Wednesday, 13 August 2008

A reflection on Mark 5:21-43

Reading through this section of Mark 5 can leave the reader with as many questions as answers.

Here are two that I've been considering:

- why is Jesus so keen to talk to the woman after she touches his cloak to be healed?
- why does Jesus send everyone out (except the three disciples and the girl's mother and father) before raising Jairus' daugher?

I wonder if the answers to these two questions are linked (not surprising, given Mark presents this account as a '24'-style 'split screen' account where we're supposed to notice the links between the events).

Firstly, consider how the woman might have gone away from her encounter with Christ had he never spoken to her. It's possible that she might have gone away with any number of misunderstandings - perhaps that it was the magic of Jesus' cloak rather than her own faith and Jesus' power that led to her healing, perhaps that Jesus was indifferent to her pain and suffering. Perhaps, above all, she would have never have heard Jesus say that she could now experience the peace and joy of healing and restoration. Jesus wants to tie together the healing of the woman and what that means for the woman.

The necessary action as Jesus prepared to raise Jairus' daughter was different. Jesus' actions were so radical that, at the time, the knowledge that Jesus could raise the dead might have led to his own death too soon. And so Jesus tells the crowds that the girl is only sleeping, not dead. Everyone is then sent away - apart from Peter, James and John and Jairus and his wife. They alone are allowed to see at this point that Jesus can raise the dead. Why? Because Jesus is revealing to the disciples his own identity. But why do Jairus and his wife stay? Surely the same reason as why he wanted to speak to the bleeding woman. Jesus didn't want the girl's parents to merely think that they were deluded (that somehow Jesus was right: the girl really was asleep and not dead, surely the rumour that did the rounds), but that their faith was well-placed, even that he had power and authority over death.

The thing that links these two stories is that Jesus not only has authority over disease and death, but that he wants those who place faith in him to know that he alone (not his clothing or his magical skills) has this authority. He is the Christ. Those who place faith in him can know the peace and joy of a relationship with him.

1 comment:

Dave K said...

Thanks for your thoughts Peter. Interesting.

Also interesting that the Jairus passage sandwiches is the passage showing his care of the unclean women who suffered discharges. Jesus was there for them both because they both needed him. Both the high and the low are under the curse, but Jesus has time for both of them.

A great crowd was at both events but Jesus was not hunting his own fame but the sick.