The Beauty of Belief as the Kingdom Echoes (Mark 5:21-43)

Last March (just before Covid-19), I had the privilege of spending ten days with the Anglican Church in Jos and Kaduna, Nigeria. Every aspect of the trip was amazing in terms of experience and ministry. Yet, one of the unique loves I have about travelling is travelling – literally, I love the journeying to get somewhere and the travelling that occurs when you are somewhere. Whether the roaming through airports or the eight hour drives from one city to another. It is surreal to see so many different people live out there every day, normal unaware of you as you drive past. On one of those road trips in Nigeria, we were crawling our way slowly through the city traffic when my gaze was captured through the window by a wonderfully painted picture on the side of a block of flats. In was a scene of two families: one looked sad or sick, the other looked content and healthy and there in the middle of them in the unmissable font was the Question: “Feeling unwell?” I realised it was not a piece of art but an advertisement, specifically a miracle pill that offered to heal for everything you could think of: a lack of self-confidence, stress, study focus, soar back, broken bones and even some of the worst blood diseases you could imagine – if you suffered form it then all you needed to do was phone the number and arrange your delivery! The two families representing the journey that the healing tablet would take you on. I chuckled to myself, thinking that the advertisement standards agency would have something to say about that in the UK, and wondered to myself how many people had been unwell, saw it and found it unbelievable, then thought, “What if? That is what the advertisement was selling, not a cure but the hope of life after being cured; that imagine of Joy and restoration, and in a hopeless situation, any one of us would be willing to try anything that offers us the possibility of better.

Context

Last week in the lectionary reading, Jesus was crossing the Sea of Galilee with the disciples, and they got hit by the Storm. This week Jesus is again crossing the Sea: They spent some time in gentile lands where Jesus showed his authority over the Spiritual realm by restoring a man to the fullness of his personhood by driving from him the demon named Legion into the pigs! Such was the authority that he showed that we are told he left the locals terrified (5:16), begging him to leave their region and return to Galilee. We join Jesus and the disciples on their return

The only rest that Jesus seems to get at the moment is when he is on the water; because no sooner has he left the boat is he meet with the demands of the crowd. One crowd begging him to leave, the other begging him to help! In our passage today, we have the most dramatic of scenes as Mark combines a narrative of two miracles into an intense unfolding three staged Drama that would be worthy of a BAFTA. Yet, it is more than just a tale of two miraculous healing’s by the hand and Grace of God (as wonderful as those accounts would be on their own). It is the fulfilment of the unreachable promise of what that advertisement offered: restoration and hope.

These miracles show us the supreme authority of Jesus over matters of life and death; Furthermore, Jesus action is an echo of the Kingdom of God, its ethic and way: It is not just the action’s of Jesus here but their implications – Jesus shatters the social norms and expectations of his day as he brings down the walls between the insider and righteously-clean (Jairus): and the outside and unclean (the bleeding women) as understood through the law.

Mark 5:21-43 NIV

“When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake. 22 Then one of the synagogue leaders, named Jairus, came, and when he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet. 23 He pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” 24 So Jesus went with him. A large crowd followed and pressed around him. 25 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. 26 She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better, she grew worse. 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” 29 Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. 30 At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” 31 “You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ” 32 But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. 33 Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her,

“Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

35 While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?” 36 Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” 37 He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John, the brother of James. 38 When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. 39 He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” 40 But they laughed at him. After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him and went in where the child was. 41 He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). 42 Immediately, the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this, they were completely astonished. 43 He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this and told them to give her something to eat.

My Daughter Needs Your Help (21-24)

Jesus has stepped off the boat, and the crowd are already waiting for him; however large the crowd might be, the focus narrows onto the presence of one man who comes vulnerable – throws himself as the feet of Jesus and the public mercy of the crowd. The man is Jairus (a leader of the synagogue), who finds himself in a position of vulnerability and need. He has no other choice; nowhere else to turn but Jesus because his daughter is dying.

