Monday, March 12, 2012

Monday in Lent 3: Complete restoration

Opening Sentence
Jesus said, "If anyone would come after me let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." Mark 8:34

Commemoration: Gregory the Great
Almighty and merciful God, who raised up Gregory of Rome to be a servant of the servants of God, and inspired him to send missionaries to preach the Gospel to the English people: Preserve in your Church the catholic and apostolic faith they taught, that your people, being fruitful in every good work, may receive the crown of glory that never fades away; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Psalter: Psalm 80

Lessons: Genesis 44:18-34, 1 Corinthians 7:25-31, Mark 5:21-43

Much has been said about the insertion of the account of the woman with the discharge of blood in the middle of the story of Jesus and Jairus's daughter. Something in particular, however, stood out to me as I read the passage:

And there was a woman who had had a discharge 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. (vv. 25, 26)

And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement. (v. 42)

The years of the woman's distress are identical with the years of the young girl's life. But the number of years, twelve, is itself covenentally significant. Earlier, Jesus had appointed twelve apostles (Mark 3.14ff). Later, after the feeding of the five thousand, the disciples gather twelve baskets full of leftovers (Mark 6.43ff). It is not particularly difficult, for anyone familiar with the history of Israel, to understand the parallel between the twelve apostles and the twelve tribes of Israel. It would also take only a little research to see the parallel between twelve baskets full of loaves and fishes and the twelve stones with which Elijah built an altar during his contest with the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18.30ff). The number twelve, as employed in Mark's narrative, is intended to drive home the point that, in Jesus, the true Israel is being restored.

With the account of the woman and Jairus's daughter, a central characteristic of the restoration is brought to the forefront. It will be a restoration in the complete sense of the word. The broken and bleeding will be made whole; the dead will be raised to life; and all will be "overcome with amazement" at the wonder of God's glorious new creation.


I Stand Amazed in the Presence