In the name of the Father and of the † Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Dear Friends in Christ,
A Simple Toy
When I visit our grandchildren, I marvel at the complexity of their toys. You throw a switch or push a button and the toys come alive. They move on their own, make every imaginable sound, sing songs, or light up in brilliant colors. Even the books talk to you. Battery manufacturers are delighted.
I remember a somewhat simpler time. I specifically remember a type of toy called a nesting or stacking toy. The one I remember the most is a small little doll made out of wood. Perhaps the size of a 6 or 8 once drinking class. A picture of a doll was painted on the outside.
If you pulled the top off the doll, it was hollow and inside. A slightly smaller doll appeared painted in a different color. If you opened that doll there was another smaller doll until you got to the end. Low and behold you had 5 or 6 painted wooden dolls.
The internet told me that these kinds of toys teach children about shapes and sizes and colors.
I was reminded of this toy when I began studying today’s reading from Mark chapter five. The reading starts in verse twenty-one:
 And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about him, and he was beside the sea.  Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet  and implored him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.”  And he went with him.
It starts like many other stories of Jesus healing someone. As you read on, you expect to hear what happened when Jesus arrived at the house of Jairus. However, before they get to the sick daughter, another story unfolds, it is nested in the middle of the first story:
 And he went with him. And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him.  And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years,  and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse.  She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment.
As Jesus goes to save one person, another comes to him to be saved. Perhaps you might think that saved is too strong a word to describe this lady. She would not think it too strong a word.
For twelve years she suffered with some sort of loss of blood. It made her anemic and weak. Also, she was considered “unclean” according to Levitical law. You could say she was dead to society, an outcast, unable to be around others. If Jesus could not help her, she might as well be dead.
Doctors had been successful in taking her money but not at curing her. In fact, her condition worsened. She had heard reports of Jesus healing the sick with a touch or a word. If she came to Jesus directly for help, perhaps he too wouldn’t want to be near her or wouldn’t lay his hands on her to heal her.
She had a plan. “I’ll just touch the hem of his robe,” she figured “he’ll never know.” She had faith that even touching his garment would make her well. Immediately her bleeding stopped. The power of Jesus restored this woman to health.
Through the unending mercy of Jesus she was given a new life. No longer, was she unclean and considered dead to those around her. What a joyful ending this nested story has, but that reminds us of the first story.
She Is Dead, Don’t Bother
 there came from the ruler’s house some who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?”
Oh how horrible, while this one act of mercy took place the little girl had died. Another different kind of death had occurred. Jesus had mercy and compassion for the hurting, but death was a whole different thing.
Once you are dead you are dead. There is no recovery from death, at least that is what the friends of Jairus thought – “Your daughter is dead. Why bother the Teacher any further?”
Jesus heard what had been said and he said to Jairus, “Do not fear, only believe.” What happened next filled those who saw it with amazement. “Jesus said to the child, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.”  And immediately the girl got up and began walk
Two Acts of Mercy
Mark nests for us two acts of mercy on the part of Jesus. Two types of death were conquered in these stories. In these stories, we not only see the power and authority that Jesus has over pain and suffering and even death, but we see his nature, his mercy and his compassion.
These nested stories are meant for our comfort and strength. They are meant to show us Jesus Christ who came into the world to be an endless source of God’s mercy in our lives.
The woman came in fear and trembling to Jesus. We too come to Jesus in fear and trembling or we should. Besides our aches and pains, we have a cronic incurable disease called sin. Attached to sin is guilt and shame and punishment.
When the guilt and shame are not healed they take away all joy in our lives. When the sins are not forgiven, when we are unclean, we are lost and condemned. Lost and condemned leads to death for an eternity.
There are no doctors or counselors who can cure this disease. We may hear some suggestions like: everyone does it or its not a big deal. Our own government may tell us certain sins are legal. None of the worlds answers are satisfying when the Law of God convicts us. No lies that tell us there is no absolute truth will save us.
There is only one cure, one healing. We must repent. We must come to Jesus looking for mercy. It is only his mercy, his words of forgiveness that can send us on our way to live in peace and joy in the midst of sadness and sorrow. Only he can give us strength to walk through the valley of the shadow of death.
In the past two weeks, I have visited two funeral homes and preached two funeral sermons. Death is real. The friends of Jairus understood this. What they did not understand was that Jesus is real. He is the one who came to conquer death.
Mercy of all mercies, Jesus came to die. He came so that we might live and never die. When Jesus saw the child who was dead, “he took her by the hand and said … little girl, I say to you arise.”
Before you were even born Jesus saw that you were dead, dead because you would be born into sin. Before you were born, Jesus had mercy on you and for your sake set forth a time when he would come and die for you.
That time came. He came, born of a woman born under that law. This time his hands were nailed to a cross for you. His words then included, “It is finished.” Yes, he died once for all. He died for you.
When you were born, he reached out again. This time he reached out with three hands full of water. With that water, he connected you with his death so that you would have eternal life. He said to you arise. Even before your body here on earth sees death, you were given a new life, a life that will last for eternity.
Jesus reaches out to you with bread and wine to keep you alive. You receive his very body and blood to nourish you in your faith so that you can leave his table knowing your sins are forgiven. He sends you out to care for those in need and to forgive those who sin against you.
Listen to Jesus when he speaks to you. “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end.” Jesus has laid his hands on you and your are healed.
In the name of Jesus. Amen.
Soli Deo Gloria