The Woman Who Never Gave Up and Father Who Couldn’t

Mark 5:25—34

We are all familiar with the story of the woman “with the issue of blood.”  What most of us don’t realize is that the truly profound nature of this miracle can only be understood in its context to the other miracle, the healing of Jairus’ daughter.

These two miracles are unique in all of Scripture because one interrupts the progress of the other without stopping its progress.  The first miracle represents those who seek for help, the second those who must receive help with the help of others.  One miracle demonstrates Christ’s power over disease, the other His power over death.

1.  A desperate father, verses 21—24

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. Then one of the synagogue rulers, named Jairus, came there. Seeing Jesus, he fell at his feet 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.” So Jesus went with him.

The story opens with Jesus by a lake; Jesus was often seen walking by a lake.  As was typical during His early days of ministry, a large crowd of people gathered around Him.  Jesus was immensely popular during these days, largely because of His miracles.  Many of the people who followed Jesus around thsse days were mere “curiosity seekers,” but Jairus was different.  Mark writes that Jairus “fell at Jesus’ feet.”  This very humble action was really a manifestation of deep respect for Jesus.  Unlike many in the crowd who likely wanted to see another miracle, this man sought Jesus Himself, with the hope that Jesus would be able to help his ailing daughter.

What is interesting about Jairus is that he was no ordinary man; he was a “ruler of the synagogue.”  He was a devoted person; we might consider him a sort of “deacon,” or a “chairman of the congregation.”

As a measure of his faith, it is remarkable indeed that this father would leave his dying daughter to pursue the help of a Man he did not know personally or with any assurance this Man would be inclined to help.

It should surprise no one that our Lord would interrupt His teaching to go with Jairus.  Clearly, Jesus saw into this man’s heart and he saw a measure of faith.

2.  A miracle interrupted, verses 25—34

The second half of verse 25, which is the beginning of new paragraph really, connects what is about to happen with the preceding story.

A large crowd followed and pressed around him.

The large crowd was not remarkable but it did pose a problem.  It “pressed around” Jesus, meaning this crowd was literally preventing Jesus from walking to Jairus’ house.   But the crowd also provided an opportunity of one of its number, namely, the woman who had been bleeding uncontrollably for a dozen years.  She thought that because of the size of the crowd she would be able to do what she wanted to do and get away undetected—

Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet.  (Luke 8:47a)

The contrast between the woman’s faith and the father’s faith can hardly be missed:  hers was a faith concealed, while his was a very public faith.  Nobody but Jesus knew this woman had faith at the moment she touched him, but nobody could miss the leader of the synagogue falling on his face before Christ!   Here’s a lesson:  faith takes many forms and the Lord honors all expressions of genuine faith, whether very quiet or loudly demonstrative.

The woman’s illness was as old as the child who at that very moment lay dying.  Here is another connection these two miracles have.  In a sense, these two narratives may be viewed as one, with the interruption of a miracle adding all the more glory to the other.

The story of this woman appears in all three Synoptics.  In Matthew, the story is given all of three verses (9:20—22); Luke devotes nine verses to the incident (8:40—48).  Oddly enough, Mark, whose Gospel is considered to be a Gospel of action, spreads the story over a total of ten verses.

But each account is slightly different and provides important details.  In Matthew, Jesus turns to her and speaks to her—

Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed from that moment.  (9:22)

So, Jesus then, on His way to heal a little girl, is interrupted by this very pathetic and desperate woman.   The fact that Jesus was interrupted in His ministry was nothing new. Many times during earthly ministry He was interrupted; while teaching (Mark 2:1), while talking to His friends (Mark 8:31; 14:27; Luke 12:12; etc.); while He was trying to sleep (Mark 4:38, 39) and even while He was praying (Mark 1:35).  The fact that none of these interruptions, including this one, deterred Him from His work showed that He was truly a Divine Man.  What we might call an “interruption” was for Jesus an excuse for another teaching or miracle or a chance to minister to the needs of someone else.

