Serving Christ and sharing the Gospel

The Faith (Mk 5:21-43)

Other than Jesus we have two main people in this reading - a synagogue official and a woman. Both are in desperate need, and their faith in Jesus is what draws them to Him, and that faith is rewarded. Now you may have noticed  Mark often intertwines two stories to communicate one message. He tells one story then he switches to the second story and then he comes back to the first story. Mark tells two stories, one within the other, in order to deliver his message.

In verse we read 21, we read that Jesus crosses back over to the Jewish side of the Sea of Galilee. And in verse 22 we meet a man with a name – the name Jairus. Notice verse 22, “One of the synagogue officials named Jairus” Now I know we are only in chapter 5 of Mark but if you have read Mark before or have been paying attention over the last few weeks you will have noticed that in Marks gospel the characters are nameless. Except for the twelve disciples, very few are named. Mark wants us to know his name – “Jairus” – so Jairus’ name must mean something, there are two things I am sure that Jairus was well known in the wider Jewish community. Also his name means “he awakens.” And as we heard Jesus awakens Jairus’ daughter from the sleep of death. The other characters are nameless. The woman with the issue of blood, the daughter of Jairus – both nameless, as usual in Mark. But not Jairus. Mark wants us to know God awakens even the dead. In fact, Jairus throws himself at the feet of this Jewish rabbi in a deed of desperation. The man begs Jesus, for his daughter “is at the point of death.” Translated literally, he says, “My daughter ‘has it terminally.’ Lay your hands on her, that she may get well and live.” In verse 24, Jesus marches off with the man, the synagogue official, to save his daughter from death. And as they are going, the multitude begins to press, trying to get close to Jesus.

So that is the first part of our reading, now entre the second part of the reading and together, the two stories have one message, faith. Look at verse  25 “And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When you read this story in Luke 8:43, Luke adds a bit more he says  “but no one could heal her”.

This woman had heard that Jesus had great healing power. She was ritually unclean because of her ailment, but was hoping that Jesus might make her clean again. She pushes her way in the crowd, reaching to touch the tassel of His garment. She says (v. 28), ‘If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.’ Now, notice the words that both are using,  Jairus says “Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live,” and the woman says, If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.’ And in verse 29 we read Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.

She knows in her body that she was healed of her suffering (v. 29). Sometimes you just know when your body is better. Now that’s not unusual it has happened to me and I am sure it has happened to you something clicks back into place or the fever is broken and you know you are better.

But notice that not only did she know the healing had taken place, but so did Jesus, verse 30 “At once Jesus realised that power had gone out from him. Who touched my clothes?  He said. Because He felt the power going out from him.

Now imagine the scene - narrow pathways through the town, if you have been to the old villages and towns in Spain and other parts of Europe you will know what type of area Jesus is walking through, and many are wanting to see him to get a look to touch him.

The disciples they must have been a bit confused, as many would have been touching Jesus in verse 31 we read that they said  ‘You see the people crowding against you,’- ‘and yet you can ask, “Who touched me?’ they are saying there all trying to touch you, look at them. And we read in verse 32 But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. 33 Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.’ Also notice the reverence that both Jairus and the women give to Jesus, they fell at His feet.

Now as Jesus is talking to the woman, word comes that Jairus’ daughter has already died. ‘Why bother the teacher anymore?’ Jairus give it up it is too late. It’s interesting to note that some don’t want Jairus to be with Jesus and are trying to get Jairus away.

It tells us in verse 36 Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him (Jairus), ‘Don’t be afraid; just believe.’ Jesus is saying have faith the same faith that you brought to me when you asked me to lay hands on your dying daughter – keep up the faith.”

And Jesus arrives at the house verse 38 says ‘When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. 39 He went in and said to them, ‘Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.’ 40 But they laughed at him. Let’s be fair, I am sure that they know what dead was when they saw it – and they laugh at the ridiculous words from the rabbi.

He clears out the crowd and enters the room with the child’s father, mother, and Peter, James, and John. They were the only ones Jesus took to the house. Now I agree with Jeremy McQuoid that this is a beautiful eyewitness touch and it is probably Peters eyewitness account, when Mark preserves the very words in Aramic that Jesus used to bring this little girl back to life in verse 41, ‘Talitha koum!’ (which means ‘Little girl, I say to you, get up!’).  42 Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. 43 He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat.

Jesus tells them to give the girl something to eat, as if it’s a sign that this is real. She’s not a ghost. The same happens to Jesus after His resurrection.

Let’s look at this there are a lot of similarities in these two stories. In both, persons healed are called “daughter” . In one case the “daughter” has been ill for twelve years, and, in the other case, she is twelve years old. Also, both of the female sufferers are ritually unclean, one by the bleeding disorder and the other by death. And yet, in both of these cases, uncleanness is boldly ignored – in one case by the woman who touches the garment of Jesus, and in the other case by Jesus who touches the girl’s corpse. Fear is mentioned in both healings (5:33, 36). And amount of faith is a factor in both case’s (5:34, 36).

