April 3, 2016
A reminder to readers: We’re in the thick of a Sunday Voice Series by Dr. Timothy C. Tennent, a close friend, mentor and colleague of mine. He serves as the President of Asbury Theological Seminary among other posts he holds across the global church. This Sunday Voice Series will continue to cover the Gospel of Mark over the next few months.
When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake. Then one of the synagogue leaders, named Jairus, came, and when he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet. He pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” So Jesus went with him.
A large crowd followed and pressed around him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. 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. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.
At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”
“You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’”
But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”
While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?”
Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”
He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at him.
After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished.
In this passage, we see the intersection of two very different people. One was a highly respected Jewish leader with a known name (Jairus), rank, title (synagogue ruler), position, prestige, and so forth. The other is a woman who is unknown, with no title or position. In fact, far from being a synagogue ruler, she has an illness which renders her unclean and, therefore, she is prohibited from even entering the Temple. She has no access to God, the temple, priests or healing. She is the ultimate outsider. We’ve all heard of “shut ins,” but she was a “shut out.” Jairus, on the other hand, is repeatedly called the synagogue ruler. He would be like a bishop today. He was the ultimate insider.
But, there is a funny thing about people. It doesn’t matter whether you are rich and powerful or poor and helpless. We all stand helpless and needy before God. In this case, these two very different people had two twelve-year-old problems. The woman had been bleeding for twelve years. This bleeding was depleting her energy, and, indeed, her very life was pouring out of her. To make matters worse, she had spent all she had on doctors who were unable to help her. She was at the end of her rope. The synagogue ruler, despite his power and position, fell down at the feet of Jesus because his twelve-year-old daughter had died.
In this passage, we come face to face with the real power of the touch of Jesus Christ. The woman didn’t have the status to come up to Jesus directly and ask for his help like the synagogue ruler did. Instead, she just reached out and touched the hem of Jesus’ garment, and she was instantly healed. Jesus immediately stopped and said, “who touched me?” You will remember that they were in a big crowd of people. Peter said, Lord, how can you ask, “who touched me? Look at the crowd.” You see, for Peter, life is just a bunch of accidental contacts as they push and shove their way through life. But Jesus, on the other hand, is the most sensitive man who ever lived. He felt the full pain and suffering of a woman who only touched the very edge of his garment as he passed by. Augustine famously said, “Few are they who by faith touch him, multitudes are they who throng about him.”
In the Jewish world, if something unclean touched something clean, it made that clean thing unclean. If clean touched unclean, it became unclean; if unclean touched clean, then clean became unclean. But, something new is at work in Jesus Christ. His touch sets forth the great reversal. Rather than Jesus catching her illness, she catches Jesus’ health and wholeness. This is even more amazing as Jesus goes down to Jairus’ house and stands before the bed of the little twelve-year-old girl. Jesus touches the girl and says, “little girl, get up,” and she is raised from the dead!
There is a book by a Latin American Christian entitled, “The Three Mile Per Hour God.” The thrust of the book is that the reason most of us miss the Lord in our daily lives is that we are running and dashing through life, and God is moving at 3 miles per hour, which is the pace of walking. Jesus redeemed the entire world at three miles per hour. We never see Jesus running anywhere. There are hurting people all around us, and we have to slow down enough to feel their pain and suffering and be the voice or touch of Jesus into their lives.
- Who are the ‘shut outs’ in your world?
- How can you reach out and touch someone today in the full compassion of Jesus Christ?
The Sunday Daily Text through Mark’s Gospel is written by Timothy Tennent. Visit his blog here.