The Story Within – Mark 5:21-43

Mark used a literary device that my pastor likens to a sandwich. He began a story, he interrupted the story with a different story. Then, when the second story was finished, he went back and finished the first story. This emphasizes the story in the middle and we see in that story today, so much about Jesus’s compassion and care for people. I hope you experience God’s presence as you study today’s lesson

21 And when Jesus was passed over again by ship unto the other side, much people gathered unto him: and he was nigh unto the sea.

Jesus had done what He came to do among the Geresenes, and He went back to the other side of the sea – back to His starting place. As might be imagined, a crowd gathered around Him almost immediately when He got out of the boat. People wanted to see and be around Jesus and they tracked His movements so they could find Him and experience His presence. We would do well to learn how to be with Jesus all the time.

22. And, behold, there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw him, he fell at his feet, 23. And besought him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live. 24. And Jesus went with him; and much people followed him, and thronged him.

I imagine, given the attitude shown by most of the religious leaders of the time, that up until the time his daughter got sick, Jairus didn’t have much use for this back woods hick teacher named Jesus. When his daughter got sick, though, and traditional methods failed, he ran to Jesus and paid homage while asking for her healing. Jesus didn’t hesitate and left with him immediately. The crowds left also and Mark says that they thronged Him. Here’s where the story gets interesting and we see, once again, a situation where the story starts, is interrupted with another story, and then the original story finishes. I think I already told you that my pastor calls this story structure a “Markan sandwich.”

25. And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years,26. And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse, 27. When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment. 28. For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole.

In the midst of the crowd was a woman who also had no other hope than Jesus. She had been dealing with an issue of blood for twelve years, spent all the money she had on doctors and instead of improving, she got worse. She had an amazing attitude of faith, believing that all she had to do was touch His garment and she would be healed. Let me take a sentence or two to point out that, given the normal Jewish practices, she should never have been in the area. She was unclean by the standards of the Law. So not only was this woman sick, and unclean, she was willing to flout the Law to get healed. She had heard about Jesus and His healing power and risked shame, embarrassment, and public revelation of her condition for this healing. She didn’t want to bother Jesus because she didn’t feel worthy to do that, she just knew that He could heal her.

29 And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague.

And so it happened. She touched His robe and the healing came. Now, she had but one desire: she wanted to get away from the crowd and celebrate her new found health.

30. And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes? 31. And his disciples said unto him, Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me? 32. And he looked round about to see her that had done this thing.

This lady had a problem with her getaway plans. Jesus realized what had happened. He turned around and looked, and then asked what the disciples thought must have been a ridiculous question: “Who touched my clothes?” The disciples were taken aback by the question, because to them, the answer was obvious: everybody. They reminded Jesus that He was in the midst of the crowd and anybody who could was reaching out to Him. The difference, though, was something the disciples couldn’t see or feel. Jesus knew that someone had intentionally touched His robe for the express purpose of being healed. Jesus felt power leave Him, and Jesus wanted to know who had sought this power, this healing, or, rather, I think He knew and wanted the person to come before Him so He could bless them.
33. But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth. 34. And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.

The woman was caught in the act. I have no doubt that Jesus may have asked the question one more time, staring directly at her. Then, she had to face the truth. She could either flee, which would let everyone know that Jesus was talking about her and create quite a few rumors, or she could kneel before Him and confess what had happened. In an immense show of courage, she fell at His feet and confessed the whole story. Perhaps she was afraid that Jesus would be angry. Perhaps she was worried about what the crowd might think. Whatever her fears and concerns, she overcame them and confessed everything to Jesus. Instead of wrath, she received grace; instead of condemnation, she experienced the love of Jesus as He commended her faith. Jesus assured her not only that her symptoms were gone, they were gone forever and she was now whole again, freed from her suffering.

35. While he yet spake, there came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house certain which said, Thy daughter is dead: why troublest thou the Master any further? 36. As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe. 37. And he suffered no man to follow him, save Peter, and James, and John the brother of James.

Once His encounter with this woman was finished, the news came, and it must have hit Jairus hard: his daughter was dead. The people from his house came and told him to stop bothering Jesus. This may seem like a quick turn of events. Would Jesus have made it to the house in time to save this child if the lady with the flow of blood hadn’t interrupted Him? I don’t think so. My guess is that she had already died prior to that event. When I read this story and think about how quick the time came from “Go get Jesus!” to “Don’t bother the Master any more,” I think of the day that my mom died. I was heading to the bank and got a text from my sister imploring me to pray for my mom who was on the way to the hospital. I started praying, and as I walked into the bank, I sent her a text letting her know that I was praying. Seconds later, while I was in line, she called me to tell me that my mom had died. Life, and death, happens that quickly. Believe me, I’ve troubled the Master a lot since then as I’ve prayed through the pain. The people in Jairus’s house didn’t understand the power of Jesus, or they never would have told him not to bother Jesus any more. Jesus was blunt: don’t be afraid – just believe. In his grief, Jairus didn’t respond, but we know that He followed Jesus, who told everyone else to stay away except for Peter, James, and John.. This is the band that headed to Jairus’s house.

38. And he cometh to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and seeth the tumult, and them that wept and wailed greatly. 39. And when he was come in, he saith unto them, Why make ye this ado, and weep? the damsel is not dead, but sleepeth. 40. And they laughed him to scorn. But when he had put them all out, he taketh the father and the mother of the damsel, and them that were with him, and entereth in where the damsel was lying.

When Jesus and His group arrived, the mourners were already there. We should note that these mourners were probably professional mourners whose job it was to weep at the house of someone who had died. Death was their business, and they were good at the weeping thing. They could probably convince most people that they were really broken up over the death of this person that they would never have encountered otherwise. Jesus cut through their facade by letting them know that the young girl wasn’t dead. They didn’t just laugh at Jesus, they scorned Him. They probably let Jesus know that they knew what dead was and this was dead. Then Jesus ran them off and brought mother, father, Peter, James, and John into the room where the body was.

41 And he took the damsel by the hand, and said unto her, Talitha cumi; which is, being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, arise. 42. And straightway the damsel arose, and walked; for she was of the age of twelve years. And they were astonished with a great astonishment. 43. And he charged them straitly that no man should know it; and commanded that something should be given her to eat.

Jesus reached out, took the girl’s hand and used the ancient Jewish form of “Wake up you sleepyhead,” as He told her to rise up. The One who had power over life and death proved it to this family and to the disciples once again. Why did Jesus say that she wasn’t dead earlier, when she really was? He knew her heart and her spirit and He knew what would happen. She might have been clinically dead, but by saying she was just asleep, it allowed the family not to tell what really happened, which was what Jesus wanted. His mission to proclaim the Kingdom of God was so important that He couldn’t let His time be taken up performing resurrections and healings, although He did that when necessary. There were people back then who recognized Jesus for His power, but not for who He was. We still have people like that today. Jesus was, and is, God the Son with power over life and death, power over sickness and disease, and power over the sin that enslaves us. He continues to proclaim the Kingdom of God, making a relationship with God available for all people.


About rockyfort

I am a retired Middle School Teacher. I share each day what God is teaching me from reading His word hoping that people can benefit from reading what God has taught me.
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