Jesus’ Power Is Enough
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Today’s story of two healings in a single reading appears to present a horrific choice: should Jesus hurry to the dying daughter of a rich man, or pause to heal an outcast woman? The urgency of both requests before him presents a real dilemma, one we might be tempted to resolve in a variety of either/or ways. Either he keeps his commitment to Jairus, or he pauses to help the woman before him who is so obviously suffering. He either helps an important person who can help him further his ministry, or gives help to someone who has no other resource at all.
We see these apparent zero-sum equations in our ministry all the time. The church council meets over the budget and feels the pull between benevolence outside the congregation and the increasing costs of health care for the church’s employees. The building’s windows need repair, but we know another congregation across town that can barely pay its pastor. The needs “inside” and the needs “outside” always seem in competition.
Individuals feel these tensions as well: people are sandwiched between the needs of aging parents and the needs of small children; parents feel stretched to meet their vocational obligations and spend time with their families; students want to serve others but feel pressed to just get their own work done.
Of course, in the face of Jesus’ power, none of these really are either/or propositions, even though they seem like dead ends. In Mark’s gospel, Jesus’ power is enough to provide new life for both the rich man’s daughter and the poor woman. How often do we assume that God’s power is not enough to bring life out of the seemingly impossible choices we make? We are challenged to open up the interruptions and hard choices of our lives to Jesus’ power to bring life out of death.
Gospel: Mark 5:21-43
Jairus, a respected leader, begs Jesus to heal his daughter. A woman with a hemorrhage was considered ritually unclean and treated as an outcast. Both Jairus and the unnamed woman come to Jesus in faith, believing in his power to heal and bring life out of death.
21When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. 22Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet 23and 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.” 24So he went with him.
And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. 25Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. 26She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. 27She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” 29Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” 31And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?’ ” 32He looked all around to see who had done it. 33But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. 34He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
35While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?” 36But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” 37He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. 38When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. 39When he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” 40And 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. 41He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!” 42And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. 43He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.