Faith of a mustard seed

Barbara Woods-Washington 2014

Barbara A. Woods Washington, M. Div.

“And he went with him. And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. And there was a woman who had had a flow 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. For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I shall be made well.” And immediately the hemorrhage ceased; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone forth from him, immediately turned about in the crowd, and said, “Who touched my garments?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?'” And he looked around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had been done to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” Mark’s Triple Tradition— ‘A Woman’s Faith’ is never separate from ‘Jairus’ Daughter’ because the woman’s encounter with Jesus is while he and Jairus are en route to see Jairus’ daughter. (Mark 5:21-43).

The variations from Matthew include the fact that Mark has given a far more detailed account than Matthew’s abbreviated form. (Matthew 9:18-26). Jairus is identified by Mark as a ‘ruler of the synagogue’, and, while Matthew records Jairus saying to Jesus, “my daughter has just died”; Mark records him saying, “my little daughter is at the point of death”. Subsequently, the petition to Jesus in Matthew is for ‘resurrection’, while in Mark it is for ‘healing from sickness unto death’. On ‘The Woman’s Faith’ additional variations include Mark’s reporting her great suffering under many physicians— spending all that she had as she was no better but rather grew worse; that she had heard the reports about Jesus; Jesus perceiving that power had gone forth from him; and, where Matthew records Jesus saying to her “take heart, your faith has made you well”, Mark records Jesus saying “daughter, your faith has made you well, go in peace, and be healed of your disease”.

It was the practice at Salem for the Associate Pastor to vacation the month of July and the Senior Pastor to vacation the month of August. I recall my first August Sunday with total worship leadership responsibility. The largest seating capacity church in Harlem, NYC with a more than 1,000+ worship attendance; a then (1985) paid $30,000 choir to include six paid soloists, some of whom sang on Broadway, with the Minister of Music’s name credited in the movie “A Chorus Line” processing before me— feeling demonic forces inhabiting the sanctuary, it is perhaps the most ‘faint-hearted’ situation of my life. As I mounted the additional step to the elevated pulpit side of the split chancel, I began by reminding the congregation of my consciousness of the dollars spent on our weekly printing of the bulletin (off to Hunt’s Printing every Thursday)— therefore it’s value; but that today I wanted them to place it inside their Bibles while I deviate from the ‘established order’. I explained to the church that ‘something is in this house this morning that is not of God’. I asked that each join the hand of the other and the ‘order of this day is exorcism’. And when I got through praying, we came up shouting. Nobody doubting! I felt so clearly the moment during the prayer that ‘Jesus perceived that power had gone forth from him’. Who touched me? Who touched me?

The disciples said Lord there’s a whole crowd of people! Yet, Jesus knew that an insignificant unnamed women came, interrupting, intruding, interfering, intervening in his business with the ruler of the synagogue with faith to access healing power.

And peace? Wish I had the time to talk about the relationship seen here between faith/pistis and peace/eirene. “Go”, Jesus told the woman of faith, “in peace”!

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