“Faithful From Beginning to End”

Sixth Sunday after Pentecost / Deacon Rex Watt

Lamentations 3:22-33 / 2 Corinthians 8:1-9,13-15 / Mark 5:21-43

“Faithful from beginning to end”

 

+ In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit +  Amen.

 

Dear Saints of Redeemer,

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Have you ever been at your wits end?  Have you ever been at the place where you have lost all hope?  You know, the place where you have tried everything you know how to do, or what to do, but to no avail?  If so, then I have a word from the Lord for you today.  The Lord is faithful.  His steadfast love never ceases, and “His mercies never come to an end.”

Maybe today you are struggling with health concerns like the woman in our gospel lesson.  She had had “a discharge of blood” for twelve years.  Now that’s a chronic condition!  She had gone to physician after physician after physician, all to no avail.  She not only sought a second opinion, she got a third, and a fourth, and so on.  Nobody could help her.  She had spent her entire life savings looking for a solution, and our text says she was no better off, “but rather grew worse.”

Maybe you are like Jeremiah in our Old Testament text today.  In the wider context of our Old Testament lesson, Jeremiah was lamenting the “state of the union” so to speak.  His people had been taken captive by a foreign nation, the Babylonians.  The glory of Israel was gone.  Things were not like they used to be.  God’s people were suffering.

Or maybe you are like Jairus this morning.  You have a child, maybe a grandchild, or some other family member who is suffering a life threatening illness.  Maybe it’s not an actual physical illness, maybe it’s a spiritual illness.  They have wandered from the faith.  You see them slowly slipping away and you are afraid that they will eventually deny the faith altogether and spiritually die.

The Lord’s word for you today, dear Saints of Redeemer, is just what Jesus told Jairus, “Do not fear, only believe.”  Why?  Because, the Lord is faithful.  His steadfast love never ceases, and His mercies never come to an end.”

The Lord is faithful.  Not man.  The woman in our gospel lesson had put her faith and trust in the wrong place.  She had for years placed her faith and trust in the physicians.  How do we know that?  She had gone to one after another.  If one couldn’t help her, she sought out another, then another and another.  It’s where she spent all her money.  Oh, I know, and am sure that physicians in her day had fees, just like they do today.  But she spent everything she had seeking their help.  Scripture tells us, For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  She had put all her money, and her hope in the wrong place.  The physicians had become her idol…her god.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I am not slamming the medical profession.  Lord knows that Dee and I have had plenty of experience with them recently.  As have many of you.  We thank God for the many gifted people who serve their neighbors in the complex field of modern medicine.  But our faith and trust, your faith and trust, should not be in the physicians of this world; faith and trust should be in the Great Physician.

Jesus is the Great Physician.  He is the faithful physician who never mis-diagnoses the illness.  He is the faithful physician who never prescribes the wrong medicine.  He is the faithful physician whose treatment plan is always a success.

Unlike the physicians of this world who practice an art learned, and diagnose illnesses of the body and mind, Jesus is the physician who gets at the root of the problem, Sin.  Please do not misunderstand me.  I am not saying that you are struggling with illnesses of mind or body because you committed some sort of sin.  While in some cases that may be true; the reason we struggle with diseases of mind and body is because of Sin with a capital “S”.  We live in a fallen world.  Original Sin, the result of Adam and Eve’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden infects each and every one of us.  It infects all creation according to the Apostle Paul.  It is the reason there is sickness and death.  The only true cure for all sickness and death, is to be free from Original Sin.

Jesus as the Great Physician not only diagnoses the problem, He cures the problem by shedding His own blood on your behalf.  He takes the medicine of immortality, His own life blood, and pours it out on the cross, for you.  You and I, not only because of our actual sins, but because of Original Sin deserve to die.  But God shows His great love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  Jesus the great physician came into this sin sick diseased world and took on our human flesh, your flesh, to become sin on your behalf.  He took that sin, your sin, my sin, the sin of the whole world and nailed it to the Cross.  And in exchange for that sin, Jesus the great physician gives you that medicine of immortality, his life blood.

Every other Sunday, as you gather at the foot of this altar, Jesus gives you his body and blood, the medicine of immortality.  As pastor recites the Words of Institution, we focus our attention on the phrase: “Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.”  These words show us that in the Sacrament forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation are given us through these words.  For where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation.  How, you may ask, can simple eating and drinking do such great things?  Our catechism teaches us: “Certainly not just eating and drinking do these things, but the words written here: ‘Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.’  These words, along with the bodily eating and drinking, are the main thing in the Sacrament.  Whoever believes these words has exactly what they say: ‘forgiveness of sins.’”  Yes, dear Saints, the Lord is faithful.  Do not fear, only believe.

The Lord is not only faithful; His steadfast love never ceases.  This is hard for us to wrap our brains around.  Our love is so conditional.  God’s love is unconditional.  Our love is always tied up with how we are thinking or feeling about that person or thing, the object of our love.  God loves.

There are so many verses that talk about God’s steadfast love, and so many examples of Him demonstrating that love that it seems superfluous to recall them.  Suffice it to say that none of us, neither you, nor me, deserve God’s love.  There is nothing lovely about us at all.  And that’s just the point!  God loves.  Neither the woman with the flow of blood, nor Jairus deserved God’s love.  He, out of His mercy chose to demonstrate it to them.  Our text says that a great crowd had gathered around him, and “thronged” him.  Jairus and the woman were not the only persons what wanted Jesus to do a miracle in their lives.  But those two, out of the large crowd of maybe hundreds, were the ones Jesus demonstrated his love toward.  In a similar way, out of the multitudes, Jesus through the Holy Spirit, has extended His love toward you and called you by the Gospel to be His own.  Paul says that he whom the Lord calls, He justifies.  And he whom the Lord justifies, the Lord will glorify.  He also writes that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.  Yes, dear Saints, the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.  Do not fear, only believe.

Since the Lord is faithful, and we are not.  And since the Lord’s love is unconditional, and ours is not…all we can do is cry out, “Lord, have mercy!”  And merciful He is.  In fact, His mercies  “are new every morning.”  Every morning is a new day, sort of like a resurrection from the sleep of death.  Every morning you wake up you can thank God that He has kept you through the night without harm or danger.  You can thank Him for your rest, the food on your breakfast table, the roof over your head, clothes on your back and the air you get to breath.  If it wasn’t for His mercy, you wouldn’t have any of these things.

There was nothing about Jairus, or the woman in our text to commend them to God.  They both were at their wits end.  The Lord in His mercy chose to demonstrate His love toward them.  As we read in our Old Testament lesson today, “The Lord will not cast off forever, but, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love.”

And you, dear Saints of Redeemer, have also been chosen by our Lord to receive His mercy.  You have been called by the Gospel.  You have been enlightened with the gift of the Holy Spirit which you received in your Baptism.  You are being sanctified and kept in the one true faith each and every time you receive the medicine of immortality at the foot of this altar.  Your sins are forgiven.  And by His stripes, you have been healed.  One day, your Lord Jesus will come to you and take you by the hand and say, “Child, arise!”  Do not fear, only believe.

He who began this good work in you will bring it to completion in the day of Jesus Christ.  He is faithful, from beginning to end.  He will do it.  Amen.

The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  Amen.

 

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