In the name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
Remember all those wedding parables where the invited guests won’t come, so the King invites the people in streets and then shockingly throws out a man not dressed for the wedding? It seems so strange to our way of thinking, but the King had provided clothes for all. To not wear the clothes He provided, to not be dressed for the wedding, is to want a free meal but want nothing to do with the King or His Son getting married. It is terribly disrespectful and dishonouring to the King’s Son.
These are spiritual clothes that God gives. These clothes cover up your guilt, shame, and fear. These clothes cover up your inadequacy, your uncertainty, your weakness, your spiritual, emotional, and physical poverty, and every kind of inferiority that plagues you. These clothes give you God the Father’s love not because you have done anything to be worthy of His love, but simply because you are born, you are made in His image, and your existence fills Him with eternal love and joy for you. He desires to save you more than any parent ever could. He desires to work for your good in all things like a true and loving parent.
His clothes are new. They are not old and torn. They are eternally new. You can’t patch your old self with a little patch of Him. You can’t reform yourself with a little dollop of Him in your life. You must simply let Him cloth you with His Son’s perfect righteousness. For any attempts to match your old self to His new self, or use His righteousness to patch up your unrighteousness will only tear a hole in your spirit leaving you more spiritually impoverished than before you came into contact with Him.
God is not here to prop up your ailing ego, to help you modify yourself, help you renovate yourself, or be your life coach. He is here to kill you. To slay you dead where you stand and to raise up a new you. The you you were created to be. The true you. The you you long for. His you. A you made in the image of His Son. So until the day that He brings the true you into everlasting existence He clothes you with Son. Clothes that make the man. A new you. A perfect you. Perfectly dressed. A you in the image of His perfect Son. So forget making yourself better. Merely admit what you are: broken, hurting, failing, struggling, sinfully gone wrong. But in faith also admit that you are His child made in His image. A child whom He loves despite your wicked rebelliousness that breaks His heart. You are His child whom He will move heaven and earth to save. You are His child whom He will sacrifice Himself to gain back from your foolish, rebellious, destructive ways.
You are His child whose actions have shamed you, destroyed you, broken your life, messed everything up, made you unworthy to be called by His name. But you are His child and He doesn’t care about that. For He has fixed all the things you’ve broken. He simply wants you to be His, to bask in His love, to be brought back to your senses, back to His house of safety and security and healing after your wicked wanderings.
He shows us this by His actions. His actions show His love. His actions teach us His love, and let us experience and know in our hearts His love. His actions reveal Him to you.
So today we have two miraculous actions that teach us of Him. He had just taught about wedding robes. Robes that make your heart glad, for they are robes of joy and celebration. Wedding clothes. Not the ill fitting clothes so common these days. Not suits that make a working man feel awkward and out of place. But robes that cause you to celebrate. Robes that don’t make you feel out of place, but make you fit in perfectly in this moment of joy. Clothes that make the man. Clothes that set you in the right mindset. Clothes that make you belong where you are. Clothes that give you the Father’s love and good pleasure.
But having taught all this, a man falls in front of our Lord. A man dressed in the kind of robes Our Lord has just talked about—in faith that trusts in Christ’s salvation. He begs our Lord not merely to heal his daughter but to raise her from the dead, for He believes this is His God who is salvation. So the Lord goes. But on the way there is a woman suffering from chronic bleeding. Her blood was constantly staining her skin and her garments, putrifying, reeking, making her unfit to be in public, making her sick and weak, dying a slow, terrible death. She had been suffering this way for twelve years.
Remember that certain numbers in the Bible are important. When God weaves those numbers into n event, He does so to teach us. Twelve is the number of God’s people: in the Old Testament God’s people were consisted of twelve tribes which bore the names of their twelve fathers; in the New Testament God’s people are fathered by the teachings of the twelve apostles. This dying woman, dressed in faith that clings to Christ represents the Old Testament Church which was about to pass away. In faith she trusts the promises of God. In faith she looks forward to Christ, the Saviour. And in faith when hears of Him, she knows He is one who can heal her sickness. So in faith she who is clothed in Him comes and touches His robe.
Now under Old Testament law to be touched by such a person would make you unclean. But our Lord is God. Instead of becoming unclean, He heals her and makes her clean. For His blood does not die when it leaves Him. Instead it clings to those who trust in Him giving them life. But in those who reject Him it intensifies the death of unbelief already at work in them.
This is why, in love, we must guard the table of our Lord where His miraculous blood is given. For His life giving blood is eternal life to those who trust in Him, forgiving, healing, and making alive. But to those who do not trust in Him it makes plan what is in their heart increasing illness, sickness, and ailments in us.
In that woman, it gave her life. It healed her slow death. And our Lord vindicates her faith.
Then He hurries on to the little girl, whom other Gospel writers identify as twelve years old. She is already dead. There is no life in her. The Lord comes to her to give her life. To raise her up. To impart Himself to her. Twelve years of slow death in the older woman healed by Christ. Juxtaposed by a dead twelve your old girl given life by our Lord. These two women represent the Church, old and new. The Old Testament was passing away and the New Testament dawning. But to both Christ is hope and healing and life.
We are part of the New Testament Church. We have no life apart from Him. But while we wait for Him to come we are clothed in Him. Our sinful hearts are covered by His righteousness til the time when He comes again to remove our wicked wandering hearts of stone and replace them with hearts of flesh that beat for Him and Him alone. Hearts that yearn for life in, through, and with Him. For this is not merely some adolescent love story but the fulfilment of what we are created for: life with God, as His beloved children, with our loving Father for eternity.
That is what you are: His beloved child. For on this side of heaven His clothes make the man and you are clothed with Christ in Holy Baptism.
In +Jesus’ name, Amen.
—Pastor David Haberstock
Epiphany Lutheran Church
Thunder Bay, ON