The Prayer of Collect for the Day
O LORD, we beseech thee, absolve thy people from their offences; that through thy bountiful goodness we may all be delivered from the bands of those sins, which by our frailty we have committed. Grant this, O heavenly Father, for the sake of Jesus Christ, our blessed Lord and Saviour. Amen.
Colossians i. 3.
WE give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, for the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth: as ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ; who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit. For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and long-suffering with joyfulness; giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.
(St. Matthew 9:18-26)
18 While he spake these things unto them, behold, there came a certain ruler, and worshipped him, saying, My daughter is even now dead: but come and lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live. 19 And Jesus arose, and followed him, and so did his disciples. 20 And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment: 21 For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole. 22 But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour. 23 And when Jesus came into the ruler’s house, and saw the minstrels and the people making a noise, 24 He said unto them, Give place: for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn. 25 But when the people were put forth, he went in, and took her by the hand, and the maid arose. 26 And the fame hereof went abroad into all that land.
One of the greatest barriers to faith in Christ is in knowing WHO Christ is. Many today consider Him in the same sense as a genie who grants our every wish, or as a good teacher of ethics and morals; but how many in the modern churches truly know Jesus to be Lord and Savior in more than a mere vocally expressed sense? He is our Lord and King. He is our Savior and Redeemer…and He is God! This last part seems to be the hanging point for many pseudo-religionists. Jesus is literally God the son and acts with the same power and authority of the Father – for both are One with the Holy Ghost!
Our Prayer of Collect opens with the plea for an absolution of our sins and redemption of our souls. “O LORD, we beseech thee, absolve thy people from their offences; that through thy bountiful goodness we may all be delivered from the bands of those sins.” Only One has authority to absolve and forgive sins – that is God. Christ has set us free by absolution of our sins and freedom to walk in His Way. The Collect readily admits that we are frail and weak – unable to help ourselves as babes in our mother’s bosom: “which by our frailty we have committed.” We are incapable of doing good apart from the righteousness of Christ. And we petition these things for His sake, and His sake alone. It is Christ who personally paid the penalty for our redemption, and it is Christ for whose sakes we are reconciled to the Father.
In the Epistle of the day, we see that all-important requisite for serving God and our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ – Love! We are to intercede for one another just as those who bore the man stricken with the palsy to Christ on a stretcher. We see in the Epistle, we see the salient points of people who love and serve God. As Christians we must conform to the following:
1) We do not cease to pray,
2) desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;
3) walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing,
4) being fruitful in every good work,
5) and increasing in the knowledge of God;
6) strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power,
7) unto all patience and long-suffering with joyfulness;
8) giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.
My leading question would be: “Have we done these things? Have we lived up to the standard of minimal faith expressed above?”
Now follows two very tender accounts of the Love of Christ that not only heals spiritually in absolving our sins, but in absolving our diseased bodies of sickness and death as well. Jesus has just been conversing with the followers of John the Baptist and reveals to them that He is the promised Bridegroom of the Church whom they seek, but unknowingly: “Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.” (Matt 9:15) It is unlikely that these disciples understood the meaning Jesus spoke to them until much later. He had, on this same occasion, forgiven the man stricken with the palsy of his sins, and sealed the miracle of forgiveness with His second miracle of physical healing. We now take up the text:
Quite often, the true worship of God is constrained by hard circumstances. 18 “While he spake these things unto them, behold, there came a certain ruler, and worshipped him.” This, we learn from St. Mark 5:21-43) was the daughter of the chief of a synagogue named, Jairus. Such a fellow would never have condescended to come and worship Christ were there not a desperate personal need that compelled him to come to Christ. Jairus had a precious little daughter of twelve years of age who lay dying on her sick bed. It would seem that all hope for her recovery, short of a miracle, had been abandoned. Jesus was noted as a miracle worker – and ONLY God can work miracles! So Jairus, desperate for his daughter’s sake, comes and falls on the knee to Jesus. We often are just like Jairus. We forget our vows and duties to God until a serious circumstance arises. Then, we go to Him on bended knee seeking solace and blessings. How much more fit as Christians would we be if we remained in a state of Grace always before the Lord. If our petty pride precludes our coming to Jesus in humble worship, perhaps the Lord will provide a circumstance in our lives that overwhelms that petty pride and draws us unto Himself.
Jairus forgoes all formality of a beautifully contrived prayer and goes immediately to the heart of the matter: “My daughter is even now dead: but come and lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live.” Whatever pressing Jesus may have is of no concern to Jairus in his burning need. His prayer to Jesus is not unlike the short, but pointed, prayer of Peter when he began to seek beneath the waves of the sea, “Lord, save me!” These are the most effectual prayers because they are offered without pretense or showmanship. Jairus was convinced that his precious daughter would die without Jesus coming and laying His hand upon her. His faith may even have doubted somewhat at that miracle. He may have been weak in infant-like faith, but there was no other hope but Jesus. Jesus would heal any lack of faith that may have remained in the heart of Jairus because Jesus does not require more than a little faith. I, too, have often prayed lacking full faith that Gods would grant my petition. Sometimes, I have felt that He did not do so, but when I look back on that time, I realized that His answer was much better than my request. To Jesus, there is no more important business than saving the life of a child. Without hesitation, He prepares to go with Jairus. 19 “And Jesus arose, and followed him, and so did his disciples.” There is no question in my mind that Jesus was aware of a more pressing problem which was about to present itself. He could easily have healed the young lass from a distant, but did not do so. I believe He had a good reason not to do so. There were many unbelievers at the bedside of the dear little girl who needed the seed of faith to believe as Jairus had believed.
