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Mark 5:21-43 - Do not fear, only believe

Updated: Dec 10, 2021

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When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly, “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.” So he went with him.

And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?’” He looked all around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?” But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. When he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. Then 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. He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!” And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.


This is the Gospel selection that will be read aloud on the sixth Sunday after Pentecost [Proper 8], Year B, according to the lectionary for the Episcopal Church. This analysis was written and made public by this author in 2018. It is presented again with minor adjustments, as the same meaning then still exists today. This Gospel reading is important because it tells how faith is the power that heals, in more ways than one.

In this Gospel reading selection there are two healings. One is planned and one seems accidental. One is the daughter of a named man, Jairus, and the other is an unnamed woman. One character is a leader of the synagogue, while the other is a follower in the crowd. This contrast shows that faith is the common denominator linking both healings, not one’s position or standing in the world.

In other readings prior, the stories have mentioned Jesus traveling by boat across the Sea of Galilee. We read here that “Jesus had crossed again,” which means “the other side” was across from Capernaum. While it does not state the day of the week this travel by boat occurred, it becomes likely that Jesus, as a rabbi or teacher, set up his synagogue to be not a building, but the grassy land by the sea. This would accommodate Sabbath services, without conflict, if Jesus welcomed gatherings regularly when travel was permitted. In an open space Jesus could teach the meaning of the written text (from divine memory) and address the meaning with the crowd of Jewish followers, who would not be intimidated to speak by Pharisees and envoys of the Temple.

By looking at this map above, which lists the places of harbors and anchorages of ancient Roman times, and realizing the need for a harbor to dock a large fishing boat of the type in which Jesus traveled, one can then see how Jesus chose a site of meeting that was not in Galilee. In the map above, one sees the land along the sea was in Gaulantios or Gaulanitis. That land was under the tetrarchy of Philip (Herod Philip II), the half-brother of Herod Antipas, who ruled Galilee and Perea. Samaria and Judea (to the south) were under the governorship of Pilate. Further to the south where Jesus sailed, Hippos was one of the ten autonomous cities in the region known as Decapolis. This means Jesus sought a place that was not where the Romans were openly persecuting the Jews and where the Temple in Jerusalem had little influence.

The element of Jewish cities can be seen in the listing of Bethsaida, Capernaum, and Magdala as places where synagogues would have naturally been. This map below shows how Bethsaida becomes the likeliest place from where Jairus would have been a leader of a synagogue. The crowd of people would have known where Jesus would preach, so they would have left from Capernaum, traveling through Bethsaida, where others would join the trek. The distance from Capernaum to Bethsaida is about 6 miles, and it was about that much distance from Bethsaida to the place of meeting (near a harbor). These distances would indicate Jesus met to preach on days other than the Sabbath, which could indicate Sunday sermons; and Jairus could have easily made it there in time to bring Jesus back quickly (within 4 hours total).

When we read that Jairus was “a leader of the synagogue,” it is important to know what that means. According to the meaning associated with the Greek word “archisynagōgōn” (“rulers of synagogue,” in the plural number), Thayer’s Greek Lexicon says of “archisunagógos”, “It was his duty to select the readers or teachers in the synagogue, to examine the discourses of the public speakers, and to see that all things were done with decency and in accordance with ancestral usage.” This means that Jairus had previously chosen Jesus as the teacher for Sabbath service.

Because we know that Simon-Peter, his brother Andrew, and Philip were disciples of Jesus from Bethsaida, it makes sense that Jairus was an elder of their synagogue. Jairus knew the healing power of Jesus from having witnessed it, perhaps when Jesus told the man with a withered hand to “stretch out your hand.” It is even possible that Jarius was the leader of the synagogue (which could have been in Bethsaida, after Jesus went to Capernaum) who had an unclean spirit that Jesus cast out. Either way or another way, this would explain how Jairus knew where to go find Jesus when his focus was on the health of his daughter.

It is also important to know the meaning of the name Jairus, as named characters in the Gospels are not to have their name’s meaning overlooked. According to the Abarim Publications website, “Jairus” means: “He Enlightens, One Giving Light, He Will Diffuse Light, He Will Enlighten.” This meaning can imply “Jehovah Enlightens,” although there is nothing in the lettering of the name that states “Jehovah.” The name’s meaning is rooted in the Hebrew verb “jair” (אור), which means, “To be light, to give light, to shine.”

This name meaning should then be applied to the character of Jairus, as it shows he was a man who appreciated the truth of the sacred Hebrew texts and sought to shine the light of that truth onto the members of the synagogue he oversaw. He, therefore, recognized the truth and light that Jesus brought into the world, which led him to believe in Jesus as having been sent from God. Such faith would not come without some direct contact with Jesus prior, which affected him personally. Because Jairus sought out Jesus at a time of utmost need, one should assume that Jesus and Jairus had reached a good relationship of trust.

