The Fifth Sunday after Pentecost
Pastor George Pejakovich
Mark 5:21-43

IN THE GOSPEL FOR TODAY, MARK GIVES US A STORY WITHIN A STORY, AS HE OFTEN DOES, WHICH PROMPTS US TO CONSIDER THE CONNECTIONS BETWEEN THEM. DOING SO ENLIGHTENS US TO THE DEEPER MEANING OF BOTH, WHICH WE WOULD NOT SEE IF WE LOOKED AT THEM SEPARATELY. THE STORY OF JAIRUS AND HIS DAUGHTER AND THE STORY OF THE UNNAMED WOMAN ARE REALLY ONE STORY OF TRUST IN THE PERSON AND POWER OF JESUS, AND OF TAKING HIM VERY SERIOUSLY INDEED.

JAIRUS, WHOSE NAME MEANS “ONE WHOM GOD ENLIGHTENS,” WAS A LEADER OF THE SYNAGOGUE. THIS WAS LIKE A PERMANENT AND POWERFUL MEMBER OF THE VESTRY. HE WAS NOT A RABBI, BUT WAS A RIGHTEOUS AND RESPECTED MAN WHO ORGANIZED THE WORSHIP SERVICES, SELECTED THOSE WHO WOULD READ THE TORAH AND GIVE THE WEEKLY SERMON. HE WOULD HAVE BEEN AWARE OF THE RISING TENSION BETWEEN THE RELIGIOUS LEADERS AND JESUS, AND, POLITICALLY, HE WOULD HAVE BEEN WISE TO HAVE AS LITTLE TO DO WITH JESUS AS POSSIBLE. WHEN HIS DAUGHTER LAY DYING, HOWEVER, HE CAST ASIDE ALL CONSIDERATIONS OF HIS POSITION AND EVEN OF WHAT OTHERS WOULD THINK OF HIM, AND THREW HIMSELF AT THE FEET OF JESUS TO BEG HIM TO COME AND HEAL HIS DAUGHTER.

THE UNNAMED WOMAN WAS THE EXACT OPPOSITE OF JAIRUS. ACCORDING TO JEWISH IDEAS OF THE TIME, THE WOMAN WAS AN UTTER OUTCAST ON ACCOUNT OF HER DISEASE. SHE WAS NOT ALLOWED TO PARTICIPATE IN ANY RELIGIOUS ACTIVITY, SHE COULD NOT TOUCH OTHER PERSONS BECAUSE SHE WOULD MAKE THEM UNCLEAN, AND SHE WOULD HAVE HAD TO BE SEPARATED FROM HER HUSBAND AND FAMILY. BECAUSE OF A FLOW OF VAGINAL BLOOD, SHE WAS DESTITUTE FROM PAYING FOR BOGUS TREATMENTS FOR TWELVE YEARS, AND WAS A DESPISED AND SOLITARY WOMAN. SHE COULD NOT APPROACH JESUS, AND WAS NOT EVEN SUPPOSED TO BE IN THE CROWD, BECAUSE ANYONE SHE TOUCHED WOULD BE UNCLEAN. AS JAIRUS HAD BEGGED JESUS OPENLY, SHE SNUCK THROUGH THE CROWD TO TOUCH THE HEM OF HIS ROBE; AS HER TOUCH WOULD MAKE OTHERS UNCLEAN, SHE BELIEVED THAT TOUCHING JESUS, IF ONLY HIS ROBE, WOULD MAKE HER CLEAN.

WHAT JAIRUS AND THE UNNAMED WOMAN REALLY BELIEVED ABOUT JESUS IS IMPOSSIBLE TO SAY, BUT BY THEIR ACTIONS THEY DEMONSTRATED THEIR BELIEF THAT IF THERE WERE ANY HOPE TO BE FOUND IT WAS TO BE FOUND IN JESUS. ON THE WAY TO JAIRUS’ HOUSE, WITH THE GREAT CROWD PUSHING AND SHOVING, SHE REACHED OUT AND TOUCHED JESUS, AND WAS HEALED. JESUS STOPPED DEAD IN HIS TRACKS, TURNED AROUND AND SAID, “WHO TOUCHED MY CLOTHES?” TO WHICH HIS DISCIPLES IN TODAY’S VENACULAR REPLIED, “ARE YOU SERIOUS? IN THIS CROWD HOW CAN YOU ASK THAT?” THE WOMAN, IN FEAR AND TREMBLING, CAME AND THREW HERSLEL AT JESUS’ FEET AND CONFESSED WHAT SHE HAD DONE. OF COURSE, JESUS KNEW WHO TOUCHED HIM, BUT HE WANTED HER TO KNOW THAT IT WAS NOT ANY SYMPATHETIC MAGIC THAT HEALED HER, BUT HIS PERSON AND POWER, AND TO PUBLICLY AFFIRM HER HEALING TO RESTORE HER PLACE IN THE COMMUNITY. HE CALLED HER “DAUGHTER,” COMMENDED HER TRUST IN HIM, AND SENT HER ON HER WAY IN PEACE AND HEALED OF HER DISEASE.

EVEN WHILE HE WAS SPEAKING TO THE WOMAN, JESUS OVERHEARD SOME PEOPLE TELLING JAIRUS THAT HIS DAUGHTER WAS DEAD, AND THAT THERE WAS NO NEED TO BOTHER THE TEACHER ANY LONGER. I CAN VISUALIZE JESUS PLACING HIS HAND ON JAIRUS’ SHOULDER AND SAYING, “DON’T BE AFRAID, ONLY TRUST.” LEAVING ONE DAUGHTER RESTORED, JESUS WENT TO RESTORE THE OTHER.

