As I prepare this blog, a close family member is seriously ill. He’s battled cancer for the last two years and been in hospital fighting infection for the last two weeks. We received a message earlier today that they “are starting the process to put home based palliative care in motion” … that’s code for, “there’s nothing more we can do, the end is inevitable & near!”
It was a great sorrow to read those words and ponder this reality.
It was a great comfort to read the words of Mark 5:21-43.
Firstly, Jesus encounters a lady with a chronic condition – she has been ‘subject to bleeding for 12 years’ (verse 25). Her condition made her a ceremonial outcast; unclean and unacceptable in the worship structures of Israel. Her embarrassment made her a social outcast; unloved and fearful of rejection. She is, however, convinced that Jesus can heal her (verse 28). Afraid to approach Him, she snuck up behind and touched Him. ‘Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was free from her suffering’ (verse 29). Twelve years of shame and suffering are resolved in a momentary touch of Jesus.
Jesus calls her out – not to be difficult; not to demand payment; but so that we can be clear how it is that she is healed. And it’s not because she touched Him … that would be to reduce healing to the realm of superstition. Rather it’s because she believed in Jesus: ‘Daughter, your faith has healed you’ (verse 34) … she believed in the One who has authority over sickness; who has authority to set her free from suffering.
That’s not to say every sick person who is a believer will necessarily be healed or the suffering will end … many aren’t. This account is here to point us to Jesus’ authority … to remind us that we can trust Him with our loved ones who are sick – because He has authority over disease!
Secondly, Jesus encounters a father with a desperate cry – his little girl is sick, she’s dying … ‘please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live’ (verse 23). Jesus agrees and they head off. But on the way, the news comes: ‘your daughter is dead’ (verse 35). Jesus says to Jairus: ‘”Don’t be afraid, just believe” (verse 36)! Jesus says she’s not ‘dead but asleep’ (verse 39), ‘but they laughed at him’ (verse 40) … they knew death, they knew this was real, they knew she’s gone!
Jesus went inside anyway … took her hand & said: ‘get up’ (verse 41)! ‘Immediately the girl stood up and walked around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished’ (verse 42) … she was dead, now she’s alive! Jesus demonstrates that He can raise her from death as easily as we can raise someone from their sleep. Death doesn’t have power over Jesus; Jesus has power over death! Our greatest enemy; the thing so many fear more than anything else – death – is not a problem to Jesus. He who said, let there be light; also says, get up!
That’s not to say believers won’t die or even that the process of death won’t be scary. But it is to recognise that there is a greater power who overcomes death – Jesus is sovereign over life and death. So it is to experience a greater peace knowing that death is not the end – trusting a King who says: get up; who offers the hope of resurrection and the promise of glory.
What a comfort to know our family member trusts this Jesus … the One with authority over disease & sickness and who treats death as if we are simply sleeping!
Prayer: Heavenly Father, help us to recognise Jesus as the Lord with all authority in heaven and earth; authority over our storms, our sickness and our sorrows. Help us to trust Him with our loved ones who are sick and who have fallen asleep! Amen.