Hope for the Desperate (Mark 5:21-43)

Written by admin on Nov 11, 2013 in - No Comments


Please turn with me this morning in your Bibles to Mark chapter 5. Mark 5 verses 21–43. If you do not have a Bible with you, I invite you to follow along with me in our pew Bibles on page 869. As you are turning, let me tell you a quick story.

Watchman Nee—a man who was a Christian leader in Communist China—recounts an experience he had once in his book The Normal Christian Life. In this story, Watchmen Nee along with a group of Christian young men decided to cool off by swimming in a creek one day. Only one of the men swimming that day could be called a strong swimmer. The afternoon went on and most had finished their swim including the experienced swimmer. And then, while the rest were on the shore, one man who remained in the water, got in trouble, and began to drown. He cried for help and all the men immediately turned to the one swimmer they knew could save the man pleading for help. To their disbelief, the experienced swimmer just stood there watching the events unfold before him rather than race to the water as they had expected. The swimmer began to lose all his strength and began to go under water. After what seemed like a lifetime, the experienced swimmer casually walked to the water and dove in and saved the man. After the drowning swimmer had been pulled from the water, Watchman Nee ran over and gave the rescuer a piece of his mind saying he had never seen anyone—and a Christian at that—love themselves so much that they would not risk their life to save another.

This is when the rescuer said something really profound that we can relate to our own lives. Answering his accuser, the man explained: “If I were to jump in immediately and try to save a drowning man, he would clutch me in panic and pull me under with him. In order to be saved, he must come to the end of himself, and cease struggling, cease trying to save himself. Only then can he be helped.”

The lesson for us is that until we realize our desperate situation, we will never realize our need for a savior. As long as we believe we can get ourselves out of the desperate situation we are in, we will keep kicking and scratching and fighting to save ourselves. And even though there is someone willing to save us, our own efforts will prevent it. We are not savable until we stop trying to save ourselves. The problem, though, is that when we find ourselves in desperate situations, it is very difficult to not to try to save ourselves.

Well, in today’s passage, Mark relays to us two stories about desperate people. These are two stories about people desperate and without hope. In these two stories we learn a great deal about ourselves and our own condition apart from being found in Christ. And in these two stories we see that it is only when people come to Jesus desperately seeking his help that they will find it.

Go ahead and follow along with me in your Bible as I read from Mark 5:21–43.

21 And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about him, and he was beside the sea. 22 Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet 23 and implored him earnestly, saying, “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.” 24 And he went with him. And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him.

25 And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, 26 and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. 27 She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. 28 For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” 29 And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30 And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?” 31 And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’” 32 And he looked around to see who had done it. 33 But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. 34 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

35 While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler’s house some who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” 36 But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” 37 And he allowed no one to follow him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. 38 They came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and Jesus saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. 39 And when he had entered, he said to them, “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping.” 40 And they laughed at him. But 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. 41 Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” 42 And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement. 43 And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat. (Mark 5:21–43 ESV)

The Scene

Remember last week, we heard Mark’s account of Jesus calming the storm during the crossing the Sea of Galilee and casting the legion of demons out of the man on the other side of the sea. This week Jesus and his followers head back to the other side of the sea, most likely right to the spot where the came from. When they arrive Jesus is once again met with a crowd and among the crowd there is a man named Jairus. And we see in verse 22, that Jairus is a ruler of a synagogue.

It is very likely that Jesus and Jairus had met before. Remember, Jesus was going from synagogue to synagogue preaching and healing and casting out demons. And it would make sense that Jairus had been a witness to Jesus’ ministry. And having seen Jesus at work, and now having a need of his own, Jairus comes to Jesus and pleads with him for help.

And having fallen at Jesus’ feet, Jairus begged him saying in verse 23, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.” And we see in verse 24 that without hesitation Jesus begins to fight his way through the crowd to make his way to the home of this desperate father.

