There are certainly some significant differences between the two people who come to Jesus for healing in this story
The man is an important person in the community, while the woman is an outcast from the community
The man has a name, Jairus, while the woman goes nameless
The man comes to Jesus directly, speaks to him face to face, on behalf of his dying daughter, while the woman sneaks up behind Jesus, saying nothing, for her own healing
Jairus’s daughter is physically dying, while the woman is considered spiritually dead
I suppose Mark wants us to notice these significant differences between the two main people in this story (besides Jesus, of course), but as I look at these two conjoined stories this week, what I can’t help noticing is the one thing they have in common – desperation
They both seek out Jesus because they have nowhere else to go
They both seek out Jesus because, well, what do they have to lose
Jairus seeks out Jesus because otherwise his daughter will die, and in doing that, he may well have had to swallow some pride and risk some conflict within the synagogue
After all, Jesus was a controversial figure, and was someone a lot of religious leaders wanted, at best, to keep at arm’s length
Maybe, as synagogue leader, Jairus may have wanted to take a sort of wait and see attitude about this wandering teacher
But when his daughter is on her death bed, when all other hope for healing has been exhausted, none of that stuff matters
Jesus has healed others, maybe he can heal his little girl
He’s desperate, he’ll take any risk he has to, he doesn’t care what others might say or think
The life of his daughter is more important than anything else, so he goes to Jesus and begs
A leader of the synagogue, one of the most important men in the whole village, goes to the Jesus, and begs for help
Jesus, of course, goes with him
But as they are going to the house of Jairus, an anonymous woman comes up to Jesus, from behind, hoping no one will see her, and, without saying a word, just reaches out and touches his cloak
She’s been bleeding for 12 years (as long as Jairus’ daughter has been alive), and the doctors had all failed to heal her
And now she is broke, and desperate
But more than broke, because she is bleeding, she is considered unclean by, well, folks like Jairus, and all other faithful Jews
She is to be shunned
She is never to touch anyone, and no one is to touch her, because, even though her disease isn’t contagious, her condition is highly contagious
Unclean is easily passed from one person to another, just by touch
She has nothing to lose, though, because, well, she has already lost everything, so she risks whatever shred of hope she has left, whatever tiny bit of faith she still has, and works her way up to Jesus to touch him
And Jesus feels the power go out of him – healing power that not only stops the bleeding but makes the woman clean again
And Jesus stops and says, who touched me
To which the disciples reply, you’re kidding, right? In this crowd, you ask who touched you?
But Jesus persists – he has to know who touched him
He wants to know who has been healed
The woman is now duly terrorized, because she has been caught breaking all the rules about clean and unclean
She touched Jesus, and now he is, according to the crowd and the law, unclean, too
She knows she’s in for it, she knows she’s about to get some serious verbal abuse, and Jesus says to her, nothing of the sort
He calls her “daughter”, a family term, a term of closeness and affection
A term we’ve heard before, from Jairus
Daughters are loved
Daughters are special
Daughters are part of the community
She is not just over her illness, good as that is, she is clean
She is part of the community again
She has her life back
She has been brought back from her own death into new life
She is more than well, she is whole
She was broken, now she is whole
She was broken, now she is made new
Go in peace, daughter
But now the messengers come, and the other daughter, the one whose father has risked so much for, has died
No need for Jesus now, what can he do
What, indeed
Jesus says to Jairus, don’t fear, just believe
How much do we all need to hear those words
How much do we need to hear Jesus say to us, don’t fear, just believe
When we seem beyond hope, when our lives are filled with sorrow and pain, when we seem as good as dead, when we just don’t want to go on anymore, when we just want to say, enough, Jesus says to us, don’t fear, just believe
Believe in the one who heals
Believe in the one who restores
Believe in the one who makes us whole
Believe in the one who calls us daughter, and son
They get to the house, the mourners are busy at work, and Jesus says to them, stop
You aren’t needed here because this girl isn’t dead, she’s just sleeping
They laughed, because they knew dead when they saw it, and this girl is dead
But Jesus says different
Back then, folks thought dead meant separated from God
Someone who died was now separated from God
Except, that Jesus is about to show them that that isn’t how it is anymore
Death is nothing to God, and the dead are still with God
God is bigger and better than death, and to prove it, Jesus goes into the room where the girl is laying and says to her, little girl, it’s time to get up
And she does get up
Because God is with her, always, even in death
Death is not separation from God because God conquer’s death
Just wait until Jesus himself dies, and then doesn’t stay dead
This girl is made new, and restored, and healed, and made whole, just like the other woman
Two daughters, now part of one family – God’s family of folks made new, made whole
I wonder if they ever got to talk to one another about that day when Jesus made them both whole
Jesus makes us whole, too
Through baptism, through holy communion, through the constant gift of grace and love, mercy and forgiveness
We are made new every day by the grace of God
We are made whole in Jesus Christ
Our brokenness is healed and restored
And every day, Jesus tells us, it is time to get up