Mark 5.21-43



Me on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee

Title: Desperate People

Text: Mark 5.21-41

Introduction: thank you, Stephen, for reading Scripture for us this morning.

1st, let me say: Happy Father’s Day, Dads! Stand.

2nd, I’m finishing off a series on Jesus and his authority as demonstrated through miracles. We’ve already looked at how he demonstrated his authority, that is, He is Lord over:

  1. The Natural Realm: when he spoke to the wind and the waves.
  2. The Spiritual Realm: when he healed the Gadarene Demoniac of his demon possession.
  3. Now, today, we’ll look at his authority over the Physical Realm

3rd, Next week, I’ll move away from Mark for a week and talk about church polity: it’s function and organization.

So, here I am in Israel on the Sea of Galilee and I find myself standing where Jesus was when these stories took place. How do I begin to tell you about Israel? It is impossible. I can show you pictures and tell stories – but that won’t really do. You have to go. You really do. I told Lisa that I should have gone 30 years ago. And I’ve should have gone back multiple times since. Every seminary student should go to Israel. It should be required for graduation.

I feel like I should apologize for some of the things I’ve said over the past 30 years. I imagined the stories taking place in my western mind. I did not realize how off I was. I’ll show you what I mean: turn to Mark 5.21.

Today we continue our study in Mark. We’re in the midst of a sermon series on miracles Jesus performed demonstrating his authority over the natural, the spiritual, and today, the physical – even death. Read 5.21 with me. 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. Well, our context tells us that Jesus was on the Sea of Galilee in the region of the Garesenes where he healed the Gadarene Demoniac. His popularity had grown so much that he just needed to get away from all of the people. They pressed in on every side. He left the towns and villages because he could no long enter into them without being mobbed. Now, after this experience with this man and commissioning him to be a missionary to the Decapolis, he crosses back over to the north side of the SOG where he did most of his ministry.

He isn’t in town. The people have come out to him. They’ve not had to walk very far. But mind you, it would still be a hard walk, because of the terrain. It is some 700 ft below sea level. Everywhere along the north shore goes up from the water – and it goes up steeply.

  1. Show pics of the north shore. (Use Laser) – I took this picture from Tiberias, a town of Gentiles on the western side of the SOG. John 6.1
  2. North Shore…

Read 5.22a – 22 Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name… there are actually two desperate people we’ll meet this morning: Jairus and A unnamed woman.

Read 5.22b-23; there are two parts to this man’s situation that I want you to notice in this passage:

  1. His Despair:
  • He fell: at the feet of Jesus
  • He implored: he begged if you will,
  • He persisted: earnestly is translated from poly – lit.: many or much sayings


  1. His Request: just come and touch her – lay your hand on her to accomplish two goals – σῴζω and ζάω; that she may be saved, rescued, or delivered. And, she may live.
  • This 1st word is a verb – Jesus said that is why he came – to save, to rescue, to deliver.
  • This 2nd word is used in comparison to death. Jesus said in Jn 10.10: I have come that they may have life.

Here we have our 1st application for the day: When you pray…pray according to the will of Jesus. If you want to know that your prayers, although they are selfish in origin, that those prayers are within God’s will – pray that way – pray God’s will over your situation. If you’re praying for someone – say your child, a friend – pray Scripture over him or her.

Jairus is asking Jesus to do just what Jesus has said is his purpose: 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. Rd v 24a; 24 And he went with him.

I’m sure Jairus was stilled scared and filled with worry, but there must be some relief. Look at the rest of v 24: And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him.

Now, with this relief that Jesus is coming to see his daughter, there has to be some frustration for Jairus. This word translated thronging here is a word that means to press. As in what they do with olives to get olive oil; or to grapes, to get the juice or to make wine. The people who are thronging and pressing all around had to be slowing them down. Jairus has his request, but now Jesus has got to get there. I’ve pictured this scene in my mind many times. So many people who’ve gathered around him to see miracles, or maybe they’ve come to get something from Jesus. I’m sure there are desperate people in this crowd, too. People like Jairus. We meet another such person in v 25 – rd 25-28;

I want to encourage you to explore this woman more in your discussions in the study time that follows in our small groups. For now, let’s look at these two people who really sit in contrast to each other:

  1. Jairus: a ruler of the synagogue, top dog on the ladder of society, probably respected and trusted. When we’re introduced to Jairus, we meet him by name and position.
  2. The woman: we don’t know her name. As for position, she has none. She’s not allowed in the synagogue, nor was she allowed around anyone in the community. What money she had that would have given her position has been spent on doctors.

