Fear


Mark 5:21-43

Jairus feared for his little girl’s life.  He said to Jesus, “My little daughter is at the point of death.”  (Mark 5:23, ESV)[i]

The woman, who to this day remains un-named, feared exposure.  Both came to Jesus for deliverance and healing, and had to face their fears.  Both came to Jesus and found so much more than they first sought.  In their fear and desperation, they came to Jesus and found the answers they were looking for.

Mark 5:21 finds Jesus getting out of the boat, presumably on the western shore having just crossed the Sea of Galilee from the region of the Gerasenes.  Jesus had cast a legion of demons from a man.  The demons had left the man and entered some nearby pigs.  When the people saw the man seated and in his right mind and the pigs dead and floating in the sea, they asked Jesus to leave.  Having been rejected by the people of the Decapolis, Jesus got back into the boat and crossed the sea.

By this point in his account, Mark has established the great power of Jesus.  Not only did Jesus heal the sick and cast out demons, but He also drew large crowds to listen to His teaching.  Everywhere Jesus went, large crowds would gather and Jesus would teach them.  His compassion showed itself in Him teaching them.  Jesus stressed the importance of the spiritual over the physical.  He said, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?”  (Mark
8:36, ESV) Jesus healed the sick and cared for people’s physical needs, but His focus was always the salvation of their souls.  Because of this focus, Jairus and the woman both faced disappointment or at least the frustration of their plans before experiencing a miracle bigger than anything they had imagined.

First, let’s consider Jairus.

As was usual, a great crowd gathered around Jesus as soon as He got out of the boat.  At this point, a leader of the synagogue came to Jesus.  His name was Jairus.  The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges says:
Each synagogue had a kind of Chapter or College of Elders, presided over by a ruler, who superintended the services, and possessed the power of excommunication.[ii]

Jairus was an important person in the community due to his high position.  It was rare that someone of such status should believe in Jesus, but it was not unheard of.  We also have the example of Nicodemus who was a ruler of the Jews who believed in Jesus.

Notice how Jairus humbled himself.  Mark tells us he fell at Jesus’s feet.  This action reflects the desperation Jairus felt.  One can almost hear the panic in Jairus’s voice as he pleaded urgently with Jesus.  His words were:
“My little daughter is at the point of death.  Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.”  (Mark 5:23, ESV)

Can you feel the fear and panic of a father about to lose his little girl?

But, there was hope.  Jesus went with him.  Jesus was going to answer his request.

At this point, Jairus’s story mixes with the story of a woman who was suffering.  While Jairus feared loss and what he could not control, the woman’s fear was different.  Her fear was of exposure.  She had already lost everything.  She was not afraid of the unknown.  She had known her suffering for twelve years.  We have seen the fear and panic of Jairus.  Let’s examine the fear of this woman.

First, we must understand what the condition of this woman meant.  Mark 5:25 tells us that she had a discharge of blood for twelve years.  In order to understand, let’s read Leviticus 15:25-27:
25“If a woman has a discharge of blood for many days, not at the time of her menstrual impurity, or if she has a discharge beyond the time of her impurity, all the days of the discharge she shall continue in uncleanness. As in the days of her impurity, she shall be unclean. 26Every bed on which she lies, all the days of her discharge, shall be to her as the bed of her impurity.  And everything on which she sits shall be unclean, as in the uncleanness of her menstrual impurity. 27And whoever touches these things shall be unclean, and shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water and be unclean until the evening.

This means that for twelve years people had avoided touching anything she touched. She was a complete outcast. Everywhere she went she should have been crying out “Unclean.” So that, anyone near her could avoid being touched and thereby made unclean.

On top of this, she had spent everything she had on doctors and was only getting worse.

So, the significance of her quietly touching Jesus takes on new meaning. Not only did she fear being noticed, she also feared the crowd and Jesus’s reaction. They could quite literally have stoned her for making them unclean, for not warning them of her approach. The Bible tells us that people were jostling Jesus. This means for her to get close enough to touch Jesus she would have pushed up against a lot of people.

