Saturday, June 20, 2015

Us? Healed? Or made whole?

Mark 5:21-43 is a double healing story, involving one who seeks healing on behalf of another, one who seeks healing for herself, and one who is raised from the dead without doing anything herself. Which character in this story do you identify with?  That is an interesting question.

(The following questions follow the format set out in my newly-published guide to Law and Gospel preaching entitled, Afflicting the Comfortable, Comforting the Afflicted.  Purchase it by clicking on the picture of the front cover on this page.)

1.  How does the Word function in the text?  The Word, Jesus, is doing many things:  responding to the request to heal, seeking out the face of one who has been healed by him inadvertently, commending the one healed for her faith, and finally raising the dead.  This is Jesus at his Gospel best - bringing life and healing and salvation to all.

2.  How is the Word not functioning in the text?  The Law is not prominent in this text.  At one point, when Jesus hears of the death of the child he exhorts people to stop being afraid and believe, but even this is not accusatory.  Also, there is no call to obedience, (i.e. how do we respond since we have been given new life by Christ.)

3.  With whom are you identifying in the text?  We have a choice here.  If we choose to be Jairus, we are those who come to Jesus on behalf of others, seeking healing.  If we choose to be the bleeding woman, we are those who come to Jesus, desperate to be healed, having tried everything and everyone else.  If we choose the dead child, we are those raised from death, saved, brought to the fulness of life through the call of Jesus.

4.  What, if any call to obedience is there in this text?  Any invitation to live in response to Jesus' healing and saving power, will have to be found outside this text.

5.  What Law/Gospel couplet is suggested by this text?  Dead/Alive, Broken/Whole, Ill/Restored are just a few couplets that might work well.

6.  Exegetical Work:  Translation of this text immediately bears fruit when we see that the word translated as "made well" is also the word commonly translated as "saved" in the NT.  Particularly in the story of the bleeding woman we see the juxtaposition of several terms related to healing. For example, in verse 29 we hear the woman say that she feels in her body that she has been "healed."  This is not the "made well" term (saved), but another.  When she finally admits to Jesus that he has healed her, however, we hear him say not "your faith has healed you," but "your faith has made you well"  (i.e. saved you.)  This juxtapositon of two different terms regarding healing suggests that Jesus is about much more profound wholeness than mere physical restoration.

7.  How does the Crossings Community model work with this text?  Joseph Justus van der Sabb has an interesting analysis of this text revolving around our unbelief at the power of Jesus to heal.  It is worth visiting study under 2012 Year B Gospel to read this.

8.  Insights of pioneers of the New Homiletic?  Henry Mitchell always exhorts us to be the first to experience the ecstasy of the Gospel.  We might seek to share the excitement of being made whole by Jesus as we build to the Gospel climax of this text.

Blessings on your proclamation!

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