Mark 5:21-43 Broken People in Need of a Savior to be Broken

(from the ESV Study Bible)

The laymen who were rulers of the synagogue presided over the affairs of the synagogue, including organizing and teaching in synagogue services. Most of them were Pharisees. The fact that Jairus . . . fell at Jesus’ feet demonstrates his real need and his sincerity. While Jesus is on his way to heal Jairus’s daughter, Mark interjects the simultaneous event of the healing of the woman with a constant discharge of blood (vv. 25–34). On account of her condition, she is ceremonially unclean (cf. Lev. 15:25–28) and is not permitted to enter the temple section reserved for women. By touching Jesus’ garment, she technically renders him ceremonially unclean, but Jesus is greater than any purity laws, for he makes her clean by his power instead of becoming unclean himself (cf. Mark 1:41; 5:41). Jesus senses in himself, that power had gone out from him, not merely by being touched but by being touched by someone who has faith that he can heal her. When Jesus asked, “Who touched me?” the woman responded with fear and trembling. Mark often notes the theme of fear and shows how it leads to faith. At the powerful presence of God who has healed her: she fell down before him and told him the whole truth, which testifies to her confidence in and sincere gratitude toward Jesus.

Having been on the fringes of the crowd surrounding Jesus, the woman now finds herself welcomed into the family of God. Your faith has made you well would suggest both physical and spiritual healing, for Greek sōzō can mean either “heal” or “save.” The woman’s faith in Jesus for physical healing at the same time became faith in him for salvation from sin.

Verses 35–43 resume the account of Jairus’s daughter (from vv. 22–24) by showing the stark contrast between the words in v. 34 (Daughter, your faith has made you well”) and the fact that now Jairus’s daughter is dead. With His words, do not fear, only believe, again, Jesus defines faith as the antidote to fear (cf. Mark 2:5; 4:40; 5:34). In the face of death, this is a supreme challenge for Jairus. Amid the mourning, Jesus proclaims that the child is not dead but sleeping. The mocking and laughing crowd takes Jesus’ statement literally, supposing that Jesus cannot accept the reality of death. The child had indeed died (see Luke 8:55), but from Jesus’ viewpoint her real death is but sleep. Since the unbelieving crowd would only be a distraction, Jesus allows only the girl’s closest family members and his closest followers to witness the miracle. Touching a dead person renders one ceremonially unclean (Lev. 22:4; Num. 19:11), but once again, Jesus overcomes uncleanness, for the girl comes back to life (cf. 2 Kings 4:17–37; Acts 9:39–41).

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