Lord over Death

Mark 5:21–6:1
21And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about him, and he was beside the sea. 22Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet 23and 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.” 24And he went with him. And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. 25And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, 26and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. 27She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. 28For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” 29And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?” 31And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’” 32And he looked around to see who had done it. 33But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. 34And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” 35While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler’s house some who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” 36But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” 37And he allowed no one to follow him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. 38They came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and Jesus saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. 39And when he had entered, he said to them, “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping.” 40And 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. 41Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” 42And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement. 43And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat. 6:1He went away from there and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him.

Today’s text is the perfect model of a beautifully crafted story, combining the lives of two women together in one description of Jesus’ Lordship over death. Each of these stories stands alone as a testimony to God’s great power. But when interwoven, the effect is stunning. We could focus on numerous qualities of this story; such as how it is about two females, how Jesus incorporates these women into His family, or the reactions of the crowd and the disciples to Jesus power. But at the end of the reading, we realize that Jesus has ultimate power over death and if He controls death, He controls it all.

First we find the arrival of Jairus, a synagogue ruler. His request is simple (for Jesus) – to heal his dying 12-year-old daughter. He comes in faith and with great hope, although those hopes are dashed half way through the story.

With the coming of Jairus, two things should be noticed: first, that not all Jewish authorities are hostile to Jesus, and second, that the so-called “minor characters” in Mark, such as this man and the woman with the issue of blood, are the “true disciples” with insight and faith, both qualities exhibited in the face of difficulty and opposition.
Voelz, J. W. (2013). Concordia Commentary: Mark 1:1–8:26. (p. 370). St. Louis, MO: CPH.

As Jesus is dealing with Jairus, another remarkable thing happens. A women who is struggling with “an issue of blood” muscles her way through the crowd in order to “touch His garment”. This would have been considered highly improper at that time for a few reasons. She would have been considered unclean by Jewish standards. She shouldn’t even have been out in public. But she is desperate. She has depleted her financial resources on what would have passed for medical help at the time and Jesus is her last hope for healing. She risks everything to be in public and to touch a man who is not her husband in a last-ditch effort to have her life restored to her, for you see, she is as good as dead in this community. Jesus searches her out, after He knows that she has touched Him and has received what she was longing for – healing. He declares that her faith has healed her and tells her to go in peace. In the meantime, Jairus’ daughter dies.

Jesus travels to Jairus’ house, only to be greeted by weeping mourners. For them the child is dead. What else can be done. They in fact laugh at Jesus for declaring her simply asleep. After displaying His power over a woman who was figuratively dead, He now displays His power over the literal death of the little girl. O death, where is your sting?

Jesus’ ultimate victory over death is when He is resurrected from death after 3 days in the Tomb. Because of His resurrection, all will be raised from the dead on the Last Day. Paul speaks to that truth in his letter to the Romans.

Romans 10:9
. . . because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

As the details of these two stories swirl in your mind, let the final fact of Jesus’ triumph over death be your comfort and your hope. The life we face on this side of death is victorious because of Jesus’s power, as will be our triumph over our physical death (should we face that) when He returns to take us home.