When we read how Jairus came to Jesus and “fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly, the Greek text leads to this act by Jarius by saying, “kai idōn auton,“ which simply states, “and having seen him.” By realizing the placement of a “kai” states importance to be seen in those following words, “having seen” goes beyond Mark saying, “Jarius spotted Jesus in the crowd.” I tells of a past relationship with him and Jesus, where “idōn” is then better translated as “having experienced.” The word “auton” is the third person singular pronoun, as “he, she, it,” but the “kai” brings out the importance of reading the word as “himself.” With the inclusion of “self” the meaning says the “soul” of “him” [“his soul”] had made contact with Jesus [“his soul” as well] before. It was then that prior “experience” that had Jarius prostrate himself before Jesus, as one would doubt he would not have done that to get a doctor’s help.

We then read that Jarius told Jesus, “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.” This was a plea from a trusting friend and associate, more than being a demand or test from an elder prostrating himself before one who was proposing to be holy. While some Pharisees would scorn Jesus by demanding he prove his piety, even under the pretense of trying to trick Jesus, this plea by Jairus shows sincerity. That emotional plea for help was made from the heart of Jairus, for love of his little daughter and faith in God that he would be led to the true Son of God for salvation.

This should then be seen as why Jesus dropped everything relative to addressing a crowd of nameless Jews and went with Jairus. He went to save his little daughter for the glory of God. God enlightened Jairus to seek Jesus, so God could be proved through the Son. God likewise enlightened Jesus that this was an important call in his ministry.

As Jesus left to follow Jairus home, the crowd did not know why Jesus was leaving the meeting site, so they pressed in close to follow him. This is where the story exposes a woman who is among the crowd. We are told that she “had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse.”

The Greek wording, “rhysei haimatos,” says, “a flux [or flow] of blood,” which should be understood as a continual state of menstruation. While not stated, it should be assumed that the woman did not have normal periods upon her maturation from childhood; so, one can easily assume that was when she began to have feminine problems. I do not see this as a problem experienced by an older woman. Instead, I feel that she went from childhood’s immaturity to a state that transformed her at puberty.

This naturally occurs around the age of twelve in girls (give or take), so the timing of twelve years means she has not stopped hemorrhaging since she her first period began, meaning she was then twenty-four years of age. It is a loud statement that says she had suffered for as long as she was a child, prior to becoming mature. I sense this because the number of twelve years is stated twice in this reading, which makes that number significant.

One has to grasp how a Jewish woman is deemed to be unclean when she has her period, such that she is banned from the synagogue until her period is over and she has completed the acts of ritual cleansing. This means this particular young woman had been forbidden from partaking of any official lessons and rites other Jews were allowed to attend; and, she was unable to be presented as a potential wife for a husband. She could not have children, making her barren. Her dowry had been spent on doctors who could prescribe nothing to correct her problem, and most likely her family had forced her out on her own, as a rejection of a daughter that had somehow sinned and was being punished by God. By seeing this state of being, it becomes her faith that sought a miracle cure, because she remembered the days of her childhood and the joy she felt being a chosen child of God. Her love of God then drew her to find Jesus.

It should then be realized that this woman’s having been banned from the synagogues, due to being unclean, also forbade her from having contact with a clean Jew. Because her bleeding was contained and mostly secret, she could join with a crowd of strangers and be relatively unnoticed. Contact with others who had hidden sins and covered abnormalities made her be one who was just another face in the crowd of the great unwashed. However, the unclean state forbid her, by Jewish law, from touching one of clean status, especially one who was a teacher of the Jews. However, touching the hem of Jesus’ garment was her way around that rule.

We then read, “She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease.” This says that the woman had placed her faith in doctors, giving all the money she had, but her condition had only worsened. She had never seen Jesus before, only hearing others talk about his words and deeds. Her faith led her to believe Jesus was the one sent by God to save her, so she would not directly come and prostrate herself before the feet of Jesus, pleading her case while being unclean. Instead, she would come from behind, hidden in the crowd, and secretly touch one of the knotted fringes of his prayer shawl [Tallit] or his robe or tunic. His body would not be made unclean by personal contact.

When she did this, “Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease.” The Greek word “euthys” means, “immediately, soon, at once, shortly, straightway, directly and forthwith.” There was healing the instant the woman touched Jesus’ outer garment. At that same moment that the woman knew she was healed, Jesus was “immediately aware that power had gone forth from him,” as the same Greek word “euthys” is again written. The woman “felt in her body that she was healed” at the same time Jesus was “aware that power had gone forth,” causing one to be healed.

