Kind and Powerful

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Mark 5:21-43 (Woman with Bleeding; Jairus’ Daughter)

INTRODUCTION: We are continuing in our series from the gospel of Mark, and right now we are in a section that records four miracles of Jesus. We have already looked at Jesus calming the storm, and Jesus casting the demons out of the demoniac. Today we will look at two more: Jesus healing the woman with bleeding and then raising Jairus’ daughter from the dead. Taken together, these four miracles show Jesus’ power over nature, over Satan, over sickness and over death.

Today’s passage is an interesting one because it contains yet another “sandwich story.” We saw this earlier where Mark likes to tell one story within another. And when Mark does this, it is because he sees the two stories as connected, and he wants us to look for the connection. In this case Jesus performs one miracle for one person while he is on his way to working a second miracle for the other person. The gospel writers Matthew, Mark and Luke all report this double miracle, each adding their own distinctive emphases, but Mark gives us the most detailed account of them all. (Read and pray)

Kind and powerful. There are some people who think of God as a kindly old grandfather. There are others who think of him as some type of powerful monster. Neither, of course, is right. In this passage we meet two people who encountered Jesus in one day. We have a man named Jairus, and then we have this woman who is not named. One had a good understanding of Jesus’ kindness. The other had a good understanding of Jesus’ power. But both of them grew to know Jesus in a deeper and fuller way that afternoon. Let us look at their story together.

I. Jairus appeals to Jesus’ kindness. (verses 21-24)

In verse 21 Jesus stands by the banks of the Sea of Galilee. Once again, he is very popular with all the people at this point in his ministry. He has been teaching them and healing them. Now a large crowd gathers around him waiting to see what he will do next.

In verse 22 we meet the first of our two people who encounter Jesus in this passage – the man, Jairus. Jairus is an important man in the community. He is a synagogue ruler, which means that he sat as an elder on the board or council of the synagogue. The synagogue was the central gathering place for the Jews in a community and so was basic to Jewish social and religious life. The ruling elders were not priests, but laymen who looked after the synagogue and helped to supervise the worship services. They were prominent men in the congregation, and so Jairus was a man of fairly high status and influence. But Jairus had a problem that he could not solve on his own. His daughter was sick and lay at home dying. The word Mark uses to describe her condition means that she was at the point of death. We do not know how long she had been sick or the exact nature of her illness. But whether this had been a long drawn out illness or a rapidly progressive disease, the sickness had run its course and she was now in the final stages of dying.

Jairus is there in the crowd and when he sees Jesus, he comes to him and falls at his feet and pleads with him: “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” Jairus is desperate. His daughter is at the very point of death and he has run out of options. Let me tell you, when you have run out of options, Jesus is the right person to come to. It’s even better if you come to him first, before you run out options. But if you are out of options this morning, let me encourage you to come to Christ. He will help you. He will not turn you away. Jesus said, “Whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” (John 6:37) Jairus was all out of options, and he came to Jesus.

Dropping his dignity and pride, he falls at Jesus’ feet and begs for his daughter. Notice he calls her “my little daughter.” She is actually not that little anymore. She is twelve years old, close to marrying age in that culture, but she is still his little daughter to him. It is a term of affection. The gospel of Luke tells us that she is his only daughter. And if you are a parent, or even if you are not, this scene is a heartbreaker. Jairus is literally pleading for his daughter’s life. He has heard about Jesus and about Jesus’ healing ministry in and around Capernaum. And so he throws himself upon the kindness and compassion of Jesus and begs him, “Please come and heal my daughter!” Jairus knew that Jesus was kind, and he had some understanding of Jesus’ power. But he was going to learn about Jesus’ power in a whole new way before this day was over.

The crowd probably stirred with excitement when Jesus agreed to go with him. Finally they were going to get some more action! This is what they had been waiting for. Jesus was going to heal someone. So the whole crowd follows him, pressing close about him, almost crushing him along the way.

II. The woman appeals to Jesus’ power. (verses 25-34)

And it is as Jesus makes his way to Jairus’ house that we meet the second person in the narrative. In this large crowd of people there is a woman who also longed to see Jesus heal someone that day, in this case, herself. Mark tells us in verse 25 that she “had been subject to bleeding for twelve years.” And so her problem had begun about the same time that Jairus’ daughter was born. Perhaps this was one of the connections that Mark saw in this double miracle.

