Sermons

Summary: A woman healed, a child raised from the dead. Application.

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12 YEARS OF SUFFERING, AND 12 YEARS OF LIFE

Mark 5:21-43

In this particular section Mark presents us with a ‘story within a story’ – and, as you might expect with such a literary device, there are both similarities and dissimilarities.

First of all, we have the not unusual picture of Jesus stepping ashore only to be thronged by a crowd (Mark 5:21; Mark 5:24; Mark 5:31). Then, when He finally broke free from the crowd at the house of Jairus, he found another tumultuous crowd and had to eject them from the room (Mark 5:37-38; Mark 5:40).

Second, we see the contrast in status of Jesus’ two petitioners. Jairus was a ruler of the synagogue (Mark 5:22). The unnamed woman was ritually unclean (Mark 5:25). The ruler of the synagogue humbled himself, and threw himself down at Jesus’ feet (Mark 5:22); the unnamed woman only did so after she was found out (Mark 5:33).

Third, both showed faith (Mark 5:23; Mark 5:28) - but also had to be encouraged in their faith (Mark 5:33-34; Mark 5:36).

The first mention of “twelve years” refers to the length of time that this poor woman had been suffering (Mark 5:25). It is only after the healing of the unnamed daughter of Jairus that we discover that she was “of the age of twelve years” (Mark 5:42). All that girl’s life, the unknown woman had been suffering: for the one it was too long to suffer; for the other it was too young to die!

I say the woman was ‘poor’ both out of sympathy to her condition, and because she had actually spent all her substance on ineffectual doctors (Mark 5:26). This serves as a contrast to Jesus’ efficacious and holistic healing.

Other points of contrast come between Jesus, who knew that healing power had been resourced from His presence (in whose holy presence alone is perfect healing - Mark 5:30) - and the disciples, who could not quite grasp how it was that He was asking “Who touched me” in the midst of such a throng (Jesus was, like the story, sandwiched by the crowd – Mark 5:31).

The touch was very daring, because - as with the touch of the leper (Mark 1:41) - it theoretically rendered Jesus ceremonially unclean. Yet Jesus is willing to reach out and touch us, or to be touched, whatever our infirmities (cf. Hebrews 4:15). His words to the woman are very reassuring to those of us who hardly dare approach Him (Mark 5:34).

Touching a dead body would also have rendered an ordinary man or woman ceremonially unclean – but Jesus is no ordinary man! The messengers from the ruler’s house had nothing to report but disappointment (Mark 5:35), but when all things seem hopeless, and despair is ready to set in, Jesus is always ready with a word of encouragement (Mark 5:36).

Fear not! Only have faith! In light of the miracle which he had just witnessed, Jairus was no doubt inclined to obey.

Will we listen to the word of the Lord, hear, trust, and obey?

When Jesus, Peter, James and John arrived at the house, the mourners were inclined to laugh at Jesus’ comment (Mark 5:38-40). “Sleep” is an acceptable Christian euphemism for death (1 Corinthians 15:20). The raising of Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5:41-42) reminds us of the raising of two boys by Elijah and Elisha respectively (1 Kings 17:17-23; 2 Kings 4:32-37).


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