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November 5, 2023

The Savior Has His Hands Full

Passage: Matthew 9:18-26

It was a go-go-go kind of day back some two thousand years ago in Capernaum of Galilee, for the Savior, Jesus, certainly had His hands full. After finishing a mind-blowing instruction class with the Pharisees and John the Baptist’s disciples concerning why He didn’t fast like they did, Jesus was immediately dragged away by a wealthy yet desperate father that He may see and heal his daughter. Along the way He and His disciples were slowed down by the traffic of a large crowd, and even stopped to heal and preach to a woman with a very debilitating disease. It was a packed day indeed.

When surveying Jesus’ three-year ministry on earth, one may be prompted say, “The Savior has His hands full. What else is new?” When reading the Gospels, it often seems like Jesus barely has enough time to breath with all the work He is doing, and with the Savior’s hands seemingly too full, I wonder if many in His day thought, “Why bother Him? He’s too busy for me anyways.” Yes, Jesus has His hands full…but what are His hands full of? What kind of business are the proverbial hands of the Savior full of? They are full of sacrificial love and grace. In His hands are your problems and concerns that you may grab hold of Him by faith just like Jairus, his daughter, and the suffering woman; knowing that the Savior’s hands are full handling even the Christian’s toughest problems that they may find comfort and peace in Him. So, let us today drop the foolish notion that the Savior’s hands are too full to help us and look with the Spirit-given eyes of faith to see that even our toughest problems and greatest fears are fully in the hands of our Savior.

(We pray…)

So, first we must address the foolish notion that the Savior’s hands are too full for your ailments and fears. We are often addressed in Scripture to cast all our cares upon Him, even the little cares, and doing so by prayer; but today, as is our custom around November, let us focus on the big concerns: death and the feebleness of life. Are the Savior’s hands too full to handle these issues? From rote, catechism memory it may be easy for us to say, “No.”  Yet, how often do we think contrary to that answer? And to demonstrate the failure we ought to avoid, we have in our narrative for this morning presented three profiles for our learning.

The first character presented does not have a chronic ailment, nor is he facing the doors of death. No, he isn’t facing anything physical…but he is facing mental ailments of the highest order. As told in the Gospel of Mark, the rich man’s name was Jairus. He was a ruler of the synagogue and was a man who was perhaps well off by the standards of Roman times, yet none of that mattered to him at this moment. He was about to lose something very precious to him, something gold or silver could never buy, namely his twelve-year-old daughter. As a father who had to think about surviving his child on earth, and that his child was only twelve, his mind was certainly vexed and tormented. “Why her? Why not me? Why, God?” Thank God though that Jairus didn’t give up on His God, but He runs to Him knowing that He can heal her. He runs to the only place he can while bearing such heavy, mental pains. And finding the great Savior finishing His lecture, Jairus says to him, perhaps panting from running, “my daughter is at the point of death, but come lay your hand on her and she will live.” And so, driven by compassion, the Savior complies and follows. And yet, the crowds throng in. This slows them down. Perhaps Jairus is getting anxious, “this is taking too long.” Suddenly, they stop moving because the Savior needs to talk to some random woman. “We’re losing time!” And, as this account is also recorded in the Gospel of Mark, we find that while the Savior was still speaking to the woman, Jairus hears from a servant of his, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” Perhaps Jairus, ridden with anxiety thought, “his hands are too full for me, I guess…”

We’ll come back to him later, but for now let’s move on to the next character of our story: a woman facing a serious physical ailment. Along the way to Jairus’ house, while thronged about by a large crowd, the Savior trudged. Already slowed by the massive crowd, Jesus was stopped in a different conversation as he notices power go out from Him to heal someone. Turns out he was touched by a woman who was vexed by a hemorrhaging disease for twelve years of her life. This disease left her an outcast from society due to Levitical law that said that any woman bleeding in this way was unclean for a certain number of days. Here it was every day for the bleeding wouldn’t stop. This disease left her weak from blood loss, and it left her broke for she spent all she had to find a cure. Imagine her ailment then. Her life was wasted and seemingly controlled by a disease. She learned how fragile her life was, and yet she has a thought that is childlike like Jairus’. If she only touches the hem of Christ’s garment, then she will be healed. So, she sneaks through the crowd going by unnoticed, otherwise everyone would scream, “unclean” at her. Imagine her mind though as she desperately tried to sift through the crowd, “I need to touch just His clothing! Otherwise, he won’t notice me! His hands are so full already. How can He possibly have time for me and my lifelong pain!”

And finally, it’s time for our last character. She was facing both her father’s problem of mental stress and the woman’s problem of physical stress. She was facing the problem of fatality. And so, lastly comes our final character, a twelve-year-old girl who had to face death too soon…Perhaps children think they’re invincible. Perhaps we think that children are invincible, for its naturally very hard or even too much for us to process the death of someone under the age of 70 let alone the death of a twelve-year-old or younger. How does someone cope with this? How should children and young adults take this? How should we take this? Death can come at any point. Don’t think it can’t hit anyone. And now, this girl, as the comatose of death starts to set in, is realizing that she’s not too young to die. That’s not a thing. She may also be thinking, “where’s dad? What’s taking so long? I’m not ready for this…”

And so, we ask, are the Savior’s hands too full for even the death of a twelve-year-old? The answer to all three of these cases is a resounding no! The Savior’s hands are not too full for Jairus, the woman, or the twelve-year-old girl; but why do we still act like they are? How often have you thought with your mental pains, “this pain is taking too long, this is too hard, why hasn’t Jesus done anything!” Or have you ever thought with your physical pains, “He doesn’t notice me!” We know better, and yet we don’t show it. In dealing with our sinful flesh, perhaps its easier to just point the finger of blame at Jesus, saying, “Your hands are too full for me, I get it.” But if you play that game too long, don’t be surprised that when your loved ones die you laugh at the notion that their death is simply sleep just like the mourners and flute-players, and when you are about to die you find yourself not ready to face that reality, thinking your Savior’s hands are too full for you.

