The Power of Human Frailty over Human Frailty – Mark 5:21-43 (pt. 2)

Here we are reminded that no matter who you are human frailty will affect your life, and you will need the power of Jesus. In this passage we see two aspects of Jesus’ power over human frailty:

  1. 1. Jesus’ power over sickness. (vv. 21-34)
  2. 2. Jesus’ power over death.  (vv. 35-43)

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 h Then came one of i 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 j 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 k thronged about him. 25 And there was a woman l 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 m And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her n disease. 30 And Jesus, perceiving in himself that o 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, p your faith has made you well; p go in peace, and be healed of your n disease.”

35 While he was still speaking, there came from q the ruler’s house some who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why r trouble s the Teacher any further?” 36 But overhearing [5] what they said, Jesus said to q the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” 37 And he allowed no one to follow him except t Peter and James and u John the brother of James. 38 They came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and Jesus [6] saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. 39 And when he had entered, he said to them, v “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but w sleeping.” 40 And they laughed at him. But he x 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 y Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, z 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 a he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.

I. Jesus’ power over sickness. (vv. 21-34)

The first aspect of Jesus power that we see in this passage is Jesus’ power over sickness.  We see this aspect in vv. 21-34.

In verse 21 we see that Jesus and His disciples were returning from a short stay on the other side of the Sea of Galilee (vv. 16-18).  Mark does not tell us exactly where this took place, but there is little doubt that they were returning to their home base of Capernaum.

When they did arrive back home the response of the people in Galilee was very different from the people on the other side of the Sea of Galilee.  The Gentiles on the other side of the sea had literally kicked Jesus out of the region.  However in Galilee the level of excitement over Jesus was still very high. When word got out that Jesus was back it did not take very long for a massive crowd to assemble around Jesus.

You need to understand that this was not the orderly “everyone standing in a single file line” kind of crowd that we might be used to This crowd created the same kind of chaotic, frenzied, and dangerous situation that caused Jesus to use a boat for a pulpit (4:1), and to leave the region (4:35).  The entire crowd was clamoring to get close to Jesus.    However, in v. 22 Mark tells us that something caused this crowd to quiet down, “Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet…

This man coming to Jesus was a prominent man.  This is evidenced by the fact that he was able to navigate the crowd and get to Jesus.  But also, because Mark tells us that he was “one of the rulers of the synagogue.”  This particular title means that he was not a priest or a professional Pharisee.  This was a lay position. ILL: Chairman of the Elder Board.  This meant that he was a very well respected man in the community; that is why everyone knew that his name was Jairus

Despite this man’s respected status Mark tells us that Jairus came and fell at Jesus’ feet!  We might not get how unbelievable this is, but in an honor society this was unheard of.  In fact that people in the crowd were probably embarrassed for Jairus.  ILL: Bad Singer.  But we see why Jairus did this unthinkable thing in v. 23.

There we see that Jairus “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.” Here we see why Jairus was acting this way.  He was desperate.   Literally the phrase used here could mean that this girl was “at death’s door.”[1] Luke adds to the desperation of Jairus when he points out that this was his only daughter (Lk 8:42).

Ultimately Jairus’ daughter was sick, and he was willing to humiliate himself if that was what it took to save her.  This is not all that surprising.  However, what is surprising about this plea is that Jairus recognized the power of Jesus.  Jairus was a part of the official religious group that was persecuting Jesus.  Jesus had been in his synagogue causing a commotion, and teaching controversial message.  Plus, Jairus was the ruler of the synagogue not Jesus.  Yet, when he was in his deepest hour of need he turned to Jesus.

This act on the part of Jairus should not be taken as an act of complete faith in the person of Jesus.  He was simply desperate.  However, Jairus did recognize that Jesus has power over human sickness.  As the story unfolds we will see that Jesus will take this little measure of “unsaving faith” in Jesus’ physical healings and grow it into something far more profitable.  Verse 24 shows us how Jesus began to do this, “And he went with him. And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him.”  Jesus’ response to Jairus is quite remarkable.  He simply goes with Jairus.  However, Jesus was not the only one to go with Jairus.  The entire crowd went as well!

