Trinity 24 Sermon, 2021

“Awake! Put on strength, O Lord! Awake, as in the days of old” (Isaiah 51:9).

To which, thus says the Lord: “I, I am he who comforts you; who are you that you are afraid of man who dies? Who are you to have forgotten the Lord, your Maker, who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth? Who are you to fear continually all the day because of the wrath of the oppressor?” (cf. Isaiah 51:12-13).

“I am the Lord your God, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar—the Lord of hosts. I have put my words in your mouth, covered you with the shadow of my hand, established the heavens, laid the foundations of the earth, and said to Zion, ‘You are my people’” (cf. Isaiah 51:15-16).

Who are you to have forgotten?

And then, from today’s Gospel lesson: “While [Jesus] was saying these things to them, behold, a ruler came and knelt before him” (Matthew 9:18).

This ruler remembered the Lord.

He’s not afraid of man or the oppressor.

He says, in perfect faith, “My daughter has just died, but…” (Matthew 9:18).

“But,” he says.

When we say “but,” we generally mean to ignore or negate whatever came before it.

I don’t mean to over-explain everything, but the conjunction “but” is used to introduce a phrase that contrasts with whatever comes before it.

This is amazing faith!

And God intends us all to have it.

It’s not that we’ll never weep or want or willfully sin, but God wants us all to admit the harsh, difficult truths so we can then add, “But—!”

Consider the confession:

I, a poor, miserable sinner confess unto Thee all my sins and iniquities, with which I have ever offended Thee and justly deserved Thy temporal and eternal punishment. But—

We say it every week.

And consider the Small Catechism:

I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; But—

“Behold, a ruler came and knelt before [Jesus] saying, ‘My daughter has just died, but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.’ And Jesus rose and followed him, with his disciples” (Matthew 9:18-19) to lay His hand on her that she would live.

“And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind [Jesus] and touched the fringe of his garment, for she said to herself, ‘If I only touch his garment, I will be made well’” (Matthew 9:20-21).

Like the ruler before her, this woman remembered the Lord—that it’s He who comforts—He who stretched out the heavens, knowing their limits—He who laid the foundations of the earth, knowing their depths.

Knowing all, He knows her suffering—its beginning and its end—but she touches the fringe of his garments, and that’s a very telling detail.

The fringe was a reminder of “all the commandments of the Lord, to do them, not to follow after your own heart and your own eyes, which you are inclined to whore after” (Numbers 15:38-39).

That’s how it’s written in Numbers chapter fifteen.

She touches the fringe of His garment—a reminder of the commandments of the Lord, against which she has transgressed—but she remembers that it’s the Lord who comforts, and she trusts that she will be made well.

“Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, ‘Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.’ And instantly the woman was made well” (Matthew 9:22).

It wasn’t her reaching out that healed her—that saved her, that is. This is another time where every word translated as “healed” is really the word for “saved.” It wasn’t her reaching out that saved her.

Who is she that she could reach out and take either healing or salvation?

It wasn’t her effort, her reason, her strength—but the Word of the Lord healed her and saved her.

What does Jesus say?

“Your faith has saved you” (Matthew 9:22), and at that instant she was made well.

She knows that the Lord has established the beginning and end of all things, her suffering included.

She knows that the Lord comforts.

Faith is willing to admit every harsh, difficult truth—to then arrive at “But—!”

As the ruler and the woman sing it already—and as we will sing in a few minutes—“I am flesh and must return / To the dust, whence I am taken; / But by faith I now discern / That from death I shall awaken / With my Savior to abide / In His glory, at His side” (LSB 741:4).

But this faith is a tested thing.

We endure in the midst of doubt and fear.

We suffer the scorn and derision of the world.

In this, we are like our Lord.

Behold—“When Jesus came to the ruler’s house and saw the flute players and the crowd [wailing], he said, ‘Go away, for the girl is not dead but sleeping.’ And they laughed at him” (Matthew 9:23-24).

There are those who can say only “And—“

Not “But—“

Think of it: “My daughter has just died, and—”

There’s nothing that can be done.

Behold, there was a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years, and—

She has no hope.

There are those who can say only “And—“

But—

For us all, and to us all, the Lord comes and commands those who laugh at Him to go away.

It is the Lord who comforts us by following the man to his house. It is the Lord who comforts us by healing and saving the woman. It is the Lord who comforts us by sending the crowd away. And it is the Lord who comforts us by raising the girl from the dead.

This is what Jesus came to do.

To serve—not to be served—to follow the man, to lay His hand on her, that she would live.

This is what Jesus came to do.

To heal and to save—not because the woman touches the fringe of His garment, but through faith in the Lord who has promised that the “bowed down shall speedily be released; he shall not die and go down to the pit, neither shall his bread be lacking” (Isaiah 51:14).

This is what Jesus came to do.

To send those who scorn and deride Him away—that His victory and our victory in Him may be complete.

This is what Jesus came to do.

To serve, to heal, to save, to raise up the dead girl—that everyone of us would know and look forward to the Day when Jesus takes us by the hand and raises us up.

This is what Jesus came to do.

This is what His perfect life and suffering and death has earned for all—and this is what the Gospel gives to all who believe.

This is what Jesus has done for you.

Who are you that the Lord comes to serve you and save you and heal you and raise you up on the Last Day?

Who are you, that for you the Lord would die?

Well, thus says the Lord: “You are my people” (Isaiah 51:16).

Remember the Lord who has created you.

Remember the Lord who has redeemed you in Christ.

Remember the Lord who has made you His people, sanctifying you by the work of the Holy Spirit.

“In [the Lord] we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:14). Remember this and rejoice.

In Jesus’ name, Amen!

Trinity 24 Sermon, 2021
Matthew 9:18-26
Rev. Benjamin Tyler Holt

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s