All of us, as servants of Christ, should be keenly aware of the “interruptions” that confront us all day long.  How many of them are really “divine appointments” that we all too often miss because we are so busy doing our own things?  How many times has the Gospel gone unheard by some desperate soul because we didn’t take the time to share it?  Fortunately, for this woman, Jesus was not as selfish as we are.

Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.   At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”   (Mark 5:29, 30)

Not only had something happened to the woman when she touched Jesus, something happened to Him!  Healing “power” had left His body and flowed into hers.  He honored her less than perfect faith, and rewarded her by restoring her to perfect health.  What happened next, though confusing, makes perfect sense.

But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” (verses 32—24)

Did Jesus really not know whom He healed?  Of course He knew; Matthew’s account attests to that fact.  Why did Jesus make such big deal the whole incident?  Our Lord was giving this poor woman the opportunity to change “faith concealed” to “faith revealed.”  She needed to make it clear to everybody that it was not superstition that drove her to seek Jesus, but it was her faith and His power that resulted in her healing.  Thus many more people would be made aware of what up to this point only two people knew.

3.  Finishing the job, verses 35—43

Meanwhile, the clock was ticking and messengers from Jairus’ house came to Jairus and Jesus with bad news indeed—

While Jesus was still speaking, some men came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher any more?”  (verse 35)

These messengers sound a lot like some Christians!   When all hope seems lost the first people to give up and throw in the towel are often the very people who should know better!  Imagine thinking for one moment that God functions according to our timetable!  How arrogant is that?

Then Jesus did was Jesus does best:  He ignored the bad news!  With a majestic and divine calmness our Lord refused to listen to the bearers of this doom and gloom report.  And note this:  He encouraged Jairus to do the same thing!

Of course, Jairus was afraid, but take special note of Jesus’ remedy for fear:

“Don’t be afraid; just believe.”  (verse 36b)

Make no mistake about it:  it takes something positive to drive out something negative!   Recall what Paul wrote to his friends in Rome—

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.  (Romans 12:21)

The encouragement was obviously heeded.  Upon entering the house, Jesus and those with Him were greeted with a great commotion—

“Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at him.  (verses 39, 40)

In all likelihood these people were a mixture of family and professional mourners that were common during this era.  Their lack of faith and disrespect for Jesus was jarring indeed.  Such an attitude goes beyond a mere lack of faith; these people were actually hostile in mocking Jairus’ faith.  God cannot work in such an atmosphere, so Jesus emptied the room of the poor fools who walked by sight and not by faith.

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.  (verse 40b)

Accompanied by those He could trust, Jesus went in and, like the bleeding woman before, healed the little girl completely.  At this juncture, Barclay observes succinctly—

The great fact of the Christian life is that that which looks completely impossible with men is possible with God.

Upon completion of the miracle, Jesus issued two orders:

He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this  (verse 43)

Of course, it would have been difficult for anybody to keep quiet about this!  Why would Jesus tell one person to confess openly about her healing only to tell others to keep it quiet?  Remember who met Jesus at Jairus’ home: faithless, professional mourners.  It was their job to perform an act on cue.  Who would ever believe them?

[He] told them to give her something to eat.  (verse 43b)

What an amazing thing for the God of the universe to notice:  a little girl who was hungry.  At once we are struck by the notion that immediately after raising this girl from the brink of death, Jesus knew she would need a bite to eat.

Truly our Lord is concerned about the great big things in life:  a disease that caused a woman to bleed for 12 years and a 12 year girl about to breathe her last breath.  But at the same time, He is concerned about smaller things:  making sure a little girl didn’t miss lunch due to the middle of ruckus He Himself was responsible for, and ensuring that the one who received such a miraculous healing should tell somebody about it.

Such people were worthy of our Lord’s commendation.

(c)  2010 WitzEnd

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