An Important Man and an Anonymous Woman

And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about him, and he was beside the sea. Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet and implored him earnestly, saying, “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.”” (Mark 5:21–23, ESV)

Mark does something interesting as we take up the third and fourth miracles of Christ here in Mark 4.35-5.43.  He describes a man named Jairus coming to Jesus to ask him to heal his daughter, who is at the point of death.  Jairus is “one of the rulers of the synagogue” and so very well known in his area because he is a religious leader. We could compare him in importance to the mayor of a town in our culture, someone everyone knows, someone who has a lot of influential friends. Jesus turns to go with Jairus.

Then Mark inserts another incident.  He splits the story of Jairus in two and inserts an encounter that Jesus has with an anonymous woman along the way to see Jairus daughter.  Indeed, the ESV title for this section of Mark is: Jesus Heals a Woman and Jairus’s Daughter.  Why does Mark do this?

The quick answer is that we do not know for sure because Mark doesn’t tell us.  There are a couple of clues however.  Remember that to Jairus, time is of the essence [though not to Jesus, or rather to Jesus also, but in exactly the opposite way from Jairus].  His baby girl is at the point of death and if Jesus doesn’t hurry along, she might be dead when they arrive.  Instead of proceeding in haste, Jesus suddenly turns around in a crowd that is “thronging” him, jostling him, no doubt touching him over and over and asks “Who touched me?”  Jairus is in a hurry, Jesus seems to feel no such sense of urgency.

Secondly, here is what we know about the woman who touched Jesus:

  • She is suffering from “a discharge of blood,” meaning the loss of blood through menstrual bleeding.
  • She has had this malady for 12 years
  • She has tried many remedies, none of which have worked.
  • She has only become worse
  • She has spent all that she had

This woman is unnamed, she is unclean according to Jewish Law because of her bleeding, and she is poor, all her money has been spent trying to heal her malady.  Yet, Jesus has this amazing encounter with her in the midst of a pushing and shoving crowd, while Jairus waits impatiently.  Jairus, the important, respected person, must wait, while Jesus heals this unnamed, unimportant, unclean woman.  Think about that for a moment.

These categories of people who are respected, and people who are not, of people who are wealthy and those who are poor, of men as over against women, Jesus upends all of them.  He deals with the individual, and their social status, wealth, gender, and ability to influence the surrounding population have no bearing at all on how he treats the individual.

We could learn something from Jesus.

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