SERMON FOR THE SEVENTH SUNDAY OF LUKE AFTER THE SUNDAY FOLLOWING THE EXALTATION OF THE CROSS (Luke 8:41-56)
The Miraculous Healing of an Issue of Blood. Jesus Brings the Dead Daughter of ]air-us Back to Life.
Jesus returned to the city of Capernaum, where He had been staying, after having glorified Himself as the victor over the demons which He drove out of the man and which He permitted to enter a herd of swine as a special concession in response to the demons’ own solicitation. The people of Capernaum welcomed Him back with acclaims, for they had been anxiously awaiting His return because of the fact that they had plenty of experience of His many great graces and benefactions. As soon as He arrived –
“And, lo, there came a man named Jairus, who was a ruler of the synagogue; and he fell down at Jesus’ feet and begged him to come into his house: for he had an only-begotten daughter, about twelve years of age, and she lay a-dying. But as he went, the crowds thronged about him” (Luke 8:41-42).
This man Jairus, who also happened to be a ruler of the synagogue, had an only-begotten daughter who was about to die, for she was breathing her last gasps and lay at the point of death; and he believed that only Jesus could cure her, since he had lost all hope of obtaining any other human aid. On this account he approached Jesus, and, falling reverently at His feet, begged Him to visit his house and to cure his twelve-year old, only-begotten, and dearest, daughter, who was suffering incurably and in danger of dying. Being the father of an only-begotten child, who was now in danger, the man naturally felt deeply pained in his soul, though his distress was somewhat mitigated by his confidence that Jesus could cure the girl. Being most philanthropic, Jesus granted his request, and hurried with him to his house, but the crowd following Him on the way thronged about Him so closely that He could hardly move.
“And a woman who had had an issue of blood for twelve years, and had spent all her fortune on physicians but could be cured by none, came behind him, and touched the border of his garment; and immediately her issue of blood was stanched” (Luke 8:43-44).
Jesus was going to the house of Jairus, accompanied by the latter, and as the crowd of people swarmed about Him they impeded His progress. In the midst of this great crowd of people there was a woman who had been suffering for twelve years from a hemorrhage, which she could not find anyone to cure, notwithstanding the fact that she had spent all her fortune on physicians and drugs. Her disease had become incurable. She had become despondent of getting relief from human beings. But as soon as she heard about Jesus that He was performing miracles she believed in His power, and she awaited the proper time to approach Him, confident that if she could merely touch Him she would be cured.
Taking advantage, therefore, of the opportunity offered her by the crowd thronging about Jesus on the way to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, she came close to Him and touched the edge of His garment with her hands, and the Bow of blood ceased at once. No one saw what she had done secretly, except the One who was the source of the curative power and who deemed it advantageous to bring to light what had occurred secretly, with a view to praising publicly the faith by virtue of which the woman was cured of the incurable disease which had been harassing her, and in order that God’s beneficent power might be made known as one which is bestowed upon those who invoke it.
“And Jesus asked, Who touched me? When all denied, Peter and those with him said, Master, the multitude are thronging about thee and pressing against thee, and thou askest, Who touched me?” (Luke 8:45).
Jesus brought to light the woman’s saving faith in God by asking who touched Him. He asked this in spite of the fact that He knew the woman had touched Him, and so that He might thus compel her to confess publicly what had happened to her, for the common benefit of all. But Peter and those with him, being ignorant of the occurrence, denied that anybody had touched Him. Supposing Him to have been pressed against by the mob of people surrounding Him, they told Him: “Lord, the multitude are thronging about thee and pressing against thee, and thou askest, Who touched me?”
“But Jesus said, Somebody touched me: for I perceived that power went out of me” (Luke 8:46).
Jesus was not persuaded by the words of Peter and of those with him, because as a God He knew full well that somebody had touched Him. “I felt power going out of me,” He said, “and I don’t mean the pressure exerted by the mob jostling Me, but the contact of a person who touched Me with faith unto salvation.”
“And when the woman saw she had not escaped his notice, she came trembling, and falling down before him, declared unto him before all the people for what cause she had touched him, and how she was healed immediately” (Luke 8:47).
The woman saw that she had not escaped the notice of Jesus, and that she had been detected by Him; accordingly, she was afraid lest she had done wrong in touching the Lord without His consent. On this account she fell down to Him and confessed the cause, or reason, of her having touched Him, while the populace listened to her confession and heard that she had been cured at once the moment she had touched Jesus.
“And he said to her, Daughter, be of good cheer; thy faith hath made thee well: go in peace” (Luke 8:48).
