Friday of Pentecost 6  – Mark 5:21-43

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

35 While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler’s house some who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” 36 But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” 37 And he allowed no one to follow him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. 38 They came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and Jesus saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. 39 And when he had entered, he said to them, “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping.” 40 And 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. 41 Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, 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 he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.

Biblical scholars sometimes refer to this passage as a rhetorical sandwich. One story begins, the story of Jesus and the synagogue ruler but this is wrapped around another story, the story of the woman with the bleeding condition. I only bring that up because of the final words in the passage. Did you catch that? How do you know a Jewish mother is out of her mind? She needs to be reminded to feed her child!

How had that mother started the day? Probably worried. Her little girl was sick, very sick and not getting better. We do not really understand that. We have antibiotics and modern medicine. We rarely lose a child to an infection anymore. Children still die and we consider it very tragic. In the ancient world and into the last century, it was more normal than it is for us. Many children died. She knew how this would go. She had undoubtedly seen it happen in other children in her neighborhood if not another child of her own.

Her husband dashed off to find a miracle, but she stayed behind, holding her daughter’s limp, feverish hand until the end. And then that end came. She stopped breathing. The news spread, the mourners came and began to wail outside the room. She waited for her husband to return from his errand. She left her little girl on the bed, and she joined in the grief of the mourners outside. But then there was a commotion. Her husband was back and the prophet or rabbi or whatever he was had said the girl was only sleeping. They laughed at his foolishness, but she had no laughter. She knew her little girl was dead. This man came into the room, dismissed the mourners, sent the others away, and took her lifeless hand in his own hand. He spoke to her, “Little girl, get up.”

Her eyes flew open, and she pivoted out of bed and stood up! She walked. She had not walked for days. What went through that mother’s heart in that moment? We can only imagine. But she must have been out of her mind a little. The Teacher leaned over and said, “You better give her a snack, I think she’s hungry.”

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