Sometimes it feels like you are hanging on by a thread.

If you are the parent of a teenager, you probably understand. You are trying to raise your teenage child faithfully in a world that looks so different from your high school days. You are (mostly) aware of the temptations and dangers he faces as a resident of “Digital Babylon.” Yet, no matter how hard you try to reason with him, he seems incapable of learning any way but the hard way. You have heard stories of other children who went off the deep end and you desperately want to steer yours safely to adulthood. But each step forward costs two steps back. It feels like you are hanging on by a thread.

It is not only parents of teenagers, of course. It is the single parent trying to make ends meet in a lopsided economic recovery. It is the octogenarian couple and their never-ending string of appointments with specialists. It is the leadership of the small congregation who cannot find the members who slipped away during the pandemic.

It turns out most of us know the feeling. There is no way to catch a break. It is impossible to get ahead of the curve. You are hanging on by a thread.

Sometimes it feels like you are hanging on by a thread.

There are three such people in the gospel reading for this Sunday.

There is the little girl who stood at the end of her short life. Mark does not get into the details. He says nothing about the severity of her suffering or how long she has been sick. All we know is she is only twelve years old, and she is at the point of death. She is hanging on by a thread.

Then there is her dad. Like any parent whose child is sick, he is desperate to find someone who can help. Fighting his way through the great crowd, he finally reaches Jesus. With nothing but a plea for mercy, he falls down at Jesus’ feet and begs him to heal her. He is hanging on by a thread.

Then, there is the woman beset by a condition of bleeding. Suffering has been her constant companion for as long as the little girl has been alive. She has been through twelve years of seeking doctors, twelve years of spending all she has, twelve years with nothing to show but more pain and empty pockets. She is hanging on by a thread.

All three were desperate. All three had great need. All three were hanging on by a thread.

It is not a secure position. Unless, of course, the thread on which you are hanging is connected to Jesus. That is how it was for the people in our text. Metaphorically for Jairus, and literally for the woman, the thread to which they reached out was wrapped around the Son of God. Reasoning that even Jesus’ clothes could help her, the woman touched His threads and found healing. Believing Jesus had the power to heal his daughter, Jairus reached out to Jesus and fell at His feet. The little girl simply heard Him speak and was restored to life.

Each of them found the help they needed in Jesus. In doing so, they offer us tangible images of saving faith.

Each of them found the help they needed in Jesus. In doing so, they offer us tangible images of saving faith

The nature of saving faith is it looks to (and listens to) Jesus for salvation. The woman was not healed by the act of touching Jesus’ garment because He was wearing a powerful relic. It was her faith which made the difference. “Daughter, your faith has made you well” (5:34). This same faith led Jairus to fight through the crowds and beg Jesus for help. In both cases, the person in need had heard about Jesus and looked to Him. Both believed He had the ability and the willingness to save, and both received what they sought. He healed the woman. He raised the little girl. He saw their faith and He acted to save.

Meanwhile, the people you serve are still hanging on by a thread, which is another way of saying they are living by faith. They are facing great challenges. Their prospects are often bleak, but they believe. That is why they continue to show up. That is why they continue to tune in. They have heard the promises of Jesus and they hang on to those promises—even when it is only by a thread.

Your job, as a preacher of the Word, is to proclaim the promises of God to which they cling. And what has He promised? He has promised healing—if not now, then when He returns. He has promised resurrection—as He raised Jairus’ daughter in our text and as He Himself rose on Easter morning.

As you proclaim these promises, invite your hearers to continue to hang on to Jesus. Come to Him in faith. Cling to Him with confidence. Cry out to Him for help, trusting that He has already come for them, and He will come again.

With faith in that promise, the thread by which they hang will be enough.

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Additional Resources:

Concordia Theology-Various helps from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO to assist you in preaching Mark 5:21-43.

Text Week-A treasury of resources from various traditions to help you preach Mark 5:21-43.

Lectionary Podcast- Dr. John Nordling of Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft. Wayne, IN walks us through Mark 5:21-43.