Many people today are worried that the American dream may be sick or dying. We have sought solutions from political doctors on the left and right but they have not helped us and our debt just keeps rising. Does the Church have an answer?
I want us to understand that there is an answer in the healing touch of Jesus.
We will first look at the text and notice a few interesting highlights. Then in a week when we celebrate nationhood, let’s examine how the text might apply to us individually and nationally.
Reading & Commenting on the Text — Mark 5:21-42
Seeing the Light
Do we see the light of Christ, or do we only see a Jesus made powerless by human skepticism? The story in Mark 5:21-42 reveals Jair or Jairus as the father of a dying girl. Jair means “Yahweh enlightens” or “he gives light.” Some theologians dismiss his name as a pseudonym given by the author for editorial reasons, ignoring another possibility. Could Jairus’ name have been God-inspired at birth just for this purpose? Either way, a devout man’s daughter was brought back to life not by pure religion or human intellect, but by Jesus. Jair may have been devout and practiced the selfless life that both Jewish and Christian religions demand. However, even pure religion can be practiced by those who have not yet seen the light. Jair recognized the light and for his daughter sought the healing touch of Jesus.
Jesus was Glad she Came
When we our lives are broken, we are often reluctant to go to church. Some people don’t attend because they have either experienced judgmentalism or are so ashamed that they avoid people altogether. Some of us don’t like people, perhaps because people say hurtful things and life has wounded us so deeply that we avoid the possibility of more pain. Perhaps the reason is that we are so ashamed of our lives and afraid that others will judge us. Perhaps that is why the woman with the hemorrhage approached Jesus secretly (Mark 5:21-42). Her covert approach did not bring condemnation from Jesus. Rather, he commended her for her faith in coming. Let us not be concerned whether or not we are wearing the right clothes, don’t feel like smiling, or that God might judge us. Our Lord is glad that we came for the healing touch of Jesus.
Sometimes Faith Breaks the Rules
Many think that law is the answer. Sometimes rules don’t work and make matters worse. In Mark 5:21-42 we find a woman who broke a rule, by faith. She was sick and hemorrhaging for a dozen years. The Old Testament law demanded that she was to live in quarantine until examined and officially approved for reentry into community life. Yet, in faith she thought outside the box. Her thoughts were not on rules, but on desperate faith. She reached out and touched Jesus’ cloak. The Old Testament taught to touch nothing unclean. Yet in faith, this woman disregarded her quarantine and touched Jesus. When asked, the woman confessed to Jesus the whole truth. What was Jesus’ reaction, one of legalistic, letter-of-the-law judgmentalism or one of compassion? Because love is the highest of all laws, sometimes faith breaks the rules to seek the healing touch of Jesus.
Application to Us and America Today
Two Sick Sides of National Leadership
As with all democracies since ancient Athens, America has two sick parties. The one is diseased and hemorrhaging government. Human administrations have mostly failed. Despite rare moments when healthy, godly rule existed, for most of history human governments have been unhealthy. The other sick party has been the wealthy, sick with greed and excess. As an ancient model of democracy, Athens struggled with equality. They found that democracy tends to degenerate into oligarchy, rule by the wealthy. Government of the people tends to degenerate into unjust government by the wealthy for the wealthy and we are no exception. Our national leaders in government and business are unhealthy, two parties sick with a covetous lust for power and mammon oppressing a third party, everyone else. Just like the two parties in Mark 5:21-42 our national leaders can find the answer in the healing touch of Jesus.
America Sick & Dying
America is like the dying girl and the sick woman in Mark 5:21-42. We have been bleeding for a dozen years or more. We have been under the care of doctors on the left and on the right. We have spent all that we have and instead of getting better we have only gotten worse. Some people have told us that America is dead. Why bother with Jesus! Like the young, twelve year old girl, America is in some ways young. Europe and China are old civilizations. We are a young child, but our dream of freedom is as ancient as the Exodus. Though the message has been weak and mixed with false gospels, we have heard about Jesus. Will we secretly grab a hold of his cloak or openly invite Jesus into our homes to heal our land? Will we seek the healing touch of Jesus?
Two Sick Sides of Church Leadership
Ever since the east-west schism the Church has had two sick parties. The one is the oldest and proud of its orthodoxy. The other claims the seat of Peter and is proud of its size. Both are filled with wonderful Christians, yet also contain grave human errors. A Catholic priest once described it as the church being sometimes the Great Whore of Babylon and sometimes the Bride of Christ. Power politics, bossy control-freak traditionalism and sin are mixed with the grace and love of Jesus Christ. Our church leaders are often unhealthy, with a covetous lust for power and mammon oppressing the church more than nurturing. Just like the two parties in Mark 5:21-42 our churches can find the answer in the healing touch of Jesus.
Living the Dream
In Mark 5:21-42 we read of a healing of two ladies by a two-step process, the act of healing itself could be seen as the first step. Both females had been ostracized by quarantine laws. Reinstatement to normal life was an important second step after healing. Today, many people believe that the American dream is no longer normal life, but sick or maybe even dead. Any suggestion that our dreams are not dead, but merely asleep may invite the same kind of ridicule that Jesus received in the story. The American dream is the same as the Chinese, European, Canadian and Mexican dream, to live an abundant life. We look in all the wrong places to revive that dream. The great secret of the universe is: that dream of life is available in the healing touch of Jesus.
Money and legislation are the answers that many people think America needs. But money is a root of all evil, not a solution to evil. If Old Testament law did not save Israel, then more national laws will not heal our nation. As the two ladies in the story teach us, the answer lies in the healing touch of Jesus. National repentance and national faith begin with you and me. Let us look to him to touch us and revive our personal and national dreams. Let us reach out for the healing touch of Jesus.