Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Confession and absolution in Mark 5

The afflicted woman in Mark 5 (vss. 25-34) shows a plain example of confession and absolution. After being healed by touching the hem of Jesus' garment (and interrupting -- and thus making more miraculous -- the healing of the synagogue ruler's daughter), vss. 34-35 read: "But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth. And he said unto her, 'Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.'"

The woman (who is -- perhaps out of deference to the nature of her affliction -- not identified) falls before Jesus. This is a posture of worship: she's acknowledging Him as God. Her confession involves telling Him "all the truth": which is what should happen in confession. Jesus in turn recognizes that she has told the truth, acknowledges her faith, bids her God's peace, and tells her that her plague -- and her sins -- are made whole. (Remember: our English "health" comes from an Old English word meaning "whole.")

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