Jesus Can Handle Both the Urgent and the Inconvenient – Mark 5:21-43
If you have a Bible, I invite you to turn to the Gospel according to Mark. If you don’t have a Bible, there should be a Bible under the row of chairs in front of you. If you can turn in your Bibles to the Gospel according to Mark, we are going to be looking at Mark 5:21-43, this morning.
I’m going to begin by reading our passage and then we will dive in. Mark 5, beginning in verse 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.
“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.’
“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.”
When we first embarked on this sermon series on the Gospel of Jesus according to Mark, my hope was that it would help us to know Jesus better. And I’m not talking about knowing cool facts about Jesus, like the number of demons He cast out of people and the number of people He healed; I’m talking about knowing Jesus, following Jesus, and learning to obey Jesus as the authoritative yet suffering Son of God that He is being pictured as, in this Gospel narrative.
Because here is the problem as we read about Jesus: He never does what we would expect Him to do. We think that Jesus should respond to situations in a certain way, because it’s what we would do, but He doesn’t do that.
For example, throughout Mark’s Gospel, we have seen numerous instances of Jesus healing a person and then telling them to be quiet about it and to not say anything to anyone. We would expect Jesus to want to grow His ministry. We would expect Him to want everyone to know what He was doing. But that’s not what Jesus does. Jesus is beyond our expectations. He doesn’t fit into our box.
And the question that we are constantly being asked, throughout Mark’s Gospel, is: Despite what we would expect Jesus to do, will we still submit ourselves to Him as Saviour and King? Despite our circumstances and how things seem to look from our perspective, will we still bow our knee to Jesus?
And this morning, we are going to look at two stories that reveal to us that Jesus is beyond our expectations. Jesus is going to respond to two situations in a way that we would not expect Him to respond. And Jesus is going to show us in these two stories that He is concerned both with the urgent and the inconvenient, and that Jesus can handle whatever circumstances you and I will ever face.
Our passage for this morning picks up right where our passage from last week left off. After Jesus is expelled from the country of the Gerasenes, for setting a man free from his demonic oppression, which subsequently causes a collapse in the pig market, He finds Himself back in Jewish territory with a much more receptive crowd than the one He has just left.
And verse 22 says that Jairus, one of the rulers of the synagogue, sees Jesus, falls at Jesus’ feet, and begs Jesus to come lay hands on his daughter to heal her, because she was “at the point of death.”
Now, Jesus hasn’t exactly had the best relationship with the Jewish religious leaders. Back in Mark 2, the religious leaders question Jesus’ authority to forgive sins, they question why Jesus doesn’t make His disciples fast, and then, after Jesus heals a man on the Sabbath, they try to come up with a way to kill Jesus.
So, there is some tension between the religious leaders and Jesus, but there hasn’t been any mention of any more communication between them until now. Here, you have a religious leader coming to Jesus, not with a question about who Jesus is and not with a condemnation about what Jesus is saying or doing, but with a kind of desperation for Jesus to act on his behalf.
And this is truly remarkable. This man, whatever he believes about Jesus or whatever his colleagues believe about Jesus, knows where to turn when things get out of his control. And isn’t that true of all of us?
I have personally been asked to pray for the sick children of parents who don’t go to church. Why? Because regardless of where we land on the Person of Jesus Christ, when bad things come our way that are out of our control, we know that we need outside help. We know that we need a God who is bigger than whatever circumstances we are facing.
Now, I’m not saying this is how we should approach Jesus. I want Jesus to mean more to us than just some genie in the sky who will give us the desires of our heart. That’s not the Jesus of the Bible. But I hope that we see our need for the Jesus of the Bible—that when hard times hit, we know we can turn to Him.
This ruler of the synagogue is taking a risk by coming to Jesus. He knows that the other religious leaders don’t like Jesus and that some even want to kill Jesus, but he also knows where to turn when things get out of his control.
One commentator writes, “The Saviour of the Christian is always set before us as gentle, and easy to be entreated, the healer of the broken-hearted, the refuge of the weak and helpless, the comforter of the distressed, the sick man’s best friend. And is not this just the Saviour that human nature needs? The world is full of pain and trouble. The weak on earth are far more numerous than the strong.”
Is not this the Saviour that human nature needs? I love that, especially in light of Jesus’ response to Jairus’ plea for Jesus to act on his behalf. Look at verse 24. It says that Jesus “went with him.”
Given how Jesus had been treated before by the religious leaders before, we would expect Jesus, if He were like us, to not go with this man and do what he was pleading with Jesus to do. But thankfully, Jesus is Jesus and we are not.
Though it makes no sense to us, for Jesus, this is why He came. Jesus came to minister to human need, and He never turns away those who come to Him in faith, even if they are His enemy, which is good news for you and me, because at one time, we were enemies of God, but God demonstrated His love for us, in that, “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Thankfully, Jesus is beyond our expectations. Jesus goes quickly with Jairus to save his daughter, who is at death’s door. But on their way to his house, they encounter an interruption. And thank goodness for interruptions, for I believe it is in the interruptions of life that Jesus teaches us the most.
