Posted by: St. Mark Lutheran Church | August 3, 2009

Sermon on Mark 5:21-43

Falling at Jesus’ Feet

Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come.  Amen.

Mark 5:21-43: When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake. Then one of the synagogue rulers, named Jairus, came there. Seeing Jesus, he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” So Jesus went with him. A large crowd followed and pressed around him.  And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years.  She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse.  When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.”  Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.  At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” “You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’”  But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it.  Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth.  He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” While Jesus was still speaking, some men came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher any more?” Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. When they came to the home of the synagogue ruler, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at him. After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). Immediately the girl stood up and walked around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat.

Dear Children of God,

How do you pray?  Do you fold your hands?  Do you get on your knees?  Do you raise your hands towards heaven?  Do you sit at the table with your family and say “Come, Lord Jesus…?”

People pray in different ways.  You can pray in bed.  You can pray walking down the street.  You can pray sitting in your car.  You can pray standing in line.  In church, we pray standing up.  What we don’t often see is someone falling on their face to pray.  But today we do.  We see someone with a situation in which it would be easy to say, “No one can help me now.”  Do you know what you would do?  Today we see what God wants to happen.  Today we see Jairus FALLING AT JESUS’ FEET.  FALLING AT JESUS’ FEET – WE GO TO GOD WITH OUR REQUESTS.  HE COMES TO US WITH HIS ANSWERS.

Jairus was a big shot.  He led the synagogue.  He was probably well off.  Everybody knew him.    He was at all the important places with all the important people.  Yet where do we find him?  At Jesus’ feet.  Jairus was also a father – a father whose only daughter was lying at death’s door.  And so when he makes his first appearance it’s at the feet of Jesus, pleading earnestly for his daughter.  His words indicate his desperation.  My daughter is dying.  Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.

He knew who Jesus was and how busy He’d been.  Recently, Jesus had stilled a storm and healed a demon-possessed man.   While in Capernaum, Jesus healed a paralytic, called Matthew to be an apostle, was guest of honor at a banquet, and conferred with the disciples of John the Baptist.  As Jairus fell at His feet, a large crowd swarmed Jesus, eager to see some miracle or hear a parable.  Yet, Jairus approached.

Jairus humbly fell at Jesus’ feet.  Despite his high position, despite his fine clothes, despite the large crowd, Jairus found his way to Christ.  Jairus boldly came to Jesus.  He didn’t sugarcoat his request.  He didn’t sweet-talk Jesus.  He made his request in a few strong words.  Jairus came in faith.  In Jairus’ mind it was simple.  If Jesus laid hands upon his daughter, she’d live.  If it were not so, he wouldn’t ask.  That Jairus had such faith is clear when Jesus tells him, Just believe, literally, “Keep on believing.”

But the crowd wasn’t so sure.  When the men came from Jairus’ house with the news of death, what did they say?  Why bother the teacher any more? They doubted God’s power.  They knew that Jesus could heal people.  He’d just healed that woman suffering from bleeding.  They knew Jesus could cast out demons and cure paralytics.  But He surely couldn’t raise the dead!

But Jesus ignored those “friends” of Jairus.  He kept going to Jairus’ house.  There, Jesus saw the crowds, wailing and mourning for the girl.  And He declared, The child is not dead but asleep. And the people’s doubt turned into laughter.  “What are you, nuts?  SHE’S DEAD!”  They knew better.  This was the cynical response to a naïve expression of hope.  Jesus said the impossible and the people found it funny.

What this boils down to is unbelief.  The people didn’t believe in God, who stood before them and said, in effect, “I will raise her from the dead.”  The people didn’t believe that Jesus was who He said He was and who His actions declared Him to be, the Messiah, the Almighty God.  The people didn’t believe in God’s power to save.  Though he had walked on water and healed the blind, though he had made the deaf hear, the mute speak, and the crippled walk – he could not possibly conquer death.

This is the sinful nature in all men, the unbelief of the heart.  We inherited this unbelief from our parents, who inherited it from their first parents, Adam and Eve.  And so we scoff at God’s Words to us, and are hostile to God.  When life assails us with sickness and death, with the worries of money and jobs or kids and family, the first reaction of the sinful nature is not to trust in God, but rather to think that we can handle things ourselves.  We quickly put out of our mind and forget God’s promises.  Perhaps we begin by thinking that our problems are too small for God.  Often we end up believing that our problems are too big for God.  Our patience wears thin, as does our trust.  Soon we doubt and ask, “Does God love me?”  “Does God care?”  “Can God help?”  And then we finally say or think in response to each, “Yeah, right!”  This is the scoffing skepticism of the crowd.  This is the scoffing skepticism of all men.  This is our scoffing skepticism.