Let us be clear, this is an audacious situation for a Religious leader to find himself in – Jesus is already controversial, a thorn in the flesh of the religious authorities he has already clashed with them.1 Thus, for Jairus to seek out Jesus in the middle of the day under the gaze of the crowd is him risking everything: his position, his reputation, and his pride to beg for help from Jesus this itinerant and maverick preacher/healer. This is not an easy position for Jairus, yet, he displays a reverence and hope for Jesus that in the hope He can save his daughter. There at his feet (a recognition of the authority of Jesus), Jairus did not come and stand before Jesus and demand that he act; no, he threw himself before his feet, a position of weakness and respect as he begs:

“My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.”2

The Motivation of Love

It’s a beautiful scene as a Father is moved to act by his love for his daughter3 and he will do anything to save her. Jairus has obliviously heard about Jesus; perhaps he has even been privileged to see his authority in action. Regardless, he knows Jesus is his daughter’s only hope. Hence she risks it all for her and seeks form hope from Jesus. Jairus is a person in authority derived from his position in the Synagogue and his role in the wider community. By his simple coming to Jesus, he acknowledges that he possesses greater authority than he could ever have, an authority he needs. Moreover, he implicitly confesses some sense of faith in Jesus by begging him to come and lay his hands on his daughter so that she might be healed and live.

The Approach of Faith

Jairus displays for us a posture of vulnerability and sincerity; openness and need before Jesus, and in seeking from Jesus. Furthermore, he displays for each of us how we much approach Jesus: recognising his authority, bowing before him and knowing our need of Him for our ultimate healing – from the curse of sin. Jairus is for us the example of what it means to truly come before Jesus in need: How does Jesus respond? In Grace, sincerity, and with compassion as we are told: “So Jesus went with him.” Jesus looks upon him and moves with compassion to bring hope to a hopeless situation.

Example: The Way of the Kingdom

As Jairus displays for us the way into the Kingdom and a right posture in the presence of the King, now Jesus display for us the way of the Kingdom in the world. Christ is our saviour and our example, and we must model Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit as we make the same movement to meet the needs of the world for the sake of the Kingdom and the Glory of God. We do not live out compassion to feel better about ourselves or raise our own profile; no, we live to advance the Kingdom rule of Jesus and bring glory to God. Acts of compassion or mercy open up doors that allow us to introduce people to Jesus and bring them into His Kingdom. Let us be like Jairus in posture and Jesus in movement.

Jesus is Interrupted and the Kingdom Advances (24-34)

Someone once said to me: “The fruit of your ministry will be the interruptions.” I think they meant that much of the Kingdom work we will do as disciples is not in the expected but the unexpected. We will display much of our love for Jesus by handling the interruptions that come across our path.

You can feel the urgency of the situation as Jesus, Jairus, and the crowd move towards his house under time of pressure to bring healing to this dying daughter. You can imagine the fear Jairus must have felt as he hoped against hope that they would make it in time; the last thing he would have wanted is for Jesus to be interrupted, for his attention to be taken away from the task at hand, yet, that is what happens!

A Hidden Faith Receives Restoration

The narrative seems to slow down as the focus shifts from Jairus and Jesus to the pressures on them of the Large crowd. In which one hopes they will have the cover to act and receive healing from Jesus. Our eyes are brought to another daughter, one unseen and unloved by the world in which she moves. Her situation is a desperate one; she might be living, but, in the eyes of her culture, she may as well be dead: She had for twelve years suffered a ‘constant bleeding’ (5:25 NLT). Thus, in the eyes of the law and her context, that made her unclean for worship and unapproachable socially. 4 She was unseen in the eyes of the world, invisible in the crowd as it moved and pressed upon Jesus, and because of her health unable to enter the temple courts for worship. All she longed for was restored health, to be a person again in the eyes of her culture – to be seen. She longed for it so much that she pursued it by every means, throwing money at every (charlatan) ‘doctor’ she could find (5:26). A pursuit that had left her even more vulnerable to the pains of the world, she has no security of wealth: as she sought reintegration back into society “her poverty (she “had spent all that she had”) renders her powerless and underscores her absolute vulnerability within the society. In short, she is quickly established as the opposite of Jairus (privileged, powerful, accepted male).”5 She is the complete opposite of Jairus in the eyes of the culture, yet, at the point of contact stands equal in need (with Jairus) of Jesus, and (like Jairus) in recognition of his authority.

The reality of the Kingdom: All are Equal

A tale of two people at opposite ends of the social spectrum meeting Jesus at the same place of need. It does not matter who we are, our possessions, or positions; when it comes to Jesus, we all stand equal before him and in need of him: and when we come to Him in faith, he will respond. While Jairus risked shame by approaching Jesus in the middle of the day, such as the women’s shame that she felt unable to approach Jesus at all – seeking healing from Him under the shadow of the crowd.

