Today we begin our series on the Miracles of Jesus and for the next 6 weeks we are going to explore the power of God seen in Jesus and we aren’t just going to look at what that power meant for the people who were touched by these miracles but what that power means for us today. It’s important for us to understand that Jesus did miracles as a way of helping people see that he was the Messiah. The prophet Isaiah said that the coming Messiah would be a leader who would perform great miracles like opening the eyes of the blind and making the lame to walk, Isaiah 35:5-6. So when Jesus performed miracles like this and did things that no one else could do it helped people understand that he was the son of God. The miracles revealed the power of God that dwelled in Jesus and because his miracles included power and authority over nature, like walking on water and turning water to wine, it helped people see that Jesus was in some way God himself. In fact when Jesus silenced the storm the disciples asked themselves, who is this that even the wind and the waves obey him? Who is it that has power over nature itself? The answer of course is God, the one who created the world.
So the miracles are important because they help us understand that Jesus wasn’t just a great teacher and leader, he had the power of God at his disposal and he used it to bring in the kingdom of God. Jesus used his power to show us what was important to God like overcoming sickness and disease, forgiving sin and overcoming death itself. Each week as we explore a different miracle my hope is that we will open our eyes and the eyes of our heart to see that Jesus truly is the son of God and that we will allow him to have his way in our hearts and lives and bring God’s power to us.
Today we are going to look at two miracles of healing that are very similar and take place almost at the same time. They take place in the village of Capernaum which is right along the sea of Galilee. One of the things I am hoping to do during this series is to make these stories come alive by showing you where some of the miracles took place. This is a picture taken in the village of Capernaum between the synagogue and Peter’s house. If you can see the mountains at the other side of the sea – that is where Jesus drove out the demons. The water you see is the Sea of Galilee and Capernaum is located right along the shores of the sea. We hear the story of these miracles in Mark 5:21-34.
So Jesus is returning from the other side of the sea and when the people of Capernaum see him, a large crowd gathers. Now let me say something about large crowds in Israel. Personal space is a little different there than it is here. We like to keep a certain amount space around us no matter where we are, but one of the things I noticed when we travelled is that many people in other parts of the world don’t share that same value. When we rode the gondola up to Masada they pushed us in until we literally couldn’t move. And there were several times in the elevators at the hotels where people would crowd in to the point where the elevator light would go off because it was overweight – I always felt bad for that last person on. The people selling things on the street would get up close to you and even make contact with you and the streets of Jerusalem can be so crowded in certain areas that you just feel people around you everywhere. So when we read that there was a large crowd around Jesus it would have been a mob scene with everyone touching and pushing each other to get to Jesus.
In the midst of that scene comes the synagogue ruler, Jarius. Again, here is where the Bible started to come to life for me because we gathered in the synagogue where Jairus ruled. This was his church, the place where he served God and most likely one of the homes around here was his home. So Jairus comes up and falls on his knees begging Jesus to heal his daughter. This in itself is quite a scene. Jairus was the ruler of the synagogue and yet he saw in Jesus someone who had more power than the rules and regulations of his synagogue. Sometimes we get critical of the religious leaders in Jesus day for not understanding who Jesus was, but Jairus got it. He had heard about Jesus’ miraculous power to heal and he was desperate to have his daughter healed so he doesn’t come and just ask Jesus to heal her, he falls on his knees and pleads earnestly – he begs Jesus to help him and heal his daughter.
Jesus agrees and starts to make the short trip into town with Jairus as the crowd presses in all around them and in that crowd was a woman who had been bleeding for 12 years. Like Jairus, this woman was also desperate for healing. Her bleeding not only meant that she was physically sick and dying but her condition of constant bleeding meant that she was always considered unclean and therefore never able to be around any family or friends. Blood was considered unclean and so anyone who came into contact with blood, their own or someone else’s, was considered unclean until a certain period of time had passed after the contact and they went through a ritual of purification.
The problem was that if you were considered unclean due to blood then not only where you unclean but so were any clothes and furniture you touched as well as any water or food. In fact, some people thought if an unclean person just walked by a jug of open water, the water had to be dumped out and even the pot destroyed. You also made other people unclean if you just touched their clothing. It’s amazing to think how this woman ever made it into the crowd because if they knew who she was and that she was unclean then the people would have run away from her or driven her away. It makes me wonder if this woman was from another village or city because she was able to hide in this crowd unnoticed, or maybe she somehow disguised herself and risked being caught and punished because she was so desperate to be healed. No matter what, it took a lot of courage for her to be in that crowd and it says she reached out and touched Jesus cloak. In Matthew it says she touched the edge of the cloak which would have been the tassels that hung from the corners.
The reason she reached for the tassels is because on rabbi’s these tassels were the signs of their authority. Just another comment here on the tassels on clothing – many Jewish people today still have those tassels. On the airplane both over to Israel and on the way back when it came time for prayer the Jewish men got up and put on their coats and hats and hanging out over their belts and pants where the tassels that looked like they were attached to their shirts or undershirts. In Numbers 15 God told the people to put these tassels on their clothing to remind them to follow all the commandments God had given them, but through the years the tassels on the rabbis clothing became symbols of their authority and power so when this woman reaches out to the fringe of Jesus coat she is reaching out to the power and authority she believed Jesus had to heal her.
