Matthew, Mark and Luke all have the story of Jesus working a miracle within a miracle in their gospels. Mark gives us a few more details in his account about Jesus raising Jairus’ daughter from the dead and the hemorrhage woman who touched his garment.
Jairus was an official of the synagogue. You would think that an official of the synagogue would be hostile to Jesus. Yet, he had faith in Jesus’ healing power and asked him to come to his home and cure his dying daughter. He left with a large crowd.
On the way there, a woman with an unstoppable flow of blood touched his garment as he passed. Her condition made her unclean, untouchable, and an outcast in her society. When she deliberately touched Jesus’ garment, she was taking a risk that he might be angry with her for making him ritually unclean. She also had no idea how the crowd might react. That is why when she finally came forward, she was panic-stricken. Yet, she had a faith made her whole.
The stories of Jairus’ daughter and the woman with the flow of blood are presented as precise bookends of the same truth – that Jesus is the Lord of all life. Consider first the 12-year-old girl. Mark alone tells us her age, to alert us that she is on the threshold of maturity when the flow of blood begins and fertility is possible. The tragedy is therefore intensified. She will never be a mother, never make the passage to maturity.
On the other side is the woman suffering the hemorrhage. Her trouble is the mirror image of the pubescent girl, for her flow of blood does not cease. She, too, is therefore infertile, incapable of bringing a child to term or even of being touched by her husband. The dying girl and the suffering woman are missing life’s great possibilities. Yet, they are both daughters of God.
In both stories, faith is crucial to the outcome. The girl’s father, Jairus, comes to Jesus with great faith that he alone can save his daughter. Jairus believes that a touch of Jesus’ hand will be sufficient to effect the cure. The hemorrhaging woman also approaches Jesus with the absolute conviction that contact with his person, even the hem of his cloak, is all that she needs. Jesus confirms in each case that their faith is essential to the healing they seek.
A little girl, a full-grown woman, both were at the edge of existence and loss. Jesus has the power to rescue both, but not without the vital participation of their personal faith.
Where human beings are present, death is always in the room. However, Jesus is the ultimate authority before whom every knee must bend. When Jesus is in the room – wherever two or more are gathered in faith in Jesus’ name – death is forced to retreat to the sidelines.
We cannot be passive with our faith. Jairus had to seek Jesus out and make his urgent appeal. The hemorrhaging woman reached out and clutched at Jesus’ cloak without permission and against the rules that an unclean woman should not be in a public place at all. Both understood that healing and wholeness are blessings that we should seek. We either seek life in Jesus, or remain subject to death. Those are our options.
The fact that someone interrupted Jesus twice in this gospel reminds us that we can tolerate the constant interruptions in our carefully planned days. We can do so with the confidence that when we walk with God, every encounter, scheduled or unplanned, is meaningful in its own way and is a place where God calls us to live and respond with love.
We should always be open to whatever God sends us without shame and fear. This gospel urges us always to approach Jesus with trust and confident in his ability to save and heal.