In verse 25, we are introduced to a woman who has had a discharge of blood for twelve years. And it says of her that she had sought healing from many physicians during this time, but with no relief. In fact, the physicians make things worse for her, and that’s not a knock against the medical community.
I think that we can often desire miraculous healing from God too much that we forget that God has given wisdom and knowledge to brilliant individuals who make incisions and who repair organs and who keep people alive. Mark here is not condemning doctors.
Instead, the problem that Mark is highlighting is that this woman had put her hope in physicians. And we can see how this could be appealing, right? I mean, if the doctors are telling you that they can cure what you have had for many years with just a little more money, wouldn’t you take that chance?
It’s why these prosperity gospel preachers are able to draw in so many people. They promise you health, wealth and prosperity, if you give away your money to “the Lord’s work.” People are sending in their money, thinking that they will be cured of what they have or that they will get rich. And what Mark is getting us to see is that this is an indication of misplaced hopes. What are some areas of misplaced hopes in our lives?
Maybe our hope is in our ability to bear children and we feel like a failure if we can’t. Maybe our hope is in our work and we become frustrated when we can’t get all the work done. Maybe our hope is in our spouse and we become unsatisfied and discontent when they don’t give us the happy and fulfilling life we always wanted.
I just saw on the news this week that a First Nations community in Newfoundland and Labrador has declared a suicide crisis. There have been 14 deaths over the past few months, with 10 suicide attempts reported in a matter of days. The youth in that area don’t know how to deal with their grief, and in the one interview that I watched with the current social health director in that area, she said that “you always have to believe that there is hope.”
And my first thought was, “Yeah, hope in what?” You see, when our hope is in everything but the Saviour of the world, we will always find ourselves feeling frustrated when the thing we have put our hope in doesn’t meet our needs.
That’s what we’re seeing here with this woman in our text. She has put her hope in physicians to heal her, but they have only frustrated her, because they haven't accomplished what she was hoping for. And maybe this is where some of us find ourselves, today, frustrated with our misplaced hopes not delivering on what we wanted them to deliver.
Enter Jesus. Look at verse 27. It says that “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.’”
Here is yet another instance of someone coming to Jesus to act on their behalf, after they have done everything in their own power and ability to solve their situation, but look at how risky this would have been for her.
According to Leviticus 15, any woman who had a discharge of blood for many days would be considered unclean. But not only that, anyone who touched her or touched anything she touched would have also been considered unclean.
This meant that she would have been socially ostracised. She wouldn’t have been able to go anywhere without people watching where she went and seeing what she touched. But what I found out this week is that she wouldn’t have even been able to go into the temple, the place where the presence of God was, lest she defile the temple by her uncleanness.
In other words, this woman was banished from the community and has had no access to God for twelve years, until she can be purified of her disease.
But in our text, she see Jesus, whom she has heard good things about, and she thinks that if she touches His clothes, she will be healed. But this means making her way through a crowd of people who know her and who know that she has an uncleanness that can be passed on to anyone who comes in contact with her.
This was a serious risk that she was taking, but she makes her way through the crowd anyway, and she touches Jesus’ clothes, and verse 29 says that “immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease.”
This woman touches Jesus’ clothes and instantaneously she’s healed. The cure she had sought for twelve years from physician after physician was achieved in a moment by the touch of Jesus. That’s twelve years of shame and frustration resolved in a moment. If you’re this woman, just imagine your relief.
But then, Jesus starts saying that power has gone out of Him, and that He wants to know who touched Him, and everyone is confused as to what has just happened, and all of a sudden, that relief that this woman feels turns to fear, as she approaches Jesus to confess that she was the one who touched Him.
And it makes sense that she would feel this way, right? I mean, how many times do you think she was publicly ridiculed for touching something or someone, thus making it unclean? And now she has just touched this Jesus—this man that everyone is enamored with—and she isn’t sure how He is going to respond.
But instead of rebuke or reproach, this woman is met with tender compassion, as Jesus says to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
And what happens in that moment is a glorious transaction, where this woman’s uncleanness is transferred onto Jesus and this woman receives the healing she had longed for, but much more than that, she receives peace with God.
This woman hasn’t had any connection with God for twelve years, because her ailment kept her out of the temple, but what God does is He comes to her in the Person of Jesus Christ, and He does for her what she could never have done for herself.
It’s a beautiful picture of the gospel. She has been set free from her bondage, just like the demon-oppressed man in the previous passage, and she can now go in peace, no longer burdened by the weight of her sin.
This is a glorious moment for this woman. But before we ride off into the sunset, we need to remember where Jesus was headed before this interruption. Jesus was going to Jairus’ house to heal his little girl, who was at death’s door.
And just imagine what is going on in Jairus’ head, as he is watching all of this happen. I can just imagine that he’s confused as to why Jesus has just stopped in the first place. He’s likely panicking as seconds are wasting away. He’s potentially angry that his urgent request is put on the back burner while Jesus deals with the inconvenience of this woman whom he knows nothing about.
