The Message: The Power of an Interruption, Mark 5:31-45

Sermon:          The Power of an Interruption
Scripture:        Mark 5:31-45
Preacher:        Patrick H. Wrisley, D.Min.
Location:         First Presbyterian Church Fort Lauderdale
Date:                 July 1, 2018, Communion Sunday

You may listen or watch the service by clicking here.

This morning, we are picking up in the Story in a flurry of boat crossings for Jesus and the disciples. Last week, we noted how Jesus and the disciples encountered the powerful storm that almost swamped their boat and Jesus, who we thought was asleep at the wheel, in fact, had total control of the situation as well as nature.  Since that time, they have crossed back to the western side of Galilee to the area of the Gerasenes and Jesus has cast out demons into a herd of pigs who ran into the sea and drown. The townspeople there, upset and annoyed at the loss of income floating dead off the coast, begged Jesus to leave the area and so he has crossed over the Galilee yet again.  This is where we pick up in Mark 5:21-43. Listen to the Word of the Lord!

Mark 5:21-43

                  21When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. 22Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet23and begged him repeatedly, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.”24So he went with him. And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him.

25Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. 26She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. 27She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” 29Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” 31And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?’” 32He looked all around to see who had done it. 33But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. 34He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”     35While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?” 36But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” 37He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James.38When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. 39When he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” 40And they laughed at him. Then he put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. 41He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!” 42And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. 43He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.[1]

Interrumpitur vita. Life Interrupted. This is the type of life Jesus lived every single day.  In our text this morning, there are at least five interruptions that take place where poor Jesus can hardly get a word in edgewise.

Jesus no sooner gets off the boat and begins teaching when he is interrupted by Jairus, the synagogue ruler.  His daughter is deathly ill and begs Jesus to come and heal her. Interruption one (v.23).

While Jesus was making his way to heal the girl, a huge crowd follows him and is pressing in on him.  In the midst of this thronging mob, a woman whose life was interrupted for some twelve years with a non-stop menstrual condition risks her life and joins in the crowd to simply touch Jesus’ garments.  As the group makes it way to Jairus’ house, the bleeding, might I add – ceremonially unclean Jewish woman- in a last ditch-effort for life touches the hem of Jesus’ garment. Jesus feels the power leave him and he stops dead in his tracks and looks back around knowing someone with faith reached out to him (v. 28). Interruption two.

As Jesus is intently scanning the crowd for the person who touched them, the ever impatient and clueless disciples start riding Jesus about, “What do you mean, ‘Who touched me?’ Look around Jesus!  Who hasn’t touched you!” Now Jesus’ eyes were scanning the crowd and the disciples were trying to get Jesus back on schedule, back onto the itinerary to Jairus’ house (v. 31). Interruption three.

Ignoring the haranguing disciples, Jesus locates the woman who touched him and was in the middle of declaring her well and giving her a blessing of peace, when all of a sudden, people ran from Jairus’ house, interrupted his blessing of the woman to say that Jairus’ daughter had already died (v. 35). Interruption four.

Finally, Jesus arrives at Jairus’ house looking for the little girl when he runs into a mob of mourners who had already gathered at the home. Before Jesus can get to the little girl’s room, he first has to clear the house of all the people cramming into the place wailing and mourning; in the process of doing so, the people begin to laugh at Jesus and deride him as a fool (v. 40). Interruption five.

How well do you handle interruptions in your life? Jesus cannot walk two hundred yards without being interrupted some five times.  Everyone is pulling at and on him. Everyone is trying to get something from him. He focuses in on one thing and someone rips his attention away to someone or something else.  Have you ever felt that way in your life?  Think of a moment when you have been incessantly interrupted; what did you feel like?  What was your blood pressure doing?  How was your temper handling yet another knock on your door? How did you feel when you finally opened your mouth to respond?

A young couple finally puts the kids to sleep and they now have some alone time together.  They begin snuggling up and then they hear, “Mommy!”

You make it through the traumatizing efforts of going to the airport, dropping your car, checking your bags, being cavity searched by the TSA, and even got your coffee and sandwich at the deli. You board the plan and get the last overhead space for your carryon above your seat. You are now finally settling into your seat before take-off as you pull out your sandwich and take that first luscious bite of roast beef with heavy mayo and are in heaven. You’re about to take off when a member of the flight crew walks up and says, “Gee, Mr. Roberts, you’ve just been reassigned to another flight later tonight.”  How’s that blood pressure doing now?

Interruptions.  They are a part of life.  They can irritate you. They can snap you out of being zoned out. They can jolt you to see things or people you’ve never seen before. They can scare you. The question for us, though, is how do we handle them?

Years ago I was called to the hospital by a young couple I had married and the woman was in the midst of labor.  Things were not going well and I was asked to come to see them. Upon arriving, I was met by the mother’s daddy, the grandfather. He was a nice guy and a psychologist from Birmingham. His face was long when he met me and said, “Patrick, our grandson was born a few minutes ago. My daughter is doing fine but the baby has Down’s Syndrome.” I remained silent; what was I to say? Granddad continued, “We had dreams for what this little boy would grow up to be and do and now those dreams are gone. But you know what, Patrick, now is the time to dream new dreams!” He smiled. I was struck down and humbled at his wisdom.

Interruptions into our expected, ordinary routines are going to happen.  It’s how we respond to those interrupted expectations and routines that matter. If we are honest, most of life’s interruptions are mere inconveniences and annoyances. Yet, there are some interruptions in life that are life-changing.  What determines what we do when those moments come? It all depends if you and I are willing to dream new dreams and seek the Lord to redeem those interruptions!

Interruptions are those moments in our lives when you and I are given the chance to grow our character and spiritual depth. I love what the late C.S. Lewis wrote, “The great thing if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own,’ or ‘real’ life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life.”[2]  So, I don’t place blame on God for the interruption of job loss, health tragedy or crisis, or death in the family; these are threads that make up the fabric of our life. God, however, takes the time to stop in the crowd and helps us redeem those interruptions and weaves those threads together to become healed and full of peace.

As you and I come to the Table this morning, I invite you to reflect on how you respond to the interruptions in your life. I’m talking about the little intrusions that are tossed at your throughout your day as well as those big, life-changing interruptions that change your world. The Good News is that God is in the thronging chaos with us and when he feels us reach out in hope and faith, the Lord stops and looks around for you and me to bring a word of healing and peace.  How we handle life’s large and small interruptions speak volumes about our spiritual depth and character.  As you come to the Table, think about, “What does my life speak?”  Amen.

Patrick H. Wrisley, D.Min.
Senior Pastor & Teaching Elder
First Presbyterian Church of Fort Lauderdale
401 SE 15th Avenue
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301

© 2018 Patrick H. Wrisley. Sermon manuscripts are available for the edification of members and friends of First Presbyterian Church, Fort Lauderdale, Florida and may not be altered, re-purposed, published or preached without permission. All rights reserved.

[1] New Revised Standard Version (NRSV). New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

[2] C.S. Lewis, The Collected Works of C.S. Lewis. Accessed on 6/29/18 at https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/interruptions.

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