And so, brothers and sisters in Christ, wake up from this ludicrous angst. Your Savior’s hands were full, and no they were not “too full.” They were full, indeed, and so were his feet. And so was His side. His hands were full of crude metal, bearing the consequences of your sinfulness out of love. His hands were full saving you from sin’s ultimate demise. His hands were full, saving you from something far worse than Jairus’ anxiety, the woman’s hemorrhaging, and the twelve-year-old’s conscious departure from this world. His hands were full bearing the pain of hell for you. He also, on that cross, bore the worst anxiety, pain, and death itself; and He did so perfectly in your place that you may be counted as righteous in God’s sight. Jesus has handled your worst pain then and has given you your greatest blessing. He has saved you eternally. He has given you in this blessed comfort the blessed ability then to look at whatever mental or physical pain you have as nothing He can’t or hasn’t handled. He has given you the blessed comfort and ability to even look at your deathbed as nothing more than sleeping on a bed, knowing that you will be raised to eternal life in Him.

And so, dropping the foolish notion that the Savior’s hands are too full to help us, and looking with your Spirit-given eyes of faith to see that even our toughest problems and greatest fears are fully in the hands of our Savior, let’s turn to see how the Savior handled each of the characters from our narrative. First, Jairus, the anxiety ridden father, knows where to go in childlike faith. He goes to Savior to handle this issue. And though Jairus heard the dismaying news that his daughter has died, Jesus tells him directly, “do not lose heart!” And so, even though Jairus’ greatest fear came true, Jesus comforts him, taking Jairus’ pain into His full hands. And even now in our lifetime it’s not as though Jesus stopped doing this, but as He reigns at the Father’s right hand, He tells to each one of us in same way with His people of old, “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.' For I, the LORD your God, will hold your right hand, Saying to you,`Fear not, I will help you.'” Even though it be the mental pain of surviving your children on this earth or any other mental pain, Jesus doesn’t leave you hanging. He has your pains in His hands, guiding you to where you need to look: the comfort of His cross and empty grave—assurance that all is well both here and in eternity.

Next comes the woman. As she inches up through the thronging crowd, she gets closer and closer and finally touches Jesus. Jesus, feeling the healing power come out from Him, turns around, “who touched me?” He knows she did it, but He wants to make a point here to all who saw this and to us today who are reading it. And so, the woman fesses up to her actions. And yet, Jesus says to her only the most comforting of words. He calls her “daughter.” He refers to her in a close, familial way, the Son of God does that. He says, “your faith has made you well.” She clung to Him in childlike faith! She was cured! And better yet, she was cured of her worst disease: the punishment for her sins. This woman was made well from that very hour. This daughter of the King, newly bought by Christ Jesus her Lord, is made well by faith. And so, you here who deal with severe physical pain, what’s the point? Yes, praise be to God, the woman was healed of her disease! But you know what comforts me the most in this part of the story? When Jesus says to her, “be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well.” If you are healed of a horrific disease like this woman was, praise be to God! And yet, understand that even if you don’t receive healing in this way, know that Jesus still says to you, “be of good cheer, son or daughter; your faith has made you well.” The trust that God has given you, the trust in Jesus Christ for the healing of your sins, has made you well, as He bears in His full hands not only your physical ailments but your spiritual ailment. And also know that your ailments will be healed for good in Heaven.

And now we come to the grand finale, the sleeping twelve-year-old. Jesus was hurrying as quick as He could…just slow enough to prove a point. He shows up to the house to find a miserable group of professionals. He finds unwanted funeral arrangements. They are making a ruckus in their noise of cacophony just to get their paycheck. Jesus tells them to scram, for the girl is only sleeping. They all laugh at Him, “is this guy serious?” But as serious as the living Word can be, Jesus isn’t fazed. He tells all to leave except the parents, Peter, James, and John. He then grabs the girl by the hand, says to her “little girl, I say to you arise,” and raises her from the dead. Jesus is the answer even to this hardship. For those with faith in Christ, death is merely sleep. As Luther puts it, death is merely a short rest on the couch and then you’re back up again. This girl and her family were blessed by the Savior that they may ponder His delivering grace.

And so, we all have to face death in our futures just as Jairus had to, the woman had to, and even the girl had to...twice. But we all know how to face it now. Even in this challenge, death itself, we will face it through Jesus Christ. For, yes, He has His hands full here too; for He will have His hands full with your hand as He will raise you from the dead just like He did for the girl when it was time for her to go.

And so, the Savior has his hands full. And I speak this wonderful blessing from the privileged position that I know at least to some degree all the hardships each of you face, having visited, and talked with each and every one of you. And I speak this blessing in saying Jesus has in his full hands with all your hardships, mental and physical, even the hardship of death, for He first took into his hands the nails for your salvation. And so, Jesus by dying and rising made your death as little as sleep and your physical and mental pains no more than getting ready for bed. He has all of you in His hands and you can rest assured knowing that He also says to you as He did to our three characters: “Do not lose heart!” “Be of good cheer, my sons and daughters; your faith has made you well,” and will finally say, “(fill in your name here), I say to you arise!” Amen.