She just wanted to be healed. She did not want trouble, and she most certainly did not want to be noticed. Notice that in Mark 5:33 it says that she “came in fear and trembling and fell down before him.”

Now comes the part where Jairus and the woman experienced disappointment.

The woman was called out. Jesus stopped and insisted that someone touched Him. She was caught. Her plan to go unnoticed was foiled. And as for Jairus, a messenger arrived and told him his little girl was dead. His plea to Jesus had been to prevent her from dying.

It is important for us to understand how Jesus deals with their fear.

Notice first how tenderly Jesus addresses this woman. He says to her, “Daughter.” This is a tender expression of a father to a child, but Jesus and the woman are both mature adults. Jesus does not use this expression with any other person in the New Testament. You and I do not know her name because Jesus respected her desire for privacy. However, she had a great need for acceptance.  She needed to know that she was not an outcast. Much more than physical healing, she needed to know that she was accepted by Him, the Messiah that she had sought out. Jesus tells her, “your faith has made you well.” However, the language He used was the language of salvation. According to the dictionary, the word He used means:
properly, deliver out of danger and into safety; used principally of God rescuing believers from the penalty and power of sin – and into His provisions (safety).[iii]

Her faith had saved her!

She was afraid of being rejected, chastised and maybe even stoned, but suddenly found that she was accepted, a daughter and beloved.

For Jairus, Jesus speaks words of encouragement. He says, “Do not fear, only believe.” (Mark 5:36, ESV)

In cases of fear of loss, the unknown and the uncontrollable, Jesus always said this. He might have used different words but the message was the same. “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.” (John 14:1, ESV) The woman had heard reports of Jesus and her faith was in place before she touched Jesus’s garment. This was not the case with Jairus. Jesus encouraged him to believe and then took the time to build Jairus’s faith. For some reason, Jairus needed to see the power of God. Some of you are like John, who saw the empty tomb and believed. Some of us are like Thomas, who stubbornly refused to believe until he could put his hand in Jesus’s side. Jairus was one of us. He needed to see more to believe.

In Matthew 8 we meet a centurion who understood and believed Jesus could heal without being there, but not Jairus. Jairus wanted Jesus to come and lay His hands on the girl, and then once the girl died, it was only at Jesus’s insistence that Jesus entered the home and healed the girl.  Jesus allowed only the mother, father and Peter, James and John into the room when He raised the girl. It was not yet time for the nation to know. When He raised Lazarus, it was public and the leaders of the nation immediately began making plans to kill Him. It was not time for that yet, so Jesus kept this private.

However, Jesus had allowed the girl to die because He was interested in Jairus’s salvation.

When Jesus took the little girl and t[iv]old her to get up, the ESV says they were overcome with amazement. Mark says they were overcome with a “mega amazement, meaning very great indeed. In addition, the word Mark uses for amazement means:
a throwing of the mind out of its normal state, alienation of mind, whether such as makes a lunatic, or that of the man who by some sudden emotion is transported as it were out of himself,

They were in a state of shock, amazement or ecstasy, trying to comprehend what they had just seen. God had just done something far beyond their ability to imagine. Just as Ephesians 3:20 says:
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within usESV

In both Jairus’s case and the woman’s case, their fear was the result of unbelief. The woman believed that Jesus could heal her, but she did not believe He would want to or that He would accept her. Therefore, she was afraid. Jairus believed that once his little girl was dead, Jesus would not be able to help her.

Most of our fears follow these lines.  Either we do not believe God cares, or we do not believe God can.

What fear are you facing today?
Do you believe God knows?
Do you believe God cares?
The words of Jesus to Jairus are for each one of us today.
“Do not fear, only believe.”  (Mark 5:36, ESV)



[i] Scripture quotations marked ESV are from The ESV Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version) copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.
[ii] http://biblehub.com/commentaries/cambridge/mark/5.htm . Accessed August 15, 2017.
[iii] http://biblehub.com/greek/4982.htm . Accessed August 19, 2017.
[iv] http://biblehub.com/greek/1611.htm . Accessed August 19, 2017.

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