But somewhere along the way, in typical Mark fashion, he sandwiches another story in the middle of this one. In verse 25, while on the way to Jairus’ house, Jesus encounters a woman who had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding and over the years she had spent everything she had paying doctors to help her, but she had not gotten any better. Unfortunately, her condition had only gotten worse. Like Jairus she had probably seen Jesus heal before or at least heard stories about his ability to heal and believed that if she could only touch his robe with her fingers that she would be healed. So she came up from behind him in a large crowd of people and touched his robe without him seeing. And, indeed, just as she had believed, her bleeding stopped immediately.

But, Jesus realized that healing power had gone out from him, and he began to scan the crowd. Looking around he asked, “Who touched my robe?” His disciples, probably frustrated by the delay (remember there was a little girl dying), basically say to him, “You are in the middle of a crowd… everyone is touching you. Come on you are wasting time.” But Jesus was persistent. You see Jesus is interested in much more than just providing healing. He is interested in relationships. He is not satisfied for someone to have touched him and been healed without encountering him and knowing him. He wants them to have an explanation as to why they were healed. So he stops and looks for the person who touched him.

And then in verse 33 we see that the woman came to Jesus in fear and trembling, and lying down before him told him the whole truth. Now why was she scared and trembling? Because according to Jewish law, on account of her bleeding condition she was ceremonially unclean. She was not allowed to enter the temple. She was not permitted to be out in public without shouting “Unclean, unclean!” like the leper from a previous sermon. And by touching Jesus, and all the other people she brushed against in the crowd as she made her way to Jesus, she technically renders them unclean as well. That is why she was trembling. She did not know how Jesus would respond.

Last week we talked about the importance of the humanity of Jesus. How important it was for Jesus to not only be God but to also be a man. To be like us. Well in these two stories today we see something about Jesus that is very different from the rest of the men and women who were walking the earth with him. In these stories when Jesus encounters people and conditions that would make others unclean, we see the exact opposite taking place. Jesus is not made unclean by encountering the women who is hemorrhaging blood, instead he makes her clean… he makes her whole. And later, when Jesus encounters the corpse of the Jairus’ dead daughter, Jesus is not made unclean, but the girl is restored to life and made whole.

Well Jesus did not respond in the way the bleeding woman feared he would. He showed her compassion and told her to go away in peace having been healed from her disease.

Now this is a wonderful story. Unless you are Jairus, looking on, waiting on Jesus to hurry up and save your dying daughter. And then, apparently because of the delay, messengers from Jairus’ house come bringing bad news. They tell Jairus that his daughter has died and urge him to just leave Jesus alone.

Can you imagine how Jairus felt? He just witnessed Jesus healing the woman. It has just been proven to him right before his very eyes that he has found the right man to heal his daughter and then the news comes that his daughter has passed the point of being healed. It seems that this delay has ruined any possibility of Jairus’ daughter being restored to health.

There must have been some part of Jairus that was angry. Surely he thought, “This woman wasn’t on the brink of death like my daughter. Couldn’t her healing have waited? Why did Jesus have to delay? Now it is too late.”

But at the same time, in some way, the woman’s faith must have been instructive to Jairus. It had to be. He saw this woman come to Jesus and be healed. She believed that if she touched him she would be healed and she was. Faith overcame her fear. Faith that Jesus could heal her overcame her fear of crossing a societal boundary and touching Jesus. And so in verse 36 when Jesus tells Jairus, “Do not fear, only believe,” Jairus had seen that type of faith demonstrated for him by this woman. And instead of sending Jesus away, Jairus, in faith, continues on with Jesus to his home.

And when Jesus gets to Jairus’ house, there was a great commotion of people weeping and wailing. This probably included professional mourners who were customarily hired when someone died to participate in the mourning process. And they were making a great deal of commotion. If you have ever seen a tragedy unfolding in the Middle East and seen the women shrilling and shrieking that is a good picture of what was going on here.

