An Interruption to an Interruption (Mark 5:21-43)


Mark 5.21–43 tells the interconnected stories of two miracles: (1) the healing of a woman with a twelve-year-long hemorrhage and (2) the resurrection of Jairus’ little daughter.

What do these miracles teach us about Jesus?

First, and very obviously, they teach us that Jesus has the power to heal. Jesus has power over sickness and death, as the stories of the woman and the young girl make clear. Furthermore, Jesus has power over the natural and supernatural realms, as seen by his calming of the storm (Mark 4.35–41) and exorcism of the Gerasene demoniac (5.1–20).

Second, Jesus’ power to heal is holistic. Pay close attention to the story of the woman with the twelve-year-long hemorrhage. According to Mark, in addition to her illness, she “had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse.” Her problem had physical, emotional, and financial dimensions. It also had spiritual and social dimensions, however. What Mark does not state explicitly, but what the careful reader knows, is that this woman was ritually “unclean” according to the Law, and she rendered unclean anyone she touched (Lev. 15.25–33). How long had she felt ashamed of her condition? How long had she been unable to experience human touch? We do not know. What we do know is that when Jesus healed her physical illness, he also healed her emotions, ended the medical draining of her finances, restored her to spiritual “cleanness,” and reconnected her to normal human society. “Go in peace,” he said, “and be freed from your suffering.”

Third, Jesus’ power to heal reverses the flow of contamination. When someone is sick, we fear catching the disease. According to the Law of Moses, when someone is ritually unclean, anyone who touches that person becomes unclean as well. In the two stories we’re considering today, both the woman with the twelve-year-long hemorrhage and the dead girl were ritually unclean (Lev. 15.25–33; Num. 19.11, 14). When the woman pushed her way through the crowd to touch Jesus, she rendered unclean everyone she touched, but not Jesus. Nor did Jesus become unclean when he took Jairus’ little daughter “by the hand.” Why? Because Jesus decontaminates whatever he touches, physically and spiritually. I think Jesus’ example of physically touching people is a marvelous model for us to follow. When people are sick—of AIDS, for example—we should not feel afraid to touch them, for this is what Jesus would do if he was in our place.

Finally, Jesus makes his power to heal available at all times. My dad likes to say that Mark 5.21–43 is the story of an interruption of an interruption. Jesus was teaching the crowd when Jairus interrupted him with news of his little daughter’s parlous condition. Jesus was on his way to Jairus’ house when the hemorrhaging woman interrupted his journey and touched him. Time management techniques have taught us that every activity needs to find its appointed day and hour. Jesus never made appointments, or rather, he never let his appointments interrupt an opportunity to help people. Neither should we.

The first step in healing is simply being available to others so that God can use you as his agent of bring wholeness to others.

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