Now when Jesus returned, the crowd welcomed him, for they were all waiting for him. Just then there came a man named Jairus, a leader of the synagogue. He fell at Jesus’ feet and begged him to come to his house, for he had an only daughter, about twelve years old, who was dying. As he went, the crowds pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from haemorrhages for twelve years; and though she had spent all she had on physicians, no one could cure her. She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his clothes, and immediately her haemorrhage stopped. Then Jesus asked, ‘Who touched me?’ When all denied it, Peter said, ‘Master, the crowds surround you and press in on you.’ But Jesus said, ‘Someone touched me; for I noticed that power had gone out from me.’ When the woman saw that she could not remain hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before him, she declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.’ While he was still speaking, someone came from the leader’s house to say, ‘Your daughter is dead; do not trouble the teacher any longer.’ When Jesus heard this, he replied, ‘Do not fear. Only believe, and she will be saved.’ When he came to the house, he did not allow anyone to enter with him, except Peter, John, and James, and the child’s father and mother. They were all weeping and wailing for her; but he said, ‘Do not weep; for she is not dead but sleeping.’ And they laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. But he took her by the hand and called out, ‘Child, get up!’ Her spirit returned, and she got up at once. Then he directed them to give her something to eat. Her parents were astounded; but he ordered them to tell no one what had happened.
This is such a dynamic reading – there’s so much packed into it and it never fails to take my breath away.
Imagine you were in that crowd, when this man you know of, this high-status man from the synagogue, starts to grovel and beg the teacher, Jesus, to come to his home and save his daughter. The thrill that runs through you as you see his pain and anguish – you’re glad the teacher is there to help and sort it out.
Then suddenly there’s a furore; Jesus wants to know who touched him. Jairus is desperate in his need for Jesus to come right now – his precious, precious daughter is dying!!! Can you imagine how he feels? I can’t think of a worse calamity. But Jesus is distracted, intent only in finding out who, amongst the large thronging crowd, caused power to flow from him.
And then there she is, this impoverished old woman, the type you wouldn’t touch even if she wasn’t ritually unclean, putting herself forward. She had touched Jesus and he knew it! This could be interesting …
But then Jesus just looks at her, calls her his daughter, and tells her to go in peace as she has been made well. Momentarily you could have heard a pin drop. Whaat!! The scandal of it! Jairus is still waiting, agony etched on his face, Jesus, in that moment, seemed to care only for that woman.
What confusion and consternation must this have brought to the people in the crowd as their whole understanding of a person’s value was turned upside down. This woman, shunned by society was, in Jesus’ eyes, as of much value as the high-status synagogue man, left to wait his turn.
Jesus’ topsy-turvy Kingdom actions challenged the privilege of a powerful man by giving voice and recognition to an untouchable woman. How are our churches challenging everyday injustice and enabling the voices of those oppressed to be heard?
Shake me up Jesus, open my eyes to everyday injustice especially if I am the privileged one. Give me grace to step back, to allow another’s voice to be heard, and if I am the one in chains, give me the courage of the bleeding woman, the deep knowledge that I matter and the faith to know that in your image I am made and loved, that I might raise my voice for change. Amen
Liz Kam, Church Related Community Worker, Levenshulme Inspire.