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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Monday, March 5, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | Mark 5:21–43

When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet and 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.”

So he went with him. And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?’” He looked all around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

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?” But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. When he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” And 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. He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!” And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat. (NRSV)

In this passage, Jesus performs two miraculous healings. These events appear to be intentionally intertwined by the gospel writer, perhaps to make a specific point. First, Jairus desperately pleads with Jesus to come lay his hands on his twelve-year old daughter who is gravely ill so that she could live a full life. On the way to his house, a nameless woman who has been suffering with hemorrhaging for twelve years approaches Jesus and touches his garment. She is healed and told by Jesus that her faith has made her well. In the meantime, Jairus’ daughter dies. Nevertheless, Jesus goes to where she lays, takes her by the hand and tells her to get up. She is brought back to life!

Jairus and the nameless woman have very different standings in society. Jairus is a leader in the synagogue while the woman is poor and ritually unclean. However, I am struck by how much the two have in common. Both are desperate and afraid, but still clinging onto a remarkable faith.

While the healing of the woman was immediate upon her encounter with Jesus, she had been suffering, waiting for relief, for twelve years. It seems like Jairus didn’t know this; I am sure he grew quite impatient as they weaved around crowds of people and having to stop for Jesus to heal and converse with someone else. I bet Jairus became dismayed when people came to tell him that his daughter had died.

The good news is Jesus was never dismayed. In the midst of suffering and fear, it is certainly hard to be patient for God to act. Sometimes, the timing of God’s work of healing and the alleviation of suffering even seems unfair. Jesus told Jairus not to be afraid, but believe. These miraculous stories remind us that we belong to God. God hears our petitions. Through illness, suffering, and even death, God, through the person of Jesus, brings healing and new life. God keeps giving the gift of life.

Holy God, keep my faith strong. Walk beside me when I feel weak and vulnerable. Remind me that you are making all things new. Amen.

Written by Ken Nicholson, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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