But this commotion does’t faze Jesus. He dismissed the crowd who were mocking him for thinking there is any hope for the girl. These professional mourners have seen a lot of dead people and they believed for certain the girl was dead. And she was. Jesus saying in verse 39, “The child is not dead but sleeping,” only means that she is not going to remain dead. The girl is dead and had Jesus not arrived she would have remained dead.

And we see in verse 41 that Jesus enters the house and takes the little girl by the hand, speaks to her in Aramaic, and gently commands here to get up. And as we are beginning to expect, the girl immediately got up. The dead girl got up! And now, in addition to all the other demonstrations of authority we have seen in this book, Jesus has demonstrated his authority over death as well. Jesus holds the keys of death in his hand (Revelation 1:18).

Jesus Offers Hope to All

One thing that Jairus and the woman with the bleeding issue had in common is that they were without hope. They were desperate. And one thing that is true of all of us, whether we know it our not, is that we are desperate apart from Jesus. But apart from their desperation, Jairus and this woman have very little in common. They are very different people.

Jairus is a ruler of a synagogue. He he well thought of and well recognized in the community. It is rare for Mark to include the names of people Jesus encounters. But Jairus was probably a well known figure and adding his name must have been important to Mark. Jairus probably had some money. He probably had the means to hire dozens of professional mourners and thus the loud commotion outside of his home.

But the woman, on the other hand, is much different. We don’t know her name. Mark probably doesn’t know her name. She doesn’t have an important title or position. If people knew her at all they only knew her as the woman with the bleeding condition that must be avoided. Jairus comes directly to Jesus and asks for help face to face. This women feels the need to sneak up on Jesus from behind.

And so the only thing they have in common before they meet Jesus is their desperation. But Jesus gives them something else to have in common. Jesus gives them hope! Hope for the man with the important position. Hope for the unclean woman who is the outcast of society. Jesus shows no favoritism or partiality. If anything, the woman in this story is the model for Jairus not the other way around. Brothers and sisters, the hope Jesus has to offer is for all people. Rich or poor. Famous or infamous. Intelligent or not so intelligent. Important or unimportant. Whoever and whatever are welcome at the table of Jesus. Jesus offers hope to all who like this man and woman will place their trust in him.

Hope and Salvation Are Available Only Through Faith

And there is something else very important to notice about Jesus’ conversation with the woman in this passage and his conversation later with Jairus. Look with me in verse 34. What was it that made the woman well? What was it that made her whole? What was it that kept her from eventually dying from this condition? Think about it for a minute. This woman had been bleeding for 12 years. She was certainly anemic. She had to be very weak. And having spent all she had on doctors without any relief, she was certainly out of hope. All that was left for her was to die. And to die alone because no one could or would come near her. But Jesus calls her back to him. This is probably the first time in over a decade anyone has wanted to talk to this woman. Can you imagine that? Can you imagine the emotional pain this woman must have been enduring along with the physical pain?

But notice with me in verse 34 what Jesus says has brought about her restoration. What does it say? What does Jesus say? That’s right. Jesus says, “Daughter, your FAITH has made you well.”

And then later, in verse 36, after the messengers had come to Jairus bringing the bad news, what did Jesus instruct him to do? He said, “Do not fear, only believe.” Again, faith overcomes fear. And this is a decision we all must make. Do we come to the end of our rope, do we stand on the cliff of eternity looking down in fear, or do we grasp hold of Jesus in faith and believe that he can rescue us? Friends, hope and salvation are available to all who will place their trust in Jesus.

Jesus Gives Us Life

Death is the greatest enemy we face as humans. It always has been. Death is not our friend. Death is not natural. It is the most unnatural thing that can happen to a living creature. Death is not something we should embrace. Death is the result of sin. For the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). It is not to be celebrated. It is not to be minimized. The corrupting forces of sin bring death. Death is not natural. Jairus knew this. Looking at his twelve year old daughter lying dead on the bed, Jairus knew that it wasn’t natural and he knew that death wasn’t his friend. Death was an enemy that had taken away his daughter.