Such was her faith that she knew to even tough his clothes that she would receive the healing that she sought. She approached him in faith under cover of the crowd, touching his garment and immediately she found what she had spent twelve years seeking as her bleeding stopped and the pain left her body. She must have hoped that she could drift back into the crowds and enjoy her restoration in the comfort of the shadows. Yet, as the story unfolds, we see that it is not yet complete while she had been healed! Something else needed to happen – she needed to be seen.

A Radical Kingdom Ethic – Welcome

For twelve years, she has been unseen by the world, lacking personhood/worth in the context of her culture, yet now Jesus sees her as he asks: “Who touched my clothes?” Much to the dismay and confusion of the disciples, who try to get him to focus on Jairus and the situation at hand. Yet, he will not be deterred as he keeps looking around to see who had done receive a miracle from Him. He wanted to see her and to bring her into the eyes of the crowd so that she could be seen.

Jesus completes the healing by bringing her into a relationship with Him and making her known to the world. Furthermore, He established her value in (the Kingdom) and displays the ethic of this Kingdom: where the needs of the disenfranchised come before the needs of the powerful. To know Jesus is to be known by him and to receive from him by faith. Faith brings healing; the women saw Jesus as something more than a teacher, believed him to be her only hope, and in that faith, God moved to restore her. Hence Jesus said to her: “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”6 It is faith that restores us, not what we bring. Jesus was never going to miss the opportunity of establishing a relationship with someone who had faith in him.

The Opportunity of Interruption

You can imagine the amazement of the crowd as the urgency of Jairus situation took second place to the needs of this outcast.7 Yet, by Jesus’ establishing of relationship with her the message is clear to the world: In the Kingdom of God those whom the world might ignore will be seen and will have the same access as all to the King (through faith). Additionally “Jesus exercises absolute sovereignty over the realm of law, reaching through the purity boundaries to effect a direct encounter based on the authority not of law but of faith.”8It does not what we Approach Jesus with, or where we come form, what matters is how we approach him – in faith.

How we handle the interruptions of life will say much about who we are and our living for Jesus, let us handle them like him and use every encounter as an opportunity to make the Kingdom known and advance the Gospel.

Daughter Get Up And Go (35-43)

You have to feel for Jairus as they moved towards his house! To then see the whole process slam to a halt as Jesus tried to find some unknown outcast women and talk to her in the gaze of the crowd; then declared her healed and free from pain must have been both hopeful and distressing. Hopeful because to see such an act occur could only have increased his faith in Jesus to save his daughter: distressing because of the potential cost this act would have for his leadership and reputation. Yet, no sooner has Jesus spoken good news to one: ” Daughter, your faith has healed you….” does another (Jairus) receive the worst news: “Your daughter is dead… why bother the teacher anymore?” So far removed from the centerstage of the moment was Jairus at that point that we are told Jesus overheard them speaking.

The Object of our Faith

Before Jairus has a chance to excuse himself and apologise for the disturbance, and begin the process of grieving his lost daughter, Jesus speaks peace and direction to him through the noise of distress; JP Philips captures the motion of the assurance wonderfully when he translates it:

“Now, don’t be afraid, just go on believing!”9

It is a call to keep the faith regardless of the circumstance! Why? Because it is not our faith that saves us but the object of our faith – Jesus. Faith in Jesus brings hope in every situation. Jesus, Jairus and the close circle of Peter, James, and John leave the crowd and move towards the house. So dire is the situation that the professional mourners are already in place and wailing. To their sight, Jesus questions:

“Why make a commotion and weep? The child has not died, but is asleep.”
— Mark 5:39

A question that does not ignore the reality of the moement (death) but highlights the reality of his rule where (for those who have faith|) death will only be a temporary condition – like sleep.

It is Faith that Saves – Open Hearts

The crowd react with ridicule and mockery (40), highlighting their hardness of heart in comparison to the openness and faith of Jairus. Removing the crowd and then with Jairus, his wife and the three disciples, Jesus takes the little girl by the hand and intimately tells her: “Talitha koum!” (which means, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”)10 as if waking her from an afternoon nap. It is an intimate moment: Mark being the only Gospel to note the Aramaic used because it highlights the endearment and affection of Jesus at the moment. Add to that the imagery of Jesus taking her hand, and we see the heart of compassion and gentleness that Jesus has for those who come to him.11 The moment of Jesus divine authority is Compassionate and Gentle to those who respond in faith to Him. Furthermore, there is no drama in the authority of Jesus; simply a whisper is enough to defeat death. Such is his care for her that he commands them to get her something to eat. Jesus is the one who has authority over Life and Dead, an echo of the events to come at calvary when through his death he would grant life to all who hold the faith (Like Jairus) in Him.

