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Jun 9 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

June 8, 2014 – Mark 5:21-43

“Sandwiched” Stories — Two Daughters

One of the synagogue officials named Jairus came up, and on seeing Him, fell at His feet and implored Him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death; please come and lay Your hands on her, so that she will get well and live.” And He went off with him; and a large crowd was following Him and pressing in on Him. A woman who had a hemorrhage for twelve years, and had endured much at the hands of many physicians, and had spent all that she had and was not helped, but rather had grown worse–after hearing about Jesus, she came up in the crowd behind Him and touched His cloak. For she thought, “If I just touch His garments, I will get well.” Immediately the flow of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction. Mark 5:22-29

Once again we encounter contrasting characters. On one side, we meet a man described as a “synagogue official.” Opposite him is a woman who was banned from the synagogue. In fact, it may have been one of the man’s responsibilities to make certain people in her (unclean) condition never entered the synagogue.

– the man named was respected
• the unnamed woman was no doubt pitied and avoided
– the man came up to Jesus, fell at his feet and begged for his help
• the woman had to sneak up behind Jesus

Surrounding them and Jesus was a large crowd
– although made up of anonymous players, the crowd plays a definite role
• a sea of people from whom a man and woman emerge, then melt into again
• the man and woman are representatives of everyone else in the crowd

“Synagogue official” does not define Jairus

He was a father when he came to Jesus
– he was desperately trying to hold onto the life of his daughter
• as he put it, “My little daughter”
• I don’t think he planned on dropping to his knees
○ but it was “on seeing Him” that he collapsed at Jesus’ feet
• he arrived at eleventh hour, when his daughter was “at the point of death”
– Jairus had pictured in his mind what Jesus would do
• “come and lay Your hands on her, so that she will get well and live”

If Jesus said anything to Jairus, Mark did not record it
– Jesus took a passive role – he just went with Jairus
• and the crowd continued to press in on them
– meanwhile, we’re held in suspense
• obviously, the crowd slows them down
• so will Jesus arrive in time? Can he even do anything for the girl?
○ we are holding our breath until we find out

At this point our story is abruptly interrupted
– a woman has slipped through the crowd
• crouching and leaning forward, she quickly grabs and releases a handful of Jesus’ coat
○ like Jairus, she was desperate (Mark described her chronic misery in five statements)
• twelve years is long enough to exhaust not only one’s income, but also one’s hope
– the crowd was filled with needy people like her
• in the first century Mediterranean world, of the live births that survived infancy and childhood
○ sixty percent would be dead by their mid-teens
○ 75% by their mid-twenties and 90 % by their mid-forties
– like Jairus, she imagined what to do to get her healing
• and sure enough, when she touched Jesus’ cloak she was healed “immediately”
• but there was another “immediately” she hadn’t foreseen

Vv. 30-34, Jesus spoiled her plan for making a clean getaway

There is something I want to point out briefly
– both the woman and Jesus felt something happen in their bodies
• our nervous system registers everything we experience
○ emotions are mental states and physical sensations
○ but we tend to live in our heads and ignore or numb our bodies
– in scripture, the body registers emotional and spiritual states
• paying closer attention to what we experience in our bodies can
○ give us distance to observe the interaction between mind and body
○ brings our awareness into the here and now
– we can find help for training ourselves to be more sensitive to our bodies in the Psalms

Remember, in the story we are still held in suspense
– urgency is driving the plot — and the disciples
• their frustration is obvious when they respond to Jesus,
“You see the crowd pressing in on You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’”
– but Jesus was insistent
• did he know who touched him? Could he have pointed her out?
– Jesus didn’t ask for his own sake, but as God had asked in Eden, “Where are you?”
• it was a question that had to be asked–one that the one being asked had to answer
• a person cannot do business with God incognito
○ cannot get something from him and remain hidden
○ the woman may have achieved her goal, but for Jesus to achieve his, it had to be personal

There were only two people there who knew what had happened
– it was hidden from everyone else
• why not just let her get away with it?
○ after all, Jesus had the crowd following him
○ and right beside him a VIP – of interest to everyone
• why embarrass this poor unknown woman, who no one cares about anyway?
– because she has to know she received a gift
○ that she didn’t steal her healing, that it wasn’t magic

Notice that both Jairus and the woman were after the same goal
– he wanted his daughter to “get well,” which is what the woman wanted for herself
• the Greek expression for “get well” is exactly the same for “get saved”
• now, neither Jairus nor the woman were thinking of “salvation by grace” (as Paul described it)

Fundamentalists have a way of reading Bible backwards
– they take the theological meaning of words in the New Testament and read that meaning back into those words when they appear in the Old Testament
• “salvation” in the Psalms consistently refers to a rescue that occurs in this life
○ sometimes it refers to deliverance from ill health, other times from enemies
• to evangelically minded fundamentalist, salvation is forgiveness of sins and escaping the final judgment and hell
○ salvation is used almost exclusively in reference to settling one’s eternal destiny
– we need a broader and more biblical understanding of salvation
• Jesus ministry is the “eternal salvation” of his followers (Mt. 16:20; Heb. 5:9)
○ “eternal” does not mean “future” – it is all of time and it is right now
– “sinners” is a one-dimensional view of humans
• we’re broken by lots of things
○ personal failures, disappointments, aches and pains
• Jesus is concerned with our salvation in terms of restoration to wholeness
• it begins and progresses significantly all through this life

Jesus stopped for her, because she was important to him
– as important as Jairus, as important as the sun and moon
• because there’s no one that is unimportant to him

Karl Rahner received a letter from a young man who had been visiting an old woman in a care facility each week prior to meeting with his Christian youth group. He was struck by fact she “was so embittered at what was going on there and also because of her age and especially because of her incredibly great personal suffering. This . . . was why patients who had been in beds next to each other hardly ever spoke to each other any more because they were suspicious. . . . After that I just couldn’t join in the singing: all this stuff of course seemed very nice, just like a dream, but in the end just the image of our own wishes, a pious pretend world.”

