Mark 5

Readings for this week June 24 – 28
Click here for a pdf of this week’s readings

Day 1 – Pushed to the Edge…and Over

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Mark 5:21-24

Jairus had obviously heard of Jesus. It would have been pretty hard to live in that area and not have heard of this strange man travelling around saying and doing some very strange, controversial things. And Jairus, one of the leaders of the local synagogue (in a small town synagogue such as this one, not a position of huge prestige, but he would have been known nonetheless) would most likely have been paying close attention to these controversies – and most likely not have been too happy about them. He might well have not looked favourably upon this travelling rabbi stirring up trouble amongst his congregants; Jairus didn’t need the unwanted attention of the authorities looking his way over what Jesus was doing. Best keep Jesus at arm’s length perhaps; have nothing to do with him.

But suddenly, when heartbreak enters Jairus’ life, all the controversy doesn’t seem to matter anymore. If all those stories about this rabbi are true, then maybe he’s the only one who can save his daughter. And so, heedless of whatever disapproval may come his way from his congregants and fellow synagogue leaders, Jairus seeks out Jesus to beg for healing for his daughter. Whatever may have been pushing him to stay away, to keep his distance, to remain uninvolved, the nature of the anguish he was experiencing, combined with the promise held out by this remarkable rabbi, pushed this man to take a step towards faith in something he hoped was possible.

Questions to Consider
Have you ever found yourself pushed to the edge, pushed towards God in desperate circumstances? How did God meet you there?

Prayer
Lord God, thank you that you are always there, walking with us in our darkest moments, ready to meet us in the midst of our deepest need. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 2 – From Fear to Faith

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Mark 5:25-29

This entire section of chapter five is what is known as a Markan sandwich: the nestling of one story inside another story, the sandwiching of a smaller story between the set up and conclusion of a larger episode. Initially it might seem rather galling to us, the readers, to be introduced to the dramatic life and death story of a young girl and her desperate father publicly seeking Jesus’ help, only to have the narrative suddenly switch to the rather more mundane story of a woman secretly trying to touch Jesus and be healed. And many readers may very well be frustrated by the seeming disparity between the two stories: what possible connection is there between a girl at death’s door and a woman’s long standing medical complaint?

Leaving aside the numerical echo revealed near the end of the chapter (the girl is twelve; the woman has been ill for the same amount of time) and the medical nature of the healings, the stories share the similarity of both being about people’s fear being transformed into faith, about Jesus speaking to people’s deepest fears and anxieties in such a way that recalibrates their lives around the new life of the kingdom that Jesus brings. Jairus fears for the life of his daughter, grapples with the reality of maybe losing her; the woman’s condition – and the attendant ritual uncleanness that surrounds her and anyone around her – makes her fearful of openly asking for help and afraid of being found out once she has been healed. But Jesus breaches the walls of their fears and brings faith out of the darkest places in them – and he does the same for us.

Question to Consider
How has God brought forth faith from out of your fear?

Prayer
Heavenly Father, give me the strength to push through my fear and see your work through each moment of my life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 3 – How to Deal With Interruptions

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Mark 5:30-31

The episode of Jesus and the woman with the issue of blood highlights something very important about the way that Jesus handles interruptions. How do you think Jairus felt when Jesus pauses on his way to heal his deathly sick daughter, and asks a question that even his own disciples think is ridiculous? While his daughter lies dying, Jesus, who had promised to come to her, stops to ask a random question about who had touched him in a crowd in which many had no doubt jostled him as he made his way through. Acutely aware of Jairus’ anguish, Jesus might have carried on his way. But he didn’t. He might have been happy enough that the woman was healed and left it at that, not breaking stride. But he stopped. He took a moment to offer a personal touch, and have a direct face-to-face encounter with her.

What encounters and meetings and kingdom opportunities do we miss because we are so intent on sticking to our own timetable that we allow others (including God) no time and space to interrupt us? What passes us by because we allow no room for any possible “holy interruptions” that God may have placed on the periphery of our path? Jesus, in the midst of being about his Father’s work, and because he trusts in his Father’s ways, still finds the time to pause and offer, not just his power and its healing effects, but himself to a woman in need. He knows his Father’s will, yet also follows his Father’s promptings.

Questions to Consider
When have you seen God move through a “holy interruption” in your life? What made you stop and give him time to grab your attention?

Prayer
Almighty Father, slow me down. Clear my sight. Upset my timetable. Give me your eyes and ears to know when I need to be interrupted in order to see your kingdom come around me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 4 – “Your Faith Has Made You Well”

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Mark 5:32-34

“Your faith has made you well.” This response of Jesus to the woman with the issue of blood is a difficult one in many ways, and has been taken in many different, unhelpful directions, especially when people have taken this phrase to mean that she had enough faith to be healed, that there was some kind of minimum threshold of belief that she reached, and needed to reach, in order to be worthy of being healed. “If only I had enough faith”, people say to themselves, or perhaps more often, “I obviously don’t have enough or else I/they would have been healed. I guess I just need to believe more/pray harder/pray more.”

So was it the woman’s faith that precipitated her rescue from her illness? Or was it the healing power of Jesus? Well, clearly it was the power of Jesus that healed her. We cannot dispute that. But, just to muddy the waters, Jesus himself says to her, “Your faith has made you well.” So her faith – in the possibility of healing? In Jesus? In God? – must have played some role in her healing. Perhaps faith is the channel through which Jesus’ power can work. However fearful and frail and fumbling our faith may be, that faith is the first sign of the remade, renewed kingdom new life that Jesus makes possible in us; it’s the first step on the path of the restored humanity – and renewed creation – that God is fashioning through the work of his son. If we will let it, it can also work through us for the glory of God and his coming kingdom.

Questions to Consider
What is your experience of praying for healing? What do you think Jesus means when he says to the woman her faith has made her well?

Prayer
Loving Father, give me faith. Give me faith in you and your ways, especially when the way seems strange to me. Grow my faith; make me a bigger, better vessel for your love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 5 – A Foretaste of the Conquering of Death

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Mark 5:35-43

We have recorded instances of Jesus raising three people from the dead: Jairus’ daughter, Lazarus (John 11), and the widow’s son at Nain (Luke 7:11-17). But this isn’t enough for some people. Why didn’t Jesus raise more people from the dead? If such was his power, why wasn’t he doing it more often? If he could do it for three, why couldn’t he do it for all? It seems like some people think Jesus is the ultimate doctor, with more powerful antidotes at his fingertips than even a modern 21st century surgeon or pharmacist. Jairus’ daughter was dead (“sleeping” was a common euphemism for death in Jesus’ day); Jesus raised her back to life; everyone was astounded – as they should be! But despite all this, there is no indication that anyone thought she would now live forever. She would still die, just not yet. It turns out the best was still to come.

Jesus did come to take on Death with a capital ‘d’, just not in a way people expected. Of all the forces in rebellion against God’s will, of all the powers and principalities ranged against him, Death was the most final, the most absolute, seemingly the most inescapable. But Jesus would defeat even Death, in a way completely unforeseen, submitting to it, experiencing it, and coming out the other side, raised by the resurrection power of God. Jairus’ daughter, the widow’s son, Lazarus – yes, these are signs that God’s kingdom rule is breaking into our lives and our world. Extraordinary things are happening, but they are foretastes of the power of God’s rule, a power that temporarily raised three people, but that permanently raised Jesus, and that will permanently raise all who believe in him to eternal life.

Question to Consider
What other foretastes of the kingdom have you seen and experienced?

Prayer
Lord God, thank you for your resurrection power and the promise of eternal life you have given us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)