When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet 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.”
So he went with him. And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?’” He looked all around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
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?” But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. When he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” 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. He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!” And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.
It’s a narrative of two healings.
A dying little girl, the daughter of synagogue leader Jairus, and the no-name, hopeless nobody woman who has been that way for twelve years.
It is also a narrative of the man of power. The healing rabbi from Nazareth.
Could it be a narrative about who is most deserving of his attention?
Given the views of sickness and suffering as outcomes of God’s judgement and prejudice for the righteous in Jesus’ day, it may well have been.
If it is, then there is no contest as to who is more deserving.
Jairus’ daughter wins.
She has her whole life ahead of her and anyway she is from the correct family with the correct connections. At twelve years of age she is ready to begin being fertile and menstrual.
The woman in the crowd is a hopeless case. Already judged by the futility of her expended resources and the duration of the disease that renders her permanently unclean, she is a waste of the master’s time and his limited power. Her life is finished.
In fact, the very guerilla tactic she employs by sneaking up on him under cover of the crowd to be healed, is in itself grounds for her disqualification.
With all the drama of a novel rushing to its climax, Mark inserts the older hopeless woman into the story of Jesus’ mission to heal the just girl. The old bleeding woman is an interruption and an energy thief to boot!
Yet, as the story unfolds both are healed. The young and the old, the hopeful and the hopeless.
There is enough time, power, compassion, and grace to go round so that no one needs be written off.
I wonder when our selective, cozy, judgemental congregations will learn that?
We just cannot determine who Jesus should prioritize for his attention.
At times of great disaster medical personnel are trained to practice triage. To decide who is most in need of medical attention and care. The injured are tagged with tape. Green for not serious. Yellow for serious. Red for critical. Black for terminal.
If Mark’s edit of the gospel tells us anything it is this…
Christian, pack away your tape and labels.
There is no need for triage in the kingdom of God.