Christ’s Power Over Every Need
The Gospel of Mark Sermon Series
Miracles Part 2: Power Over Sickness and Death
“A pastor I know, Stephey Bilynskyj, starts each confirmation class with a jar full of beans. He asks his students to guess how many beans are in the jar, and on a big pad of paper writes down their estimates. Then, next to those estimates, he helps them make another list: Their favorite songs. When the lists are complete, he reveals the actual number of beans in the jar. The whole class looks over their guesses, to see which estimate was closest to being right. Bilynskyj then turns to the list of favorite songs. “And which one of these is closest to being right?” he asks. The students protest that there is no “right answer”; a person’s favorite song is purely a matter of taste. Bilynskyj, who holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from Notre Dame asks, “When you decide what to believe in terms of your faith, is that more like guessing the number of beans, or more like choosing your favorite song?” Always, Bilynskyj says, from old as well as young, he gets the same answer: Choosing one’s faith is more like choosing a favorite song. When Bilynskyj told me this, it took my breath away. “After they say that, do you confirm them?” I asked him. “Well,” smiled Bilynskyj, “First I try to argue them out of it.”
My Little Daughter (vv. 21-24a)
21 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. 22 Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet 23 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.” 24 And he went with him.
Having healed the Gerasene Demoniac and sending 2,000 pigs into the sea, Jesus was asked to leave the village across the lake by a crowd, and now they land back on the shore, and crowds once again surround him.
As we know from previous chapters in Mark, Jesus would address the crowds at the seashore, or even in a boat pulled off the shore. This was another great opportunity to teach and preach to the “great crowd gathered about him.” But “one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus” came and fell at his feet, and earnestly asked for help for his little daughter, who is about to die.
“Rulers of the synagogue” were laymen whose responsibility were administrative, not priestly, and included such things as looking after the building and supervising the worship (such as inviting people to speak).
(v. 23) “My little daughter is at the point of death” – Jairus is doing what any desperate parent would do, he falls at Jesus’ feet, he uses the term little daughter to express how important she is to him.
It would seem that Jesus’ ministry impact would be with the great crowd, but he left them to minister to one family.
My Daughter’s Faith (vv. 24b-34)
And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. 25 And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, 26 and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. 27 She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. 28 For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” 29 And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30 And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?” 31 And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’” 32 And he looked around to see who had done it. 33 But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. 34 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
The woman mentioned here had “a discharge of blood for twelve years” and in an effort to be healed she went to many physicians, who had her do all sorts of things that caused her to “suffer[ed] much under” their care. So not only does she suffer under the physicians, she has spent all the money she had, and the issue has grown worse, not better.
She had paid money to receive instructions like, “carrying the ashes of an ostrich egg in a cloth.” Another instruction given would have been, “Set the woman in a place where. Two ways meet, and let her hold a cup of wine in her right hand, and let someone come from behind and frighten her, and say, ‘arise from thy flux.’” So, she hears about Jesus, and thinks “if I can just touch his clothes, then I may be healed.”
In the New Testament there were miracles resulting from having Peter’s shadow pass over you (Acts 5:15-16) or coming into contact with Paul’s handkerchief (Acts 19:12), and later it was a common practice to touch Jesus’ clothes to be healed (Mark 6:56). So almost from the beginning there is a need to clarify the difference between faith and relics (superstition).
Leviticus 15:25 “If a woman has a discharge of blood for many days, not at the time of her menstrual impurity, or if she has a discharge beyond the time of her impurity, all the days of the discharge she shall continue in uncleanness. As in the days of her impurity, she shall be unclean. 26 Every bed on which she lies, all the days of her discharge, shall be to her as the bed of her impurity. And everything on which she sits shall be unclean, as in the uncleanness of her menstrual impurity. 27 And whoever touches these things shall be unclean, and shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water and be unclean until the evening.” Uncleanliness was transferable – the “unclean” were not to touch the “clean (Lev. 5:3).”
(v. 25) This woman has been ceremonially unclean for over twelve years. An outcast, and alone, untouchable, for twelve years. “She was just as much an outcast as the demon-possessed man had been.” She would not be allowed to approach Jesus, to talk to Him was unthinkable.
“Uncleanness in Israel causes Yahweh to turn away his face, and without the saving presence the nation is doomed to exile and destruction (Ezek. 39:24).” So the leaders and the people as a whole think it is very important to keep the law, and to remain “clean.”
“And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’” – We have already seen in Mark 4:12 Jesus’ explanation of the different soils and why He taught in parables, “they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand,” and here in chapter 5 we see them touching but not receive healing. The disciples are saying “many are pressed up against you,” many have touched him but this woman stands out.
The disciples reproached Jesus in the boat during the storm, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” and here again, “You see the crowd . . .” Why is Jesus concerned about one person among all these people? Jesus’ response “reveals the glory of the gospel . . . “Behold what manner of love . . . , that we should be called the sons of God (1 John 3:1).”
The disciples are focused on trying to get Jesus to Jairus’ daughter where the real emergency existed, but Jesus is slowing them down by worrying about someone in a dense crowd that touched him. This apparent silly question would only cause a delay. Jesus’ question was not to rebuke her, but to make personal contact with her. “She needed to know that it was not her superstition (touching objects or clothes) that saved her, but her faith that caused God to heal her.”
This woman has tried everything she can possibly do, in her own effort to be healed, and be ceremonially “clean” with God. It was her faith in Jesus that allowed her to be healed, and have the ability to enter into God’s presence. Jesus stops everything to make sure she understands that.
She is anticipating rebuke, chastisement, so she “came in fear and trembling and fell down before him . . .” “She knew Jesus’ power, but she did not yet know His heart.” This all-powerful Son of God, what is He like?
