Rev. Todd A. Peperkorn, STM
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Trinity 24 (November 18, 2012)
St. Matthew 9:18–26
For an audio version of this sermon,click on this: 11-18-2012sermon
TITLE: “Interrupted Healing”
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord, Jesus Christ our Lord. Our text for this morning is the Gospel just read from St. Matthew chapter nine.
You can imagine the father’s dread here, can’t you? In St. Luke’s version, we learn that the man’s name was Jairus. We don’t know his daughter’s name. We only know she was a young girl, about twelve years old. She is at the beginning of her journey, and far too young to have her life snuffed out. We don’t know why she was sick. We only know that she was dead, and Jairus, this ruler of the Jews, he will do anything to help his daughter, anything.
Jairus comes to Jesus, the great physician. He falls to his knees and begs Jesus to help, and wonder of wonders! Jesus agrees to help. There are times in all our lives that it seems like the first thing that needs to happen is we have to get God’s attention. Remember how our Old Testament reading starts off? Wake up, God! We’ve got needs here, and you’re not paying enough attention to us.
But things go terribly haywire for this father. While they are on their way to heal his daughter, Jesus is interrupted. It is a worthy interruption. A woman with a hemorrhage for twelve years touches Jesus’ garment, believing that God would heal her.
But this father , well, what he sees is that his daughter is dying or maybe even dead, and Jesus is stopping and acting like nothing is wrong. Don’t you know my daughter is dead? How can you wait? Why aren’t you running, Jesus? Get on with it, already!
There are times in our lives when it seems as though God has been interrupted in taking care of us. There is always someone more sick. There is always someone more broken or more in need. God may have started with me, but frankly, it seems like He gets awfully distracted at times. It is easy to convince ourselves that really we aren’t that important to God.
What are we to do? What are we to do when healing doesn’t happen as quickly as we’d like? What are we to do when things aren’t going according to our plan? The plan may be reasonable. It may make sense. It may even be good, taking everything into account that we know of. Sometimes we go to God with a proposal in our prayers, a plan on how things should go, and how He can fix things for you and I. Like the child coming to their parents with the greatest sleepover plan ever, we go to God, just knowing that He will see things our way. Not thy will, Lord, but MINE be done. But our plans, well, they never seem to quite work out, do they? We are not the first to have this experience.
Moses had a plan. Then along came a burning bush. I wonder if his plan included the Exodus and getting to the Promised Land?
David had a plan. Did it include becoming king? Did it include adultery with Bathsheba and murder?
Job had a plan. I’m pretty certain that Job’s plan didn’t include losing everything, almost life itself.
Then there’s Ruth. Did her plan include her husband dying and receiving Boaz as her kinsman-redeemer? I doubt it.
I wonder what Mary’s plan was, the mother of our Lord. Did she plan on bearing the Son of God in her womb while remaining a virgin? I think it’s fair to say that wasn’t how she thought her life work out.
Simon Peter had a plan. But when Jesus announced His impending suffering and death, Peter even went so far as to rebuke the very Son of God! Now that is confidence in your will over God’s will! Peter’s plan ended up going horribly awry, and it was all the better for it.
Even Jesus Himself had a plan. Remember His words in the Garden of Gethsemane? Not my will, but thine be done, Father. The Father’s plan brought about the salvation of the world, but it also included suffering, hardship, and yes, even death for the very Son of God.
But notice something important here. In every one of these cases, the plans they had made were nothing compared to the great plans God had made for them. And quite simply put, God’s plan was far, far better than anything they could have imagined. Remember again the words of our Lord,
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11 ESV)
This is the thing, beloved. God has plans for you. God’s plans for you are, however, bigger and greater than you can possibly imagine. God has bigger plans for you than to heal your sicknesses of body, the weakness of your life. God has bigger plans for you than that. Much bigger. His plans for you are forgiveness, resurrection, communion with Him, and eternal life. His plans for you are amazing, beyond anything you or I can foresee of scheme or work out.
In the meantime, though, it still looks as though God’s plans have been interrupted. Healing takes longer than we’d like. Forgiveness, well, forgiveness just isn’t as obvious as I wish it was. I’m still sick. I’m still feeble. Things still aren’t going my way. Your life isn’t turning out like you expected it. What are you to do?
This, beloved, is why God gives you the Sacrament of the Altar, His very Body and Blood for the forgiveness of sins. God gives you this Sacrament so that you can see, touch, smell and taste that the Lord is good, that His will is for your good, and that all things will work out according to His plan. Unsure of where to turn? Flee to Jesus. Don’t think God is on your side anymore? Flee to Jesus. Is death looming, so that you fear for what is coming? Flee to Jesus. In Him you have life, and hope, and a future that is secure and whole.
Jairus’ daughter was healed. More than healed. Jesus raised her from the dead. The world, the crowds laughed. They could not believe that Jesus could do something so great, so amazing as that. But God’s plans are so wonderful, so amazing that the world cannot even fathom it. It laughs at your hope, and scorns your faith in a hidden God who reveals Himself when and where He will.
But no matter. God has your future firmly in hand. A resurrection is coming. Your body will change. Your life will be renewed. You will enter into the eternal rest with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven. Taste and see that the Lord is gracious. Blessed are you who trust in Him.
Believe if for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
And now the peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in true faith to life everlasting. Amen.