Knowing “immediately” means Jesus did not have the foresight to heal. Healing happened with the woman knowing more than Jesus. The two were instantly joined through faith. It was that connection that was made between Jesus and the woman that was her touching God with her faith, such that Jesus felt that touch when the power of God passed through him to the woman. Jesus did not know who the power had touched, but he wanted to know who was in the crowd following him that had such faith in God. Therefore, Jesus asked, “Who touched my clothes?” He asked that question as if he had sensory organs sewn into the fabric of his clothing.

When we read of the disciples replying to Jesus’ question, saying, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?’” that meant there was plenty of incidental contact present. That meant Jesus was probably closely surrounded by his disciples, as they cleared a path for him to travel. This means it was quite probable that one of them had touched Jesus, if not once, then multiple times. If not them, then any number of people in the crowd could have touched Jesus out of their admiration. Jesus, however, knew this one touch was different from all the rest.

Jesus knew there was one whose touch caused God to reward his or her faith. So, Jesus “looked all around to see who had done it.” His inability to see who it was means Jesus was not the one who purposefully sent out healing power from his being.

We then read that “the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth.” In this statement, we have a parallel positioning made before Jesus that was made by Jairus. Jairus had done that as a clean Jew, begging Jesus to come save his little daughter. The woman then did it also as a cleaned Jew, whose body had been cleansed by the power of the water that is the Spirit of Yahweh. More than being ritually cleaned, she had been filled with the that Spirit too, made clean [Sacred by the presence of that Spirit]. Therefore, when Jesus heard her tell “the whole truth,” he said, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease,” which was a blessing spoken to the woman by God, through His Son.

In what Jesus spoke to the woman, the Greek written by Mark states: “eipen autē , Thygatēr , hē pistis sou sesōken se,” which literally translates to say, “said to her , Daughter , this faith of you has healed you”. Here, again, like with Jarius “having seen him,” the words “eipen autē” say “brought word to herself,” where “self” again must be read as Jesus speaking “to her soul.” More than her ears hearing Jesus speak, her whole soul was listening; and, then Jesus called her “Daughter,” which is a capitalized word, heightening it to a divine state of meaning. This says it was Yahweh – the Father – speaking to her soul through Jesus, which lets the reader know the Spirit of Yahweh had married her soul. This then led to Jesus saying, “this faith,” where “pistis” means a persona experience (like that Jarius had found), not simple “belief.” Then, the words “sou sesōken se” say “of yourself [soul] has saved yourself [soul].” This means more than her hemorrhage ceased, due to her faith.

When Jesus addressed the woman as “Thygatēr,” “Daughter,” where the capitalization should not be discounted as being merely to denote the first word of a statement, the woman had just been made a Saint. A “Daughter” is then the equivalent to a “Son,” which Jesus of Nazareth was, in relationship to God the Father. The woman had just been announced as one with the same faith as Jesus. The use of the Greek word “sesōken,” translated as “has made you well,” more importantly says, “has saved you, has preserved you, has rescued you,” in more ways than simply being “healed” of a physical disease causing hemorrhaging. She was then sent out into the world with the “peace” of righteousness, which she would spread to all she would come in contact with in the future.

Still, while this title of “Daughter” was bestowed by Jesus to a woman who had been mature for at least twelve years, the dual meaning relates that woman with the “little daughter” of Jairus, who was near death and in need of Jesus’ help. We are told that Jairus’ daughter was twelve years of age, which means as long as she had been alive the woman just saved had been hemorrhaging. Add to that the possibility that the woman began her torment when she too was twelve years of age, then she becomes a reflection of Jairus’ “little daughter.” Both had neared death when they reached puberty.

Like the doctors that took all of the woman’s money, rewarding themselves for her troubles while giving nothing of value to her in return, Jesus reached Jairus’ house and found the daughter surrounded by people wailing and causing a commotion. While Jairus was a reflection of “enlightenment,” he was surrounded by those who would cloud that light. The people sent to him and who stayed at his home lacked faith. They went to tell Jairus, “Your daughter is dead.” They only saw one diagnosis with no cure. They laughed at Jesus for being weak of mind.

On the other hand, when Jesus told Jairus, “Do not fear, only believe,” Jairus maintained his faith in Jesus. Thus, when the people in Jairus’ house to whom Jesus said, “The child is not dead but sleeping” laughed, they were told to leave. The clouds that blocked the light were dispersed. The light of truth was free to shine.

With the disbelievers away, we read that Jesus “took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was.” Those who were with Jesus were his disciples Peter, and James and John of Zebedee. They loved Jesus and had faith in his works. Jairus and his wife loved their daughter and had faith in the works of Jesus as well. Surrounded by those drawn to the light of truth, Jesus took the girl “by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!” And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about.” The girl was only sleeping.

