stilled a storm so violent that the disciples were afraid they were going to die. As they were
running around trying to keep the boat from capsizing, he was asleep on a cushion in the stern of
the boat. They woke him as demanded, “Don’t you care if we drown?” Jesus takes care of
business and then chastises them for their lack of faith. He’s rather harsh with them. Those of us
that like to think of Jesus as mild, gentle, and always understanding have not looked at the whole
unfiltered Jesus. After this episode the disciples might be more terrified of this Jesus that the
wind and sea obeys than they were of the storm itself.
Today, they are returning to Capernaum from this boat ride to the other side of the lake
(aka the Sea of Galilee or the Sea of Tiberius), and we might see the compassionate Jesus
that we are more comfortable with.
Mark 5:21-43 (NIV)
21 When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large
crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake. 22 Then one of the synagogue
leaders, named Jairus, came, and when he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet. 23 He pleaded
earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her
so that she will be healed and live. ”24 So Jesus went with him. A large crowd followed
and pressed around him. 25 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for
twelve years. 26 She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent
all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. 27 When she heard about Jesus, she
came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 because she thought, “If I just touch
his clothes, I will be healed. ”29 Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that
she was freed from her suffering. 30 At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him.
He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” 31 “You see the people
crowding against you, ”his disciples answered,“and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’” 32 But
Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. 33 Then the woman, knowing what had happened
to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her,
“Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering. ”35 While Jesus
was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter
is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore? ” 36 Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him,
“Don’t be afraid; just believe.” 37 He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the
brother James. 38 When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw a commotion, with
people crying and wailing loudly. 39 He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing?
The child is not dead but asleep. ” 40 But they laughed at him. After he put them all out, he took the child’s
father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. 41 He took
her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”).
42 Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were
completely astonished. 43 He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give
her something to eat.
Again, we have a story within a story. A few weeks ago we had the story of Mary and Jesus’ brothers coming to
fetching him home book ending the story of when scribes from Jerusalem came to check Jesus out and accused
him of being in league with the devil. His altercation with the scribes may have even been the reason that Mary
and the others came to take charge of Jesus, but he effectively sends them away saying that the people he is with
are his family now.
Today, Jesus is on a very important mission. The president of the local synagogue has fallen on his knees to beg
Jesus to save his daughter. Our Pew Bibles translate the Greek word as “healed,” but a better word might be
rescued or saved, the literal meaning of the word. That’s because this healing is more than just of a body. It is
rescue from a terrible predicament, a restoration to life and to community. They have been saved, not only
from their malady but also from the life they were living before.
Let’s look at this from the beginning. Jairus, the president of the synagogue in Capernaum, falls at Jesus’ feet.
Jairus may not be the richest or more influential person in his community, but he was right up there. Men
of higher position did not fall at the feet of another. It was very undignified, but he is desperate. His daughter
is near death, and his last hope is Jesus. He is sure that if Jesus puts his hands on her, touches her, she will be
saved. Jesus immediately goes with Jairus. No questions asked.
By now, the crowds are surrounding Jesus. They have heard about him. They want to see what he will do
next. They are pressed close to him, like an overfilled elevator, like people waiting to see a parade lined up
next to the road. You may not feel comfortable with everyone pressing in against you, but if you had an
opportunity to see Jesus, wouldn’t you be willing to put up with it?
Then, there is this woman who has been suffering immeasurably for twelve years. She sees Jesus, and
she also sees her chance. “I won’t bother him. I won’t give him the opportunity to say no. I won’t even
touch him directly. If I just touch his clothes, I will be saved.” (It’s the same Greek word used by Jairus.)
She is desperate. She is also right, her bleeding stops.
Now, the woman is really scared. Her socio-economic status could not be more different than the
synagogue leader’s, but she also falls Jesus’ feet. She was one step up from a leper if that. The only
difference is that she was not biologically or medically contagious. Anyone who came in contact with
her would become ritually unclean and could not participate in the life of the community or even with
their family until they were ritually purified. So of course, this woman could not participate in any of these
things either. She has been banned for twelve years. That synagogue that Jairus was the president of, she
couldn’t enter it. She felt that she could not participate in a life with God. She was shunned by her community.
She was destitute from all those medical treatments that made her worse. Can anybody relate to that?
Jesus was her last hope, and amazingly it worked. She was healed, but now, everything is going to be brought
out into the open. This crowd is going to discover that they may have all been made ritually unclean from her
presence in the press of the crowd. Things could get ugly. I can imagine her thinking as she decided to come
forward. “No matter what I do, it’s the wrong thing.” Have you ever felt that way? But, she is brave. She does
come forward, and Jesus does a beautiful thing. She may have expected him to criticize her, scold her, “How dare
you steal a miracle? All you had to do is ask?” No, he doesn’t do anything like that. First, he calls her “Daughter.”