This scoffing skepticism says to God, “You lied to me.”  Each time we doubt and laugh at God’s promises, we slap Him in the face.  It’s shocking to think that, but it’s true.  Whenever you say or think, “God can’t help me now” it’s a slap right across His face.  And what’s even worse, if God lied about helping us with our earthly problems.  And if He lied about that, then what else did He lie about?  Christmas?  Easter?  What happened at your Baptism?  What you receive at His altar?  Maybe He lied about the free and full forgiveness of our sins won for you by Jesus at the cross.  Maybe we do have to do something to be saved.  When we doubt God’s love, God’s promises, God’s ability to do everything He says that He can do, we’re saying, “I can do it.  I can find my way to heaven.”  But the only place we’ll find ourselves with that kind of thinking is hell – burning for all time with the devil.

But God’s Word offers us the love of a Father opening his arms to disobedient children.  Though we might doubt God, and even laugh, He forgives us.  He put our sins on His Son.  Jesus lived His perfect life, died His perfect death, and rose again – for your doubting, for your scoffing, for your laughter.  All because God wants us at His feet.  God wants us to come to Him humbly, boldly, and with complete confidence.  Confidence we can have because of Christ, who says, Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. We can worry the least, because He suffered the most.  Don’t doubt God.  Trust Him completely.  FALL AT JESUS’ FEET.  WE GO TO GOD WITH OUR REQUESTS. But Jesus doesn’t only hear your prayers. FALL AT JESUS’ FEET.  HE COMES TO US WITH HIS ANSWERS.

Immediately, Jesus went with Jairus to his home, but on the way to his house, Jesus was waylaid by that woman suffering from bleeding.  The woman, touching his garment, was healed.   The text is silent about Jairus at this moment, but for anyone who’s a parent it doesn’t take much imagination to figure out what he might have been doing.   Was he nervously looking towards his home?  Was he grabbing Jesus by the arm trying to pull him along?  Was he wondering what in all the world Jesus is doing stopping when He’s promised to come look at his little girl?  Was he asking (shouting at) people to please clear a path?  And then those men came and told Jairus that his only daughter, his little girl, had died.  The father was cut to the heart.  His “friends” tell him not to bother the teacher any more.  They demonstrate their lack of trust.  They don’t see Jesus as the all-powerful God in the flesh.  But Jesus responds with two short commands.

Don’t be afraid.  Just believe. Small words.  Big statement.  Jairus came to Jesus with faith in his heart that Jesus could heal his daughter.  But now she’s dead.  Without paying any attention to those men, Jesus tells him, “Stop fearing, keep on believing as you did before.  You fell at My feet in love and trust moments ago.  Keep holding on to that love and trust.”  Jesus has promised.  Jesus will help.

Recall that at the house of Jairus, Jesus was confronted by the assembled mourners.  They were making their racket outside the home, wailing and lamenting with tears, shouts, and instruments.  Jairus was reeling.  His daughter is dead.  His friends told him to give up.  The noise was deafening.  But Jesus asked, Why all this commotion and wailing?  The child is not dead but asleep. With these words Jesus answers Jairus’ doubts and fears.  Even were his daughter to remain physically dead, she was not eternally dead.  Her body would rise again at the final judgment and go into eternal life.   Jesus saved the daughter of Jairus from her sins at the cross of Calvary.  But He went even further that day. 

Entering the home of Jairus with just the parents and Peter, James, and John, our Lord fulfilled the request of this worried father.  He took the little girl by the hand and spoke to her, Little girl, I say to you, get up! And she did.  Immediately.  This little girl, who was dead, gets up and walks around – alive!  Jesus demonstrated His power over life and death.  Jesus answered Jairus’ prayer.

Jesus answers our requests in the same way.  When we go to God, He comes with an answer. God didn’t even wait for us to ask, and we didn’t even have the ability to ask Him to send His Son Jesus, but He sent him to Calvary for us. Because it was there that we lay, dead in our sins, dead in our doubt, and He raised us from the dead by dying himself.  And on Easter morning He completed His task by coming away from the tomb alive!   Nor could we ask for the faith to believe in Jesus and His resurrection, but God lovingly sends His Holy Spirit into hearts to create that faith through His Word and just as He provided food for that little girl to eat, He provides us with heavenly nourishment in the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper that is the very body and blood He sacrificed for us.

What glorious hope!  Though we die on earth, we have a resurrection into eternal life bought by Christ’s blood.  He fulfilled our greatest need.  He answers our smallest request.  Is it for comfort over a lost job, or the mending of a broken body?  Jesus will answer.  Is it for the faith life of a friend or family member, or even for ourselves?  Jesus will answer.  Whatever it is, whatever it might be, however big, however small, Jesus will answer all our prayers in His time and in His way, because He cares for you.

How do you pray?  Jairus fell at Jesus’ feet.  Go and do likewise.  Fall at Jesus’ feet.  Beg Him.  Implore Him for help.  But also thank Him – because He has already fulfilled your biggest need.  Fall at Jesus’ feet.  He’s waiting for us to.  Fall at Jesus’ feet.  He desires to come with His help and healing.  Fall at Jesus’ feet.  He helps us.  He heals us.  He saved us.  Fall at Jesus’ feet.  Amen.


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