This Week, Kathleen Bergen, Summer student pastor at First Mennonite Church, is my guest blogger on the Lectionary Reflectionary! Thank you Kathleen for your thoughts on the Mark 5 stories.
Blog post on Mark 5:21-43
The first thing that caught my attention while reading this story in Mark is the amount of apparent desperation. Jairus is desperate because his daughter is dying. He must have felt helpless and scared and tired and vulnerable when he reaches Jesus. And then, Jesus takes his time getting to Jairus’ daughter so by the time he does get there, she is already dead! Jairus must have been completely heartbroken. What if he had reached Jesus sooner? What if he had hurried him along?
And then there’s the woman who had been bleeding for twelve years. She must have been desperate to see Jesus! Because she had been bleeding, she would have been considered unclean and could not have participated in many Jewish religious acts. She had seen doctors upon doctors, paid more money than she could afford and even still she was getting worse. She was so desperate that she braved a packed crowd just to maybe get to touch the hem of Jesus’ robe. I can’t even imagine the desperation that would come with isolation from your community as well as physical pain for more than a decade.
But. Desperation is not where this story ends. The next theme that I picked up is faith. Amidst the deep pain and sorrow of these people, they show incredible faith. They are hurting and vulnerable, but instead of shutting down or retreating into themselves, they turn to Jesus. They make a last ditch effort to connect. Jairus believes that all Jesus needs to do is lay his hands on Jairus’ daughter, and she will be healed and lived. He even falls at the feet of Jesus because he is so sure that Jesus can do what he asks. And the woman pushes through a crowd of people who were probably responsible for ostracizing her just so that she could touch Jesus’ robe. She has so much faith in Jesus’ power to heal that she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.”
These desperate people in this desperate situations reach out to Jesus in faith. And Jesus doesn’t just leave them hanging. Jesus responds with healing. Jesus makes these people well. I have always found words and the use of words to be a fascinating study. Sometimes the usage of words is interesting just for the sake of being interesting, but in this case, I think that a look into how words are used can help us see exactly what Jesus is doing when he says that these people have been “healed” or “made well.” The Greek word that is translated “make well” in this passage is used throughout the New Testament. However, in most cases, it is referring to more than physical wholeness. In fact, it is usually translated as “saved.” Jesus responds to acts of faith with not just healing, but with life.
This point is even more greatly shown by the resurrecting of Jairus’ daughter. She is not only sick, but has indeed died. But this does not stop Jesus from responding. Jesus heals the dead girl, proving that he has power to bring life over death. Power to save. Here, Jesus is demonstrating that God’s reign will conquer death and bring shalom.
This text shows us that faith and saving are intertwined. Jesus hears the cries of those who are afflicted, the cries of those who reach out in faith, and brings them life. To me, this story seems like a call to remember to reach out for Jesus. It can be difficult sometimes when we are facing afflictions to reach out for anything. It can seem easier and less painful to remain within ourselves, pushing away all else. And while that does not mean that Jesus will be forever void from those circumstances, it does make this interaction more difficult. This text shows us that Jesus responds to those who reach out for him with life.