Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. AMEN! Our text for this morning’s (evening’s) sermon is taken from St. Mark’s gospel account the 5th chapter (Mark 5:21-43).
Beloved in the Lord,
When God speaks He promises that His Word does not return void. When Jesus steps off the boat and onto the beach He is there both to speak and to save. His promises are for all who hear him both then and now. The Word of Jesus gives the Life of Jesus. And His life is power. His life is eternal. His life changes our lives. And it must do so for we cannot receive heaven as we are. We cannot cling to our lives and expect to live forever. He who loves his life will lose it. We are not like Jesus, not in our fallen nature. We are like Adam. We have sinned, we are sick and we are unclean.
Clinging to the life of Jesus in the Word of Jesus is a matter of life and death. Jesus says, “I have come that they may have life and have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10) If you would live forever you must hear His Word and believe His Word repenting of your sin and trusting Jesus. His Word changes you from what you are into what He is. If you do not expect His Word to change you today, and every day that you hear Him speak, then you are not listening with open ears. Listening with open ears means that you hear the voice of Jesus speaking to you through His written and proclaimed word of Law and Gospel. Listening with open ears means that God’s Word has authority over your life, your faith, your morals, your worldview, your whole being. God’s Word and teaching have become your only source for life and salvation. God’s Word and teaching have become the only well that your heart constantly returns to for living water.
You see, beloved, life and death, heaven and hell hang in the balance. So whether its Jesus stepping off the boat and onto the beach, or His preachers faithfully expounding His Word today, this Word is His Word and it is for you.
For two women in our text the Word of Jesus is their life and salvation. One has been bleeding for 12 years. She is unclean. She is embarrassed. She is ashamed. She is afraid. And all her labors, all her money, all her doctors have only made things worse.
The other is a little girl, 12 years old. Jairus, her father, cannot help her. The doctors cannot help her. The servants cannot help her. She is sick and she is dying. Death’s shadow is hovering just outside the door and soon its grim pall will hang over an entire family.
Fear and faith often wrestle for dominance of the heart. When the woman looks at her condition fear takes the upper hand. When you look within yourselves, when you fix your heart and mind upon your situation, your circumstance, your suffering, your affliction, your labors, your doctors, your money, or your government, then fear begins to overtake you, for these are uncertain, these fail.
When Jairus beholds his precious little girl slipping away, his anxious wife worried to the point of tears, his friends and family preparing for the worst, fear strikes a heavy blow. When you think death is more certain than God’s Word, when you begin to believe that there is no hope, when your heart despairs because you’ve done all you can and its still not good enough, then fear and dread and depression hammer away at the heart.
You see beloved, fear is contrary to faith. Fear wars against faith. Fear stems from forbidden fruit and God’s footsteps in the garden. Humanity’s fallen nature sees humanity’s corrupt condition and is forced to confront life and death, the full weight of all that is real and all that is certain – at least as much as we see and experience. Fear cannot see past the human condition. Fear cannot cling to the life of Jesus in Word and Sacrament. Fear in the end can only give up. “Your daughter has died. Why bother the teacher any longer?”
Beloved, when Jesus steps off the boat and onto the beach a greater certainty enters the picture. Jesus has come to give life – real life, resurrected life, eternal life – His life. And He’s come to give it to the hemorrhaging woman and the despairing father, and the little girl on her deathbed. He has come for these and He has come for you. He has come for all. That’s what love does and love is more powerful than death’s grip. The Word is more certain than sin’s accusations. For where Jesus is there is Love. And in love He goes with Jairus. In love power flows from the hem of His robe to unclean women. In love Jesus chases away sin, and death, and hell. He takes from the unclean and gives of Himself. He touches the corpse and bestows life. He carries your sins and He delivers His righteousness. He bares your judgment and surrenders His life. He suffers and dies and You receive the forgiveness of sins. He embraces the horror of the cross and promises the beatific vision to those who repent and believe on His Name. He bleeds that you may be healed. He dies that you may have life. He rises that you may live forever not as you are but as He has made you through His own death and resurrection! Because that’s what Love Does. God is love and Jesus is God in the flesh!
