Gospel: Mark 5:21-24, 35b-43

Jesus the Folk Healer

Popular Translation

21 After Jesus sailed again to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him by the shore. Jairus, one of the synagogue leaders, came into the crowd, saw Jesus, and fell at the Lord's feet. 23 "My little daughter is dying. Come and put your hands on her. Then she will live!" Jairus urged Jesus. 24 So, Jesus went with the synagogue leader.

35b Suddenly, a messenger came from the leader's house. "Your daughter died." he told Jairus. "Why do you bother the teacher?"

36 Ignoring the message, Jesus interrupted. "Don't be afraid," Jesus said to Jairus. "Trust me."

37 Jesus didn't allow anyone to follow him, except Peter, James, and his brother John. 38 When they arrived at the leader's house, Jesus saw an uproar. People were crying out loud. 39 Jesus entered the house and asked, "Why are all of you making such a huge scene? The girl isn't dead, just asleep." 40 The people burst out laughing loudly at him. So, Jesus threw them out of the house. Then he took the father and mother along with his three followers and entered the room where the little girl was laid out. 41 Taking her hand, Jesus said, "Little girl, get up." 42 Immediately, the twelve year old girl stood up and walked around the room. Everyone was in shock! 43 "Don't tell anyone what just happened!" Jesus sternly commanded them. "But, give her something to eat," he continued.

The story of Jairus' daughter showed a tender side to Jesus. For the sake of a child, he came, endured ridicule, and raised the dead to life. Like many other passages in Mark, narrative elements foreshadowed the death and resurrection of the Lord.

Literal Translation

21 After JESUS crossed over in a boat again to the other side, a large crowd gathered around HIM. HE was by the sea (shore). 22 One of the synagogue leaders, Jairus by name, came and, having seen HIM, fell to HIS feet, 23 and strongly urged HIM, saying, "My small daughter has (come) at the end (of her life). Come and set (your) hands on her so she might be saved and live." 24 So, HE went off with him.

35b (Some) came from the synagogue leader's (house), saying, "Your daughter died. Why do you still bother the TEACHER?" 36 But JESUS, disregarding the statement being spoken, said to the synagogue leader, "Do not fear. Only trust." 37 HE did not allow anyone to follow along with him, except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. 38 They came into the house of the Synagogue leader. (There) HE saw the uproar, (with) great crying and wailing. 39 Having entered, HE said to them, "Why do you make (such an) uproar and cry? The small girl is not dead but sleeps." 40 They were laughing at him. But, HE, HIMSELF having throw everyone out, took along the father and mother of the small child and those with him and went where the small child was. 41 Holding the hand of the small child, he said to her, "Talitha cumi" [which is translated, "Young girl, I say to you, rise."] 42 Immediately, the young girl stood up and was walking around, for she was twelve years old. Immediately they were amazed with a great amazement. 43 HE gave them a weighty command that no one would know (about) this and he told (them) she be given something to eat.

5:22 "One of the synagogue leaders, Jairus by name" A synagogue leader was not a rabbi but a "building manager." He was in charge of building maintenance and community relations; he may have even acted as a master of ceremonies during services. But he did not teach.

5:23 "My small daughter has (come) at the end (of her life)." The adverb "at the end" is literally "exchatos" the same word that gives us "eschaton," Greek word for the end times.

"Come and set (your) hands on her." "Come" is a participle "having come;" "set" is the main verb of the sentence. This is an unusual construction that is translated as an imperative. The force of the verb acts upon the participle. So, instead of "Having come, set your hands," the sentence becomes "come and set your hands."

5:25-35a The narrative of the woman with internal bleeding has been deleted. This gospel is the short version for this Sunday's celebration.

5:36b "disregarding the statement being spoken" "disregard" can be translated "ignored hearing." Obviously Jesus heard the news along with Jairus, but he interrupted the messenger with words of encouragement for the synagogue leader ("Do not fear. Only trust.").

5:41-42 "rise...stood up" Both verbs were used as references to resurrection.

5:42 "they were amazed with a great amazement" The best way to translate the intensity of this statement was literal. The double use of the word "ekstasis" (the root word for "ecstasy") as a verb and an adverb make the point of their extreme reaction.

In the ancient world, two kinds of physicians existed: the philosopher-physician and the folk healer. The former served the rich with advice and philosophic musings. The latter served the poor with herbal medicines, incantations, and rituals. Obviously, Jairus sought Jesus out as a folk healer, one who would touch the child and heal.

With the high death rate among pre-teens in the ancient world, communal grieving was commonplace and had the markings of ritual (loud lamentation implied in 5:38b). Communal grieving gathered relatives and friends together with a common purpose. In fact, the crowd in 5:38-40a helped prepare the family for the worst and hastened the grieving process.

Jesus entered the scene opposing the inevitable. He interrupted the messenger with a proclamation of faith for Jairus and ejected the critical crowd from the leader's home. Then, he took the girl's relatives and his closest followers to see his miracle. Jesus raised the girl from death and restored her to her place in the family (the command to "give her something to eat" reflected the notion that a place at the table symbolized a place in the family, and, by extension, a place in society).

This narrative reflected a common pattern in the ministry of Jesus: proclamation, opposition, restoration. We can even see his life, death, and resurrection as the model for this pattern. Jesus proclaimed the Good News, was opposed by the leaders unto death, and was restored to his rightful place as the only Son of the Father. He promises the same for us Christians. In spite of opposition to lives that proclaim the Good News, we, too, will see restoration as children of the Father.

How has Jesus helped you proclaim the Good News, endure ridicule, and restored your brokenness?