2 Corinthians 8: 7-15 Mark 5: 21-43
Let’s just think about the Gospel reading for a moment from the point of view of Jairus.
Jairus is one of the leaders of the synagogue and he comes to find Jesus. We’re not sure exactly where Jesus is when this story is told, but he is somewhere in Galilee, because Mark tells us he and the disciples have crossed back over the Lake, back to the West.
Jairus’s daughter, who is only 12, is desperately ill.
Jairus has heard that Jesus – the strange local lad, who seems to be some sort of rabbi and healer - is back in the area, so he goes and finds him. He falls at his feet, begging him repeatedly to come and heal his daughter.
He must be filled with joy when Jesus agrees to come with him and they set off towards his house.
There is a crowd, Jairus wishes they’d get out of the way – there’s not a moment to lose. Then Jesus stops! And starts asking who touched him.
A woman comes forward and admits it was her – she was bleeding, she was unclean, but she was desperate and has touched Jesus’ clothes to receive healing.
And Jesus even speaks to her “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
Then - disaster ! – people come from the house to tell Jairus that his daughter is dead and he should not trouble Jesus any further.
How must he have felt at that moment – Jesus has delayed talking to this miserable woman, and now my daughter is dead!
But Jesus insists on carrying on to the house – even thought it is clearly too late – and he tells Jairus “not to fear”. When they reach the house there are mourners in full flow, and when they go up to her room his daughter looks so still on her bed. Jairus must fear for the worst – he has lost her. But Jesus speaks and tells her ‘Talitha cum’ – little girl, get up – and she does.
Jairus is amazed. No words of mine could convey the joy any father would feel when his child is restored to life and health.
But he might be a little puzzled, too.
You can see why Jesus would want to cure the little girl – she has her life ahead of her, her father is a law-abiding leader of the synagogue, and he begs for help… but the woman with the haemorrhage?
She is the opposite – old, and unclean, and unable even to ask Jesus for help, but just tries to obtain it by stealth.
But Jesus heals them both. He does not weigh their lives in the balance and decide which to save – even the shortage of time and their competing demands does not get in the way of Jesus showing grace and giving healing to both these women.
As Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians says: “For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.”
The richness, the healing, the grace Jesus offers is for everyone in need.
Ancient Egyptian myths teach that in order to enter the afterlife, the heart of the dead person is weighed on a balance. If the heart is as light as a feather, the person has led a good life and can enter the afterlife.
Perhaps this sort of idea remains in the minds of many of us who tend to believe that our good deeds ‘count’ for something – maybe they can tip the balance in our favour..?
But grace does not work like this – Jesus shows that we don’t have to worry about our worthiness to receive his love, or be concerned that we have to compete with others to obtain healing. Faced with the dilemma of hurrying to heal Jairus’s daughter or of attending to the furtive woman in the crowd, Jesus deals with, talks to, and heals them both.
Jesus shows us that the grace of God is more generous than we can possibly imagine.
Frederick Faber’s hymn “there’s a wideness in God’s mercy” describes it brilliantly:
There is grace enough for thousands of new worlds as great as this;
There is room for fresh creations in that upper home of bliss.
For the love of God is broader than the measure of our mind;
And the heart of the Eternal is most wonderfully kind.
There is no need for scales to measure the grace of God – no need to ask if we measure up to it, deserve it, will ‘gain’ it – it is there for you and me – and all of us.
When, in 1953, my dad learned that my mum was expecting a second baby, he was worried – Jane, my sister, their first born, was so loved and so lovely – how could he love this second child as much? It was his mum, my grandma, who told him “the love comes with each child”.
Grandma’s advice must have been right – because he loved that second child, my brother Frank, and then a third – Paul – and still had love enough for me when I arrived as baby number four!
If my dad could manage to find the love that came with each child, how much more can our creator and heavenly father love each child. Jesus shows us that love and that grace through his healing power.
We come to this communion table to experience something of the boundless grace of God.
Some people are puzzled by the fact that we only have a tiny piece of bread and a sip of wine: wouldn’t a sumptuous banquet by a more fitting way to celebrate God’s grace?
Yet this bread reminds us of so much – the bread broken for the 5,000 – when 5 loaves fed all – with 12 basketfuls left over.
And Jesus said – when you break this bread and drink this wine, remember me – my body broken, my blood poured out, so that the whole world will be able to know and share the depth of my love and the amazing grace of the God who treasures and loves each one of us.
Eat, drink, and know how precious you are.
In the name of Christ. Amen.