Mark 5: 21 – 43 Jesus raises a dead girl and heals a sick woman
When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered round him while he was by the lake. Then one of the synagogue leaders, named Jairus, came, and when he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet. 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.’ So Jesus went with him.
A large crowd followed and pressed round him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. 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. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, ‘If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.’ Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.
At once Jesus realised that power had gone out from him. He turned round in the crowd and asked, ‘Who touched my clothes?’
‘You see the people crowding against you,’ his disciples answered, ‘and yet you can ask, “Who touched me?” ’
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.’
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?’
Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, ‘Don’t be afraid; just believe.’
He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. He went in and said to them, ‘Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.’ 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. He took her by the hand and said to her, ‘Talitha koum!’ (which means ‘Little girl, I say to you, get up!’). Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat.
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These two healings are part of a sequence of four examples that Mark gives of the power and authority of Jesus.
Firstly, we have the calming of the storm. With two simple commands Jesus stills a fierce squall on Lake Galilee, calming both wind and waves. There is no way that such a thing could be achieved by human means, then or now. (Mark 4: 35 – 41)
Secondly, we have the healing of the demon-possessed man, a man whose mental illness was so severe that he had to live as an outcast from society. A single encounter with Jesus restored him to normality. This could not have been done by human power then; I suspect that, for all our medical advances, we could do very little to ease the man’s distress even today in the 21st century. (Mark 5: 1 – 20)
Thirdly, we have the miraculous healing of the woman with a haemorrhage. She had spent all she had on treatment, but if anything had grown worse with time. Her illness was incurable by her contemporaries. The power flowing from Jesus was so great that all the woman had to do was to touch his cloak in faith. (Mark 5: 24 – 34)
Finally, we have the raising of a girl from the dead. Healing miracles don’t come bigger than that. Neither the 1st century nor the 21st century can do much to heal someone who is physically dead; and yet Jesus did it with a touch, and a brief command to the girl. (Mark 5: 21 – 24, 35 – 43)
Four miracles that cannot be done by humanity either at the time or now. Unless I’m prepared to argue that all these miracles are completely fictitious, it’s hard to see how I can ignore them.
Even more important, though, is the purpose behind each miracle, and its outcome. The miracles are not just wonders; they preserve and restore life and health. The disciples don’t drown in the story – their lives are saved. The demon-possessed man is restored to health and to normal life in society. The woman with a haemorrhage – whose disease made her ritually unclean and therefore unable to participate fully in daily life – is healed, and as a result cleansed of her impurity; she can now do everything that other people do. Jairus’s daughter is literally restored to life.
These miracles show that not only is Jesus powerful, but that his every action is to heal broken humanity.
Thank you that Jesus came to restore humanity and make us whole. Help each one of us to play our part in that restoration.
In Jesus’ name, Amen