Made Vulnerable in Christ

Mark 5:21-43

21 When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. 22 Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet 23 and begged him repeatedly, “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.” 24 So he went with him. And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. 25 Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. 26 She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. 27 She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” 29 Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30 Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” 31 And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, “Who touched me?’ ” 32 He looked all around to see who had done it. 33 But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” 35 While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?” 36 But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” 37 He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. 38 When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. 39 When he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” 40 And they laughed at him. Then 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. 41 He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!” 42 And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. 43 He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat. 

What makes someone vulnerable? The loss of a job, or a friendship. The crumbling of a marriage, the revelation of a lie. I think about the kids who depend on the meals in the park over the summer, how vulnerable they are in probably more than one way. I think about people who suffer from chronic pain and illness, those who are dependent upon medical intervention to stay alive. We meet 3 vulnerable people today. Jairus, a leader of the synagogue. A woman who has been hemorrhaging for 12 years. A child, Jairus’ daughter, who is about to die.

Jairus has been brought to his knees by his daughter’s sickness. Literally, he falls to his knees at the feet of Jesus, begging for Jesus to heal her, to save her, to lay his hands on her. This father is begging for the touch of Jesus. So Jesus begins to head to Jairus’ home, surrounded by a great crowd. That’s when we are plunged into the crowd and we meet the woman, the 2nd vulnerable person in our story today. She’s seen all the doctors, she’s spent all her money, and no one has been able to help her. This continuous bleeding would put her outside the community, would make her unclean. So for her to be in the mix of this crowd is a dangerous thing for her. If they knew they were being made unclean just by touching her, bumping into her as you do in a crowd. Well, she’d be in trouble. Her life would probably be in danger. But it’s been 12 long years and she’s heard about this Jesus. What has she got to lose? So she reaches out and touches his cloak, hoping to be made well. And she is. And it slows down the whole procession of people. This quiet act of desperation is now being called out by the one who just healed her. She must have been mortified. She was exposed. Although maybe she had some hope as the disciples questioned Jesus how he could possibly differentiate one touch from another, being in the midst of this crush of people. But he could tell.

Who touched me? Said Jesus. He looked all around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

She wasn’t publicly shamed. She wasn’t stoned to death. She was healed and set free through this stolen healing, this desperate touch in a crowd.

They move along but it’s too late. The girl is dead. Don’t trouble the teacher. Maybe the woman’s healing slowed him up just enough to delay his timely arrival there to save the child. Instead, Jesus takes her by the hand and tells her to get up.

Nobody in this story is the same by the end of it. Jairus, the father brought to his knees, is undoubtedly changed. The women who hemorrhaged for 12 years? She got to tell her whole truth, kneeling at the feet of Jesus, and through his touch she was set free and brought back into her community. The little girl, through no power of her own, was brought to her feet through the touch of Jesus. Alive and well.

Each person was at a breaking point, a point where they could not imagine what was next. They were done. They were desperate. They were vulnerable. And that’s right where Jesus meets them. Not with his thoughts and prayers. Not with a prayer plan or a 30 day cleanse. But by his physical touch. By his being there. Jesus followers, I beg you, to please be there, to please show up for those who are at their breaking point. As Christians, we simply cannot fold our arms and hide behind fear at the border of this country, assuming everyone is a potential criminal. More than 68 million people were forced to flee their homes last year as a result of war, violence and other forms of persecution, according to a new report from the UN’s refugee agency.[1] People at their breaking point. People with no other option but to run. People like the desperate woman, the frantic father, the dying daughter. People who need other people to show up for them.

We are called to follow Jesus, to show up in our bodies – these bodies — to offer our physical hands and feet, our voices, our lives, in service to the neighbor. And “neighbor”, when it comes to Jesus, has no allegiance to country of origin or skin tone or religion or paperwork. There are no prerequisites.

And we get to do one of the greatest acts of vulnerability today that equip us to follow Jesus. We will surround Elert Nordquist as a community and we will promise to help him grow in faith. We will promise to love and support him and walk with him. His parents are doing a vulnerable thing: they are saying to God, “go ahead – take him. He’s yours and he won’t ever be the same.” And Elert will be claimed by Christ, he will die to his old self and will be made new and this promise lasts eternally. This promise then clothes Elert in Christ to show up for his neighbor and to show love, to help, to meet people in their most vulnerable place and to be hope in the flesh. We don’t just pray for Elert, I use my hands and offer blessings in the name of Jesus to claim his life and to lead him. We use water to get him wet. He is marked with the sign of the cross with my hand. He is held by his parents in their arms and God parents and grandparents in their laps. He is touched today by Jesus followers in the flesh. He is met in the most vulnerable place – baptism. And he won’t ever be the same.

Now, isn’t this just the best news you’ve ever heard?

Thanks be to God.