(v. 34) “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” Jesus is claiming the same special relationship with her that Jairus had with his little daughter. Jairus does not want to lose his daughter to death, Jesus does not want to lose His daughter to her not understanding what truly healed her. No matter the pressures of the crowd/world you stop everything when your kids are hurting.
John 6:37 “. . . whoever comes to me I will never cast out.”
“The word translated healed is sesoken (“saved”). Here both physical and theological salvation are in mind. “Go in peace” is a traditional Jewish formula for leaving-taking “shalom” but it is not just peace, as in peace from inward anxiety, but also in the sense of wholeness or completeness that comes from being brought into a right relationship with God.” Go knowing that you are right with God.
Little Girl Arise (vv. 35-43)
35 While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler’s house some who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” 36 But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” 37 And he allowed no one to follow him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. 38 They came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and Jesus saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. 39 And when he had entered, he said to them, “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping.” 40 And they laughed at him. But 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. 41 Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” 42 And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement. 43 And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.
Jairus knows that his daughter is about to die, and he has two options. Stay and be with her when she dies (which is imminent) or go find Jesus – so he has found Jesus, but she dies before they can get back to the bedside.
Jesus overhears the conversation between Jairus and someone from his household, and says, “Do not fear, only believe.” Jairus has a choice of voices to listen to – someone from his household, or Jesus. It is always better to listen to hear what Jesus has to say about our situation, than anyone else.
Also, there is a finality on the friend’s remarks, “Why bother the teacher any further?” as if to say, “there is nothing that Jesus can do, now.” It’s too late. If Jesus decides to lay His hands upon something, then it is never too late. “Do not fear, only believe.”
When they arrive to Jairus’ home there were people, “weeping and wailing loudly.” The word for wailing is an onomatopoetic word, Alala – soldiers would yell this word when entering into battle, it is used for clanging symbols (1 Cor. 13:1), and it is used here to “refer to the sound of the monotonous wail of the hired mourners.”
These are paid mourners, who are yelling out this alala “The lamentations consisted of choral song, or antiphony, accompanied with hand clapping.” And flute and instrument playing, and people tearing their clothes.
The paid mourner’s reaction to Jesus saying, “The child is not dead but sleeping” is to laugh at him. To ridicule Him. Jesus asks the paid mourners to leave and only the parents, Jesus, Peter, James and John are there when she is healed – Why?
Some are entrusted with who Jesus is, the Messiah, the Savior of the World, and others are not. If Jesus knows you are not serious, but only pretending (like the paid mourners) then you will be sent away and will never experience the true miracle. The crowd who was looking on in curiosity were sent away, the paid mourners who lacked the faith that the father showed were sent away, even the other new disciples were sent out (leaving the inner three Peter, James, and John).
All three gospels mention that Jesus took her by the hand. He touches her. The father in v. 23 says, “Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.” believing that it was his touch, but Jesus says, v. 36 “But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.”
(v. 42) “the girl got up and began walking” Walking (aorist tense) here means, she kept on walking around. “She kept on walking about, first possibly to her mother, then to her father, and then finding out what had happened to Jesus who had restored her to life.”
The healed woman with the blood discharge touched Jesus’ clothes. Jesus stops the woman and explains that it was the woman’s faith that saved her. Both of these stories are grounded on the word faith, believe.
Jesus does not care if the unclean touch him (blood issues or death), because He is the source of holiness. With His touch, all that defiles is gone. Nothing unclean can make him unclean by it’s touch. But Jesus can make clean anything that is unclean, “do not fear, only believe.”
There is nothing that is too far gone, that finding Jesus and asking Him to help will not make it better. In all three stories (the Gerasene Demoniac – unclean spirit, The woman with the blood discharge – bodily discharges, and the Jairus’ daughter – contact with the dead) all of these people were ceremonially unclean; but Jesus made them clean again, whole again, able to enter God’s presence again.
 Tim Stafford, Christianity Today, September 14, 1992, p. 36.
 Max Anders, General Editor, Holman New Testament Commentary, Mark (Nashville, Tennessee; Holman Reference, 2000) 87.
 W. N. Clarke, Commentary on the Gospel of Mark (Valley Forge, Pennsylvania; Judson Press, 1950) 77.
 Archibald Thomas Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, Volume 1 (Nashville, Tennessee; Broadman Press, 1930) 300.
 Unclean could make something unclean, but clean could not make something unclean, clean.
 Anders, 87.
 L.E. Tombs, The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, Volume 1 (Nashville, Tennessee; Abingdon Press, 1980) 647.
 George Arthur Buttrick, Commentary Editor, The Interpreter’s Bible, Volume 7 (Nashville, Tennessee; Abingdon Press, 1980) 723.
 Frank E. Gaebelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 8 (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan Publishing House, 1984) 660.
 Clarke, 77.
 This is the only time Jesus was recorded calling a woman, “daughter.”
 Anders, 88.
 Gaebelein, 662.
 First mention of Jesus speaking Aramaic in the Gospel of Mark.
 The woman healed from bleeding and discharge suffered for 12 years, and the little girl raised from the dead was 12 years old. Is there a connection?
 Robertson, 302.
 Gaebelein, 662.
 “A vivid description of the tumult is provided by L. Bauer, Volksleben im Lande der Bibel (Leipzig, 1903), pp. 211 ff. The woman form a circle around the leader of the dance of death, and dance rhythmically from left to right with their hair hanging down, Gradually they increase their mournful lament and the wild movements of hands and feet until their faces become flushed to a high degree and appear especially excited as the time of burial draws near.” William L. Lane, The Gospel According to Mark (Grand Rapids, Michigan; William B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1993) 196.
 Herchel H. Hobbs, An Exposition of the Four Gospels, Mark (Nashville, Tennessee; Broadman Press, 1978) 88.