And immediately the little girl arose and began to walk around, for she was twelve years old. And they were greatly amazed immediately. 43And He gave them a lot of express orders that no one should know this, and He said that something should be given her to eat.
Dr. Martin Luther was a professor of theology at the University of Wittenberg. He was a lecturer, especially in the Old Testament. In his lectures on Genesis 3, the Great Reformer taught, “let us not minimize this evil which human nature has contracted as a result of the sin of our first parents; rather let us emphasize it. Then we shall both regret deeply this state of ours and have a profound longing for Christ, our Physician, who was sent by the Father to heal those evils which Satan brought upon us through sin, and to restore us to the eternal glory which we had lost.” In today’s Gospel text, we see the request of faith that Jesus do this very thing—heal those evils which the devil brought upon us through sin and restore to us eternal glory.
Three times we encounter the word sw,|zw (sōzō) which means “to heal” and “to save.” There is more going on with this word than simply “to be made well,” as we read it in the English Standard Version. When sw,|zw is used in the way in which St. Mark uses it here, it denotes salvation in a wider sense than simple healing. There are more external results including the rescue from sin and from the forces of evil, salvation from all that is opposed to the gracious reign and rule of God.
In Mark 5, the ultimate need is to be saved from death. Jairus’ little daughter was literally “having her end.” She, at the age of 12, was dying. About the time this girl was born, an unnamed woman began to have a bleeding problem. She paid the doctors all that she had, but to no avail. Instead of getting better, she was getting worse. Likely there were medical complications from this worsening flow of blood—anemia? physical weakness? dizziness? Was her physical death getting closer because of this bleeding? I think it’s likely. But she also endured death in a different way. Her bleeding caused her to be ceremonially unclean, unfit for worship, unfit to be a part of the community of Israel. She would have been ostracized, cut off from the community, to suffer and ultimately to die alone.
And what is it that both seek from Jesus? To be saved. Jairus pleaded a lot with Jesus, “I ask that you come and lay your hands on her in order that she might be healed/saved and live.” The woman with the flow of blood was saying, “If I should touch even His clothing, I will be healed/saved.” Both longed for Jesus to heal/save them from the evils that had fallen upon them as a consequence of sin. They sought restoration in body and soul as well as restoration to the community and to the family of God.
Do we not seek the same salvation? What evils have been brought upon us by sin? What choices have we made contrary to the Word of God that have led to us harming ourselves and causing hurt to others? How has our sin affected our relationships with our spouses and children, our relationships with our siblings? What failures to love our neighbors have hurt and harmed them in their body because of our lack of love and mercy? Consider also the effects and consequences of living in a world that is corrupted, a fallen creation, bodies subject to disease and pain, the changes and chances of life over which we have no control.
Would it not be so foolish of us to ask, “What do I need to be saved from?” Look around. Look at yourself, at your life, at your physical and spiritual, mental and emotional condition. Have you no need for the healing and salvation of Jesus Christ? How foolish to think so. And how equally foolish not to look to Jesus with trust in the heart to grant us salvation-healing from sin and its consequences. “Why do you still bother the teacher?” they asked when they came to tell Jairus of his daughter’s death. Bother the teacher? Yes, bother Him in faith always. “Stop being afraid. Only believe!” commanded Him who rebuked the wind and made the sea calm. Jesus can be trusted to accomplish salvation for us in body and soul.
The woman with the flow of blood trusted with faith in Him. She didn’t need or want a big show, no razzle-dazzle, just a touch of His clothes was enough to bring her health and salvation. And she trusted that. And Jesus confirmed that trust, “Daughter, your faith has brought you into a condition of healing and salvation now. Go into peace and be healthy from your affliction.” Could Jairus’ similarly trust? Could the gift of faith in Jesus bring him into a condition of healing and salvation now? Of course! “Little girl, to you I say, ‘Arise.’” And immediately she arose and walked around! Stop being afraid. Only believe! The reign and rule of God had come to this woman, to this father, daughter, and mother!—salvation and health in the fullest sense of life and restoration, not only in body, but in body and soul. Jesus undid the work of sin and death. He brought life and health. As the hymnwriter said, “If you are sick, if death is near, This truth your troubled heart can cheer: Christ Jesus saves your soul from death; That is the firmest ground of faith” (LSB 571:5).
Faith alone saves. It is the key to entering and being under God’s gracious reign and rule. Romans 1:17, “For in [the Gospel] the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’” Full salvation unto life is what Jesus and His gracious actions are all about. Full health and salvation from sin, death, and the devil is what Jesus purchased and won for you on the cross. Before His last breath, Jesus cried out “Tetelestai!” “It stands finished now and forever.” Jesus’ saving work is done—forgiveness of all sins is a reality. Salvation and health from sin is your gift by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8-9). You are made heirs of salvation and given the gift of everlasting life in resurrected body and soul in the reign and rule of God that will come in its fullness at Christ’s return on the Last Day. There is nothing left you to do in terms of saving-health. It was all won for you by Christ on the cross. Forgiveness, life, and salvation are yours—a gift of God’s grace received by the gift of saving faith in Jesus Christ. “Salvation unto us has come By God’s free grace and favor . . . Faith looks to Jesus Christ alone, Who did for all the world atone; He is our one Redeemer” (LSB 555:1).
Christ is our Great Physician of soul and body. By His cross and resurrection He has healed us from those evils which Satan brought upon us through sin with the forgiveness of sins won for us by His blood. By grace through faith and trust in His saving work, we have been restored to the eternal glory which we had lost in the Fall into sin. Salvation—saving health—from sin and death is ours. It is full and complete in Jesus, a salvation that brings us into peace—peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, peace in His eternal presence in a new creation where we will live with Him forevermore under His reign and rule without fear. Amen.
 Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 1: Lectures on Genesis: Chapters 1-5, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann, vol. 1 (Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999), 143–144.