But for those of us in Christ, we do not have to fear death. Because in Christ already have victory over death. But at the same time, victory is always victory against an enemy not against a friend. Victory comes against an enemy. Death was brought into the world by Satan and his evil schemes. “Oh come on Eve, Did God really say that you could not eat from any tree in the garden… Give me a break. Don’t buy into that Eve, you can eat of that tree if you want to… And don’t you want to? It looks so good. You will surely not die” (Genesis 3:1–4). It was a lie. Satan knew full well she would die and he knew every one of her offspring would die as well!

It is only through Christ that we have victory over death. For the wages of sin is death, BUT the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23). It is only through Christ we can say with the Apostle Paul, “O death, where is your victory, O death, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55). Again victories are won against enemies. Death wants to win a victory over you and through Christ we are victorious over death because in his resurrection he defeated it. Don’t embrace death like it is something good. It is not. If you befriend death you are not gaining victory over it. At best you are admitting you are powerless against it. At best you are like a king of a small, weak nation submitting to a powerful king because you have no other option. When we try to make death our friend and act like it is no big deal we are minimizing one of the primary reasons Jesus came to die! Brothers and sisters, you don’t have to feel guilty about not being happy about dying. God didn’t create you to die… he created you to live! And Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the LIFE. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

Christ came that we might have life and that we might have it in abundance (John 10:10). He did not come so that we might have death in abundance. That is why Satan came! It is Satan who came to steal and kill and destroy, not Jesus (John 10:10). Satan came to bring eternal death. But brothers and sisters, in Christ we have victory over death. Amen? Praise the Lord! Embrace the life Christ has promised to us.

And Jesus demonstrates the power he has over death in this passage. There is nothing more hopeless or helpless than being dead. There is nothing a dead person can do. A dead person cannot respond unless he or she is first made alive. And what Jesus did for this girl is a picture of what he has done for all of us who have placed our faith in him. He has called us to wake from our sleep of death. Our sleep of spiritual death. The Apostle Paul says in Ephesians 2 that we “were dead in trespasses and sin … but God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ” (Ephesians 2:1, 4–5).

God does not help those who help themselves. That is not what the Bible teaches. That statement is not biblical at all. Don’t import garbage like that into your theology. What the Bible teaches is that God helps the helpless. God gives hope to the hopeless. That is what the Bible teaches. He takes people who are dead, people who have no hope of life, and makes them alive in Jesus Christ!

And one day, when the last trumpet sounds, he will call our bodies to rise from their physical death. He does not consign our bodies to the grave forever. We are not trying to leave these bodies behind to move on to some spiritual existence apart from physical bodies. That is not what the Bible teaches either. Instead, as Christians, we are longing for the day when, like the woman in this story, our bodies will be made whole, they will no longer reel from the effects of sin. They will be perfect. They will be more alive than the day we were born! That is what we are looking forward to as Christians. We are not looking forward to death, but to life! We are longing for the day when Jesus says to our bodies, “Arise!” and we are reunited with newly made bodies that will bleed no more and be sick no more and die no more.

That is the hope we have as Christians. That is the news that takes our desperation and turns it into hope.


So I want to ask you now: “Where you are at? Are you stuck in a life that is without hope? Are you desperate for help? Are you like the woman in this passage who tried everything this world has to offer looking for relief, but you keep running into one dead end after another?” Friend this morning I want to point you to Jesus. There is no lasting hope apart from Jesus. You may find temporary solutions that stop the spiritual and emotional hemorrhaging for a while, but it will always return until you give up on all the other solutions.

If you are still struggling like the drowning man in my opening story… struggling to keep your head above water… I encourage you this morning to stop fighting and let Jesus rescue you. None of us can swim well enough to make it out of this life alive. Apart from Jesus you are swimming with the weight of sin tied around your neck and you will never make it safely to shore. Stop your flailing about and trust in Jesus. He will save you and he will give you hope. He has promised to do so and his word is good. You can bank your life on it.