Today, we are looking back at the passage we read in two parts yesterday and the day before (Mark 5:21 – 43). Our question is, how do the two stories inform one another? Why are they told together?
First, from a story-teller’s point of view – the insertion of the second story implies a delay and builds suspense. Jairus comes to Jesus begging him to heal his sick child – Jesus is delayed by ministering to the bleeding woman – the suspense builds – the child dies. Jairus is expected to give up all hope, but he does not. The child is not just healed, she is raised from the dead.
Secondly, the stories are about faith, or believing. The woman believed Jesus could heal her; Jairus believed, even after being told the child was dead, that Jesus could heal her. Somehow, the effectiveness of Jesus’ power to heal is linked to the faith of those who come to him. Repeatedly, in the gospels, Jesus says to someone, “Your faith has made you well.” Think about this a moment – even if you went to a modern physician, if you did not believe that the treatment he/she proposes could be effective, how likely is it that it would be effective? But more-so, if we come to Jesus, we must believe – if we don’t believe, how can we even ask?
There is another word that occurs in both stories – translated as “healing” in various translations. But this is not the usual word for healing; this Greek word, “sozo”, is normally translated “save” in the New Testament. Jairus begged Jesus to come and lay hands on his daughter, so that she might be “saved and live”. The woman hopes that if she only touches Jesus’ garment, she will be “saved”. When she does touch him, and feels that she is healed – the word used is that commonly used for “healing”. But when she comes to Jesus in fear and trembling, falls down before him, and tells him her story, Jesus says “Daughter, your faith has saved you”. Jesus also tells her to “go in peace”, except, here the word is “shalom”, which means more than “peace” – it means “wholeness”, “completion”, “salvation”, as well as “peace”.
In both stories, Jesus shows compassion – he is willing to interrupt his schedule, or travels, to go with Jairus to help his daughter. Jairus was a man of importance, a synagogue leader, and yet, Jesus interrupts that mission, to heal a woman who is an outcast, whose life has become unbearable. He “saves” both, because he feels for them. The child is Jairus’ daughter, and we see that he loves her, and we see the tenderness when Jesus takes the child’s hand and raises her up, when he tells the parents to go get her something to eat. But Jesus also points out that the woman is a “daughter” of God – the outcast, the rejected, the one who is almost without hope, who sees Jesus as a last hope – she too is loved by God, a love shown by Jesus.
We are “saved” or healed and made whole, by faith – as Paul said in his letter to the Ephesians, (Ephesians 2:8) “8For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God—”