The use of the Greek word “euthys” again appears, such that there was an instant connection made between God and the daughter when the words uttered by Jesus touched her being (her soul’s presence). More than his laying on hands, Jesus spoke the Word of Yahweh that healed.

Just as Jesus would say when news reached him across the Jordan that Lazarus had fallen ill, Jesus had said, “Lazarus is only sleeping.” However, when Jesus returned to Bethany, where Lazarus had been dead and buried after four days, the touch of Jesus’ voice to Lazarus’ being, “Come out!” had the same effect. Lazarus also “got up and began to walk about.” It was the Word that brought Lazarus back to life, just as it was the Word that raised Jairus’ daughter.

The symbolism of sleep-to-death and wake-to-life are seen again in this story. Death is a state of sleeping, whereas life is a state of wakefulness. The soul is the eternal spirit that gives life or death to a body. Life is more than a body that breathes air and death is more than a body that ceases to breathe air. The soul can only remain in a body of flesh that is capable of supporting human life. When the body has reached a point when a body is kept living, but not alive, the soul hovers near the body. This is a state of sleep, in a metaphysical sense. Should God restore the flesh to life, then the soul can return and a sleeping body (one said to have been dead) can again be alive. Therefore, when Jesus touched the hand of the little girl, her flesh was made whole and able to support life.

When Jesus said, “Get up!” speaking for the Father, the soul was rejoined with the rejuvenated body and she rose. This is a rebirth.

This awakening of the soul occurs in each reincarnation, where the Father tells a soul to be reborn anew. In one who has been eternally saved by the Father, the death of the body means the soul “Gets up!” in Heaven, leaving the body of flesh behind. Still, when this little girl got up after she had a body that was once no longer able to support life, just as when Lazarus rose from a longer death (when the ‘silver cord’ connecting the hovering soul to its body is severed after three days dead). It is the same as Jesus being resurrected after three days dead. The daughter of Jarius had been reborn for a Spiritual purpose in the worldly domain.

When we then read that Jesus “strictly ordered [the parents and his disciples] that no one should know this, and told [the parents] to give her something to eat,” this was because everyone present in that girl’s room knew she had risen from her deathbed. Jesus knew by the Mind of Christ that telling people, “Jesus raised my little daughter from death” would cause evil to raise its ugly head. A plot to kill Lazarus would surface after news spread that Jesus had raised him. The little daughter needed to be fed Spiritually by her parents, for her to live for God – taught the Word sent by He Who Gives Light. Therefore, Jairus and his wife and daughter were told to keep this truth within them; and all would do so, as all were made Saints by the presence of the Spirit of Yahweh, which came upon them all due to their faith.

As a selected Gospel reading for the sixth Sunday after Pentecost, when one’s personal ministry to Yahweh should be underway, it becomes vital for one’s faith be as strong as was Jairus’ and the woman whose hemorrhaging had kept her faith from being a blessing upon others for half her life. One who has faith desires to be in touch with God. A minister to Yahweh must know the value of having died of self, so one can be reborn as an extension of God’s Son, as Jesus resurrected within another body of flesh Anointed by Yahweh, as His Christ. The innocence of a child must be returned to a soul, for one’s faith to be put to use.

We read the request of Jairus, “Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live,” and think Jesus had a healing touch that was a gift of God. However, we never see how Jesus laid his hands on the woman who was healed. Jesus told her, “Your faith has made you well.” Jesus held the hand of Jairus’ daughter when she got up, but Jesus was not holding the hand of Lazarus when he came from his tomb. It was the voice of God that spoke, commanding their souls to act with faith. Without faith in the one seeking healing, having someone lay on their hands will have the same effect as going to a doctor: you spend all you have and get no better.

The real meaning of the request by Jairus, which was heard by God and known by Jesus, was “Come and make my daughter be your hands on earth, so that she may be saved and alive with faith.” This is the prayer a minister has to make to God, when one offers himself or herself [self = soul] to Yahweh as His bride (regardless of one’s human gender). We have to die of self so that our flesh can be renewed in the hands of Jesus Christ. Jesus must lay his hands within ours, while we step aside as servants to God.

A ministry to the LORD then means that no matter how overcome with amazement one becomes, witnessing the miracles of God that occur around one, one is not to become boastful and proclaim, “Look here at what I have done!” A miracle is a private and personal matter. A miracle uplifts one’s faith.

Still, to God a miracle is just another day’s work done through one of His servants. People of faith simply “Go in peace” to serve Yahweh.

Thanks be to God!

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