Proper 8 · Mark 5:21-43 · June 28, 2009
By Andrew Bacon
Rendezvous with Jesus
The healing of the woman and the healing of the daughter are part of a series of four miracles in Mark 4 and 5 which demonstrate Jesus as Lord over creation, over Satan, over sickness, and over death.
The Gathering (21)
The story begins with Jesus in the boat again, and when he arrives, a gathering of people are there. His reputation was such that many wanted to hear and see him in much the same way as we gravitate toward the rich and famous today.
Jairus Comes, A Crowd Follows (22-24)
Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue, comes, honors, and makes a request of Jesus. He comes with the assurance that Jesus will heal his sick child. “Lord, you can heal her by your hands and she will live.” Notice how our Lord deals with him. Jesus cannot go fast enough for the pleading Jairus. How do you hurry God? A great crowd tags along. Who wouldn’t? They are curious; they desire to see what will happen. Is he all that they say he is? Where is he going? Can he do this? Is he really the one? They heard what Christ had done, now they follow him, but not from deep faith, to see it for themselves.
Woman’s Confession of Faith (25-29)
Here is “Mark’s sandwich story” (the story within the story). This woman’s twelve year situation tugs at our heart: “discharge”, “suffered”, “spent all”, “no better”, “grew worse,” denote her hopeless and helpless predicament. What is this woman to do but try anything and everything! Being an unclean outcast of society, she hears of the “miracle worker.” He is coming and she plots—perhaps, day and night—saying over and over again, “If only I can touch him I will be healed (made whole).” With nothing left but her faith, the unclean one moves toward Jesus. She touches him.
We were dead in our sins and unclean before God. While our culture does not readily recognize it, nonetheless before God we are unclean. Our misery manifests itself in an oudook of helplessness and hopelessness. At our baptism God moves to change all of that. By the touch of water and word, our lives change, we are freed from bondage and made his children. Simply, this is done without any merit or worthiness in us, but purely out of God’s divine goodness and mercy. God is not finished with us nor is he finished with this unclean woman.
“Immediately” the world changes for this woman just like our world changes through baptism. From unclean to clean, from hopelessness to hope, all by the power of Almighty God.
Jesus and the Woman (30-34)
By faith the woman is healed, and Jesus knows that someone touched him. The power left him. Jesus asks the disciples a seemingly ridiculous question. “Who touched me?” The large crowd presses all around him, how would they know? Jesus realizes who it was. The woman bares her heart to Christ and tells him all the truth. Her emotions display a realization of what had just happened to her and publically she now realizes—Christ healed her! Luther describes her as believing in that power of God in Jesus and that he alone can answer the trust of her heart. Jesus, out of loving concern, calls her “daughter,” and assures her of peace and healing. In this moment Jesus restores her to the community.
Test of Faith (35-37)
Now, back to what may be a more serious test of faith. Up to this point, “where there is life, there is hope.” Jairus, likely impatiently waiting for Jesus to finish with this unclean woman, is brought a message, “She is dead. Why worry Jesus; he can do nothing for you.” In the grip of instant emotion the words of Jesus’ encouragement penetrate Jairus’ heart—”Do not fear, only believe.” Peter, James, and John accompany Jesus to the house in order to witness the work.
Christ Declares the Resurrection (38-39)
Upon arriving, Jesus observes the beginning of a funeral. He declares that the young girl is merely sleeping. Death for the believer is but a sleep. In our culture that denies miracles, places God between myth and magic, and focuses on self, as was also true in Jesus’ time, it is predictable that our Savior’s words would elicit a laughing denial of what he is about to do.
Christ Enters the Chamber (40-43)
Christ enters her bedroom with her father and mother. He takes her hand and tells her, “Arise.” God called her to life! She rose! The onlookers who “heard but did not hear” and “saw but did not see” were astonished. They should have recognized God engaged in compassion and tenderness and in meeting a human need. He charges them to keep silent about what happened and to give the young woman something to eat.
Christ’s rendezvous with these two women is a powerful illustration of how God touches our everyday life. There is a sense of urgency here and a sense of secrecy. It is faith alone that overcomes death and that gives life. Sin remains our greatest problem and death our greatest enemy. Jesus remains our only solution. “It’s a good thing Jairus didn’t come to Buddha, for he may have been told that he was too attached to his daughter, and he must become unattached to the material world. It’s a good thing he didn’t come to Mohammad, for Mohammad did no miracles.
It’s a good thing that he didn’t come to Marx, for he would have told him that economic oppression was the source of his problem. It’s a good thing Jairus didn’t come to Freud, who would have suggested he would need psychological analysis after nature took its course. … But he came to ‘Jesus, who, by healing and rising from the dead, showed compassion and demonstrated His messianic identity'”¹
¹ Thomas C. Oden and Christopher A. Hall, eds. Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: Mark (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1998) 73.