Mark 5

21 When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. 22 Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet 23 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.” 24 So he went with him.

And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. 25 Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. 26 She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. 27 She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” 29 Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30 Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” 31 And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?’” 32 He looked all around to see who had done it. 33 But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. 34 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, some people came from the leader’s house to say, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?” 36 But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” 37 He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. 38 When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. 39 When he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” 40 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. 41 He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!” 42 And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. 43 He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.

Let me weave you a tale of two daughters.

Mark tells us this story in chapter 5, using a literary device: inclusio, which is basically a story within a story. You start one story, then in the middle you tell another story, and then you finish the first story. It’s kind of a story sandwich. Mark uses this literary device six times in his gospel, a story within the story. The stories complement each other and create a meeting that is greater than the sum of the parts.

Mark 5

In mark 5 Jesus and the disciples go out on the sea of Galilee. A great storm arises, and Jesus says to the storm, “peace, be still.“ When he gets to the other side he heals the Geresene demoniac, and then they get back in the boat and head back to Galilee.         

When they docked the boat in Galilee and hop onto the shore, there’s already a huge crowd waiting for them. That’s where our story today begins.

The Story

The minute Jesus and the disciples step out of the boat, a man pushes through the crowd. He’s an important man and his daughter is sick. Jesus agrees to go with him.

On the way a woman with a 12 year hemorrhage touches his cloak and is healed. He says he touched me. She comes clean, pun intended, and Jesus says, “daughter, your faith has made you well.”

Just as Jesus says this some people break through the crowd and tell Charis that his daughter is dead. There’s no need for Jesus to come. It’s too late. But they go anyway. When they arrive people or morning, but Jesus tells them the girl is just asleep, and he tells her to get up in his native tongue. She does, and he orders a room service.

But what does this all mean? let’s break it down.

Jairus’ Daughter

What does Jairus do? He is the leader of the synagogue. He’s an important guy. The name Jairus means “God enlightens.” As a leader of a synagogue, he’s concerned about ritual cleanliness. This is important.

How old is the girl? 12 years old. This is important.

The woman with the Hemorrhage

What is wrong with this woman? Well she has a hemorrhage. That’s not good.

How long has she had this condition? 12 years. Wait, how old was a little girl? 12 years. This woman has been sick as long as this little girl has been alive. They’re both on the rocks.

γυνὴ αἱμορροοῦσα δώδεκα ἔτη (gynē haimorroousa dōdeka etē

What does this mean for her?

Sick. Anemic. Awful.

Deut. 15: Unclean

Social and religious isolation

She could not marry

If she was married she could not know her husband in the biblical sense. In fact she could not touch him or the children.

She could prepare meals but they can eat them    

She should not be in public      

Grounds for divorce

Taboo. Unmentionable women’s problem.

In Jesus’ day, religion was about purity, being good enough for God. Jairus would’ve known all about that. The woman did too. Most of the purity laws started off as health codes, they had developed into an honor shame society divided people, labeling them as clean and unclean.  

How about you? Are you clean? Are you good enough for God? Is that what it’s really all about?

Jesus offers a new wine. He suggests that God loves all people, all gods children, even those who are broken by sin, or disease, or even a hemorrhage that ostracize them from daily life and society. The office is not a religion of law, but a religion of gospel. Not a religion of purity, but a religion based on love of God and neighbor.

She touches his cloak and is healed. He says, “who touched me?“ The disciples find this funny. There’s a huge crowd around Jesus, and he wonders who touched him? He has felt a disturbance in the force?

But here’s the deal. An unclean woman with a blood flow has touched Jesus, a man she does not know. He is now unclean. He is now subject to similar restrictions.

She falls at his feet and tells him the story. He is not angry with her. His look is not one of shame or judgment. It is a look of compassion.

He says, “Daughter,” because this is a story of two daughters, “DAUGHTER, your faith has made you well; go in peace, be healed…” He speaks a word peace to her a word of peace, as he did to the wind and the waves on the stormy sea of Galilee.

Jairus’ Daughter again

Just then, some people break to the crowd and announce that the girl is dead. When they get there, people are wailing as one would expect it’s such a horrific situation. But Jesus surprises them. “She is not dead. She is asleep.“ Sometimes people talk about Jesus raising Jairus daughter from the dead, but that’s not what the Bible says. Jesus says she is not dead. The people laugh at him, and then he does something remarkable. He touches her.

Touching a dead body also makes one unclean for some time. That’s twice in one day for Jesus.

And then he says to her, in Aramaic, his mother tongue, “Talitha Kum.” The words mean, “Little girl get up.”

In our companion Synod, the Lutheran Church of Peru, there’s a little church I have visited, way up in the Andes Mountains, in Cuzco, not far from Machu Picchu, and the name of that church is Talitha Kum, “Little Girl, Get Up Lutheran Church.”

Talitha Kum is also the name of the organization of US Catholic sisters against human trafficking. Of course it is girls who are most often the victims of human trafficking. Everyone of them s someone’s daughter. The world may see them as disposable, but Jesus calls them daughters.

We are in the midst of a global refugee crisis. There are 80 million displaced people in our world today. 40% of them are children. They are Jesus daughters, and therefore they are our daughters.

Battered children are showing up at our southern border, victims of violence and poverty at our back door. Let us not look at them with shame as unclean, but with compassion. They are our daughters.

We don’t know the woman’s name. We are never told. We will never know the little girl’s name. We are not told. Women and girls had very little status in Jesus’ day, just a little bit above slaves. But Jesus calls them daughters, beloved of God.

Peace to you in the midst of the storms of life.

Peace to you when you battle your demons.

Peace to you when those you love are at death’s door.

Peace to you when you suffer the flow of life’s woes.

Talitha Kum. Get up my daughter. Be healed. You are beloved, loved with an everlasting love, a love that is stronger than the grave.