Most people appear on the rungs between these two extremes. Hence, they probably represent the whole ladder. I leave that for more discussion in class.

As with Jairus, I’d like you to note her actions:

  1. Her Desperation
  • She was unclean: because of her blood disease, an outcast in their society.She wouldn’t be allowed near anyone, let alone into the synagogue and have access to the priests.
  • She suffered at the hands of those who offered her something they couldn’t provide. Time and again, placing her hope in physicians who couldn’t provide her with a cure.
  • She was poor: she had exhausted her resources of money on doctors and remedies; There have been times that I’ve thought to myself that if I had money, I could fix this problem. Then one day my mother-in-law was told by a very wealthy friend the following line that has always stuck with me. She said: if money can fix it, it ain’t a problem.


  1. Her Persistence: she has no right to ask. She’s not even supposed to be near him or anyone one else for that matter. The law is clear on this.

Leviticus 15.25-27: 25 “If a woman has a discharge of blood for many days, not at the time of her menstrual impurity, or if she has a discharge beyond the time of her impurity, all the days of the discharge she shall continue in uncleanness. As in the days of her impurity, she shall be unclean. 26 Every bed on which she lies, all the days of her discharge, shall be to her as the bed of her impurity. And everything on which she sits shall be unclean, as in the uncleanness of her menstrual impurity. 27 And whoever touches these things shall be unclean, and shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water and be unclean until the evening.

But she’s thinking: if I can just get near him and touch him, he will save me and I’ll live. All the days of her impurity – for 12 long years – she’s had to avoid people. Can you imagine the disgust of those who might sit where she sat or touch what she touched? Can you imagine the mistreatment – ugly things said when someone was declared unclean for a day because of their contact with her? Can you approach her humiliation?

But He is her last hope. She truly believes that if she can just touch his garment…and she uses the same word Jairus used in v. 23 – σῴζω – I’ll be saved, cleansed, rescued, delivered! And evidently, she touches him.

I shot a photo of a painting – a mural on a wall in the museum in Magdal. This photo captures the artists impression of this moment when she is able to reach out in faith and touch the hem of his garment. Which, by the way, Matthew and Luke mention – just the fringe of his garment. And what happens? Her faith becomes real… rd v 29;

One particular moment in time and she is changed. She is healed. And, she knows it. But so does Jesus. So he asks who touched him. But of course, the disciples are like – really?

The story began by the sea. Jairus requests the presence of the Lord to attend his daughter. They move in that general direction. The village wouldn’t have been too far. The houses were stacked together. The streets were incredibly narrow. It wouldn’t take too many people to create a congestion.

I have some pictures of synagogues from two separate villages there.

This is Capernaum. I don’t know if this is the same village where these things happened. Could be, but we don’t know for sure… But these villages were all very similar. This 2nd synagogue is in Magdal. So, there you have it…

Now let’s pick up in v 46-48; Look at the words that characterize her: exposed; Trembling; Falling down before him. This is what was said of Jairus – he fell down before Jesus. You know what? That probably describes all of us. Some of us, our problems are exposed to the world and we cry out to Jesus with their full awareness. But, for others, their problems are hidden and unoticed.

Can I just stop for a moment here. I wonder if the people around knew this woman. Maybe. Probably. But, with all eyes focused on Jesus and all attention on him, no one noticed this unclean woman slipping in on Christ. In some ways this is good. For one reason, people focused on Jesus are not busy judging those around them. That could be another application for today: People focused on Jesus are not busy judging those around them.

She stands there – exposed, guilty. But look what Jesus says: rd v 34;

There isn’t time to even notice that Jesus was headed somewhere to do something for someone. If this had been me, I would have said: Ok, what was I doing? No so with Jesus – He knew. His movement was interupted. He questioned who touched. It gets quiet as everyone looks at this out of place woman. His words of forgiveness and healing haven’t even left the thoughts of those listening when messengers come to tell Jairus.

So desperate was this man for his daughter that he left her there in her sickness seeking the favor of the only one who could heal her. Now, it was too late. She was gone. There comes a time when you don’t need to ask for something anymore.

Ill.: King David knew this. Do you remember the story of his sin with Bathshba and how she became pregnant? A child was born and David was told this child would not survive. 16 David therefore sought God on behalf of the child. And David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground. 17 And the elders of his house stood beside him, to raise him from the ground, but he would not, nor did he eat food with them. 18 On the seventh day the child died. The servants feared to tell David of his son’s demise. If he acted like this while the child was alive, what would he do when he found out that his newborn son had died? David noticed his servants acting differently and knew something had happened. They told him the truth, “He is dead.” 20 Then David arose from the earth and washed and anointed himself and changed his clothes. And he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. He then went to his own house. And when he asked, they set food before him, and he ate. 21 Then his servants said to him, “What is this thing that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive; but when the child died, you arose and ate food.” 22 He said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, ‘Who knows whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ 23 But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.”

