“After Jesus crossed over by boat, a great crowd met him at the seaside. One of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus showed up. When he saw Jesus, he fell to his knees, beside himself as he begged, “My dear daughter is at death’s door. Come and lay hands on her so she will get well and live.” Jesus went with him, the whole crowd followed along, pushing and jostling him”.
“Now there was a woman who had suffered a condition of hemorrhaging for twelve years, even though many, many physicians had treated her, and treated her badly, taking all her money and leaving her worse off than before. This woman had heard about Jesus. She pushed through the crowd, coming up behind Jesus and touched his robe. She was thinking to herself, “If I can put a finger on his robe, I can get well.” The moment she did it, the flow of blood dried up. She could feel the change and knew her plague was over and done with. At the same moment, Jesus felt energy draining from him. He turned around to the crowd and asked, “Who touched my robe?” His disciples said, “What are you talking about? With this crowd pushing and jostling you, you’re asking, ‘Who touched me?’ Dozens have touched you!” But he went on asking, looking around to see who had done it. The woman, knowing what had happened, knowing she was the one, crept up in fear and trembling, knelt before him, and told Jesus her whole story. Jesus said to her, “Daughter, you took a risk of faith, and now you’re healed and whole. Live well, live blessed! Be healed of your plague.”
“While he was still talking, some people came from the leader’s house and told Jairus, “Your daughter is dead. Why bother the Teacher anymore?” Jesus overheard what they were talking about and said to Jairus, “Do not fear, only believe.” He permitted no one to go with him except Peter, James, and John. They reached the leader’s house and entered, pushing their way through the neighbors who were weeping and wailing loudly. Jesus was abrupt: “Why are all of you making such a commotion and weeping? This child isn’t dead; she’s sleeping.” The neighbors laughed at him. He sent them all out, then He took the child’s father and mother, along with his companions, and entered the child’s room. In the deep stillness of the room, He clasped the girl’s hand and said, “Talitha koum,” which means, “Little girl, get up.” Just like that, she was up and walking around! This girl was twelve years old. They, of course, were all beside themselves with amazement and joy. He gave them strict orders that no one was to know what had taken place in that room. Then he said, “Give her something to eat.”
Today I asked for special permission to read the Gospel this way. This story is in an unusual form, what Lorraine referred to as a “Mark Sandwich”. Just as we are caught up in the story of the dying daughter of Jairus, Mark interrupts with the hemorrhaging woman. As soon as she is healed, we abruptly jump back to the Jairus story.
There are several things about this way of telling the story that occur to me: first, isn’t this the way life happens? Haven’t you all noticed that when you are in the biggest hurry do something, you get hit with the most interruptions? What I love in this story is the relative importance of these two people: Jairus is a leader in the synagogue, probably one of the most important people in the crowd that day and he has an urgent need: his little daughter is dying. Jesus, without saying a word, turns and goes with him. But He is interrupted in this urgent mission, by an impoverished, bleeding woman. Jesus stops helping the rich man to tend to the poor woman. To Jesus, both are of equal importance and value. I believe Mark tells these two healing stories sandwiched together to make that point.
There are some interesting similarities between the two stories: the woman had been bleeding for 12 years; the girl was 12 years old, and she was on the brink of childbearing while the woman would not have been able to bear children. The woman is unclean by her bleeding and if the child is dead as everyone thought, she was also unclean. Yet Jesus touched both and thus broke the law.
Let’s talk about these stories separately. When Jesus inadvertently heals the poor, bleeding woman, isn’t it intriguing that he feels his healing power drain from him? He is being touched by many people in the crowd and surely most of them need some sort of healing, so I wonder why only this woman’s touch results in power draining from him. Surely her faith was great, which is moving since she has seen many doctors, used up all her money and she only gets worse. It must be hard to keep believing in a cure after so long.
When she identifies herself to Jesus they begin to talk. Now I love this: she tells him the WHOLE truth. If Jesus asked me about my health, I would talk for hours, telling him about surgery after surgery, doctor after doctor. So, I relate to this woman!
Jesus has healed her bleeding but now, now, he surely heals her soul when he says; “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your disease.” How must it feel for this suffering woman to be called “daughter” by Jesus?!
But you see, she talked SO long that poor Jairus’ daughter has died in the meantime. Surely, he must have been fuming while Jesus stood patiently listening to the woman and now Jesus has taken too long. All is lost. His daughter has died. Jesus turns to him and says, “Do not fear, only believe.”
Jesus leaves with Jairus. Upon arriving at the house, they find a noisy crowd, weeping and wailing over the girl. Jesus pushes through the crowd and approaches the girl who is so silent, so still, everyone believes he is dead. He simply says; “Talitha Koum” and she gets up from her death bed. Then, maybe to prove that she is alive, he orders them to feed her.
What should we take from these stories? Please notice that Jesus doesn’t ask any questions about the worthiness of either person. He just heals. He also doesn’t care about the relative societal status of them. Both situations involve people who know that they need help and then come to Jesus begging for healing. We all need help, don’t we? Maybe we have physical ailments, maybe we are lonely or sad. Maybe we are facing challenges or big changes in our lives. We must acknowledge that we need help, then come to Jesus with open hearts, open to healing.
Today we will sing these words, entreating God to open our eyes … “Open my eyes, that I may see Glimpses of truth Thou hast for me; Place in my hands the wonderful key That shall unclasp and set me free.”
So when we open our eyes, open our minds, open our hearts, we shall be set free.
We only must do one more thing: as Jesus told Jairus: “Do not fear, only believe.” All around us we are told that our country is going to hell, that horrible things are happening, and we are encouraged to be afraid, very afraid. Let’s counter that. Let’s come to Jesus with open hearts. Let’s banish fear and only believe. It’s a much better way to live.