Jesus strengthened the woman by commanding her to be of good cheer, because her faith had become the means of saving her; and He sent her away in peace. “Be not afraid,” He told her, “but be of good cheer, daughter: what thou didst in secret while believing therein must be brought to light, in order that thy faith may be duly praised, and God, who cured thee, be duly glorified. Since thou hast received the good advantage of thy health, go thy way in peace, and proclaim God’s benefaction to thee for the benefit of the public. Learn ye, too, who are following Me, that only by means of faith can ye contact Me and derive from Me any beneficent power of salvation.”
”While yet he spoke, there cometh one from the house of the synagogue’s ruler, saying to him. Thy daughter is dead; trouble not the Teacher. But when Jesus heard it, he replied to him, saying, Fear not: believe only, and she shall be made well” (Luke 8:49-50).
While Jesus was still telling the woman these things in praise of her faith, behold, there arrived upan the scene one of the household servants of the ruler of the synagogue, announcing to him his daughter’s death, and telling Jairus not to put the Teacher to any trouble, because it was useless for Him to go to their house, since she was dead. These words caused Jairus to despair, because he did not believe it possible to save the dead from death. But when Jesus was told the facts, He told the man to have courage, and dissuaded him from allowing his soul to give way to fear owing to the announcement which he had just heard, and instilled into his soul a belief that his daughter would still be saved. “Fear not,” He told him, “only believe, and she shall be made well,” i.e., she shall be saved from death, and be restored to life, and to health.
”When he entered the house, he suffered no one to come in with him, save Peter, and James, and John, and the father and the mother of the maiden. And all wept, and bewailed her: but he said, Weep not; she is not dead, but asleep. And they laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. But he put them all out, and took her by the hand, and cried out, saying, Maiden, arise. And her spirit returned, and she straightway arose: and he ordered her to be fed. And her parents were astonished: but he charged them that they should tell no one what had occurred” (Luke 8:51-56; Matt. 9:18-26; Mark 5:22-43).
Jesus entered the house, but allowed no one else to come in with Him, except Peter, John, and James, and the dead child’s parents. In the house everybody was weeping and wailing, and they were beating their breasts in great anguish at the death of the only-begotten daughter. But Jesus enjoined all to refrain from weeping, on the ground that the maiden was not dead, but asleep. Since, however, they could see with their own eyes as plain as day the signs of death, and were convinced that she was really dead, they laughed at Him when He said that she was asleep. In their eyes, of course, the daughter was truly dead, but in the eyes of Jesus she was truly asleep, because Jesus possessed the power of waking her again to life.
Jesus spoke as a God. For us a dead person is a corpse, but he is not such for God, who can revive the dead just as we can awaken persons asleep. After putting everybody out of the house, except His three favorite disciples and the parents of the dead maiden, He took hold of her by the hand, and with a divine cry, “Maiden, arise,” accompanied by divine power, He brought her back to life, and ordered her to be fed. Thus Jesus demonstrated what authority and power He possessed not only to cure diseases but also to restore dead persons to life. He demonstrated, in fact, His divinity in works and miracles which He performed in the presence of eye-witnesses, who acknowledged and proclaimed them everywhere, and they even corroborated the truth of the facts with their own blood as martyrs to the truth.
The Apostles became the eye-witnesses and the first witnesses to what they had heard from the mouth of Jesus, and to the miraculous and marvelous works and deeds which they had seen done by His hands; and they were able to perceive and to apprehend the events and facts soundly and sanely, and they were conscientious enough to acknowledge and to verify the facts with the sacrifice of their own lives. When the time came for them to declare and to preach what they had heard and seen, they proclaimed the facts openly and confidently without fearing threats made against them nor even death as the penalty for confessing the truth. What they had heard with their own ears and had seen with their own eyes they were courageous enough to preach openly from the housetops, and all of them in common and by one consent and of one accord acknowledged and confessed the facts in one and the same spirit and with one and the same mind before the eyes of nations and of peoples and of rulers thereof.
The Gospels are the solemn and official utterances and preaching of the Apostles concerning the words and works of Jesus. In those words and works everyone who can think rightly and evaluate the testimony of trustworthy witnesses believes and has faith. The Apostles are the trustworthy witnesses to the Gospel truth. Accordingly, whoever disbelieves in their testimony is foolish and senseless, because he is disbelieving in the testimony of reliable and credible witnesses, who confirm and verify in unison what they heard and saw as ear-witnesses to the words of Jesus, and as eye-witnesses to the marvelous and miraculous deeds He performed.
SERMON ON THE SECOND EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS FOR THE NINETEENTH SUNDAY AFTER HOLY PENTECOST (II Cor. 11 :31-33; 12: 1-9)
Proof of the Power Acting through the Weak Apostles
The Apostle calls upon God as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ to witness the fact that he is speaking the truth and not lying in boasting about his activities in behalf of the Gospel, and in reference to the sufferings which he underwent for the Gospel, in running risks for the benefit of the multitude out of love which he felt deep in his soul because of his desire to save all men, if possible, through the Gospel. But in so boasting he was conscious of the fact that it was not he himself that had accomplished these things, but the power of God acting through weak Paul, who boasted of his own weaknesses. He narrates concisely the things that happened to him in Damascus when he was saved while being persecuted by the ethnarch, or governor, under Aretas the king in charge of a garrison guarding that city, who was bent on apprehending Paul and on injuring him.