She’s gone now. There comes a time to stop asking. Can I bring her back again? No. I will one day go to her, but she will not return to me.” Jesus must see this because he says, Do not fear, only believe. This is the same word he used with the woman he had just healed. Belief and Faith are the same word. One is a verb and the other a noun, but the same meaning. This woman’s actions – demonstrating her belief – had brought her healing. This man’s belief in Christ – it would accomplish the same thing.

Taking his garden buddies with them, they headed off to Jairus’ home. When they arrive, there is a commotion. Each time this word appears in the NT it is translated uproar or tumult. It is used to describe crowds that are causing trouble – getting ready to riot. I wonder why Mark used this word. Were people angry? When a child dies, it is different in many ways than that of someone much older who has lived a full life. Whatever his reasoning, we get the idea that there is a very loud commotion going on outside of the home with loud weeping and wailing.

Jesus, ever in control, tells them all that they don’t understand the situation inside. That’s why they’re behaving the way they are. They think they know – but they don’t really. And when Jesus let’s them in on the truth – And they laughed at him (v 40a); rd v 40b-43;

Mark doesn’t tell us about this mom and dad. I can’t really even begin to understand what they might be feeling. How can one express a gratitude for such a blessing? My guess is that there are no words that can communicate that kind of thanksgiving. How do you put to words, how can you describe what happens in a heart when one was at the lowest point a human can go and snatch them from such despair and grief? And what heights of joy they must now be feeling! The Gk word here is the word we get ecstatic and ecstasy. Oh, and then he says – don’t tell anyone what happened here and give her something to eat!

Conclusion: Don’t tell anyone! That would be tough!

I’d like to have a time of praise and worship and give folks a chance to respond to what God may have been doing in hearts. I’m thinking of David’s response: he cleaned himself up, went in to worship – and then got something to eat.

If there has never been a time in your life when you encountered Christ – I offer him to you today. I can’t promise you the healing these people received, but I can promise you that Christ will do in your life what you need. He cares for you far more than you’ll ever know.


Questions for discussion:

  1. What similarities do you find between the two stories?
    1. Ceremonial Unclean – impure
      1. The woman’s bleeding caused her to be unclean – thus isolated from the community for more than a decade
      2. The girl’s death made her unclean – you’re not supposed to touch a corpse
    2. Daughter
      1. Jesus calls the woman “Daughter”
      2. The girl is the daughter of Jairus
    3. 12 years
      1. The woman had been sick for 12 years
      2. The age of the girl is 12 years old
    4. Both involve the touch of Jesus and their faith
      1. The woman’s faith to just touch his garment
      2. Jairus is encouraged to persevere in his faith
    5. What contrast do you note between the two stories?
      1. He is one of the rulers of the synagogue – probably the highest rung in that community ladder.
      2. She is unclean and unable to participate in the community. To make matters worse, she is a woman.
    6. Discuss the differences of life in the Law and life in Christ. Discuss how through the law unclean things made clean things unclean. And, discuss how Jesus wasn’t affected like that. He made unclean things clean! Lev 15.25-27; Lev. 11.39-40 – dead things bring the same consequence as that of the woman with a blood discharge. Mark Horne: Under the Mosaic system Death spread but Life did not. But Death was not a problem for Jesus! Death and uncleanness did not corrupt Christ.
    7. This story ends beautifully, but David’s story – not so much. How does one surrender themselves to the will of God – especially when God’s will runs counter to their own? Maybe there are some personal testimonies here… be sure to direct each story toward the glory of God. There is sometimes a tendency toward sensationalism and the glory of God gets lost. Sometimes people die. Sometimes children die. Do you suppose we overlook the times that God has spared our children and loved ones and focus only on the tragedies? As a grandfather, I remember Caroline being at death’s door. I remember another family in the same hospital with their little one. Their child died. Caroline lived. How is God glorified in both stories.
    8. One of today’s applications was to pray according to the will of God. That sounds easy, but how does one really pray that way? Do you find your prayers are more self-centered than Jesus-centered? What are some ways you can change your focus?
    9. Another similarity between the two stories is the topic of faith. Jesus did what he did to demonstrate his authority over the physical, even life and death. How do we exercise our faith in both tragedy and triumph? And when we do, how does that demonstrate Christ’s authority over life and death?

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Filed under Israel, Mark, Scripture, Sermon

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