And then, verse 35 says that while Jesus was still speaking, “there came from the ruler's house some who said, ‘Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?’”
If you are Jairus, what’s going through your head, now? Maybe resentment towards this woman for interrupting Jesus? Maybe resentment towards Jesus for responding to the interruption? Maybe anger towards yourself for not saying something sooner? Maybe sadness because your little girl is dead?
You had a glimmer of hope when Jesus agreed to heal your daughter, but all of that hope is snatched away when you hear the report that your daughter is dead. Your request was so urgent and so needy. You risked everything to bow your knee to Jesus. You put your daughter in Jesus’ hands as a last ditch effort. And it seems like it was all for nothing.
But then, verse 36. “But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, ‘Do not fear, only believe.’”
Those are some bold words being said to a guy who just lost his daughter, because Jesus had to stop for this unknown woman. It’s easy to say, “Do not fear, only believe,” but when you have seemingly lost all hope, it’s much harder to put that into practice.
But what Jesus is saying is for Jairus to have the kind of faith that this woman had—that despite her embarrassing circumstances, she pushed through the crowd to get to Jesus.
Here was someone with no identification, other than we know her as the woman who had bled for twelve years, coming to Jesus. And Jesus is saying to Jairus, “That’s the kind of faith I want you to have, right now. The kind of faith that believes, even when hopes are dashed. The kind of faith that knows no limits—not even the raising of a dead child. Have that kind of faith, Jairus.”
You see, we are often going to put our hope in things other than Jesus, and we are going to find ourselves frustrated when those misplaced hopes don’t deliver, but it’s because they were never intended to be hoped in, in the first place. Your children and your job and your spouse were never intended to be your Saviour.
And what Jesus is saying is that we need to have the kind of faith that hopes in Christ, not all these other things that can never deliver. Despite how we would expect Jesus to act in our situation, we need to believe that He is willing and able to meet us in our time of need. And is not this just the Saviour that human nature needs? None of our misplaced hopes have that kind of power.
Look at verse 39. Jesus does go with Jairus to his house. And when they get there, there is weeping and wailing, so Jesus says to them, “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping.”
And after everyone has a good laugh at Jesus, He sends everyone outside, except for the parents of the girl and a few of His disciples. And Jesus takes the girl by the hand, and He tells her to arise, and it says that “immediately the girl got up and began walking, and they were immediately overcome with amazement.”
Why are the parents overcome with amazement? Because Jesus has just spoken a word and their daughter has just come back to life. And it’s not like she started off slow and eventually after a few days was back to her normal self. No, she is fully restored, now, just like the woman with the bleeding. Jesus even tells the parents to get her something to eat, because she’s hungry.
Everyone is happy, Jairus’ faith is strengthened by what Jesus has just done, and everything seems to be wrapping up, well. But then, in verse 43, it says that Jesus “strictly charged them that no one should know this.”
And again, Jesus doesn’t do what we would expect Him to do. Why not tell everyone what just happened? Why not take her outside and heal her in front of everyone? Why not make a big spectacle?
And the reason why is because it wasn’t time for the good news of Jesus to be spread around. Everyone would be saying that this girl had just been asleep, but that Jesus came and woke her up, because that’s what Jesus said, right, He said that “the child is not dead but sleeping.” So, there was no miracle.
And you have to think that the parents would be dying to tell people what actually happened. But it wasn’t time yet. This Jesus would eventually go to the cross to handle the most urgent of our needs, and that is, our need for a Saviour from the penalty of our sin.
We are naturally rebels against a holy God. But God sent His Son, Jesus, to this world, and Jesus lived the perfect life that we could not live and died the death we deserved to die, so that if we put our faith in Him, we can be raised from dead in sin to alive in Christ.
That’s the good news of Jesus that we spread around, today. And because this gospel has been spread around, there are followers of Jesus all over the world. But there are some, today, who are suffering for being a Christian. And the reality is that they might not ever see relief. They might not ever know a life of freedom to worship Christ. They might die for their faith.
But they can utter the words of the Apostle Paul, in Philippians 3:8-11, that “for his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”
That, church, is the hope of glory found in knowing Christ. And the question that we are left with, is: When our circumstances suggest to us that Jesus is not worthy to be loved and obeyed as the authoritative yet suffering Son of God, will we still submit ourselves to Him? When our faith is weak and our hopes are dashed, will we continue to trust that He is willing and able to meet our need?
We are going to close by singing the hymn, All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name. And in the final verse, which is not in our hymn book, but it was in another version online, it says, “Crown Him, ye martyrs of your God, who from His altar call. Extol Him in whose path ye trod, and crown Him Lord of all.”
Jesus might not do what we expect Him to do, but He is powerful enough to handle the urgent and the inconvenient and whatever it is that you and I will ever face. May our hope be found in this Jesus. Let’s pray…