Next in Adult Formation

God did not make death

God did not make death
July 1, 2018
Series:
Passage: Wisdom 1:13-15; 2:23-24; Psalm 30; 2 Corinthians 8:7-15; Mark 5:21-43
Service Type:

From the Wisdom of Solomon: God did not make death.

But death is coming to Jairus’ home. The synagogue leader finds out that his young daughter is dying, and, as soon as Jesus shows up, Jairus humbles himself before him, falls at his feet, and asks for help.

Jesus agrees, and they’re on their way. But soon they’re sidelined by a commotion in the crowd.

+

God did not make death.

But Death has imprisoned an un-named woman in the form of a flow of blood that has lasted twelve years… twelve years! Death in the form of debilitating physical suffering, but also in the form of isolation. She isn’t banished from public life, exactly, but because a woman with a flow of blood is considered ritually unclean by Levitical law, she was expected to stay home until the flow stopped, and even if she has a family in her home, she has to avoid touching them and they can’t sit on a chair she has sat on or lie in a bed on which she has lain.

And doctor after doctor has taken her money, and left her in poverty but left her worse off than before. But a teacher—a healer—has come! And he’s in that crowd.

So she moves through the crowd, making everyone she touches ritually unclean, too, but it’s worth the risk of rebuke—nothing is more important than this! –because she’s tired of being dead. She wants to LIVE! And as she moves through the crowd she keeps saying to herself, “If I touch him, I will be healed. If I touch him, I will be healed.” And she goes right to Jesus and reaches out and touches his clothes. And she feels her body change immediately.

+

God did not make death.

Jesus is on his way to rescue Jairus’ daughter from the Enemy called Death, and so to offer a glimpse of the Kingdom that he brings in his wake—a Kingdom in which there is no Death— and he feels his own power going out of him. (I wonder what that means?) And he looks around, asking “Who touched my clothes?” And the disciples think he’s crazy even to ask with all those people pushing in on him, but he continues to look for who it was.

And a woman he’s never met says, “It’s me,” He can tell that she’s afraid. She’s trembling. Maybe because her old life of isolation has ended, and the life before her, though she’s longed so long for it, will be completely new, and she doesn’t know what that really means. Or maybe because she was afraid that Jesus was angry for being made ritually unclean by her touch. So Jesus says, even though he felt his own power go out of him, “Your faith has saved you”

God did not make death.

But Jairus, anxious now because of the delay, hears Jesus say to the woman, “Your faith has saved you,” even as he sees people coming from his house (this must be bad news), and hears them say, “Your daughter is dead. No need to bother the teacher any more.”

But Jesus hears them, too, and says to Jairus, and to the whole world, “Do not fear. Only have faith.” In other words, “Don’t despair. What looks like an interruption by this woman was actually a gift. She has shown you what is needed.”

At Jairus’ house Jesus puts the naysayers outside, and takes just the girl’s parents, and a few of his followers. And Jesus approaches this twelve year old girl—this girl on the edge of fertility, on the edge of bringing into the world the next generation of Israel—except that she’s dead. And he takes her hand (making himself doubly unclean!), and says to her, “Get up,” and rises from the dead and she walks. And even as everyone is amazed, Jesus says, “Don’t tell anyone. Get her something to eat.”

+

God did not make death.

And yet here Jesus is, in the midst of the world. A very real world. His feet walking on solid earth. A world that suffers the oppression of Death in many forms: illness, grief, fear, isolation, and literal death. Death is all around him.

But wherever he encounters it—wherever he is approached by those suffering under it. he looks death in the eye and goes to battle with it.

Which raises the question: Why doesn’t Jesus do that for everyone—then or now?

+

The right answer is, “I don’t know.” But I’ve been thinking about the number twelve in this story. shared by the years this woman was sick and this girl was alive. A number that, in Scripture, usually has to do with fullness, especially the fullness of the twelve tribes of Israel, the twelve tribes that are made new when Jesus calls twelve apostles, and wondering if these miracles are a way that Jesus is saying, “I’m making God’s people clean and giving them new life?” And it’s making me wonder:

 

  • What if Jesus’ vocation isn’t so much to go around to each person suffering under that great Enemy Death healing or raising them individually, one by one, but to begin a revolution to redeem Creation itself (and so ALL people) from the power of Death, by restoring a revolutionary people?
  • What if healing this woman and raising this girl from the dead, while powerful personal events, are also very carefully chosen signs of the ultimate work the people of God—  Israel, the Church—will share with God… that is, reclaiming all of Creation from suffering and death?
  • What if these are signs revealing Jesus’ vocation and ours: the revolution that redeems Creation from Death?

Jesus felt power, his own power, go out of him. And the woman was healed immediately. But he also said, “Your faith has saved you”

So was it his power or her faith? What if the answer to that question is “Yes”?

+

God did not make death, And he does not delight in the death of the living. For he created all things so that they might exist; the generative forces of the world are wholesome, and there is no destructive poison in them, and the dominion of Hades is not on earth. For righteousness is immortal.

God created us for incorruption, and made us in the image of his own eternity, but through the devil’s envy death entered the world, and those who belong to his company experience it.

You and I, and all people, and all of Creation, are made for life.

Yet Death is all around us—in illness and addiction and despair; in loneliness and isolation; in oppression and injustice of all kinds; and it’s easy enough to see all of these kinds of death around us.

But God didn’t make it. And God won’t leave us and the rest of Creation in it.

Still… what if overcoming death isn’t something God is doing to us and the rest of Creation? What if it’s something God is doing with us and in us and through us? And all we have to do to share in that revolutionary work is, like the woman with the flow of blood, reach out to touch him—there is nothing more important!—and receive his power.

In a few minutes we will be given the opportunity to receive his power in our hands and in our bodies… his Body and Blood given for us and to us. I wonder how (like the gift from the woman to Jairus) doing this might spread beyond and through us into the world?

In this reaching out is faith. In this we, and the whole world, will be saved from, and even overcome, Death.