A Bible sandwich

Mark has a great gift for laying on the drama. There is a whole section in chapter five where “great crowds” are pressing on us as at a political rally or a football match.

At the heart of the story is a fearful woman, tortured for 12 years by a haemorrhage, who draws on every scrap of courage in her being to push her way forward just to touch the garment of Jesus in the belief that it would be enough to heal her.

It was like striking a match and causing an explosion. Jesus reacts forcefully, the disciples complain and the crowd hasn’t a clue what is going on. But the woman is transformed, not just in body but in her whole life. She is Mark’s hero. This is what it is all about.

To wrap the story round and make a tasty sandwich of it, Mark gives us the story of Jairus. The crowds are still there, the number 12 is still there (Jairus’ daughter is 12 years old) and the disciples are still not awake to what is going on. Jairus’ passionate plea for his daughter is heard even though she has died. But can we say that, in the mind of Mark, the interior healing of the woman ranks higher, is more central, than the “exterior” healing – even though a resurrection from the dead – of the little girl?

It is “respectable” to pray for others. But to have the courage to look at oneself and see maybe something private and shameful and to sense that my life is emptily draining away and then to go forward and do something about it – that is something else. The little girl rose up but one day she would die again. But the woman? Something permanent happened not just to her health but to her whole being. She would never “die” again.

We celebrate the wonderful efforts of people to bring new life, peace and development to our world. So much is being done to fight poverty, ignorance and disease. We see these efforts everywhere if we take a look. Yet we also know that the exterior bits are easier. The hardest battle is within the human heart. It would have been “easier” for the woman to do nothing – to just suffer on and say “that’s life.”

“That’s how it is!” But, no! She makes a move. She takes her life in her own hands – and wins something beyond measure. It is often said that Mark was trying to strengthen faint hearts during the persecution under Nero. Maybe! But his drama is for all time and all places. Real change will only come when we change our way of thinking. The word we use is “conversion.”

Post published in: Faith

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