Paul at the time was saved from the peril he was in by being let down from the wall in a basket, and thus escaped the hands of the tyrant But Paul deems it unbecoming in himself to boast about what had happened to him and about what had been revealed, lest he appear to be self-conceited and senselessly praising himself and his personal achievements. For men usually do thus look upon those who praise themselves and their personal achievements, even when they are telling the truth. On this account boasting is avoided as a matter of prudence under circumstances making it imprudent, but not always and under all circumstances, for there are occasions on which it becomes imposed upon us as a duty to boast of and set forth in due array our own achievements to the glory of God and by way of confessing the truth. But such boasting on our part is boasting in the Lord and deserves honor.
St. Paul is now about to set forth the revelations obtained from God which he was vouchsafed with a view to assuring others that he was a genuine Gospel worker and Apostle like the rest, and thus silencing those who had calumniated him as not being such and were attempting to depreciate the Apostle’s reputation among the Corinthians. “I will come,” he says, “to visions and revelations of the Lord.” What are these visions and revelations? They are serious and important. For he says: “I know a man in Christ fourteen years ago ( whether in the body, I know not; or whether out of the body, I know not: God knoweth) to have been snatched up as such to the third heaven. And I knew that man ( whether in the body or out of the body, I know not: God knoweth) to have been snatched up into Paradise, and to have heard unspeakable words which it is not permissible for a human being to utter.”
Paul leaves it to his listeners to understand that he is referring to himself, and that he does not remember whether it was with the body or without it that he was snatched up into Paradise and heard the unspeakable words. This happened to him fourteen years previously. He was snatched up, he says, to the third heaven. He ascended the heavens and the hierarchies of the angelical worlds all the way up to the throne of God. It is but right and fit that he should boast of having thus been lifted up and privileged to behold such a vision and revelation from God.
Accordingly, St. Paul boasts of this one who had been lifted up, but not of himself, for he was fully conscious of his own weaknesses. “Of that person,” says he, “I shall boast; but of myself I shall not boast, save in my weaknesses.” But, says he, even if I boast, I shall not be accused of being foolish, because I shall tell the truth. But I avoid doing so, and speak as though speaking about another person who was lifted up; for I do not care to have you take the matter otherwise than I really am, or as a God and not as a man. ”For if I should desire to boast, I shall not be foolish; for I shall speak the truth: but I forbear, lest anyone should account me above that which he seeth me to be or what he heareth from me.”
Lest, however, by reason of the numerous revelations and visions Paul should be accidentally led to indulge in pride, God, he says, endowed him with a weakness, with which he was suffering, though he had begged the Lord that He might rid him of it and free him from it. “And by reason,” he says, “of the exceeding greatness of the revelations – wherefore, that I should not be exalted overmuch, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, an angel of Satan’s, to buffet me, lest I be exalted overmuch. Concerning this fact I thrice besought the Lord that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee; for my power is perfected in weakness.”
God did not listen to Paul when the latter was begging to have the temptation removed from him, for it was to his own interest to have the weakness, lest he be overexalted, and to the interest of others in order that they might see the power of God in Paul’s weakness, and in Paul honor and glorify God, who through weak men performs great, glorious, and marvelous things. In other words, God told him: “My grace which has been given thee is sufficient for thee, Paul, since thou art a vessel of the divine choice. For My power is perfected, or consummated, in weakness. I the Almighty through thee a weak and powerless man shall exhibit My power. Endure, therefore, patiently and gladly the thorn upon the earth until such time as thou shalt have accomplished and finished thy mission in the world.”
Accordingly, therefore, St. Paul, in obedience to this voice of God as a servant of God and as an Apostle of Christ says: “Most gladly therefore will I rather boast in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” “I am exceedingly glad,” he says, “and I shall boast rather of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may rest upon me, since He chose the weaklings of the world for the purpose of disgracing the mighty ones as being defeated by the weak ones.”
Accordingly, beloved Christians, let us who are imitators of St. Paul exhibit the power of piety by showing patience in afflictions, and in the temptations of weaknesses, which temptations God permits us to suffer in order to try our faith and in order to prevent us from becoming excessively proud of having advantages and virtues, so as to compel us to attribute them to divine power. Let us boast, then, rather of our weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may rest upon us, and through us weaklings great and glorious and marvelous works be performed to the glory of God and the salvation and benefit of other men: so be it.