21 When Jesus had crossed again in the boat* to the other side, a great crowd gathered round him; and he was by the lake. 22Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet 23and begged him repeatedly, ‘My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.’ 24So he went with him.
And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. 25Now there was a woman who had been suffering from haemorrhages for twelve years. 26She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. 27She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28for she said, ‘If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.’ 29Immediately her haemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, ‘Who touched my clothes?’ 31And his disciples said to him, ‘You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, “Who touched me?” ’ 32He looked all round to see who had done it. 33But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. 34He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.’
35 While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say, ‘Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?’ 36But overhearing* what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, ‘Do not fear, only believe.’ 37He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. 38When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. 39When he had entered, he said to them, ‘Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.’ 40And they laughed at him. Then he put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. 41He took her by the hand and said to her, ‘Talitha cum’, which means, ‘Little girl, get up!’ 42And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. 43He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.
Once again, we have a place where Mark has “sandwiched” one story within another. We will look at the stories, one at a time, and then will talk about how they fit together.
Jesus and the disciples have crossed over the lake again, and again there is a large crowd. (Remember, we said that “crowd” is an active character in Mark’s gospel.) They are met by a leader of the synagogue named Jairus, but we will return to Jairus’ story. First, let’s look at the interruption. Jesus is going with Jairus, but the crowd follows, pressing in on all sides. There is a woman in the crowd – she has been suffering for 12 years, with some form of bleeding. Most authorities agree that “bleeding” here means some form of menstrual bleeding, which would have made the woman continually unclean. She had been to all sorts of physicians, and had spent everything, but was no better – was, in fact, getting worse. And then one day she heard about Jesus, that he could heal with a touch, and she believed! This must be a man of God! And so, when he was coming through her village she couldn’t believe it – now was her chance. She wouldn’t even have to talk to him – she, who had been unclean all those years, was not worthy of speaking to him; if she could just get close enough she could touch the hem of his garment and she would be made well! She knew it! He would not even know that he had been touched by someone who was unclean – there was no harm in that, surely? And so, she worked her way into the crowd, and through the crowd, until she touched the hem of his garment. But Jesus did know! The woman was immediately healed, and Jesus felt the power that went from him to heal her. He looked around, asking, “Who touched me?” The disciples thought that a little silly – after all, the crowd was heavy and they were all being jostled from all sides. How could Jesus wonder who touched him? But Jesus continued to look around, and his gaze fell on the woman, and she came forward, trembling. Frightened, she fell down before him and told her story.
Jesus could have gone on, accepting that someone had been healed, but he wanted to meet that person. He wanted to love this woman; he wanted to hear her story. She came to Jesus thinking herself unworthy even of speaking to him to ask for his help. Now she is telling him her story; and, now, she is healed. The woman is healed twice in this story – once, by touching Jesus’ robe, she is healed physically; and again, by telling her story, seeing Jesus respond with love rather than censure, she is healed emotionally and spiritually. Jesus tells her to go in peace – he calls her daughter – he says her faith has made her well.
Whoever we are, no matter how much we have suffered, or how much we have sinned, Jesus will look on us with compassion. He will call us daughter, or son, and he will love us, and tell us to go in peace.
a bit of shoreline along the Sea of Galilee