Conclusion: Faith in the King and Living Faithfully for the Kingdom

We read and Listen to scripture to be both know more of Jesus and to be challenged in our own faith. There is no point in reading the Bible unless we see and desire more of Jesus and what He calls us to! Consider what we as individuals and as Church are being called to today? Collectively I think the biggest challenge here for all of us if we are disciples or searching, then we are challenged by the posture of faith that we see displayed by both Jairus and the Women. They come to Jesus in need and admittance of their helplessness; they display the urgency of that need in how they approach him. Jairus comes bearing the public cost, falling at his feet and pleading for help.12 The women when Jesus calls her out appears before him and “fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth.”13

The Posture of Faith

This is the posture of faith, how we come to the King and into the Kingdom. A posture of openness and need, a posture that admits we bring nothing and need everything from King Jesus. It is the posture of the Kingdom, and it must be ours if we are to truly know and serve Him and enjoy all that Jesus offers us.

For those who come before King Jesus in the posture of faith, they can be assured that he will respond to them: for Jairus, he moved to meet his need, and for the women, he declared her healed and visibly sent her back into the world that might have ignored her otherwise. Both display a radical posture that correlated to the faith they had in Jesus. Two people at opposite ends of the social spectrum. Yet, who in the Kingdom of God stands equal in need and faith; and in what they receive from him. Jesus responded to their faith and trust in him.

In the Kingdom of God, all are welcome and have equal access to the King through faith. Jairus brought nothing, and Jesus responded to his faith: the bleeding women brought nothing, and Jesus responded to her faith. Thus, what matters in the Kingdom is our faith in the King.

The Opportunity of Interruption

Life is messy; even in the mundane, we have all shared the frustration of interruptions. Those moments of the unexpected that change a moment, or perhaps the course of our lives. There will be daily interruptions that set us off the course we have set for the day; how we respond to them says something about who we are and perhaps Who’s we are.

If we are disciples of Jesus, then our relationship with Him must affect every aspect of who we are! It must bear fruit in every aspect of how we live: including how we deal with interruptions. Are we going to see them as disturbances breaking into our normal, or opportunities to advance the Kingdom and make Jesus known? Let us be people who see the opportunity of interruption. Receiving them as an opportunity to make God known, show Christ-like Compassion to the world and advance the Kingdom. How should we handle interruptions? Like Jesus, taking them in our stride, as an opportunity to Love people, serve the Kingdom and Bring Glory to God. Life is messy, so as we live for Jesus’ let’s be a people who see ether opportunity of the mess.

The Example of Jesus

While we look to Jesus as Saviour, we must also (as disciples) look to him as an example. In how Jesus sees the world, treats people, and communicates the truth of God, we see the ethic of the Kingdom of God. The ethic by which all its citizens live. We see that the Kingdom of God looks nothing like the world because the King looks nothing like the world’s powers. Jesus does not dismiss the interruption of the dismissible rather, he stops to honour her and humanise her – to make her visible to the world that might ignore her!

We as Kingdom citizens go as Jesus went and live as he lived: as a people who seek out the lost, hurt, and disenfranchised. Why? To love them and point them to Jesus. We value people not because of what they bring but because they are those who are made in the image of God, and we love them to show they God loves them. The only status that matters in the Kingdom of God is that of our faith in Jesus; there is nothing to separate citizens but that. This is the radical ethic of the Kingdom of God that all stand equal in need of God, before God and because of what Jesus did on the cross. This radical Kingdomethic drives us all towards our common purpose – Knowing God and making him known. A radical ethic that will confront the norms of this world and make Jesus known.

Jesus is our example of Kingdom living; today, we are challenged but by his movement in compassion towards Jairus and his hopeless situation; by how he handles the interruption of the bleeding women, valuing and seeing her because she was made in the Image of God, not judging her worth by the standards of the culture or law.