20 “And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment.” We are told more detail of this woman in the Gospel of St. Mark: “And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years, And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse, When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment.” (Mark 5:25-27) Clearly, this woman, too, had only one hope of healing and that hope was Christ! She wasted away all of her savings on physicians, but grew only worse. Now she will come to the Great Physician who is able to heal body AND soul! How often do we, friends, struggle helplessly with our problems until they grow to immense proportion. Then we run to Christ for our solution! The woman had great difficulty approaching Jesus for the press of the crowd so close to Him on all sides. There were many who rubbed shoulders with Jesus that day, but only ONE who touched Him with faith. Just claiming the name of Christian does not avail to make us Christian unless we have the faith to match our convictions. 21 “For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole.” It is the touch of faith that heals and not the material garment itself.
22 “But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole.” Here again, St Mark adds touching details that Matthew omits: “And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague. And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes?” (Mark 5:29-30 (KJV) Jesus felt healing power being transferred to another. His question, “Who touched me?” is profound, for Christ KNEW who touched Him. So many in the crowd had touched Jesus in the bustle of the street, but none with the faith of this poor woman. We may call on Christ in vain if our faith is dead, but if our faith is real – even if small – the touch will bear fruit. Jesus gave comfort, not only to the body, but to the soul of the woman by telling her that her faith had made her whole – whole in every sense of the word. Not just whole in body, but whole in soul as well for Christ does not work half-way miracles. “And the woman was made whole from that hour.”
23 “And when Jesus came into the ruler’s house, and saw the minstrels and the people making a noise.” I will advise the reader that, having lived in Asia and the Middle East for much of my young life, I have observed some strange custom there with which you may not be familiar. There are paid mourners and musicians (to play and sing the sad dirge) who attend the death of a loved one. The moan and cry out with sorrowful gestures – often throwing dirt or sand upon their heads. But, remember, they care little for the deceased for they are PAID for these services. They make their living off the dead, and they know death; but Jesus knows LIFE! The precious little girl had died. Many people, perhaps neighbors, paid mourners, and members of the synagogue had arrived and were making much ado, as it turns out, about nothing. Again, St Mark gives more detail: “While he yet spake, there came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house certain which said, Thy daughter is dead: why troublest thou the Master any further? As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe.” (Mark 5:35-36) Death is no barrier to faith. Jesus forever tells us not to fear. If we only believe, all things are possible! “And he cometh to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and seeth the tumult, and them that wept and wailed greatly. And when he was come in, he saith unto them, Why make ye this ado, and weep? the damsel is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn.” (Mark 5:37-40) The ridiculing of faith is not a phenomenon peculiar to our day. It has existed from time and eternity. Truly, in the eyes of God, there is no death except of the wicked. I can only imagine the grief of this poor father at his little daughter lying cold and still upon her little bed. It breaks my heart to read of it, and it must have profoundly affected poor Jairus, but he had Jesus with him who consoled and counseled not to fear. Sleep is the state of all dearly departed in Christ, for we do not awake from death, but from SLEEP. 24 “He said unto them, Give place: for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn.”
25 “But when the people were put forth, he went in, and took her by the hand, and the maid arose. 26 And the fame hereof went abroad into all that land.” We might say that St Matthew is a ‘facts only’ writer, for he omits some of the touching detail of St Mark: “And he took the damsel by the hand, and said unto her, Talitha cumi; which is, being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, arise. And straightway the damsel arose, and walked; for she was of the age of twelve years. And they were astonished with a great astonishment. And he charged them straitly that no man should know it; and commanded that something should be given her to eat.” (Mark 5:41-43) I love that command, “Talith Cumi”! Can you imagine the joy and tears of gratitude that flooded the eyes of Jairus and the girl’s mother! There was no delay in the spark of life permeating the body of the dead girl, penetrating the dead cell tissue and impacting her tiny heart. There was immediate warmth and life. The blood promptly coursed through her veins and she awoke for a most dreamy sleep. She got up and walked. Jesus delights, especially, in the blessing of little children. He commanded food be given her. He had given first the bread of life, now he commanded the bread of the body be given. He overlooks nothing.
Jesus then gave a very strange command – one which He had given many times past when He worked His miracles: “And he charged them straitly that no man should know it.” (Mark 5:43). Think on this last comment a bit, my friends. Here is an entire neighborhood who has witnessed the most amazing of miracles. They knew, beyond doubt, that this darling little girl was dead. But Christ restored her to life in the same manner in which he restored Lazarus. All saw that she now lived. How do you suppose that these witnesses could ever hold their tongues about such an amazing event? They could not! Jesus knew that, too. When such a wonderful work is done in our hearts, or before our eyes, how is it possible to keep such joyous news a secret. I believe Jesus is saying to each of us, “I have forgiven, redeemed, and restored you who were dead (Ephe 2:1) to life. How can you keep such glorious Gospel News a secret. Your cup runneth over and you cannot conceal the overflow of joys. Do you understand this feeling, Reader? If so, be not silent forever about the blessings of God given to you.