WITH JAIRUS, PETER, JAMES, AND JOHN, JESUS ARRIVED AT THE HOUSE TO FIND THE PROFESSIONAL MOURNERS AND THE FAMILY WEEPING. THINGS HAPPENED QUICKLY AFTER A DEATH BECAUSE THEY HAD TO BURY THE DEAD BY SUNDOWN. WHEN JESUS TOLD THEM “THE CHILD IS NOT DEAD BUT SLEEPING,” THEY ALL LAUGHED AT THE LORD OF LIFE, AND HE THREW THEM OUT OF THE HOUSE. WITH THE THREE DISCIPLES AND THE MOTHER AND FATHER, HE WENT TO THE BED OF THE TWELVE YEAR OLD GIRL, TOOK HER BY THE HAND AND SAID, “LITTLE LAMB, ARISE.” SHE GOT UP, AND BEGAN TO WALK AROUND, EVERYONE WAS AMAZED; JESUS TOLD THEM TO TELL NO ONE WHAT THEY HAD SEEN, AND TO GET HER SOMETHING TO EAT.

THE WOMAN HAD A FLOW OF BLOOD FOR TWELVE YEARS, AND JAIRUS’ DAUGHTER WAS TWELVE YEARS OLD, ABOUT READY TO BEGIN HER MENSTRUAL CYCLES. WHEN THE WOMAN WAS TREATED BY THE PHYSICIANS OF THE TIME, AFTER THE BOGUS TREATMENT, THE TALMUD RECORDS SHE WOULD HAVE BEEN TOLD TO “ARISE FROM YOUR FLUX.” JESUS USES THE SAME WORD, QUM OR CUM, IN ARAMAIC TO TELL JAIRUS’ DAUGHTER TO ARISE. TO BOTH THE UNNAMED WOMAN AND JAIRUS’ DAUGHTER, JESUS PUTS HIMSELF IN THE ROLE OF LOVING PARENT, BY CALLING THE WOMAN HIS DAUGHTER, AND ADDRESSING THE YOUNG GIRL AS A FATHER WOULD WAKE HER IN THE MORNING. IN BOTH CASES, WHAT JESUS DOES IS TO RESTORE THE PERSON, THE WOMAN TO HER PLACE IN THE COMMUNITY, AND THE CHILD TO HER PARENTS; BUT EVEN MORE THAN THAT, WHAT JESUS DOES IS MAKE A CLAIM ON THE RESTORED PERSON – THE CLAIM OF A LOVING FATHER.

JAIRUS AND THE UNNAMED WOMAN TRUSTED IN JESUS, AND SO WERE ABLE TO IGNORE THE CUSTOMS AND CONVENTIONS WHICH WOULD HAVE KEEP THEM FROM HIM. IT IS THIS TRUST IN HIM, AND THEIR WILLINGNESS TO TAKE HIM SERIOUSLY, THAT HE REWARDS BY RESTORING TO THEM WHAT THEY FEARED WOULD BE LOST FOREVER. THE WOMAN WAS STILL A WOMAN IN FIRST CENTURY JUDEA, WHICH WAS NOT A PICNIC FOR A WOMAN. THE LITTLE GIRL STILL HAD TO GROW UP, GO THROUGH AN ARRANGED MARRIAGE, AND DO ALL THE USUALLY EXPECTED THINGS. WE HAVE NO WAY OF KNOWING WHAT PRICE JAIRUS HAD TO PAY FOR CASTING HIMSELF AT THE FEET OF JESUS. WE DO KNOW THAT JESUS MADE THEM A PART OF HIS FAMILY, AND IN THAT THERE IS A HOPE BEYOND ALL THE EXPECTATIONS OF THIS LIFE.

WHEN WE COME TO JESUS, HAVING HEARD THE CALLING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT THROUGH THE WORDS OF THE WORD OF GOD, THE ONLY WAY TO COME TO HIM IS BY CASTING ASIDE ALL THAT WOULD KEEP US FROM HIM, AND THROWING OURSELVES AT HIS FEET. OUR HEALTH OR WEALTH IS IRRELEVANT; THE ONLY WAY TO COME TO JESUS IS BY CASTING OURSELVES AT HIS FEET. THEN, HE WILL RAISE US UP AND RESTORE US TO WHOLENESS. OUR CIRCUMSTANCES WILL NOT NECESSARILY CHANGE, BUT WE WILL BE CHANGED, AND MADE A PART OF HIS FAMILY; THE KINGDOM OF GOD. OUR ECONOMIC, SOCIAL, AND PHYSICAL CONDITIONS MAY REMAIN THE SAME, BUT THE WAY WE LIVE WILL AND MUST BE DIFFERENT. LIVING AS THE CHILDREN OF GOD, ALL THAT WE HAVE AND ALL THAT WE DO IS TO BE FOR THE GLORY OF OUR HEAVENLY FATHER. IN THE END, ONCE THE CHRIST OF GOD CLAIMS US, WE ARE HIS FOREVER. THE WORLD MAY INDEED LAUGH, BUT WE KNOW IN EVERY FIBER OF OUR BEING, THAT THE ONE WHO HAS CLAIMED US WILL ONE DAY CALL US TO ARISE. THAT IS THE CERTAIN HOPE IN WHICH WE LIVE. AMEN

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