Christ Lutheran Church
June 27, 2021
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras
The Great Exchange
And there was a woman who suffered from hemorrhage for twelve years; who had endured much at the hands of many physicians, who had spent all that she had, but got no better and grew only worse. And so hearing the reports about what Jesus was doing came up from behind him in the crowed and touched his garment. For she kept saying that: “If I should touch even his garments I will be made well!” And instantly the flow of blood was staunched, and she realized, in her body, that she was healed of her disease.
And at that instant Jesus knew in himself that power had gone out of him; and turning into the crowd he said, "Who touched my garment?" And his disciples said to him, "You see the crowd that is pressing upon you, and yet you ask, "Who touched me?" And he looked around to see the woman who had done it. And the woman, realizing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. And he said to her, "Daughter! Your faith has made you well! Go in peace and be healed from your disease! (Mark 5:25-34)
Beloved in Christ, the most remarkable part of today’s gospel is the exchange between the woman who was plagued with bleeding for 12 years, and the Savior who was soon destined to pour out his life blood for us! We can be sure that the same kind of exchange took place with the 12 year old girl who died and whom the Lord raised. But it is more clearly demonstrated with the woman.
But first things first. Note how all this came to be. The woman had heard about Jesus. No surprise there because there was no other topic of discussion in the entire land for years, except Jesus.
There were those who had seen him and those who had not. Those who did see him were astonished by his teaching, as he taught finite people about the infinite God. As he taught knuckle-dragging, earth-dwellers about the forgiveness of sins; righteousness of life; and the future home that he himself would be for all who believe in him.
They found it impossible to deny, or explain away his irresistible power over the demons that had made people’s lives hell on earth, over the deadly elements, and over every kind of disease, sickness, weakness and infirmity that plagued humanity; and soon power over even death itself – for nothing can resist the Word and the Touch of Jesus.
A Touch and Word so powerful that this sick woman, who suffered for 12 grueling, depressing years with a condition that not only left her weak and feeling worthless, but one that had impoverished her, and carried undertones of immorality as well. Though she had not seen Jesus yet for herself, she had heard! And O the things she did hear; and upon hearing believed. Believed so single-mindedly, that she could only keep one thought in her mind. One prayer. One bold confession of faith that she repeated aloud over and over again:
“If I should touch even the fringe of his garments I will be made well.” Which she did! And which she was. For according to the Divine Record she was made well instantly and completely. Moreover she knew it, and could feel inside her body that all was repaired, that all was well. But that is not the end of the story.
At the same instant that she was made well Jesus knew in his body that a palpable measure of power had gone out of him; left his body; and flowed into the woman. But in order to demonstrate this Great Exchange the Lord turned to the vast crowd about him and said, “Who touched my garment?”
Not because he was unaware, but again so that we might learn exactly how Jesus cures all our illnesses, and infirmities, especially our chief infirmity which is the sin that dwells in our flesh; which plagues our own lives with trouble, and leads to the “second death” if our names are not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
We often call Jesus, “The Great Physician” and so he is. But can you imagine an earthly physician who cured people by taking the disease away from the patient and into himself? What kind of doctor would that be? And how long would you need to wait to get an appointment with him?
But that is Jesus through and through. As Isaiah the prophet says of our Lord, “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows … he was wounded for our transgressions … crushed for our iniquities … and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned--every one--to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
Note, also, how the woman responds to the Lord’s question. Fear coursed through her body, she shook like a leaf in the wind, and she assumed the position that we must all assume with our Lord, one of perfect humility. Not only in her mind, but her body as well. She fell down flat on her face, at the feet of her Lord, by which she liturgically demonstrated her humility and thanksgiving.
May we do the same, for we, too, are healed of the deadly disease of sin in this holy house every Sunday. Our sin is purged, and we are touched by, and filled with, the Lord’s own Body and Blood in Holy Communion – and there is nothing better than that!
This is also the reason that we genuflect at the words, “and was made man” because that is the greatest mystery of all; that by his incarnation our Lord has brought heavenly health and salvation to us and to our bleeding souls. This is not only for the pastors and deacons to do, but something we can all do at those golden words, “and was made man”.
But there is still more for us to learn from today’s gospel, namely the importance of grace and of faith. Let us all learn today that: “God’s gifts are all given by grace; and received by faith.”
In theology grace means that God chooses to be kind to us, indeed to all people: to you, your children and your children’s children! And faith is the means by which we receive, grasp and hold on to these priceless gifts.
But faith is not only an internal conversation, but rather it hears the external Word of God and keeps it. Faith seeks Christian instruction. Faith seeks baptism. Faith lives the baptismal life every day. Faith brings us to the Lord’s altar to worship the Father in Spirit and Truth, and to believe that in the Blessed Sacrament Jesus factually touches us with his Flesh, and infuses us with his blood.
As often as he touches us in this Supper he says to us, as to the woman: “Go on your way, your faith has made you whole.”
And he still says to us as to the 12 year old girl, “Talitha Cumi,” which means: Little girl I say to you arise. And as surely as did the little girl, so do we. We rise up from the death of sin, the bogs of self-pity, the sceptic tank of self-righteousness; and immediately we, too, get up and walk around.
But not aimlessly!
But we rise up to serve our God, to offer our bodies, along with his, as living sacrifices which are wholly acceptable to God; and which constitutes right worship.
For like faith, worship is not an internal conversation, but an external one that takes place here, in the Great Congregation, where Jesus speaks to us, and Jesus touches us. And one that worships daily by our prayers, our self-sacrifice and by the life of love that we live. Amen