Trinity 24, 2016

 

The Epistle. Colossians 1:3-12

The Gospel.  St. Matthew 9:18-26

 

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.

+

 

In light of our collect for today, we have a theme of “absolution from our offences” and “final deliverance” through faith.   God’s bountiful goodness can deliver us from all offences committed against His holiness and righteousness.

 

Our frailty, which is just one way to describe our condition, leads us into all kinds of sin and mischief.  So, we ask, for the sake of Jesus Christ, we be absolved…. something we must ask for on a regular basis.

 

 

The Gospel lesson today helps us see God’s goodness in all of its splendor. 

We just have to see in what way these lessons point us to this very thing.

 

We have two miracles today in the Gospel lesson.  We have first a girl restored to life and we also have a woman healed.

 

The girl is the daughter of a ruler.  We aren't given much background here.  But we don't need that.  That is obviously not what Matthew is interested in as he wrote this account.

 

The ruler kneels before Jesus, which seems odd…a ruler kneeling before a person of lower estate.  Yet Jesus, as King of kings does deserve to be knelt to.

 

But this man probably doesn't know much about Jesus other than He is a healer.  He knows enough to ask Jesus for help even though his daughter has died. 

He admits the fact that she is already dead.

 

He begs Jesus to, “come and lay your hand on her and she will live.”  Jesus at this point arises and follows the ruler to his home. 

 

This is the faith that Jesus came to seek and yet rarely found.  A man who has met with the reality and finality of death…the death of his daughter….. is still seeking the hand of Jesus…

still living with hope….

still expecting in faith that Jesus can and will do something…

that He can and will do what he asks.

 

Jesus arrives at the ruler’s home; finds the girl dead and a crowd gathered…people mourning, musicians there.  All of the elements of a death occurring are present.

 

 

 

 

But while Jesus is walking to this ruler’s home, along the way, a woman who has suffered from more than a decade from some sort of discharge of blood, secretly comes up behind Jesus and touches the fringe of His robe.

 

She is said to have thought within herself, “If I can only get a touch of His garments, I will be made well.

 

Just like the ruler…faith in Christ and His ability…

Faith that He can do something…this time, in the case of the woman…. without even being conscious of it!

 

And in both cases, a miracle occurs.

The ruler’s daughter is raised to life again.

The woman is healed of her disease.

 

And again, in both cases, we find great faith expressed by the ones who seek the help of Jesus. 

In fact we find true believing faith.

 

We find an extraordinary faith in the ruler.  His daughter is dead.

 

And we find a similar faith in the woman, since the disease has not been able to be healed by the local physicians…and it has gone on for so long…and she is expecting it to be taken care of by just touching the hem of Jesus’s garments.

 

By doing both of these miracles, St. Matthew is telling us that Jesus is demonstrating that only through Him, not only physical ailments and even death are subject to Him, but that final deliverance from all things alien to us is found.

 

Sin is our enemy and is always stalking us till the day we die.  Jesus Christ alone is able to deliver us from it.

 

 

 

His healing of physical sickness is a foretaste and a pointer to His healing of our spiritual sickness as well.

 

Only through faith in Christ, do we find Final Deliverance of all that hinders us…guilt, shame, sickness and sinfulness.

 

Bishop Ryle says of these things, “Let us store up in our minds this history. It may perhaps help us mightily in some hour of need.

Our faith may be feeble.

Our courage may be small.

Our grasp of the Gospel, and its promises, may be weak and trembling.

But, after all, the grand question is, do we really trust only in Christ? Do we look to Jesus, and only to Jesus, for pardon and peace? If this be so, it is well.

 

If we may not touch His garment, we can touch His heart. Such faith saves the soul. Weak faith is less comfortable than strong faith.

Weak faith will carry us to heaven with far less joy than full assurance.

But weak faith gives an interest in Christ as surely as strong faith. He that only touches the hem of Christ’s garment shall never perish.”[1]

 

That is a strong reminder of the kind of courage and faith we are to have.

 

Shifting over to Paul here in Colossians 1, we see in his writing how a very faithful man, Paul commends, encourages and prays for, continually, those who are faithful in this particular Church.

 

We (Paul and Timothy in particular here) thank God when we pray for you; since we hear of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints.

 

 

Paul thanks God in prayer for them, because he has heard of their faith. 

There is no mention here of level or degree or strength of faith.  Some in the Colossian Church may possess great faith and it may show in certain ways.

 

Others in that Church may be hearing this letter read to them, who have a very small and weak faith and are rejoicing that his words are addressed to them as well. That they are included in his category of “saints” and that he is confident that their faith is what is sustaining them and carrying them along and is causing them to look forward.

 

In either case, Christ is the object of faith.  And Paul’s letter is written to us as well here today.

 

 

 

 

Paul goes on there to encourage them by telling them what he is proud to be hearing about them…and what he is encouraging them to continue steadfast in...

 

Since the day they heard the Gospel, and understood the grace of God, Paul has prayed that they be filled with the knowledge of Christ’s will.

That they be filled with wisdom.

That they be filled with understanding.

That they continue to walk in a manner worthy of their calling as Christians.

 

That they go on bearing fruit in every good work.

That they endure with patience and joy.

 

These are the marks that God looks for and works in us through faith.

They are the ways in which our confidence of final deliverance is attained.

 

All to give them and us confidence in this truth: That God the Father has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints (the rest of the saints who have gone on before us) in light.

 

All to give them and us confidence in this truth:

That through faith…even small and weak faith, because of the hope that is laid up for us in heaven.

 

“…the hope of eternal life will never be inactive in us…”[2]

 

Calvin writes, “For the hope of eternal life will never be inactive in us, so as not to produce love in us. For it is of necessity, that the man who is fully persuaded that a treasure of life is laid up for him in heaven will aspire thither, looking down upon this world.

 

 

Meditation, however, upon the heavenly life stirs up our affections both to the worship of God, and to exercises of love.”[3]

 

When Paul says that there is a hope that is laid up for us in heaven, he means that we as believers ought to feel assured as to the promise of eternal joy….just as equally as we know that there is already a treasure laid up for us there in heaven….and this is what stirs up in us our affections to God and to one another.

 

Our Collect, our prayer again this day is, “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….”

 

It is a prayer of faith. 

It is a prayer for deliverance.

 

Our offences, which it refers to, are great and they are a great hindrance to our faith at times.  We offed and our faith sometimes takes a great downward turn.

 

If left there it can compound itself and drive us to deeper despair.

 

But through the example of both the ruler today and the woman and the faith that they both possessed and showed, despite the circumstances….a sick woman and a dead girl…one being even more final than the other…

 

we are reminded of the perseverance we are to possess in trusting in the goodness and mercy of God.

 

+

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.



[1] Ryle, J. C. (1860). Expository Thoughts on Matthew (pp. 89–90). New York: Robert Carter & Brothers.

[2] Calvin, J., & Pringle, J. (2010). Commentaries on the Epistles of Paul the Apostle to the Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians (pp. 138–140). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[3] Calvin, J., & Pringle, J. (2010). Commentaries on the Epistles of Paul the Apostle to the Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians (pp. 138–140). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.