3rd Last Sunday/Trinity 24 (Mt 9, 18–31)

Photo by Neil Thomas on Unsplash

Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO

INI AMEN.

((5. Oops!: They didn’t have any choice!))

What choice did Jairus have? He didn’t have any choices. He was out of choices, out of options! His daughter was dying. He didn’t care what would happen to him as a ruler of the Capernaum synagogue when he went to Jesus. (Mt 9:1, Mk 5:22, Lk 8:40) Nothing else mattered. Out of his emptiness, he bows down to Jesus and begs Him, “My daughter has just died, but come and lay Your hand on her, and she will live.”

That woman was also out of options. She’d had twelve years of options. Nothing worked. So many treatments. So many doctors. In fact, it’s not just that it didn’t work, all of it made things worse. As St. Mark tells us, “After suffering many things from many doctors and spending everything she had, she did not get better but rather got worse.” (Mk 5:26)

At the end of their rope, out of options, out of money, no way out, no control.

((4. Ugh! We don’t either.))

We’re in no better shape than Jairus or this woman. We’d like to think that a lot’s changed over the past 2,000 years. Some has for sure, but at the end of the day we’re still human. The world is still broken. Things happen that shouldn’t happen. Things that make us angry or scared or worried or upset or depressed.

There’s wars and rumors of wars. Violence all over the globe. There’s cancers and accidents. People die: friends, family, even we will! Today. Tomorrow. Twelve years from now. Someday.

We think there are choices. Fixes. Solutions. Easy ways out. But do they every materialize? Sometimes. But with the bad stuff? Not really. And so we get frustrated with God. He doesn’t do what we think He should do. So, we usually try Him last, if at all, and eventually we don’t even do that.

((3. We don’t need choices, we need hope.))

We don’t need more choices. You don’t need me up here telling you what your options are. Truth is we really don’t have choices. That’s another problem! We don’t like not having choices. When we’ve got something, maybe a lot of things, that we can’t handle, what we need isn’t another option, something else to try. Some new way of thinking, doing, feeling. That’s already your life, isn’t it? Hows that really going for you? What you need, what I need isn’t another option. What we need is hope.

((2. JESUS IS OUR ONLY HOPE.))

That’s what Jairus had. That’s what this woman had. But they didn’t have hope in a better tomorrow. There weren’t any empty ideas of “Well, God has a plan.” Their idea of hope wasn’t “God won’t give us more than we can handle.” (Their problem was that they had actually been given more than they could handle!) For them hope wasn’t a good feeling or the right kind of mindset or anything that had to do with them. For them, hope was a person. Their hope was Jesus.

Their hope isn’t a Jesus off somewhere. No, it was a real Jesus, with real words, with real hands to lay on his daughter, with a real garment for the woman to touch. Not an idea of Jesus. Jesus. Jesus right there to be worshipped, bowed down to, touched. That Jesus was their hope.

It’s the same for you and me. JESUS IS OUR ONLY HOPE. When we’re in midst of the mess that this life can be, we don’t need choices, or some empty form of hope that never really materializes. Most of the time, we just get used to the hopelessness that we’re surrounded by. That it’s the new normal. But our hope isn’t the fact that we’ve got a positive attitude or that we believe the sun will come out tomorrow or whatever other things we tell ourselves that aren’t Jesus. All those things come up empty. But our hope is a concrete real person, Jesus. JESUS IS OUR ONLY HOPE.

((1. Jesus doesn’t disappoint.))

Jesus doesn’t disappoint. How doesn’t He disappoint? He’s our only hope precisely because of what He’s done. He’s died and risen. He suffered the weight of every sin, endured all sufferings, diseases, sicknesses, deaths in His own body. All human suffering, all our sufferings, our scars, our darkness, was His. He rose from the dead. He came back to life. That Jesus, who’s literally alive right now, is our hope, our only hope.

He doesn’t disappoint, He does what He means to do. Jairus and this woman had heard all the news about who Jesus is and what He’d done. They may have exhausted all other options, but at that dead end, there was Jesus. A Jesus who was for them, had to be. He’d been for all sorts of others, too.

That Jesus is for you, too. He doesn’t back out on what He’s promised. He delivers what He promises. He delivers what He’s done. He’s our only hope, and He’s for us, right in our midst. Just like He was in Capernaum, so also He’s here today. Real. He does what He means to do. He gathers us together, gathers us in the name given us in Baptism, reminding us that we are baptized, we are His, as every sign of the cross also reminds us. He draws us to receive His body and blood along with the promise that through them we receive the forgiveness of sins and the promise that He will resurrect us on the Last Day. His Supper is the medicine of eternal life, His resurrected flesh and blood the antidote to death itself.

JESUS IS OUR ONLY HOPE exactly in the ways He’s promised. He goes with us along the way that ends in death and sadness. But in those moments He is our only hope because He alone has done what He promised. He’s risen from the dead, and He says that “neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 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.” (Rom 8:38–39)

Concrete. Real. Risen from the dead. Not ideas. A person. Jesus. With real Words. Real water that He splashed over you. His real body and blood for you. With those real things He’s really with you, really for you, not against you. Today. Twelve years from now. On the Last Day. You’ll be whole, you’ll live, just like Jairus’ daughter, just like that woman, just like Jesus Himself.

INI AMEN.

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