As with Jairus’ daughter we do not know the exact nature of this woman’s condition, but we know that it would have caused her a lot of suffering and anguish over the years. Any type of bleeding would also have made her ceremonially unclean, and so she was unable to participate in the regular life and worship of the Jewish community. Her condition was serious enough that she had tried to find relief. In fact she had gone to doctor after doctor, but no one could help her. Instead of getting better, Mark tells us that she just got progressively worse. Not only that but she had spent all her money on the doctors and now she had nowhere to turn. Just like Jairus she too had run out of options. And just like Jairus she decided to turn to Jesus with her problem.

She had heard about Jesus, and she knew that Jesus was powerful, powerful enough to heal her, but apparently she wasn’t so sure about his kindness. Yes this man was plenty powerful, but can you trust him? Strength without mercy can be a terrifying prospect. Afraid to come right out and ask Jesus for healing, she struggles through the dense crowd, sneaks up behind him, stretches out her hand . . . and touches his cloak. Matthew and Luke tell us in their gospels that she just touched the very edge of his cloak, the hem of his garment. And immediately her bleeding stopped. She received a complete and instant healing. Can you imagine the joy in this woman’s heart when she realized that she was healed? For twelve years she had suffered and now she was finally free. She probably was getting ready to sneak away and celebrate.

But then suddenly Jesus stops. You can just imagine the whole crowd jostling to a stop along with him. Jesus turns around and speaks into the crowd, “Who touched me?” The disciples don’t understand what Jesus is talking about. They say to Jesus in verse 31: “You see the people crowding against you, and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’” Pretty bold of the disciples when you think about it. They are basically rebuking Jesus. They are scolding him, chiding him for his statement. The disciples often forgot their place with Jesus, that he was the master and they were the followers. But before we are too quick to judge them, we should take stock of our own lives. How often do we forget our place with Christ? He is Lord, and we are his servants.

But Jesus was not talking about some random person bumping up against him in the crowd. When the woman touched him, she had exercised faith, and Jesus knew at once that power had gone out from him. He felt the healing power take place as the woman reached out and touched his garment. What the woman had hoped to do secretly was immediately known by Christ.

You might wonder why Jesus would even bother to ask who touched him. As the Son of God wouldn’t he have known? I believe so. I believe Jesus knew all about this woman and her suffering. And his heart rejoiced in her healing. But I believe that Jesus was also saddened by the incident. This woman knew his power. She had great faith in his power and ability to heal. But she did not yet know his kindness. Jesus wanted this woman to know both his power and his kindness. And so he gives her the opportunity to identify herself. He asks out loud, “Who touched me?”

The woman’s joy over being healed quickly turned to fear. The jig was up. She had been discovered. She was found out. She probably hesitated about coming forward at first. Verse 32 tells us that “Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it.” This indicates that there was some passing of time. But finally, trembling with fear, she comes before this strange man with such awesome powers, and falls at his feet, even as Jairus had done a short time before. I imagine the crowd grew deathly quiet, straining to hear every word. Still trembling, the woman tells Jesus in front of everybody why she touched him and how she had been healed. Mark says, “She told him the whole truth.”

Pause for a moment and consider how intimidating this would have been for this poor woman. What thoughts do you think ran through her mind as she knelt there before Jesus? “What will Jesus do to me now? Will he rebuke me? Will he punish me? What if he takes away the healing and I start bleeding all over again?” You see, she knew Jesus’ power. But she did not yet know his kindness. Trembling with fear she waits for Jesus’ response.

And when Jesus responds, he speaks kindly to her. Verse 34: “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” Jairus had just come to Jesus pleading for his own daughter. Now Jesus calls this woman “Daughter.” This is the only time recorded in all the gospels that Jesus ever addresses a woman as “daughter.” It is a term of loving-kindness and affection, meant to ease this woman’s fears. “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace. Be freed from your suffering” Such wonderful words of kindness, compassion and comfort. This woman had known Jesus’ power. Now she also knew his kindness. We do not hear anything more about this woman in Scripture, but we can rest assured that she never forgot Jesus and what he did for her that afternoon.

