March 10 – Mark 5:21-43


Main Focus: In the middle of a chaotic moment Jesus cared for a sick woman and a little girl, and this tenderness characterizes both him and his love for us.

Jared Trumbo, pastor of Vintage Church North, described the scene of Mark 5:21-43 this way: “Jesus glides through the chaos to bring healing and peace.” We’ll talk through the specifics of the passage below, but keep in mind that gliding; it describes Jesus’s remarkable ability to be in an intense situation, present and attentive, but remain grounded and unflappable. Though surrounded by chaos and demands, Jesus is perfectly capable of remaining attentive to whomever is in front of him, and this reassures us that, in the chaos and demands of our lives, Jesus can love us with an attentive, storm-stilling sort of love.

In Mark 5:21 we find Jesus in an incredibly busy season of ministry (you’ll find parallel versions of this story in Matt. 9:18–26 and Luke 8:40–56). Crowds are following him wherever he goes, eager to listen to his teaching and to be healed of various diseases. In the crush and press of this crowd a man named Jairus rushes up to Jesus begging him to come heal his sick daughter who is “at the point of death.”

We’ll start discussion trying to get the scene of the story in our heads, the chaos and crowdedness of it all, particularly because Jesus stands in such sharp contrast through his calm, gentle demeanor. And throughout this story we also see how available and present Jesus is; for him, all the demands of the crowd can wait while he goes to help Jairus’s daughter. But then, on the way to help her, Jesus gets stopped by another person in need, this time a woman with a bleeding disorder that has crippled her and, perhaps worse, left her ostracized. Due to her bleeding she would have been considered ceremonially unclean (Lev. 15:25-30), cut off from engagement with other members of her Jewish community. This explains her anxiety over revealing herself; had Jesus been anyone else, her touching him would have made him unclean too.

With this woman and with the little girl a little later, Jesus is incredibly tender. He calls the woman “daughter” and speaks peace to her in the midst of her fear; with the girl he takes her small hand in his own and sweetly wakes her like any father would. I’m a sappy dad, and the way Sally Lloyd-Jones captures this in the Jesus Storybook Bible makes me tear up sometimes: “‘Honey,’ he said, ‘it’s time to get up.’ And he reached down into death and gently brought the little girl back to life.”

Like we mentioned week 1, the stories we’re looking at in Jesus & People are primarily about Jesus, not about us. How he treats the woman and Jairus’s daughter tells us loads about his compassionate, unhurried, tender love. But it’s that same love with which he loves us, and in these stories we get a chance to encounter the perfectly consistent Jesus; he’s just as compassionate, just as unhurried, and just as tender with us as he was with them. We’ll take a moment in discussion to explore this, particularly by asking how we may tend to expect something less than tender or compassionate out of Jesus.

Finally, we’ll put ourselves briefly in Jairus’s shoes to experience some of the intense gratitude he must’ve felt over his daughter’s resurrection, and we’ll do this to ask how this same sort of gratitude might change us. Reading stories like this you might think that the woman and Jairus’s family got a backstage pass with Jesus while you’re stuck in the nosebleeds, like they encountered Jesus in a more real way than we can today. But Jesus said “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29). We can encounter him just as powerfully and rejoice just as gladly, and gratitude to God, more than anything else in the Christian life, can bolster us through the chaos of our lives and help us cling to our faith in him.

Discussion questions

– Could someone read Mark 5:21-43 for us?

– How would you describe the setting of this story; what did it look, sound, and feel like?

– How does Jesus interact with people here?

– In what ways have you experienced the same sort of treatment from Jesus?

– How does Jesus’s tenderness here compare or contrast with how you typically expect him to treat you?

– Imagine Jairus’s gratitude by the end of the story—how do you think growing in gratitude to Jesus might change you?