In what feels like another lifetime, I preached on the story of the hemorrhaging woman. Looking back on what I recall of what I said, I’ve done my share of cringing. I was a summer student pastor, having finished one year of seminary. In a moment of compassionate insight this week for my younger self, I realized why I was cringing. In that long-ago time, I was newly finding and testing my pastoral and interpretive voice, and so approached this woman’s story wanting her to use her voice. I was not very understanding of her secretive approach to Jesus. I wanted her to boldly stand before him and ask for healing. Multiple decades later, I realize that finding and using our voices is a lifelong journey, there are many ways to approach Jesus and make our needs known, and speaking out doesn’t always require words; but they all require courage and vulnerability in their own way. And I’m also much more aware of how and when certain voices are silenced, and of the incredible courage it takes, sometimes, to speak out. And sometimes, there is no more energy or will to speak out, because you’ve been beaten down and silenced for so long.
Here we have a story, or really, 2 stories, of 2 encounters with Jesus. Each of these stories could stand alone. On their own, they are incredible stories of healing. We don’t know if they happened in the way they are recounted in the first 3 gospels, or if they were separate incidents. What we do know, is that Matthew, Mark and Luke all tell these stories in this same way; Jairus first approaches Jesus about his sick daughter; on the way to Jairus’ house, a hemorrhaging woman touches the hem of Jesus’ garment; before Jesus gets to Jairus’ house, his daughter dies. What is interesting about these 3 accounts is that Mark’s is the longer, more detailed account. Usually, Mark is the cryptic gospel, telling us only what it is we need to know. But with these stories, it is Matthew that is the most cryptic, and Mark who gives us the most details. While these stories can stand alone, there is something the gospel writers want us to hear or see in telling them together.
- Mark 5:21 - 43