– but that old woman was exactly the person who touches Christ’s heart
• the reason he can’t ignore the woman and just walk on to his next appointment
• the broken, lonely and embittered souls touch his soul

Helmut Thielicke, “For one second she steps forward out of the crowd and the spotlight sweeps across her; the next moment she steps back and with equal swiftness disappears in the dark. . . . And yet whenever I read this story it stirs me in a special way. The wallflowers on the border of this remarkable book are often especially precious.”

– they are certainly precious to Jesus!

There’s one sad note in the woman’s story
– she wanted her miracle from Jesus, but not Jesus
– she sneaked in from margin and wanted only marginal contact (cf. Lk. 8:43)
• she had no idea of how much more Jesus had for her
○ he was able to save her, heal her and send her into “peace”
○ something she had not known in a long time
• her blessing lay in the fact, that the Lord would not allow her to sneak in and out
○ her interaction with Jesus had to be personal — it could not be anonymous
○ that is why, when Jesus spoke to her, he called her, “Daughter” — to make a connection

Vv. 35-43, The camera turns back to Jairus

In a sense, the suspense is broken when Jairus learns his daughter has died
– knowing Jairus’ faith needed a boost, Jesus told him, “Do not be afraid”
• it is only in 42 that we learn Jairus’ daughter was “twelve years old”
• this is an obvious link between the two stories
○ besides the fact that the two suffering females are referred to as “daughter”
– the sandwiched stories are related
• in literary terms, stories are sandwiched when one begins, is interrupted by another, and then concludes after the “inner” story has been told
– now we can see that Jairus and woman had same goal
• and they both pictured achieving their goal by the same means: through contact with Jesus

Conc: At first, it doesn’t look like Jesus is doing anything

He silently took off with Jairus, headed for his  home and his sick daughter
– but even when it seems like Jesus is idle, he is still full of power
• so if he is not taking hold of us, we can still take hold of him
○ lots of people were bumping into Jesus, but only one drew power from him
• whether Jesus lays his hands on us or we reach out to touch his coat,
○ it is personal contact with him that changes a life
– whatever we need to do to increase contact with Jesus, we must do it

Francois Fenelon wrote, “It does not require a great deal of time to love God, to renew ourselves in His presence, to lift up the heart to Him, or to adore Him in the depths of the heart, to offer Him what we do and what we suffer; this is the true ‘Kingdom of God within us,’ which nothing can disturb.”

Take thirty seconds and think about how you will have contact with Jesus this week
– then surrender yourself to also being his contact with others

One Comment

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  1. Ingrid Starrs / Jun 19 2014

    I’ve sat several times contemplating the story of the woman afflicted with blood but never thought of it as the meat sandwiched between the story of Jairus’ dying daughter daughter.

    Chuck, one of the beautiful things you’ve taught me about scripture is as I grow in character scripture keeps speaking to my spirit drawing me deeper and deeper in love.

    The woman was afflicted with blood. What is the metaphor for blood? Life force?

    Reminds me of the Last Supper when Jesus sat with his disciples and said, “ You must eat my flesh and drink my blood or you will have no life in you.”

    Did Jesus mean it literally? That we must eat his flesh and drink his blood? Or was he speaking metaphorically about divine intimacy, life lived to the fullest, with the Father and all creation?

    For twelve years the woman’s life force drained from her body. No one could help her. In spirit she had lost hope. Jairus’ daughter was dying. Her life force drained from her body. No one could help her. In spirit Jairus had lost hope. The young girl and Jairus are mirror images of the woman. If Jairus and the woman did not take action spiritual and physical death were imminent.

    Why did they turn to? Jesus.

    Because they have arrived at a crossroad, life had become unbearable. They had to make a choice. Take a risk. Do something different. Their suffering caused each of them to reach out, ask for help, move into the unknown beyond their comfort zone.

    This reminds me of a quote and I’m sure I’ll slaughter it and I can’t remember who said it but it goes something like this. “It’s not that we should seek after love but seek after all that holds from it.”

    Rumi has a poem. “The Guest House”

    This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
    A joy, a depression, a meanness, 
some momentary awareness comes 
as an unexpected visitor.
    Welcome and entertain them all! 

    Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
 who violently sweep your house
 empty of its furniture,
 still, treat each guest honorably.

    He may be clearing you out
 for some new delight.
    The dark thought, the shame, the malice, 
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
    Be grateful for whatever comes, because each has been sent 
as a guide from beyond.

    Why did the woman and Jaiuus turn to Jesus?

    Because Jesus helps us love our lives to the death. Celebrating in every breath of restoration. 🙂

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