I would like us to take away five things about these two stories.

  1. No anonymous disciples.

The woman thinks she can sneak away with a healing – simply touch the hem of His garment and walk away well in silence, hoping she can slink back into the obscurity of the large crowd.

Why does Jesus call attention to what she has done? Has she not suffered enough public embarrassment? Could He not let her go in peace with a silent wink – “You’re healed. I know, I felt it”?

But the singling her out indicates His individual care for her. He will not allow her to slip away and remain anonymous. He forces the issue so that when she leaves healed, she will leave knowing that the one who healed her knows her and cares for her. She is to Him, by His own words, a daughter. She is worth taking time with.

Sometimes we’d like to remain anonymous. The woman would have liked that. But Jesus allows no anonymous disciples. Did notice the clue about the powers of Jesus in our reading? Look at verse 32, “He looked around the see the woman who had done this.” The one who touched Jesus was anonymous, but He immediately was looking for a woman. He knew. There was no way to hide, no way to be anonymous from God gaze.

Christianity is something that is meant to be seen and heard. In the free world and epically in this country there can be no such thing as secret discipleship. Our Christianity should be perfectly visible to all. Dr. James Stewart, a great Scottish preacher once said the greatest threat to the church is not Communism, atheism, or materialism. The greatest threat to the church is Christians trying to sneak into heaven incognito,

without ever sharing their faith. I am sorry to tell you but that saying that my faith is private is not what Jesus wants to hear.

  1. No limits to His power.

In our reading Jesus heals a woman that no physician can cure. And then He restores life to a girl when all hope is gone. “Why bother the Teacher anymore?” they said. “She’s already dead.” Faith in Jesus can endure even in the face of death. There are no limits to the power of our Lord and Savior.

  1. All are welcome.

We have two main characters – Jairus and the woman. Could they be any different from one another? Jairus has a name. The women is nameless. Jairus is at the top of the social, economic, and religious scale. She’s at the bottom of the food chain. He is a male. She is a female. He is a synagogue official. She is ritually unclean and excluded from the religious community. He has a family and a large household. She, presumably, lives in isolation because of her condition. He is rich. She’s impoverished from the payment of doctors’ fees. The only thing that these two have in common is that they both need Jesus.

When we come to Jesus, it doesn’t matter who we are. every man and woman, from every race no matter where they are no the social scale is welcome. The only thing that we should have in common is that we’ve all said Jesus is Lord. We’re all sinners in need of a Savior. And we all need to be healed.

Notice again verse 23. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed, and  verse 28, If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” And verse 34, where Jesus says, ‘Daughter, your faith has healed you. Both have run out of options – one with a dying daughter and one desperate with a bleeding disorder. Is it faith in Jesus or faith in God? There is no difference. They are both relying on the power of God exercised through Jesus Christ.

  1. No perfect faith.

Faith can be imperfect. It can be bold. It can be halting. It can be brave. It can be laced with fear and anxiety as we saw in our reading. What counts for it to be effective is for it to be directed rightly to Jesus and to God. What saved this father’s daughter and this woman was that their faith was directed toward Jesus.

This sort of faith is persistent in overcoming all obstacles. The woman has to work her way through the crowd. The man has to believe, in spite of his daughter’s death. A sufficient faith is embodied in action. Faith is something that can be seen, like men digging through a roof to bring their paralytic friend to Jesus. It kneels. It begs. It reaches out to touch. Neither the man nor the women identify Jesus as a Messiah, or even a prophet. They are unclear as to precisely who He is. But they believe He has the power to heal and are willing to put their faith to the test. When you said “yes” to Jesus, I bet your faith was imperfect. I know mine was. But it was sufficient.

There is a final thing.

  1. There is no death when God commands.

Jesus declares the girl’s death to be merely sleep. It’s not a cagey medical diagnosis. It’s not a comforting euphemism. Rather, He calls it sleep because He wills, in this particular case, to make death as impermanent as sleep by the raising of the girl to life. Ultimately, for everyone here, we are like Jairus. Our faith is in God’s power to conquer death. And ultimately, in His own resurrection, we see He is indeed the Lord of the living, and at His very command the dead in Christ shall rise first.

So like Jairus and the woman, we should have faith, faith that God loves us, faith that Jesus came because he loves us, faith that the Holy Spirit is willing to walk with each of us through our journey of faith. And faith enough to share our faith with others, faith that there are no limits to God’s power, faith that God loves us all no matter who or what we are or have been, and faith that there is no such thing as perfect faith we are all sinners, and finally faith that there is no death when we have faith in Jesus.

Let us pray: Heavenly Father, Thank you for you love for us all, help us to increase our faith each day, help us to show our faith to others, Lord send your Holy spirit that we may be better disciples of yours in going forward than we were in the past, Amen