Today’s passage is part of a series of stories about miracles Jesus performed early in his ministry. Just before it, Jesus heals a demon-possessed man and calms a storm. Word is starting to get around that He can perform miracles, so people are beginning to seek him out.
Mark 5:21-43 is an account of Jesus healing a woman who has been bleeding for 12 years and raising a 12-year-old girl from the dead. The Bible says that the bleeding woman “has suffered a great deal under many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better, she grew worse.” Because her bleeding made her ceremonially unclean, she has likely also been rejected by her community. But she approaches Jesus in a crowd, believing that if she is just able to touch his clothing, she will be healed. She does, and is. Jesus says to her “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be free from your suffering.”
Within this crowd of people, a synagogue ruler named Jairus is informed by friends that his daughter has just died. Overhearing this, Jesus tells Jairus “Don’t be afraid, just believe.” Jesus, with Peter, James, and John in tow, goes to Jairus’s house. He encounters a group of people mourning outside. He says “why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” The people laugh at him. But he goes to the child, takes her by the hand, and tells her to get up. She does, and everyone is astonished.
Since many of us have been Christians for a long time, it can be easy to read this passage and brush over the miraculousness of Jesus’s actions. Imagine how awe-inspiring it must have been to witness them. Twelve years of suffering ended in an instant! A child raised from the dead! At this point in his ministry, Jesus is beginning to reveal who He is. And through these two miracles, he demonstrates the depth and nature of His love. By healing an unclean woman, he demonstrates that the conventions of Jewish law are no obstacle to His love. And by raising a child from the dead, he shows his tenderness and care for all.
I like the idea of a compassionate God, but I struggle with the idea our faith plays a role in our healing. At the ripe age of thirty, I’ve lived enough life to know that sometimes, earnest faith and belief aren’t enough to turn desperate situations around. Sometimes the cancer doesn’t go away, the marriage can’t be restored, and we don’t get the job. But Jesus does say “your faith has healed you.” So while we know that the miracles are God’s work, our faith does matter.
Ultimately, the value of our faith does not come from us, but from the object of our faith. Our God is the kind of God who has compassion on his children, and He has power and dominion over the very laws of nature. Therefore, we ought to have faith in Him. Faith, by its very nature, points away from its subject and toward its object.
Given that Lent is an opportunity to assess the genuineness and sincerity of our discipleship, I invite you to reflect on these accounts of Jesus as Healer. Praise God for being a God who heals, and trust Him with the things that you perceive to be too broken to restore. Reflect on how God has healed and restored you and those around you, and pray for faith to believe that He is making all things new.
Amy Leo and her husband Alex live in Petworth. Outside of her job with USAID, she enjoys sewing, listening to podcasts, making Spotify playlists, baking bread, camping and hiking, practicing visual note taking, playing the violin, and is in a season of analyzing everything through the lens of the Enneagram.