III. Jesus raises Jairus’ daughter from the dead. (verses 35-43)

While Jesus is still speaking to her, some men suddenly push their way through the crowd. They have come from Jairus’ house with some bad news. Verse 35: “Your daughter is dead,” they say. “Why bother the teacher any more?” Jairus knew that Jesus was kind. And he knew that Jesus could heal. But he did not yet know the full extent of Jesus’ power. These messengers from Jairus’ house certainly did not understand Jesus’ power. He had been kind enough to make the trip, but now it was too late. And so they ask, “Why bother the teacher any more? He can’t help us now.” Ignoring the messengers Jesus says to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” At this point Jesus separates Peter, James and John out from the crowd and they continue on to Jairus’ house.

When they get there they are confronted by yet another crowd of people, a large group of mourners, weeping and wailing and playing flutes. These were professional mourners who were hired to come and lend support and basically make a whole lot of noise on behalf of the family. Jairus’ family would also be there mourning along with the hired mourners. The weeping and wailing of the hired mourners created a context where the family would be better able to give full vent to their own emotions without standing out or feeling awkward. Mark calls it all a “commotion.” It is an appropriate word that means “a loud noise or uproar.”

In verse 39 Jesus addresses these noisy mourners: “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” Jesus did not mean that she was not really dead. He used the same words when he spoke about Lazarus who had been dead and buried for four days in the ground. Jesus used the word “sleep” here as a way of saying that this death was not permanent, that he would raise this girl from the dead as easily as awakening someone from their sleep. Of course the mourners did not understand this. I am guessing they did not know Jesus’ kindness or his power. Mark tells us in verse 40 that “they laughed at him.” Big mistake – Jesus puts them out of the house and now only the father, the mother and the three disciples enter the room where the deceased child lies in her bed.

And together they approach the child. I can just imagine the disciples’ hearts sinking when they see the girl lying there. The messengers were right. It is too late. The child is dead. Her breathing has stopped. There is no life left within her. Jesus walks over to the bed and takes her by the hand. He speaks to her in Aramaic, her native language, familiar words she would understand, probably words her own mother had used many mornings to wake her daughter from sleep: “Talitha koum – little girl, I say to you, get up.”

The disciples watch in amazement as her breathing returns. She opens her eyes and looks around the room and sees Jesus and the disciples and her parents. She gets up, and starts walking around. Everyone in the room is completely astonished. Then Jesus tells the parents, “Fix her a snack, get her something to eat – she’s been through enough already!” It is hard to imagine what Jairus and his wife must have been feeling at this point. They had lost their “little daughter,” and now they had her back again. Jairus had known that Jesus was kind. Now he also knew Jesus’ power in a whole new way.

CONCLUSION: One afternoon, two people. One doubted Jesus’ kindness; the other doubted Jesus’ power. Both came to know Jesus more fully. The question I would leave you with this morning is this: “How do you view Jesus? Which do you need to learn to trust more, his kindness or his power?”

If you trust Christ’s power but doubt his kindness, your attitude will be like this. “Lord, I know you are all-mighty and all-powerful, but do you really care about me? Do you notice me and care about my needs? I know you are powerful to work in other people’s lives, but I don’t know if you will really work in mine.” Does that describe you this morning? Do you doubt Christ’s kindness?

Or, if you trust Christ’s kindness but doubt his power, your attitude will be like this. “Lord, I know you love me, but I really don’t see how you can get me out of this one.” Or, perhaps, “Lord, I’ve failed you miserably. I know you love me and forgive me, I don’t doubt your kindness, but I don’t believe you can do anything substantial with my life now.” Does that describe you? Do you doubt Christ’s power this morning?

In this world we all know some people who are kind and others who have power. But in the person of Jesus Christ you find both – unlimited power and unlimited kindness all wrapped up in one person.

We read Psalm 62 earlier in the service. Psalm 62:11-12 says this: “One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard: that you, O God, are strong, and that you, O Lord, are loving.” “O God you are strong” – that’s God’s power; “O Lord you are loving” – that’s God’s kindness.

The kindness and power of God. That’s really what the gospel is all about, isn’t it. The loving-kindness of God expressed in Jesus’ death on the cross, that we may be forgiven. The power of God expressed in Jesus’ resurrection, that we may share a new life in Christ. My prayer this morning is that you may know Jesus in all of his fullness, as the kind and powerful Son of God.

© Ray Fowler

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