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  • Writer's pictureJohn Bryant

Mark 5: 21-43: The Wound of Being Unwanted

21 And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about him, and he was beside the sea. 22 Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet 23 and implored him earnestly, saying, “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.” 24 And he went with him.

And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. 25 And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, 26 and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. 27 She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. 28 For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” 29 And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30 And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?” 31 And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’” 32 And he looked around to see who had done it. 33 But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. 34 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

35 While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler's house some who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” 36 But overhearing[e] what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” 37 And he allowed no one to follow him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. 38 They came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and Jesus[f] saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. 39 And when he had entered, he said to them, “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping.” 40 And they laughed at him. But he put them all outside and took the child's father and mother and those who were with him and went in where the child was. 41 Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” 42 And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement. 43 And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.

Jesus arrives by boat to another town, and is summoned to a great and important task—healing the daughter of a very important man, a man who’s favor and repute would make Christ’s ministry easier and probably more effective. Jesus comes with this man.

A great crowd comes upon Christ. A woman, suffering and unclean, sneaks up through the crowd to grab herself a miracle, to grab herself a cure, and it works.

I assume she, and the great and the important man with the dying daughter, would be happy for the story to end there: Jesus continues on his way to help the very important man, the woman has been healed of her disease.

Perhaps we would think the Lord would press on toward the important task of healing the daughter of a very important man. But the Lord stalls, the Lord tarry’s, the Lord hesitates.

The Lord interrupts one story to pursue another, the Lord decides to put his attention elsewhere.

He wants to know who touched him. He is not going anywhere until he knows who touched him. The Lord wants to see who touched him. He wants to see her.

She comes to him with a reverence and awe. And bows before him.

To be shamed is to be unseen, to know and to feel that people will not look at you, will not regard you. That people have turned their face from you.

She tells him the story of her life. The woman no one has seen, this person who you would look away from, is looked at by Christ. Is regarded by Christ. Is listened to by Christ.

There are different kinds of healing. There are real wounds, real diseases that must be touched, by medicine, by doctors, by the Lord himself. There are real needs for hunger and for shelter.

But there are deeper wounds. The wound of being unwanted, the wound of having people turn their face from you. And to heal this wound, the Lord regards her. Her body is healed by touching his garment, but she herself, the whole of herself, is healed by being seen by Christ. She was healed, in body, soul, spirit, as she was seen by Christ. Healed as she was given his regard, and heard his word of pardon.

As we approach Holy Week, we remember Good Friday. By taking on the Cross, the Lord has taken on all the shame and humiliation of being human. When Christ Dies, we behold on the One who Has not Turned His Face from Us. Who has healed us by staring down everything we are with everything that He is.

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