Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Sunday Word II

Saint Mark tells us today that when Jesus crosses in a boat to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, a great crowd gathers around him because rumors are flying about the Amazing Jesus-Man. Imagine the buzz in the crowd: One person says that she saw Jesus remove an unclean spirit from a man, leaving everyone amazed and saying, "What is this? A new teaching -- with authority!" 

Another says he watched Jesus heal a paralytic and reports that all who witnessed it were amazed and glorified God, saying, "We have never seen anything like this!"

A third tells of how a demoniac was healed by Jesus, and then the man "went away and began to proclaim how much Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed."

Again and again, Saint Mark reports that people are amazed. The Amazing Jesus-Man.

All of Jesus' mighty acts are intended to save them. Whether they're facing evil, illness, destruction or death, Jesus wants to come to the rescue. In fact, the Greek word for "save" pops up again and again in the gospel of Mark, although it's usually reduced to bland English words such as "heal," "cure" or "get well." What amazes the crowds is that Jesus is working to rescue them, to save them.

Jesus saves

First to appear is Jairus, one of the leaders of the synagogue. Although you might think that he would be in league with the authorities who are anxious to stamp out the "Jesus menace," Jairus is desperate. He falls at Jesus' feet and begs 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."

What the Greek actually says is that Jairus wants Jesus to lay hands on her, "so that she may be saved, and live." Jesus goes with Jairus, and a large crowd follows him and presses in on him. And just as you think, one challenge is never enough -- he goes to save one person and is unexpectedly pulled aside to save another. A woman who has been suffering hemorrhages for 12 years comes up behind Jesus in the crowd and touches his cloak, believing, "If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well."

She says to herself, "If I but touch his clothes, I will be saved."

The woman reaches out, touches Jesus, and immediately her bleeding stops. She is healed of her disease and rescued from a miserable life of pain, social isolation and exploitation. Jesus saves.

But wait. Jesus has a feeling that his power has flowed out of him. Jesus spins around in the crowd and says, "Who touched my clothes?" His disciples look at him as though he's crazy, since a mob of people are pressing in on him from every side. But Jesus searches the crowd for the person he knows is out there, until the woman finally confesses what she's done. He doesn't rebuke her, but instead says, "Daughter, your faith has made you well."

Sort of. What he really says is, "Daughter, your faith has saved you."