She is part of the family.
Jesus publically restores her to the community. Her shame is gone. Jesus publically acknowledges her full
healing. She can begin life a-new in her family, in the community. Her faith has not just healed her. Her faith has
Her new life begins immediately. She doesn’t have to wait. Meanwhile, while all this has been going on Jairus has
been waiting. His daughter is at death’s door, and Jesus is delaying this restoration of the woman. Will it be too
late for his little girl?
Then Jairus gets a message from his house. It is too late. His little girl has died. Before Jairus can say a word
of anger, grief, or disappointment, Jesus tells him, “Don’t’ be afraid, just believe.” Imagine how hard that would
be in the moment. He had come to Jesus will just a flicker of hope, of faith, in his desperation. Now, he feels like
he’s been kicked in the shins. All the air has left his body, and he’s ready to collapse. And Jesus says, “Don’t be
afraid, just believe.” “Okay,” he says, “Let’s go.” They arrive at the house, and the professional wailers are already
there. These professional wailers or grievers could be great because the grieving family could express their grief
openly without feeling like they were making a spectacle of themselves.
Did these people have faith, or were they just desperate? Was their faith born out of their desperation? Is faith
that is born out of desperation legitimate compared say with faith based on a review of the evidence or faith that
you were taught? One thing is for sure. The fact that their faith came from their desperation did not stop the miracle.
I am reminded of the man who brought his epileptic son to the disciples while Jesus, Peter, James, and John were
on the mountaintop for the transfiguration. They had already been sent out by Jesus around the countryside to teach
and to heal people. They came back reporting all the things that they were able to do in Jesus’ name, but they could not
heal this child. Jesus talks to the father and questions whether he believes. The father says, “I do believe; help me
overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:14-27) Even when we believe, as flawed humans, our belief is imperfect.
Compare that with the disciples out on the boat during the storm from last week. They were desperate, but they did
not ask Jesus to help. They only complained about his lack of concern over the situation that was going to mean their
death when the boat sank. He gives them an earful about that. They did not have faith born out of desperation. They
were just desperate.
There is no chastisement of the synagogue leader or the woman. These two people could not be further apart from a
socio-economic perspective, but Jesus treats them the same. What do you think happened to their miniscule faith
after their encounters with Jesus? Grew exponentially. The smallest amount of faith is acknowledged by Jesus. Does
that mean that if we have faith that we get everything we want? No, it is not a transaction between God and us.
It is not an exchange. That kind of attitude can be very damaging to faith. I heard a story where a family and
their church prayed for a woman’s healing. She got worse. The people said that they needed to have more faith.
“We don’t have enough faith, or she would be getting well.” Eventually, she died. Some of her family felt incredible
guilty. If they had only had more faith, she would have lived. They felt responsible. Other members of the family
resented the church terribly for laying the guilt on them in the first place. They left the church and may never return.
I am so thankful for our church’s prayer chain. We do pray boldly for healing and many kinds of restoration for
wholeness for people in our church, our community, and for people literally all over the world. However, we also
pray for God’s will, and if it’s someone’s time that they will feel God’s presence with them and their family. We
praise\every healing, but we also acknowledge the pain and suffering when things don’t go the way we hoped. There
is no guilt that maybe we didn’t put enough faith or effort into our prayers.
Here’s a newsflash. Unless, Jesus comes back tonight, we are all going to die of something. None of us are getting
out of this existence alive. We will begin our new life with God, and that will be great. In the meantime, we will live.
We will have our challenges, and we will die. No matter how much faith we have, how hard we pray, it is going to
What we can count on is that Jesus will be there to go through it all with us. He will have compassion. We will be
restored, just like with the bleeding woman, Daughter, family. Our faith, our salvation, is about restoring us. Restoring
our relationship with God. Restoring us to a right relationship with God and with the world around us. It is saving us
from the twisted life of “I win. You lose.” “You hit me. I’m going to hit you harder.” That is a miserable life.
Through faith, we are restored to a life where we love the people around us. We help our neighbor even if they say they
hate us, even if we feel they have taken advantage of us, even if we feel that they have no right to expect anything from us.
Why? It would be enough to be because God says so, but we get more. We get to know that we are helping to bring in God’s
kingdom. The world can be more beautiful. We can be a part of that. And when we do have catastrophes, we will have
people around who by God’s grace will help us, who through God’s Spirit will help to restore us.
We may be desperate. Our faith may be hanging on by a string, but that faith is still a sign, a stirring of new life. No
matter what draws us to Christ, that contact will change us forever. It restores us in way that nothing else can. That is
the Good News, and that is Jesus Unfiltered.