Tuesday Morning Bible Study on the Gospel of Mark 5:25-34
Peace and the Goodwill of Jesus Christ be with you every day.
As we approach the celebration of Christmas, it sounds like the desert may well be in the midst of our first real winter storm with real rain. I hope that you will not let this change in our weather keep you from celebrating Christmas at church with your family and friends. I hope to see many of you this Sunday, December 24. We have a short chapel style worship with many hymns at 10AM as we finish out Advent four, and then during the service transition to Christmas music. At 7PM, we have our candlelight service with several specials and Christmas carols that are all of our favorites. With us, the whole Church around the world will be in the midst of the very same celebration which will be filled with Joy and Love. I usually watch the High Holy Mass of the Vatican on Christmas Eve late, or sometimes it even comes on after midnight. It gives me an opportunity to worship again, and from the comfort of my recliner!
A reminder that I will be away from the office for two weeks after both Christmas and New Year's. I will be at all Worship services during those two weeks. So, please don't stay away just because you think that I may not be there.
Today, we are taking a bit longer piece of Mark in chapter 5. Before us we have the passage which is about the woman who has had a critical health issue of bleeding. She has found no help in all of the traditional, and yes, probably in the non-traditional treatment for this health crisis. She is another person who has cast personal humility and risk aside as she has trusted that just reaching out to touch Christ's robe will be enough to heal her. And, just by her touch of His clothing, she is healed. However, we know that this would not go unnoticed by Jesus, yet His disciples tell Jesus that there are so many people pressing around Him to get in to see Him that it is impossible to tell who touched His clothing. Feeling that Jesus would be enraged by her action, which one might expect from anyone else, when He says that He knows what has happened, and has felt His power go out of Him, she comes forward to confess what she has done. We must remember her place in this world and culture. Notice that we hear nothing from Mark about her having a husband, and no matter how much money she may have been able to access, she has now found that nothing else worked, Jesus becomes her last act of desperation. If only... I might be healed. But Jesus is not angry, instead he sees an opportunity to speak about the power of real faith, and blesses her with wholeness and health for the remainder of her life. The gift of Christ's presence and power always keeps on giving in ways that we could never hope for, or expect.
The types of cures which the woman would have been given included the following, and some of those were really just superstition. Some were tonics and astringents, another included carrying the ashes of an ostrich egg in a linen cloth, or carrying corn that has been found in the dung of a she ass. But perhaps the greatest issue for her was (Leviticus 15:24-27) that she was considered unclean, and therefore as unapproachable by her community. So, Jesus not only heals her illness, but sets her free in the midst of her community to live openly again. In this time physicians were not always thought very highly of. One rabbi wrote that they would definitely end up in Gehenna. (that was the always burning garbage dump outside of Jerusalem's walls)
This passage tells us something about Jesus which we may not have realized. Even though Jesus seems to have endless energy to do the LORD'S Work, we discover here that with each healing, power moves out of Him to the person being healed. In every touch Jesus gave something of Himself. If we hope to be change agents in the world, that is true of us as well. We must give something of ourselves when we are working in the Kingdom of God, offering to others what we ourselves have come to know surrounded by God's Love for us.
As we might expect in the Gospel of Mark, the disciples are portrayed by Mark as being less than creative and understanding. Rather than asking the crowd who had done this, and offering that person an opportunity to be in the presence of Jesus, they instead just easily told Him that there were too many people to know who had done it. They used common sense when the circumstances of where they found themselves, surrounded by people miraculously being healed again and again, should have called on their own hearts to be more encouraging and filled with joy in these times of unexpected happenings that were so positive, understanding with imaginative insight that right now in their lives any thing was possible.
This writing also tells us that the woman has come in terror to confess her action of touching the "rabbi", but once she has confessed what she has done, the terror and fear over how she believed Jesus would respond, were turned instead to joy and comfort. If we think that Jesus doesn't already know everything about our need to confess and find relief in Him, then we are more foolish than we ever need to be. There is no one else who understand like Jesus, and coming to Him, though sometimes difficult, will lift the yoke and burden that we carry in guilt.
For you who are my sisters and brothers in Christ, Merry Christmas. For those who are Jewish, prayers that the Lights of the Menorah have filled their lives with hope and love. For those who are Muslim, May Allah hold you in his care and peace in this time of our national holidays. And for you who are still searching and struggling to come to Christ, may your journey be blessed with discovery.
But, for you all,
Pastor Kim Taylor