And the instant she allows those tassels to run through her hands – she is healed and Jesus knows that power has gone out from him and so asks the crowd, who touched me. Now the disciples hear that and think it is foolish because everyone in the crowd is touching him, but Jesus is looking for the one person who touched him seeking power and strength. The woman knows she cannot hide any longer so she steps forward and trembling with fear tells her story. But think about this, with such a great miracle of healing that has taken place in her life, why she is terrified.
It could be because when an unclean person touched a clean person – that person became unclean. Remember, if a person subject to bleeding even touches the clothes of another person, that person becomes unclean so what this woman did in touching just the fringe of Jesus garment was to make Jesus unclean. At least that is what she is thinking because the state of being clean never passes to someone who is unclean but unclean always passes to clean. In the Jewish religion, a clean person cannot make an unclean person clean, but an unclean person always makes a clean person unclean. So it could be that her fear is in thinking that Jesus will be angry and the crowds will turn on her because she has made this great teacher and miracle worker unclean.
But notice that with Jesus there is no criticism or condemnation of the woman. Jesus doesn’t get angry but says to her the words she has longed to hear for at least 12 years, daughter. As long as she was unclean she was not a daughter of Israel – she was isolated and cast out of worship. As long as she was cut off from her family and friends she was not a daughter to anyone and yet Jesus doesn’t just heal her physically, he restores her spiritually calling her a daughter of Israel. He lifts her up and fills her with value, dignity and life.
The power of Jesus has changed this woman’s life. This miracle of healing opens the door for her to return to her home and community and church and once again experience the fullness and joy of life. The power of Jesus still offers this kind of healing and hope. If we are feeling isolated and alone for any reason, Jesus is here to call us daughter and son. Jesus wants to restore all of our relationships and our place in the family and community and he is able to do this because he has the power of God at his disposal. What it takes from us is to have the courage to reach out to Jesus and ask for help. That’s what the woman does when she reaches out to grab hold of the tassels on Jesus garment – she is asking God for help and if we are willing to ask God for help – he will help us.
The power of God seen here is still the power of God at work today. It may not bring instant healing the way it did to the womean, but it will bring healing and restoration if we will trust God with all that we have and all that we are. This woman desperately reached out to Jesus. She risked everything to be there and trusted with all she had that Jesus could heal her and that is the kind of faith we need when we reach out to Jesus. We need to reach out knowing that he is the kind of Messiah who longs to call us daughter and son. God longs to love us and heal us and share his power and love with us.
But the story isn’t done yet. Remember that the woman was terrified when she touched Jesus because she thought that unclean always passed to clean so now Jesus was unclean. Well, the woman isn’t the only one in the crowd who is terrified, think about how Jairus feels. He has just seen all hope for his daughter disappear. If Jesus is now unclean he can’t do anything to help his daughter, in fact Jesus can’t even enter Jairus house or come into contact with his daughter and for Jesus to become clean again he has to wait for a period of time and then go offer a sacrifice and by the time all that takes place his daughter could be dead. So you can imagine the terror and fear that Jairus must be experiencing in this moment – all hope is gone. But then the people from the village arrive and tell Jairus that all hope really is gone because his daughter is dead. Read Mark 5:35-42
Do you see the parallels here? The woman who had been bleeding for 12 years felt completely hopeless and was desperate to find healing and life and so with faith and courage she risked everything to reach out to Jesus and when she did, she was healed. Jairus also feels completely hopeless when he hears that his daughter is dead and he must wonder how Jesus can do anything at this point because he is considered unclean, but in his desperation to find life for his daughter he risks everything and courageously invites Jesus into his home and allows Jesus, in his mind an unclean Jesus, to touch his daughter. He allows Jesus to take her by the hand and when he does, once again power goes from Jesus to the little girl and not only is she raised up to life but a family is restored.
Two daughters of Israel have been healed because people were willing to reach out and grab hold of the power of God seen in Jesus. Two daughters found new life and had all their relationships restored because people were willing to trust Jesus to bring this new life. Jesus has the power to make whatever we consider unclean – clean. This is not just a miracle of healing, this is a miracle that tells us that the power of God makes the unclean – clean and this power of God still makes the unclean – clean.
When we sin – God forgives. When we fail – God brings victory. When we are weak – God is strong. When we are sick – God offers healing and hope and when we die – God brings life. All that is needed for us to find this power is to reach out and grab the tassels. All that is needed is the courage invite Jesus into the mess of our lives trusting that he will stop everything and come. And when he comes, he brings healing and hope and raises us up to new life.
The Miracles of Jesus ~ Healing the Daughters
1. Reflect on a time when like Jairus or the bleeding woman you have been desperate and without hope.
• What were the circumstances?
• What were you looking for?
• Where did you turn?
• What was the outcome?
2. Both the bleeding woman and Jairus experienced the miracle of God’s power because they were willing to tangibly reach out to Jesus. The woman reached out and grabbed the tassels of Jesus garment and Jairus welcomed Jesus into his home. How can we tangibly reach out to Jesus today? Identify one specific act you can do this week which shows God you are looking for His miraculous power in your life?
3. One message of these two miracles is that God always makes the unclean – clean. Who are those in our world who might be considered unclean? What can we do to offer them hope and the power to be made clean? In what way can Faith Church reach out to those considered unclean?
For further study:
Read all of Mark 5 and identify how the miracle of Jesus driving out the demons (Mark 5:1-20) is similar to the stories of Jesus healing the two daughters (Mark 5:21-43). Think about how the idea of clean and unclean is found throughout this chapter as well as people coming to Jesus with great hope, desperation and fear.