2 Corinthians 8:7-15
What lengths would you go for healing?
For your child?
For today’s unnamed woman, she was willing to risk everything. She’d already paid all her money. She’d lost all her dignity as doctor after doctor and healer after healer failed to help her. Twelve years ago – maybe from childbirth – she began to bleed from below the waist and for twelve years the life has leeched out of her. This has meant for 12 years she has been dead, cut off, unable to attend religious functions or be among the community because any woman who is bleeding is supposed to stay home until she stops. It was customary – a way to keep the community clean. Much like today day cares say you should you’re your kid home for 24 hours if they have a fever, or hospitals ask if you’ve traveled out of country recently, and if so, isolated. These are preventative measures to keep the community clean.
But imagine if that temporary cleansing time wasn’t a few hours or days… but lasted months… years… over a decade of isolation. Over a decade of people avoiding you so they wouldn’t be contaminated and need to be in isolation too.
And here this woman is. In the crowd. Contaminating all these people, per se. She doesn’t tell them. She sneaks. Who would let her through to embarrass the rabbi with lady problems? Who would let her make him ritually unclean?
If caught, what will happen? Will they stone her, kill her, for violating the social rules? Will they cast her out of the city and make her a beggar, or made to wander the desert until she died of thirst? Will they arrest her, take her from her family, and deport her?
She risks it all just for a chance at a better life.
Just for a chance of healing.
Chance of grace — unearned favor.
She touches just the hem, the barest edge, of Jesus’ clothes and feels — FEELS — the change in her. Just that smallest touch has brought her back to life and among the living!
Jesus FEELS the change, too.
“WHO HAS TOUCHED ME?”
“Everyone is touching you, what do you mean ‘who has touched you’? It’s a crowd! It’s crowded!”
And Jesus glared at the crowd.
So much for not embarrassing the rabbi. So much for keeping his honor intact. So much for sneaking in the crowd and not letting them know of the unclean, unwelcomed one among them. So much for getting away with her newly given life. What will the crowd do to this woman – now that she’s stolen from the rabbi AND contaminated him? Death will be merciful.
She so easily could have ran away then. Saved her life. But she chooses to give in, and in giving her life away, saves it.
She falls down before Jesus and tells him the whole truth – every gory detail – every failed doctor, every penny spent, every place she’s been not welcomed. She tells him way, way too much until the people around him are uncomfortable. She confesses her theft, and guilt, wholly to the one she offended, the one she is indebted to.
And he forgives her debts. Forgives her sins. Her trespasses. “Daughter, your faith has made you well.” Faith – trust – confession – reconciliation –has cleansed her of her sins. It is well with her soul. “Go in peace and be healed.”
With a full confession, this woman is given more mercy than she ever dreamed was possible. She is not just physically healed, but spiritually, too. And directly forgiven by the one she did wrong to. She is wholly returned to life after 12 years of dying.
But that’s not the whole story today.
Jesus in this crowd had been heading to Jarius’ house where his 12 year old daughter is deathly ill.
How far is Jarius willing to go for healing for his child? What will he risk?
He comes to the folk healer Jesus, whom Jarius’ own peers are ridiculing, to save not his first son or any son — but a daughter, a child that is considered not to have much worth in society. And not any daughter who has given him grandsons… but his 12 year old daughter, who is just ready to begin her menses, not even a full woman. See the ties to the previous woman, here? Jarius will risk his job, his reputation, and therefore his livelihood and life to save the life of his little girl.
But it is too late.
Jesus paused, helped an outsider, a stranger, a thief… and now the little innocent girl is dead.
Can you feel the crowd’s anger? Don’t bother the rabbi.
Over at the house, the crowd is crying. Hope is lost. The miracle was stolen by that dirty woman.
Jesus, however, tells them there is no need to weep – the girl is only asleep. He tells Jarius “Do not fear, only believe!”
But the crowd laughs him out.
To the sound of their jeers, Jesus takes the little girls’ mom and dad, and his closest friends, into the house. Over the sound of the crowd mocking, maybe getting angry with that woman, or angry with Jesus for being too late, over all that chaos Jesus goes into the quiet room with the dead child. And he touches her — breaking the social taboo of not touching the dead. Making himself unclean. An outsider. And he whispers to her not in some strange language, but in their native tongue – their own dialect – little girl, get up!
And she does. Back from the dead. Healed. Alive.
Oh death, where is your sting?
Oh God, who truly has endless grace — no one can steal another’s place with you!
God is so generous, so full of life, so extravagant that there is healing enough for all. There is love enough for all. There is life enough for all.
Don’t fear. Only believe.
Don’t be stingy, don’t doubt, don’t jeer. Be generous. Be optimistic. Be encouraging.
Paul’s letter to the Corinthians is telling them that the reason they are so affluent, so well off, so that they can help others. Gifts are meant to be shared! Talents are meant to be shared! Miracles are meant to be shared! Food is meant to be shared.
Around this table Jesus sets for us, we share. We share our joys. We share our woes. We share our hopes. We share our shames. We share a body – that is old and young, healthy and unhealthy, saintly and fallen. We share extravagantly and proclaim it is open for one, and all, and everyone who wishes to begin anew their life with Christ and with one another in the name of Christ. We proclaim every sin confessed is wholly forgiven for God’s mercy’s are endless. God’s welcome is endless. God’s love is endless.
How far are you willing to go for healing?
For a clear conscious and a well soul?
Are you willing to apologize to the ones you have wronged?
It’s something to chew on, to eat.