Can you imagine how frustrating this must have been for Jairus?  Jesus has agreed to come heal your dying daughter, and all these people are just slowing him down.  And then, all of a sudden, things come to a complete standstill in v. 25.

v. 25-26 – In this midst of this crowd was a woman in great need.  We do not know a lot about this woman, she certainly was not as well known as Jairus.  But Mark does tell us some key details about this woman:

she had a discharge of blood. This was not only a trying medical condition, but it also made her ceremonially unclean (Lev. 15:25-27).  We don’t know this specifically about this woman, but many times this condition would lead to the husband leaving the wife because she could not produce children. This condition would have prevented her from normal social relationship. She was not even technically supposed to be in this crowd of people.

she had this condition for twelve years.

she suffered much under many physicians. She had been to many doctors seeking a cure, but none had been able solve her problem.  From a human standpoint her condition was incurable.

she spent all of her money trying to find a cure. Medical care was no less expensive in the ancient world, and all the doctors and treatments that she had tried cost her all that she had.

her condition was worsening. Not only was she not getting better, she was getting worse.

Mark’s vivid description of this woman highlights the point that from a human perspective this woman’s situation was hopeless.  The frailty of human life had taken everything from her, and she was at the end of her rope. But there was one more option…

vv. 27-28 – She had heard of Jesus, and she thought that if she could just touch His garment she might be healed.  This woman, just like Jairus, recognized Jesus’ power over sickness.  This is why she snuck through the crowd and touched the hem of Jesus’ garment.  She, like Jairus, had a small measure of faith that Jesus would take and grow, and he did this first by healing her.

In verse 29 Mark tells us that as soon as this woman touched Jesus she was healed.  Rather than Jesus becoming unclean from this woman, this woman was made clean by Jesus.  This reveals that He clearly has power over even the most serious of human sickness.  He was able to immediately heal her, and she immediately felt the effects of that healing.  After all that she had been through, she finally had relief and Jesus knew it.

In v. 30 Mark tells us that Jesus felt the power going out from him, and asked who had touched him.  This question seems strange to me.  There were a lot of people crowding around to touch him.  In fact, the disciples were puzzled by this as well.  In v. 31 “his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’ ”

In other words, there are lots of people touching you!  But Jesus knew that there was one person in particular that he needed to address. This is why he asked the question, and why he continued looking for that person in v. 32.  He was not ignorant of what was going on.  Jesus knew that this person had genuine faith that needed to grow.  He wanted give this woman something more than just physical healing.  He wanted to give her further blessing by providing the opportunity to have personal communion with Him.  You might say that Jesus was drawing this woman to himself by seeking her out.  He wanted her faith to grow, and for her to have the opportunity to praise Him.

While Jesus was looking for whoever it was that had touched him, this woman was the only one in the crowd who had any idea what was going on.  She knew that she was the one that Jesus was looking for, and it is interesting how she reacted in v. 33.

She reacted with “fear and trembling.”  She is probably afraid because she felt like she was healed without permission, and she is a woman, and she would have to make her unclean status known publicly.  She was afraid, but there was something that outweighed he her.  It was Jesus.  What we see here is that Jesus used his power to help this woman change her focus from the healing to the Healer!  The result was that this woman fell down before Jesus and told him everything!  Jesus gave this woman the opportunity to live out Psalm 50:15:

and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”

In v. 34 Jesus responds to the woman and reveals that not only is He all powerful, but He is also benevolent.  He is loving, and involved in our everyday lives.  He affectionately calls her daughter.  He also commends her faith.  He says that was her faith that made her well.  This is interesting because the word here literally means “saved.” Jesus may have used this word because the woman had been saved from her physical condition.  But I don’t think that it is a stretch to say that Jesus has more in mind here that just physical healing.  By drawing this woman to Himself, and interacting with her in this way, Jesus was going beyond the physical realm to benefit this woman spiritually. In fact, even if it is not clear in this passage, the rest of the bible makes it clear that Jesus is more interested in our spiritual well-being than our physical well-being.

So, Jesus had the power to heal this woman physically, and He used that power to help her faith to grow. This miracle should do the same thing for our lives.  It should cause our faith and love for Christ to grow.


[1] C.E.B. Cranfield, The Gospel According to Mark, 183.

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