Sunday, December 1, 2013

Two More Healings: Authority over death (Mark 5:21-43)

We come to the second (of seven) “sandwiched” stories in Mark. Mark likes to tell two stories where the action of one is framed around that of another—usually to highlight or comment on something in the inner story with what the framing story conveys. Here that doesn’t really seem to be the case. While both stories convey the same message (and share a lot of commonalities) this feels more like a case of the events simply occurring this way.

Jesus is approached by an important man with a hopelessly sick 12-year-old daughter. He believes that Jesus can save her if He simply will lay His hands on her. Along the way a woman with a 12-year-old helpless sickness touches Jesus, believing His touch will heal her. It does and Jesus notices the power of the healing and draws attention to her action. Jesus doesn’t just send her on her way healed of her illness. He tells her that her faith has “saved” her; she is to go in peace and be healed from her suffering. There is a larger picture here of healing from the suffering of being in rebellion against God. We see here in Mark again the message of faith leading to the Kingdom of God.

At this point, the servants of the important man, Jairus, arrive to tell him it is too late. His daughter has died. But Jesus tells him to keep on believing. When they arrive at the house full of mourners, Jesus sends them away and takes a small, private group into the child. There he simply takes her hand and tells her to arise. She was dead, but is now alive again.

The central point of these stories (similar to the friends in 2:1-12 and later to Bartimaeus in 10:46-52) is that faith is key to restored relationship with God. It is not as though faith is a key element in a magical process of miracle-working; nor is it important that people believed Jesus could perform miracles. (More on this in the very next story.) Trust in Jesus—that God is working through Him in our lives—is what is needed to be saved. The point here is not, “if you just believe ENOUGH or in the RIGHT way, you will not be sick.” It is if you trust God with your life—through all the circumstances and hardships—and you repent of your own attempts at running things and yield to Him and His plans, you can live life as He intends in His kingdom. You can “go in peace and be healed of your sufferings.”

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