Two Daughters, Twelve Years, and One Faith (Mark 5:23-41)

Two Daughters, Twelve Years, and One Faith (Mark 5:23-41)

Preached by Pastor Jeff Hamling

Sunday, March 7, 2021


Two Daughters, Twelve Years, and One Faith




My wife, Annmarie, shared an article with me recently. The author of the article, Tony Reinke, was on vacation in Norther Minnesota with his family. They rented a cabin along the shoreline of Lake Superior. One day, they went for a hike and found this beautiful waterfall flowing over a 25-foot cliff into a deep pool of water. Their 15-year old son immediately asked, “Can I jump off that cliff into the pool?” Both parents said, “No, you don’t know if there are boulders in the pool—you could break your neck!” So, they just sat enjoying the view. Then, 3 guys appeared at the top of the cliff in their shorts. One by one they jumped off the cliff into the pool. They climbed back up and did it again. The 15-year old son looked at his parents: “Now that we know that there aren’t any boulders and it’s safe—can I jump?” 


The dad, seeing this as a parenting opportunity, said, “Tell you what. You can jump off the 25-foot cliff under one condition: We are not going to video it. Not on my phone. Not on your mom’s phone. Not on your phone. You won’t be able to share it on social media. I want you to experience the thrill of jumping when it’s just you and the cliff—nothing else.” 


On this condition, the boy threw up his arms and said, Well, then, what’s the point?! 


The authors point is that so much of what we do and don’t do today is done with an audience in mind. What will people think of me? 


In this story, we have two people—a synagogue ruler and a suffering woman—who are both are brought to a moment when nothing else matters. It’s just them and Jesus. You are invited to experience the thrill of putting your faith in Jesus when it’s just him and nothing else. 


Two points: 1) How are these two characters alike? 2) How does their encounter with Jesus change them forever? 

How are these two characters alike? 


The story begins with Jairus—the synagogue ruler—begging Jesus to heal his dying daughter. Jesus agrees, but is interrupted by this woman who is suffering. The story then concludes with Jesus healing Jairus’s daughter. The story of the woman is wrapped inside of the story about Jairus. The message of this story is seen when we compare and contrast these two people. 


At first glance, these two people couldn’t be more different. 


Jairus is a man, he’s a synagogue ruler—which means he’s respected as a religious and upright person, and we later learn that he has a large household suggesting that he is a man of means. 


The woman on the other hand, is a female, she’s not given a name, and she suffers from some form of hemorrhaging (though we don’t know exactly what). V.26 says she had spent all her money on doctors. She is financially destitute. Further, according to OT law, anyone who suffers a discharge of blood is considered ceremonially unclean. She can’t touch people. She can’t enter the temple or even attend Jairus’s synagogue. She is like a leper. A social outcast. 


These two people couldn’t be more different. And yet, they are bound by a certain commonality. 


The passage gives us a hint that we are to see these two people in the same place:  In v.25 it says that the woman has been subject to bleeding for twelve years. Then, in v.42, we’re told that Jairus’s daughter is 12-years old. In other words, Jairus’s daughter was born the same year that this woman’s chronic illness began. 


In some mysterious way, their fates are intertwined. Their lives now intersect as they find themselves on the same day in the same crowd coming to Jesus, both in the same place spiritually. 


But they are most similar in the following two ways:

  • They both have faith.


Think about what Jairus had to overcome to approach Jesus. He’s a synagogue leader. So far in Mark, Jesus hasn’t been that popular with some of the people in the synagogue. In fact, that last time he was in one, some people hatched a plot to kill Jesus (3:6). 


Furthermore, word was slowly getting out that Jesus was leading a kingdom movement. This would have been frowned upon by Herod. 


It would have been safest for Jairus to steer clear of Jesus. 


And yet, in this moment, he doesn’t care about any of that. His little daughter’s life is slipping away; he is desperate and out of options. In v.22, Jairus throws himself down at Jesus feet and begs for help. This is not a dignified thing for a religious leader to do! But he doesn’t care. All that matters is this moment right now with Jesus. 

He really believes that Jesus can heal his daughter. In v.23 he says, “Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” He has faith that just one touch from Jesus can heal his daughter.


It turns out that the suffering woman has the same faith. 


She also has reason not to come to Jesus. She’s not supposed to be in a crowd touching and bumping into other people. She’s ritually unclean. What would people say? What would they think? She’d be further ostracized. 


But, she doesn’t care. She too is desperate and out of options. All she cares about is this moment with Jesus. 


Like Jairus, she has faith that just one touch from Jesus will heal her. In fact, she believes that he is so powerful that in v.28 she thinks, If I can just touch his clothes, I will be healed


They both have an unshakable faith that says, I don’t care what anyone thinks. I don’t care about repercussions. I believe that the touch of Jesus can heal. 

