Pentecost 5 2021
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud 
June 27, 2021
Lam 3:22-33, 2 Cor. 8:1-9, 13-15, Mark 5:21-43

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itunes:                        bit.ly/pastorjud
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            There is an epic battle going on in your life.  Two forces struggling for control.  It is happening when you are working, studying, resting, eating.  It is an ongoing battle.  Even as you sit here in worship the two forces are engaged in warfare. 

            One of the forces is fear.  Fear of the future.  Fear of failure.  Fear of humiliation.  Fear of being hurt by others.  Fear of disappointing people.  Fear of persecution.  Fear of injury.  Fear of not finding the right person.  Fear of your marriage failing.  Fear for parents and grandparents.  Fear for children.  Fear of sickness.  Fear of never being good enough.  Fear that you are lost.  Fear of death.  Fear can lead to feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.  Fear leads to despair.  Fear is a powerful force and battles for control inside of you. 

            In our Gospel reading today we have two stories of fear; one inside the other.  After completing His journey across the Sea of Galilee, Jesus encounters one of the rulers of the synagogue named Jairus.  Jairus is beset by fear.  His 12-year-old daughter is very sick; she is dying. This is every parent’s greatest fear. His daughter is dying and there is nothing Jairus can do to save her.  He is helpless and becoming hopeless and despairing. 

            As He goes with Jairus, Jesus encounters another person in the grips of fear. There is a woman who has had a discharge of blood for 12 years.  The discharge of blood renders the woman weak and sickly, but also unclean.  She is not welcome to participate in normal Jewish life. She is an outcast.  Anyone whom she touches or touches her is rendered unclean. This woman has spent all that she has seeking a cure and it has only gotten worse.  She is unclean and she is afraid she will always be.  She is helpless and becoming hopeless and despairing. 

            Jairus and the woman are both in the grips of fear.  But fear has not won because battling with the fear is faith.  With faith there is hope. 

            Jairus has heard about this man Jesus – a teacher, a prophet, a healer, the Christ.  Jesus can do things that no one else can do.  He has the power of God.  Jesus has driven out unclean spirits; He has healed a leper and a paralyzed man.  He has restored a withered hand and just calmed a storm on the Sea of Galilee.  Jairus has faith that Jesus can help his little girl.  Faith fights fear.

            The woman with the ongoing discharge of blood is afraid, but faith battles the fear. She also has heard about Jesus and all that he can do.  She knows Jesus can heal her.  Faith fights fear.

            Jairus, a well-respected man in the community, approaches Jesus from the front and bows down at His feet and implores Jesus to heal his daughter.  The woman is an unclean outcast and sneaks up on Jesus from behind in a crowd to touch His garments.  After Jesus calls her out and she explains what she has done Jesus declares, Mark 5:34 (ESV) 34 … “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”  This outcast, unclean woman is cleansed and restored to the community.  Jesus calls her “daughter.”  Faith wins out over fear.

            As Jesus finishes talking to the woman a messenger arrives on the scene from Jairus’ house.  Mark 5:35 (ESV) 35 … “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?”  What Jairus dreads most has happened and fear swells inside of him.  Jesus overhears the messenger’s awful news.  As the fear and helplessness and hopelessness and despair grow within Jairus Jesus tells him, “Do not fear, only believe.”

Jesus takes Peter, James and John with Him to Jairus’ house and tells the assembled mourners that there is nothing to be wailing about since the girl is only sleeping.  Jesus takes the little girl by the hand says to her, “Talitha cumi – Little girl, I say to you, arise.”  She immediately gets up and begins walking and Jesus forbids anyone to tell what happened and then tells them to feed the girl.  Faith wins over fear. 

            “Do not fear, only believe.” 

            Fear is a powerful force battling for control of your life, but you have an even more powerful force battling back; faith.  Not faith in faith, but faith in Jesus.  Faith that is not your own doing; faith that is a gift from God the Father through the Holy Spirit.  Faith in Jesus; the Christ; God in flesh who died on the cross for your sins and rose from the dead to conquer death for you.  Faith that knows Jesus destroys fear. 

            There is an old Indian story:  One evening, an elderly Cherokee brave told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.  He said, “My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all.  One is evil.  It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.  The other is good, it is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”  Then grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf wins?”  The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one that you feed.”[1]

            Faith is fed by focusing on the object of your faith; Jesus.  Faith is fed by hearing the Word of God.  Faith is fed by gathering together to receive God’s promised gifts of forgiveness and eternal life.  Faith is fed by coming to where Jesus has promised to deliver forgiveness and eternal life to you in His divine service. 

            Faith and fear are fighting for control of you.  Which one will you feed?  Fear is fed by obsession with the things of this world.  Fear is fed by caring too much about what others think about you. Fear is fed by fixation with what the latest, greatest experts declare to be the newest, most awful ways that you can be harmed or killed.  The 24 hour news cycle of the cable networks drive fear.  Social media drives fear as you are fed a constant stream of divisive rhetoric, and as you are reminded over and over that your messy life does not measure up to the sanitized, filtered, enhanced versions of life that your friends portray online.  Your unrealistic expectations about life drive fear.  Your realistic expectations about life drive fear.  Fear is driven by the lying, accusing evil one driving you to despair.  Fear is pervasive and powerful.  Don’t feed fear. 

            Faith is fed by focusing on the object of your faith; Jesus.  Faith is fed by hearing the Word of God.  Faith is fed by gathering together to receive God’s promised gifts of forgiveness and eternal life.  Faith is fed by coming to where Jesus has promised to deliver forgiveness and eternal life to you in His divine service. 

            Fear wants to take over your life, call the shots, and be the driving force for everything you do.  Fear wants to control you, but you have faith.  Like Jairus and the woman with the discharge of blood, you know that Jesus is the source of healing.  You approach Jesus from the front as you did this morning by getting on your knees and admitting that on your own you are helpless and hopeless but you know from where help comes.  You approach Jesus at His altar knowing that the touch of His Body and Blood in Holy Communion brings healing from the disease of sin.  You know that Jesus is the cure.  Jesus is the antidote to fear.  Do not fear, only believe.  Feed faith by focusing on Jesus.

            There is a lot of opportunity to be afraid in this life.  Life is hard.  Fear is powerful.  God has not promised an easy, trouble free life.  You know that well.  But through the troubles of this life you do not need to fear.  Romans 8:38–39 (ESV) 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

            You are baptized child of God.  You have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus.  God has given you faith.  Do not fear, only believe.  Amen. 

[1] https://www.nanticokeindians.org/page/tale-of-two-wolves

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