Something I love about scripture is how multifaceted it is. That you could study it at the level of a verse or even a single word and discover insight and meaning and as you zoom out to take multiple verses, chapters, whole books at a time, new meanings unfold. Look at our scripture today. I could have easily preached on just the woman who had bled for 12 years or just the little girl and I have most frequently heard those stories separately. But the gospel of Mark interweaves them. Taking each story in isolation is ok and reveals something but to take them together? To see their interwoven resurrection stories? That uncovers a whole new layer and depth of meaning.
We have Jesus getting out of a boat and a synagogue leader pleading with him to come and help his daughter. And Jesus does. But we have another story that occurs while they are traveling to help Jairus’ daughter. A woman has been bleeding for twelve years. She has been suffering for twelve years under the care of doctor after doctor but had only gotten worse. So she reached out to touch Jesus’ cloak, knowing that if she could just touch even his clothing, she would be healed. And she is. After twelve long years of suffering and pain, she is healed and Christ tells her to go in peace. And the story of that woman is so moving and involved that we can almost forget we’re still in the middle of another story until, while Jesus is still talking to the woman, people tell Jairus that his daughter has died. Christ goes to the little girl with Jairus and a handful of disciples, tells her to rise, and she does! She was twelve years old. Which should ring a bell in our brain because, we’ve heard that number recently. The woman healed on the way to see this little girl? She had been bleeding for twelve years. And this is what I’m talking about the crafting of these stories together. Yes, they can each be read on their own but they are interconnected for a reason. Scripture wants us to read these interwoven resurrection stories together because they are two sides of the same coin. Sometimes we have to claim our own resurrection and sometimes we need other people to help us claim it when we can’t.
The hemorrhaging woman, as she is called in commentaries, had tried to get help for twelve years. She suffered under the care of doctors, spent everything she had, and only got worse. The people who were supposed to help couldn’t, or wouldn’t, but she had heard about Jesus and knew he will heal me and touched his cloak. When this story is told, a lot of times this woman is depicted as crawling or tentative, just barely reaching out to touch him. That is kind of the image I had in my head. But here in Mark she comes up behind him and touches his clothes. And the image of her has shifted in my mind. Maybe she is desperate and at the end of her rope, but even in the midst of her pain and suffering she is strong and clear and claims resurrection, claims renewal for herself. And sometimes in life, we need to do that. We need to advocate for ourselves. Not that the Holy Spirit isn’t working, Jesus is clearly a huge part of this story, but sometimes we need to remember that we can be active participants in our own resurrection. I think of a friend a have back in Texas. She is in her early thirties and spent a good chunk of her life with just horrifically painful periods. She knew something wasn’t right but every doctor would just say, yours happen to be really painful, we’re sorry, here are some prescriptions. Her pain kept getting worse and worse but she finally found a doctor who would listen and it turns out she had endometriosis as well as another condition and needed surgery. Sometimes we have to advocate for ourselves, sometimes we have to claim our own resurrection. And sometimes we need people to advocate for us. We need people to claim the resurrection on our behalf.
Jairus was persistent. He finds Jesus, asks him to come to his daughter, watches while another woman experiences renewal, hears that his daughter has died, and still brings Jesus to her. She was not in a position to speak for herself, she couldn’t advocate for herself, she needed other people to help her, to support her. It makes me wonder, who did the hemmoraging woman have in her corner? Was there a community, friends, family? Where were they while she was suffering? What if she had someone like Jairus when the suffering began? Someone who had been working with her, someone fighting alongside her, would her story have been different? There are times when we need resurrection, renewal, and restoration. Some of those times, we need another person to fight for us, to claim the resurrection when we cannot or at least when we cannot see it. And other times, we claim that resurrection for ourselves. Even in the midst of suffering, we participate with the Holy Spirt and claim hope, renewal, and restoration.
So, where are you in the story? Today, this week, where are you in the story? Are you in a position to show someone resurrection, help them claim renewal? Maybe you need some restoration? Maybe there are steps you can take in making that resurrection a reality or maybe you need someone to journey with you on the way. Wherever you find yourself, believe the good news. Renewal is possible for all of us, in this life, here and now. You may need to claim it and fight for it or you may need other people to claim it for you but it is here.