Before we get on to the reading for today I would like to say a little about the healing miracles in Mark
One of the more confident claims made by theologians is that Jesus healed people.
I would be the last person to try to claim that these healings did not happen.
What I would claim is that there is far more to these stories than the healings that took place.
Jesus said time and time again that he came to preach that the Kingdom of God was here.
I firmly believe that the miracles were part of His aim in proclaiming the good news focused on God.
So they function something like parables.
Although I’m sure many of them contain memories and echoes of specific healings.
In today’s stories Jesus crossed back into Jewish territory.
We again have two stories in Mark’s typical sandwiching style where he started one story, Interrupted it with another and then came back to the first story.
Here Jesus was approached by a synagogue leader named Jairus.
He begged him repeatedly to accompany him back to his home to heal his little girl.
As they departed a large crowd pressed in on Jesus and a woman who had been suffering with bleeding pressed through the crowd to touch Jesus.
She believed that if she could just touch his clothes she would be healed.
What both Jairus and the woman have in common is that they were both desperate.
Jairus’ daughter was at the point of death and he was so desperate that he fell down on his face begging.
That poor woman who had suffered for 12 years with this condition and had completely exhausted her finances having “endured much from many physicians” pushed through the crowd, completely oblivious or uncaring that she was according to Jewish law unclea.
Everyone she touched she rendered unclean.
Both were desperate and they saw Jesus as their last resort.
Now, in both of these stories the touch of Jesus is emphasized.
When the woman touched Jesus’ garment He sensed that healing power had flowed out of him.
He turned around and said,
“Who touched me?”
The disciples thought this odd because there were a lot of people touching him.
Someone had touched Jesus on a deeper level.
Someone had connected with Jesus in a healing way.
To be healed can also mean to be saved or made free.
To be made whole in the Gospels in other places is translated “to be saved.
This is one clue, by the way, that these stories are about more than just physical healing.
When Jesus arrived at the home of Jairus they were greeted with the awful news,
“Your daughter is dead.”
“Do not fear, only believe.” Jesus said.
“Don’t let fear overwhelm you, trust God’s healing power and trust me as an agent of that power.”
Then, Jesus told the mourners the child wasn’t really dead, she was sleeping.
The point that Jesus seemed to be making was that it was time for her to wake up.
Time to rise up with new life and energy.
Maybe that is what we need to hear today.
What is it that is pressing us down like a sickness and keeping us from rising up and embracing life?
It could be something physical over which we have no control.
It could be something emotional or circumstantial or relational.
Jesus left the scoffers who couldn’t imagine that new life was possible.
He carried on and, with her father and some of his disciples, went into the house.
Jesus touched the little girl.
He took her by the hand and said, “Little girl, get up.”
What was this touch that healed and restored and brought new life and meaning?
It should be obvious to those of us who are followers of Jesus.
It was and is the touch of love.
Love is the power that can create life out of death.
How do I know it was love?
Jesus was in contact with the woman who was bleeding.
Jesus was in contact with a dead girl.
Both of these situations would have rendered Him unclean.
That is an outcast.
Jesus encountered two people who were considered to be outcasts and made them acceptable.
He ignored the laws of his religion in the name of love.
People were more important than petty rules.
Perhaps the Health and Safety Brigade should take note.
This is the touch of Jesus that can bring healing and liberation today.
Are we open to this touch?
The touch of Jesus may come to us through some expression of forgiveness by a friend or family member.
It may come in the form of a personal presence.
Someone willing to sit with us.
Listen to us express our own fears and insecurities without judging us or trying to correct us or make us feel guilty for feeling what we feel.
Christ’s healing touch can come in many forms.
But we also need to ask not only,
“Am I open to the loving touch of Jesus?”
We must go on and say,
“Am I willing to be the loving touch of Jesus?”
Am I willing to be the presence of Christ to some person or community that needs to feel a loving touch.
To someone who needs to know that there is someone who cares.
Sometimes healing comes to us, not as the result of our own faith, but the faith of someone else.
Someone who loves us for who we are rather than what we are.
I’m sure you have heard stories from people whose lives have been changed by experiencing Jesus through someone else.
Some call these testimonies.
A word I hate, by the way.
It sounds so religious.
Sometimes we are the ones who must press through the challenges and obstacles blocking our path like the woman who pressed through the crowd to touch Jesus.
There are other times when we have no energy or ability or will to press through on our own and we are like this little girl in our story who is dependent on others.
Sometimes we are too ill, too depressed, too fearful, too insecure, too this or that and we need someone to hold us and help us get up.
There are, also, those times when we have to ask who it is that needs our touch.
Who needs our presence.
Who needs our love and compassion and empathy.
Who needs us to stand with them or stand for them because they cannot stand by themselves?