Summary: We all experience desparate situations. We need to exercise daring faith and experience a divine response

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Mark 5: 21-43

Desperate measures


I think it’s true to say that most parents would do anything for their children. We see it week by week on the television news. Perhaps it’s the desperate desire to give their children the best educational opportunities. Or perhaps the great acts of sacrifice that parents make to give their children a good start in life. Or even the ultimate sacrifice of putting their own lives at risk to save their children’s lives.

Desperate situations

I’m fortunate that I’ve never been in those kind of extreme desperate situations. And I guess that that’s true for most of us. Nevertheless if you have had children, you may know that awful feeling when you lose a child in a shopping centre. You immediately imagine the worst.

So I’ve never been in those kinds of desperate situations. But that is something of the desperate situation that we find in our Bible Reading today. In our passage from Marks gospel we read about two desperate people. They are quite different, but equally desperate.

First of all, we have Jairus, one of the synagogue rulers. I guess he might be the equivalent of a churchwarden, and a person of some social status. I can imagine that he was quite confident person, perhaps quite a self-sufficient person. But, his desperate situation was that his little child, his daughter was dying. The dying and death of a child is an extremely traumatic event, and it is said that it is such a difficult situation that the odds are against the parents of the child staying together after the child death. So it was a desperate situation.

Secondly, we have the woman. By contrast to Jairus, she is unknown. We do not know her name. By contrast to Jairus, she is a social outcast. For by Jewish law, her illness made her untouchable, unclean. I can imagine that her illness had made her isolated, lacking confidence, timid and shy. And her desperate situation was that she had been haemorrhaging for twelve years. We don’t know, but we presume that it was some kind of gynaecological problem. I can imagine that was pretty desperate. It was a desperate situation.

So we have two quite distinctly different people. A man and woman. One with a name, one unknown. One of some social status, one a social outcast. But united in their desperate situations.

Daring faith

They were also united in their daring faith. For both of them, their desperate situation drove them to trust in Jesus. For Jairus, perhaps it meant for once admitting that his was a situation beyond his ability to do with. Now we know that some sections of the Jewish establishment and religion were very much opposed to Jesus. So perhaps for Jairus, it also meant going against the social grain. Most of us don’t like to be different do we? Even if we do not want to keep up with the Jones’s, we would rather not stand out from the crowd. And so perhaps it required even more daring faith for Jairus to go to ask Jesus for help. But there was clear trust there. For his words to Jesus had that daring expectation that Jesus touch would heal her and she would live. V23. Please come and put your hands on her, so that she will be healed and live.

That faith needed to be daring because, as we read later in the passage, as Jesus and Jairus were on the way home, a message comes to them that the child has died. But Jesus says to Jairus – ‘ don’t be afraid, just believe’. Don’t be afraid, just have faith. Be daring!

And the woman also had a daring faith in Jesus ability to heal her. She was in a desperate situation because for twelve years, she tried everything to get well. And she must have had her hopes raised and dashed so often. But when she heard about Jesus, she came to find him. And her faith in Jesus healing power was such that she thought ‘ if I just touch his clothes, I will be healed’. There’s a lot in this passage that gives you a sense of the total lack of confidence of this woman. It is as if she dare not come up to Jesus face-to-face and ask him. It is as if she dare not come up to him in front. It is as if she dare not even expect to receive a touch from him. But rather, in her timid, shy and socially excluded way, if she can just sneak up behind him and touch him, she will be healed. That is a daring expectation of Jesus healing power.

Divine response

So we see that both these people are in a desperate situation. We see that they both have a daring faith in Jesus. And we also see the divine response to their situation and their faith.

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