Since the great estrangement when Adam and Eve chose the denial of community over the intimacy of communion, to bow at the altar of self rather than practice selflessness, to forsake the Garden rather than embrace God, sin has been the cause of schism.
For Mark’s Gospel, faith is determined by the determination to overcome. The untiring attempts at reconciliation, one’s resolves- despite successful career or improbable distance or thatched barrier or blinded eyes or foaming psychosis or genetic sin- to be with God in Jesus.
In today’s text, two more join the list of the faithful, Jairus and the hemorrhaging woman. So what are they willing to do to be with Jesus?
Mark 5:21-43 When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly, “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.” So he went with him. And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?’” He looked all around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?” But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. When he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. Then 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. He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!” And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.
Cross every line.
Risk possible judgment and punishment.
Willingness to ruin a reputation.
For Jairus, a Jerusalemite aristocrat flush with the currencies of power as head of the synagogue, he isn’t too proud to beg. Knees in the dirt and empty handed, he pleads with Jesus to save his daughter. Choosing a father’s love over a public figure’s pride, he panhandles for mercy, soliciting an authority higher than his own.
For the hemorrhaging woman, she trespasses all over the boundaries of social edict. Women should be accompanied at all times, she’s alone in the crowd. Women should never approach a man without permission, she grabs his cloak without consent. Women should announce their infection from a distance, she conceals her condition to get close. With a trail of blood dripping behind her, she refuses to stay in her place.
For both Jairus and the hemorrhaging woman, they are willing to lose their religion to find family. The Book of Numbers warns against the defilement that comes from contact with dead corpses. But Jairus disavows the Bible’s rules of segregation to be skin-to-skin with his girl on the gurney. Leviticus renders vaginal blood unclean and any menstruating woman is a woman to be avoided. But the hemorrhaging woman defies the purity codes to be healed, to be claimed as a daughter of God.
Most of all, both are willing to forgo the finality of biology, refusing to believe that what’s dead stays dead, that after 4380 days of bleeding nothing will stop the flow. Instead, they desperately reach a Jesus who defies the laws of nature, who leaves the grave empty, who is never too late for new life.
In Mark’s short 16 chapters, fishermen lay down their nets to follow, the crush of people sprint down the shoreline to listen, the believers cut a hole in the roof to get their friend closer, Blind Bartimaeus screams out to draw attention, and the demoniac comes out of the tomb to be exorcized.
Since the great estrangement, all of us end up bleeding and dying in one way or another. So the question of our lives, of our faith, is what are you willing to do to get closer with Jesus?