  • The both have an imperfect faith.


Notice, they both want the same thing from Jesus: 


In v.23 Jairus says, My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live. Note: Hands that heal. 


In v.28 the woman says to herself, If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed. Note again, a touch that heals. 


What stands out is that both want a touch that heals from Jesus. But here’s what’s important: The Greek word for “healed” is the same word as “saved.”


Jairus is literally saying, Touch my daughter so she will be saved. The woman is literally saying, I want to touch your cloak so I can be saved.  


Both of them want salvation. But their view of salvation is extremely limited. They only want physical healing. Physical salvation. The don’t see this as a spiritual encounter. 


How Does Their Encounter with Jesus Changes Them Forever?


It’s encouraging to see that even though both these characters have an imperfect faith, Jesus still honors their faith. When you come to Jesus in faith—even if it’s an imperfect, weak, and misguided—Christ will respond.


But it’s also true that when you come to Jesus in faith, yes he gives far more than you ever expect to get. But he also takes far more from you and your faith than you ever expected to give. 


So how does Jesus transform each of their lives? 


First, the woman: 


She sneaks up behind him in the crowd and touches his cloak. In v.29 it says, Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.  


One touch and she feels the shrouds of suffering melt off like snow on the mountains! It worked! And now, she can disappear into the crowd. She won’t have to face the public shame of people knowing that she, an unclean person, touched a rabbi. She can leave because she got what she wanted from Jesus. 


But then, v.30 At once Jesus realized power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?


This disciples think this is absurd, like a quarterback asking after a play, “Who touched me?!” But Jesus has an agenda. He’s pursuing her. 


Suddenly, there’s something in her that wants more that just the physical healing. In this moment, there something in her that wants to come face-to-face with Jesus himself. 


And so, in v.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


Something about this man made her trust him. Unsure of what’s about to happen, she lays it all on the line and confesses what she had done. 


And with one sentence, Jesus transports this woman and her faith into another world forever: v.34Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” 

Daughter?! He called me “daughter?” Jairus is an important man with a daughter. I can see why Jesus might help him. But I’m a nobody. And yet, he called me daughter. 


Jesus blesses her with the gospel message that through Him, she is a daughter of God. There is no higher status. Further, he points out that it wasn’t some superstitious, magic-like touch that healed her. It was that fact that she put her faith in him. Your faith has healed you. 


Now, instead of a physical healing, she has also received a spiritual, life-changing encounter with Christ. 


Second, Jairus: 


What happens to Jairus? Remember, he humbles himself, bows before Jesus, and begs for healing for his daughter. Jesus agrees and starts heading to his house. 


But then, this woman touches Jesus and Jesus stops. The entire mission is delayed and Jesus calls for this woman, searches for her, and then interacts with her. 


Can you imagine how Jairus must have felt? I was first in line! This woman is suffering, but it’s been 12 years. I think she’ll make it another day. Pausing and taking to this woman when there’s no time to waste is like a surgeon rushing to save someone’s life, but then get’s distracted by a patient who has arthritis. This is spiritual malpractice! 


Jesus, why are you delaying? Why stop to talk with this woman when you know I need you now?


But this is the point. Jesus is showing him that part of faith is having patience and trust in God’s timing. Patience is bearing up under difficult circumstances. True faith says, “What is happening to me right now makes no sense. I don’t understand why you won’t intervene. I don’t get why you are delaying your grace for no apparent reason—and yet, Lord, I trust you.” 


As the story progresses, the very thing Jairus dreaded happens. A messenger arrives and says in v.35 Your daughter is dead. Why bother the teacher anymore? Meaning: Jesus can’t help you anymore. 


But Jesus tells Jairus: v.36, Don’t be afraid; just believe.


What Jesus is saying is, Will you trust me and my timing?  Will you believe that I can do unimaginably more than you originally asked of me? 


Jesus then walks into the house, takes the girl by the hand and says, “Talitha Koum.” Some events in the Bible were so profound that the authors kept the original Aramaic words that Jesus spoke. It means: “Little girl, get up.” It was a term of endearment—what parents would say when they woke up their children. “Sweety, it’s time to rise and shine.”


She rose from the dead and began to walk around. 


Jesus took Jairus’s faith and transported it to an entirely different realm. Jesus asked more of Jairus’s faith than he ever imagined. But Jesus also gave him far more than Jairus ever expected him to give. 


Jesus will do the same with you. Do you trust him? 


And one day, he will grab you by the hand and say, “Hey son, hey daughter, rise and shine. It’s time to wake up!” And you will rise with him forever.