A Foretelling of the Great Healing to Come

This passage raises questions about healing: as beautiful as it was that the women were healed from illness, so many people pray for healing and remain afflicted by their pain. So wonderful was it that Jairus daughter was brought from death to life; yet, so many children suffer in this world and pass too young. It is right to ask difficult and honest questions of God. Yet, it is important to remember as we question here the context of Jesus ministry and particularly this passage. Specifically, his healings and miracles were signs of his authority and glimpses of the reality of the Kingdom that he would rule – a place where there would be no more pain, suffering, sickness, or death.

Yet, they were only glimpses of what is to come: consider both Jairus’ daughter, who was raised to life; and, the women who were set free from her suffering. Both were healed, yet both still sat under the curse of sin and the reality that they would one day die. These miracles act as a sign pointing towards the Kingdom to come, an echo of the fruit of Calvary where Christ would by his death enact his greatest miracle (and healing), freeing all who had faith in him from the curse of death and grant them the assurance of eternal life.

By the Grace and Mercy of God, through faith in Jesus Christ and what he has done, we can be assured of our ultimate healing – freedom from the curse of sin. While we ponder the pains of this world, let us rest in the assurance of the freedom to come. Today we see that Jesus is the one who has authority over life and death; in him, not even death can threaten those with faith.

Living Out the Kingdom Today

Today and every day, our challenge is to look to Jesus and see the type of King that He is. A king we gladly fall onto our feet before because we know he is gracious, compassionate and merciful towards those who turn to him in Faith. Thus, As we look to the King, we live out the Kingdom that each of us carries in the power of the Holy Spirit wherever God has placed us. This is the privilege of discipleship faithfulness in the normal things to inaugurate God’s Kingdom and make His Love known in us and through us.

Whether we are shopping in the supermarket, visiting people in hospitals or care homes or simply socialising – every opportunity is a chance to Look to Jesus and show him as people look at us. Today let us Trust the King, Look to Him and live for (and like) him as we live to advance the Kingdom a place where all can know true healing, worth and restoration.

O Christ for whom we search,

our help when help has failed:

give us courage to expose our needand ask to be made whole,

that, being touched by you,

we may be raised to new life

in the power of your name.

Church of Ireland Collect of the Word || Sunday 27th June

  1. When His own people heard of this, they went out to take custody of Him, for they were saying, “He has lost His senses.” The scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “He casts out the demons by the ruler of the demons.” And He called them to Himself and began speaking to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. If Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but he is finished! But no one can enter the strong man’s house and plunder his property unless he first binds the strong man, and then he will plunder his house. “Truly I say to you, all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”⁠—
    — Mark 3:21-29
  2. The Holy Bible: New International Version—Anglicised. (1984). (electronic edition., Mk 5:23). London: Hodder & Stoughton.
  3. perhaps even more profound in a culture that tended to value sons more
  4. Leviticus 15:25
    When a woman has a discharge of her blood for many days at a time other than her menstrual period, or if it continues beyond her period, she will be unclean all the days of her unclean discharge, just as she is during the days of her menstruation
  5. Edington, M. D. W. (2009). Theological Perspective on Mark 5:21–43. In D. L. Bartlett & B. B. Taylor (Eds.), Feasting on the Word: Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary: Year B (Vol. 3, p. 190). Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.”
  6. Mark 5:34 NIV
  7. barred from worship, community and culture because of her health
  8. Edington, M. D. W. (2009). Theological Perspective on Mark 5:21–43. In D. L. Bartlett & B. B. Taylor (Eds.), Feasting on the Word: Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary: Year B (Vol. 3, p. 190). Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.
  9. Mark 5:36; (Philips) see https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Mark+5&version=PHILLIPS
  10. The Holy Bible: New International Version—Anglicised. (1984). (electronic edition., Mk 5:41). London: Hodder & Stoughton.

  11. See the below for more understanding of the phrasing:
    https://www.gotquestions.org/talitha-cumi.html
  12. 22 Then one of the synagogue rulers, named Jairus, came there. Seeing Jesus, he fell at his feet 23 and pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” 24 So Jesus went with him
    The Holy Bible: New International Version—Anglicised. (1984). (electronic edition., Mk 5:22–24). London: Hodder & Stoughton.
  13. The Holy Bible: New International Version—Anglicised. (1984). (electronic edition., Mk 5:33). London: Hodder & Stoughton.

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