Reading Scripture: Mark 5:21-24,35-43

Okay, so why two sections of text? Why am I skipping part of the story? Because there is so much here, I need more than one blog to talk about it all. So, over the next couple of blogs, I will not only discuss the skipped story, but also the connections between all of the stories from the end of Chapter 4 until the end of Chapter 5.

Let us begin with the restoration of a 12-year-old girl in Mark 5:21-24,35-43.

Jesus returns from the pigs and the Gentiles to a large crowd. As I discussed before, synagogues were like men’s Bible studies, and this man Jairus was the leader of the study including responsibility for building maintenance.

The man is devastated, his daughter is dying and one can assume he has done what he could via normal channels. He heard about this man who was healing people and was likely overwhelmed with hope. Jesus agreed to heal, as he has since his ministry began.

However, before he gets there, people show up and tell the leader that the daughter had died, so it was too late. It is interesting to note that they refer to Jesus as, “the teacher.” Which most would assume is a rabbi, but the disconnection is large enough to make the distinction from the Greek word didaskalon.

This is where it starts to get really interesting. Everything up until this point seems pretty straightforward.

“Do no be afraid; just believe.” This is connected to the previous phrase of, “Do you still not have faith,” and, “When Jesus saw their faith.” Jesus never defines for us what he means by faith. He simply uses the terms and we are meant to understand what that means. For the Jews of Jesus time and before, faith meant trusting in God to hold up to His end of the promises He made. In each of these cases, you can understand Jesus words to mean either, “trust me,” or, “don’t you trust me?”

It gets even more complicated when you ask, what does it mean to trust God? Does it mean we should do nothing with our lives? Not exactly, but it does mean you should give over the authority of your life. I have come to understand the world as Jesus presents it as intimately related to human freedom and authority. When the friends lower the paralytic, they are giving the authority they held over their friend’s safety to Jesus. When the disciples are freaking out about drowning, they are having difficulty giving up their control and authority of their situation. In this most recent case, Jesus is asking the girl’s father to give Jesus authority over his daughter. This is not worldly authority that might be transferred via paperwork, but a spiritual authority which needs to be voluntarily relinquished.

I believe this is also why Jesus limits the number of people who can come along, and who could be present at the girl’s restoration. Every human wields spiritual authority over their own bodies, and contest the spiritual authority of spaces in which they reside. Sending everyone outside except for those with authority over the girl, or those who had already given Jesus total authority over themselves meant that Jesus had total control of the situation in the room. This sort of crossed authority, in my opinion, is part of why spiritual healings sometimes don’t work.

It is interesting to note that while some people said the girl was dead, Jesus never acknowledges such, which could mean she only appeared dead, or asleep was used as a euphemism for temporary death in the way that ancient Jews thought that all dead were asleep until awoken at the final judgment.

That she was restored does not surprise us at this point, because Mark has talked about the raising of the dead before this. However, what doesn’t make any sense is Jesus saying that no one should know about this. It is possible that what they were asked not to talk about was Jesus touching of a supposed dead girl. I will explore this concept more in an upcoming blog.

If unrelated, however, A LOT of people knew the girl was dead or dying. If ANY of those people see her at any point, they are going to know what happened. There were A LOT of people outside, and who were just mourning this girl. Jesus would have to secretly exile this family to fulfill his request. It makes no sense that he would say this. It is, however, a pattern for Mark. What was he trying to portray with this running theme?

I hope you have enjoyed pondering with me. Grace and Peace to you all.

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