2.40 - The Hem of Grace

Hello and welcome to season 2 episode 40 of The Berean Manifesto, brought to you by The Ekklesian House.  This is Pastor Bill and this episode is “The Hem of Grace.”


We’re going to start with an event from passages in Matthew 9, Mark 5, and Luke 8.  I’ve combined what all three Gospels have to say into one text for you. If you’re following along in one of the three and I say something that isn’t in what your reading then you can flip over to one of the other two to find it. 


...When Jesus had crossed over again by boat to the other side, a large crowd welcomed him, for they were all expecting him and gathered around him while he was by the sea.

Suddenly one of the synagogue leaders named Jairus, when he saw Jesus, came and knelt down at his feet, pleading, "My only daughter is dying. Come and lay your hands on her so that she can get well and live." So Jesus and his disciples got up and followed him and a large crowd was following and pressing against him.

Just then, a woman suffering from bleeding for twelve years, who had spent all she had on doctors and yet could not be healed by any but only became worse. Having heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched the end of his robe. For she said, "If I just touch his clothes, I'll be made well." Instantly her flow of blood ceased, and she sensed in her body that she was healed of her affliction. At once Jesus realized in himself that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and said, "Who touched my clothes?" His disciples said to him, "You see the crowd pressing against you, and yet you say, 'Who touched me?'" "Someone did touch me," said Jesus. "I know that power has gone out from me." But he was looking around to see who had done this. The woman, with fear and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. Jesus turned to her and said, "Have courage daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be healed from your affliction." She was made well from that moment.

While he was still speaking, people came from the synagogue leader's house and said, "Your daughter is dead. Why bother the teacher anymore?" When Jesus overheard what was said, he told Jairus, "Don't be afraid. Only believe, and she will be saved." He did not let anyone accompany him except Peter, James, and John, James's brother. When they came to the leader's house, he saw the flute players and a commotion-people weeping and wailing loudly. He went in and said to them, "Why are you making a commotion and weeping? Stop crying and leave, the child is not dead but asleep." They laughed at him, but he put them all outside. He took the child's father, mother, and those who were with him, and entered the place where the child was. Then he took the child by the hand and said to her, "Talitha koum" (which is translated, "Little girl, I say to you, get up"). Her spirit returned to her and immediately the girl got up and began to walk. (She was twelve years old.) At this they were utterly astounded. Then he gave them strict orders that no one should know about this and told them to give her something to eat. But, news of this spread throughout the whole area…

It’s a great passage where we see two miracles that were performed, one by Jesus and the other by faith in Jesus.  We’re going to unpack this passage, but to get the full scope of what I’m wanting you to see here we have to start by highlighting this peculiarity we find in Mark’s account here. Especially given the accepted origin of this book actually being the account of Peter, but recorded and translated by Mark as Peter told him what to write since Mark wasn’t actually one of the 12 Apostles that travelled with Jesus. 


Whenever a New Testament writer breaks with his style and throws a curveball it should stand as a huge flag that what your reading shouldn’t be taken at face value, but needs further examination.  For instance, in the Gospel of John, he goes to great lengths to emphasize that the timeline of Christ’s life wasn’t important, but that the miracles and work of God was what deserved attention. So when reading the Gospel of John and he starts out chapter 12 with, “Six days before the Passover…” your ears should perk up and you should understand that something of specific note above and beyond just a retelling of Jesus’ life is being communicated.


Peter and Mark have done this in chapter 5 verse 41 when while writing in Greek they then choose to record certain words in what would have been the common tongue of Jesus day instead, and then we get a little note from Mark himself, Mark 5:41, “[41] Then (Jesus) took the child by the hand and said to her, "Talitha koum,” then we get Mark’s note, “(which is translated, "Little girl, I say to you, get up").”  This word, “Talitha” is a term of endearment that mothers would use when waking up their children. Mark’s translation isn’t exactly wrong when he translates it as little girl since the implied subject of what Jesus is saying is a female child. However, that’s when we go back to asking ourselves why Peter would instruct Mark to write the phrase in the original Aramaic instead of just translating it to Greek.  Strictly translated, “Talitha,” means “the fresh” and in common usage it would be the equivalent of calling someone a lamb.

There’s this concept when studying literature called foreshadowing, where the author crafts an event or the words of a character as an insight for the reader about something that is going to happen later in the story.  In theology we do the same thing, but we call it types and shadows. The belief is that God maneuvers events to take place in a certain way as a testimony or confirmation of something bigger God has planned for the future.  This way after the bigger event we can look back and see that confirmation of God’s work.


I see this in play here where Jairus represents all of Judaism that hadn’t abandoned God and the revelation given through Torah, Jesus represents God (clever that since He is God), the crowd at the beginning of the passage represents the Jews that followed Jesus, the woman with the issue of blood represents the gentiles, the flute players at the funeral represent the Pharisees and Sadducees, with the mourners representing the Jews suffering under the leading of the Pharisees and Sadducees.  


Lastly, the little girl represents two different things.  When the faithful Jews, represented by Jairus, came crying out to God the little girl represents the dying of, in the hearts of men at least, the religious inspiration given to mankind through the Torah.  Jesus turning to follow Jairus back to his house is God sending Jesus to be born. At this same time, or about this same time the mourners are on their way to deliver the word to Jairus that they’ve given up on God being able to help.  In this crucial moment of Jesus being rejected by the chosen and the orthodox, the unclean, un-chosen, and un-orthodox reach out in worship and grab hold of the hem of His clothing. Jesus arrives at the house and kicks the mourners and flute players out.  We all remember this right? When Jesus made a whip and started beating people and flipping tables and officially rejected the religious leaders of the day from the plan. It goes beyond that though, Jesus took a small contingent of faithful in with Him to resurrect the religious inspiration.  Upon Jesus speaking to the girl she then takes on the representation of the Gospel, which is the resurrected inspiration of the Torah resurrected through the triumph of The Resurrected Lamb, Jesus. 


That exact moment in time when the woman touched the hem of Jesus garment, that was the beginning of grace for her.  She knew it was illegal for her to even be in public with her condition, and the penalty for touching a clean person while in her condition, not to mention one considered a rabbi, was death.  Jesus response was mercy. When we first come to God we all know there is a penalty to be paid. We feel it, we feel the weight of it. We, like her, aren't paying a penalty for anything other, really, than for something that happened to us.  We were born into this.

Our grace begins at that moment that we first reach out and take hold of the hem of His garment.  There’s only one way to God, and when we reach out to Him to start our journey of grace He always responds with mercy.

This is Pastor Bill saying, “Until next time…”

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