Therefore, what Jesus says to Jairus He says to all people. “Do not fear, only believe!” He speaks His Word of comforting grace and hearts can be set at ease. The certainty of death is overcome with the Word of Jesus and the promise of resurrection. The despair of sin’s accusation is ushered from the heart as the call to faith in Jesus enters your ears. Hopelessness is transformed into trust as hearts learn of Christ’s greater certainty. It is as if Jesus were saying to Jairus and to you and to me and to the world, “do not fear sin’s wages. Do not fear my footsteps in the garden. Do not fear your mortal condition. Do not fear my heart towards you. Do not fear the sufferings of this world. Do not fear the devil’s flaming arrows. Do not fear sin’s accusations. Do not fear death’s advent. Do not fear Hell’s angels! I am here for you. Only Believe!
When Jesus speaks a Word, faith chases away fear. When Jesus draws near, faith is strengthened. When faith lays hold of Jesus, power goes out from him. Women are healed. Fathers are comforted. Mothers behold the miraculous. Little girls rise from the dead, if not today, on the last day.
Faith clings to that which is more sure and certain than even death itself. Faith clings to God’s written Word! With a Word Jesus ceases bleeding fountains and makes the unclean clean. With a Word death is chased away and life is raised. With a Word the grave is robbed of its prey and all humanity beholds a glorious picture of the last day. With a Word sin’s indictments are silenced and forgiveness is poured into the heart. With a Word everything that we had hoped for is given!
Holy Scripture says “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the certainty of things unseen.” (Hebrews 11:1) To receive what is given, there must be faith. Without faith there is only fear and fear receives nothing. “So let us draw near then, my beloved, in repentance and in faith, since faith’s powers are so many. For faith raised up [Enoch] to the heavens and conquered the deluge. Faith causes the barren to sprout forth. It delivers from the sword. It raises up from the pit. It enriches the poor. It releases the captives. It delivers the persecuted. It brings down the fire. It divides the sea. It cleaves the rock, and gives to the thirsty water to drink. It satisfies the hungry. It raises the dead, and brings them up from Sheol. It stills the billows. It heals the sick. It conquers hosts. It overthrows walls. It stops the mouths of lions, and quenches the flames of fire. It humiliates the proud, and brings the humble to honor. All these mighty works are wrought by faith.” And where there is faith fear has no place to hide. Do not fear, only believe.
Beloved in the Lord, let us be like this woman and this father. Though we often fear, let us draw near to Jesus on our knees and cling to Him and His Words for our life. Let us forsake the sins that so easily entangle us. In repentance and humility let us fall before the Word and confess the truth of who we are in our falleness that He may speak powerful words to our heart. Let us hear with open ears those Words of His. Let us stretch out our hands and grasp the hem of His robe, taking the bread which clothes His body and the cup which conceals His blood. Let us hold firm the Word He speaks to Jairus as He also speaks it to us. Let us do this today expecting His Word to change our hearts and therefore also our lives. His Word does not return void but will accomplish that for which He sent it.
If you leave here today not expecting God’s Word to change you, not wanting God’s Word to change you, then you have not listened with open ears. The war between faith and fear will continue to rage within you.
Listen to His Words! Hear them with faith. For His Word is your certainty and is a most brilliant gift for your heart. His Word gives all who repent and believe His life – eternal life, resurrected life,. Thus on the last day, He will take the hand of His little ones, those who believed on His Name, and He will speak life into flesh once more. That’s what love does. And we who believe now will find then that we have always been clinging to the Life of Jesus, always clinging to His Word . . . by faith. AMEN!
The peace of God which surpasses all human understanding keep your heart and mind through faith in Christ Jesus. AMEN!
Pastor Tony Sikora
Hope Lutheran Church
De Witt, MI