Mark 5:21-43

Do you promise to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?

Tell the truth. The whole truth. And nothing but the truth.

Do you realize how scary that is? I would say, most of the time, most of us are living lives of half-truths. And for good reason! To face the truth, and the whole truth, is overwhelming. And scary. And sometimes, we rather just not think about it. Half-truths are more comfortable. But half-truths are also – half-free, half-healed, half-alive.

The story today is really 2 stories. Mark does this sometimes. He’ll break one story in half and stick another one right in the middle. And this middle story is the story of a desperate woman. Desperate enough to break all kinds of rules, just for the chance to be healed. Like, it’s hard to fathom the number of rules she broke to be in that crowd, touching Jesus. But desperation will make you do the unfathomable.

And she got close enough that she was able to reach out and touch the edge of his cloak. And she knew, in her body, that she was healed. And even though Jesus was squeezed by the crowds that had gathered, he immediately knew that something had happened. And surrounded by hordes of people, crushing in around him on all sides, he asked anyway, “Who touched me?”

To which the disciples respond, “What are you talking about? How about who hasn’t touched you?”

At this point, the only two people who have any idea what Jesus is talking about are Jesus, and the woman. And she knows exactly what’s going on. And this woman has 2 options – slink away, or fess up. And if we’re telling the truth, if it were me, I’m not sure what I would do. But she takes the honest route.

And it says, “she came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told the whole truth.” The whole truth.

Do you promise to tell the truth? The whole truth? And nothing but the truth, so help you God?

It’s not as easy as it sounds. Because to tell the whole truth means leaving nothing out. Holding nothing back. It’s letting go of all those little lies and half-truths we tell ourselves, and sometimes others, about who we are. Because, you know, God’s not buying it.

We can fool most people. We can even fool ourselves. But God knows better. God knows just how dark those dark corners are. Telling the whole truth means being honest with ourselves about who we really are.

I know what rage feels like. I know what hate is. I have and do judge others. I hold stereotypes and make assumptions based solely on what people look like. And I’m not proud of any of that! But to tell the whole truth means leaving nothing out. Holding nothing back. It means being honest about sins, seen and unseen. Known and unknown.

Do you promise to tell the truth? The whole truth? And nothing but the truth, so help you God?

Of course, the whole truth is a double-edged sword. It cuts both ways. And frankly, sometimes I think it’s easier to admit to all the ways and places we fall short. But to tell the whole truth means the whole truth. It means also telling the truth of our worth and value.

I’ll tell you what. If you really want to make someone squirm, look them in the eye and tell them they are precious and loved beyond measure, and irreplaceable in this life. That their life was created with intention and love and that they have gifts the world needs. That we all would be less without them. Tell them they are worthy of love and kindness. And no matter what hard stuff life throws at them, no matter what anyone else says or thinks about them, no matter what they may even believe about themselves, they are worthy of love and life and goodness. That value does not need to be earned or deserved, that it just is. It just is because God is. And you are God’s.

If you want to make someone squirm, just tell them that.

It’s so much easier, I think, to face up to our own failures than our own value. But to tell the whole truth means to be honest about our whole lives. It means to read the whole story. To watch as this woman lays it all out and then to listen, as Jesus names her “daughter”. Which is sort of just the shorthand way of saying all of that.

The whole truth? – Yeah, we’ve got some pretty dark corners that we’re not proud of. That we’d rather not admit to. Yeah, that’s true. And what’s also true, is that God has named you “daughter”. Named you “son”. Named you “my beautiful, precious child”. And knowing the truth, the whole truth, sets us free.

It sets us free from unrealistic expectations of ourselves and others. It sets us free from the lies we tell ourselves about who we are, and the lies others have told about us. The truth, the whole truth, sets us free from every voice, except that one true voice of God. That voice of God that proclaims love and mercy and freedom. That proclaims your worth, your value. That names you “child of God.”

Jesus said, “When you know the truth, it sets you free.” And then he named her “daughter”, and sent her home – healed, whole, and free.