Jesus, the Savior of Great and Small

Text: Mark 5:21-43

One of the ongoing themes in Mark’s Gospel is rejection. More specifically, the rejection of Jesus. This rejection comes from all sides, but a particular focus of St. Mark is the rejection of Jesus by His own people and His subsequent appearances to the Gentiles. Mark, tradition tells us, wrote to a Gentile audience. Only a quarter way through the Gospel, Jesus has already been rejected by His people, His own family, and even doubted by His own Disciples. We would’ve expected the Messiah to be welcomed by God’s chosen people. They were supposed to be looking for and anticipating the arrival of the Christ. But instead, Jesus’ ministry is met with rejection, doubt, and ridicule.

Last week Jesus demonstrated that He is the Lord God Almighty by displaying His power over the raging storm and waves. Though the Disciples despaired of life itself, Jesus was beside them in the boat the whole time. Likewise, He is beside us in the Ark of the Church throughout the perils of this life. The whole reason for going across the Sea of Galilee in the first place was to go to the Gentiles, those who had been previously estranged from God. If God’s chosen people wouldn’t listen to the Good News, then maybe those who were the outcasts would. Jesus showed that He is not the Savior just of the Jews only, but of the Gentiles as well. He showed that God’s chosen people are not of one race, but of one relationship: faith in Christ.

But now Christ has come back west over the Sea of Galilee to Jewish territory. Even with home court advantage, though, Jesus continued to show that the Son of Man is impartial. He reaches out today to a number of people to demonstrate that He is Lord not only of both Jew and Greek, but of great and small as well. Jesus shows by His power over death and disease that His salvation is for all people.

I.

The text begins, “When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about him, and he was beside the sea. Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet 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.” And he went with him.”[1] Already we’ve said that Jesus is back in Jewish territory. He left it to show God is impartial, but now returning, He is met along the way by a ruler of the synagogue. The rulers of the synagogue were a class of men in charge various matters at the local synagogue, such as arranging readers and speakers. They weren’t priests, but they were fairly important. Here we see that not all Jewish authorities despised Jesus, and while Jesus’ own disciples wondered who He was to command wind and wave, this man understood.

This is reflected in his actions. This important man comes and prostrates himself before Jesus. He falls at His feet, imploring Him to come help. His little daughter is at the end of her life. We’re given to understand by the text that death is near in the immediate sense. There is nothing that could be done. But, if Jesus would just come and lay hands on her, she would be saved and live. She would be saved from the perils of death and the grave. There were any number of doctors or faith healers that the man could’ve gone to, but he asked Jesus. They could’ve prayed, could’ve made this life transition easier for the girl and her family, but they couldn’t save her. Only Jesus could save her and make her live again. And with the words that the man uses, we’re talking about more than just healing.

Jesus, hearing the man, doesn’t mess around. In fact, He doesn’t say anything at all. None of the Gospels record Jesus saying anything here; He just goes. He doesn’t twiddle His thumbs, He doesn’t debate over what to do; He sees an opportunity to share His saving news, and He jumps into action. He, the Lord of all life, who has come to suffer and die for the forgiveness of our sins, goes to bring life to this little girl.

II.

Jesus goes along with Jairus to heal his daughter who is deathly ill. Along the way, a crowd followed and pressed against Him. In the crowd, “there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse.”[2] Because of the type of ailment this woman had, she was ceremonially unclean. In other cases, the uncleanness may have ended, but for her it meant twelve years of being unclean. This meant she couldn’t go to the temple, she couldn’t eat the Passover, and other people who came into contact with her must first purify themselves before doing those things. Thus, she was an outcast. We see a stark comparison between her and the ruler. The ruler was an important man who humbled himself before Jesus, while this woman is at the bottom of the social ladder. And yet, they share a common faith in Jesus.

The woman figured if she would just touch His garments, she would be healed. She was right. She reached out and touched Jesus and was instantly healed. Fearing that Jesus would be angry, she confessed what she had done. Jesus responds not in anger, but to comfort the woman. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”[3] It was not the touching of the garment that healed her, but the salvation of God present in the flesh of Jesus Christ that purified the woman’s flesh. She became a living image of the healing we will all receive at the resurrection. As with the woman, our bodies are weak and frail. We grow old and die. But as with the woman, so will our bodies be renewed at the coming of Christ. That’s what we confess when we say, “I believe in the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.” We know that those who believe in Jesus will be resurrected in our renewed bodies.

III.

In the intervening time, the little girl died. But for Jesus, that isn’t an issue. Jesus instructs the father not to fear, but believe. There was a great commotion in the house. The practice at the time was to hire professional mourners, and so the house was filled with weeping and mourning. Jesus asked, “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping.”[4] They laughed at Him, not realizing that the Lord of all life stood in their midst. For Jesus, death is but as sleep. Then, taking the girl by the hand, He spoke to her. “Little girl, I say to you, arise.[5] He spoke His Word to her, and immediately she rose from the dead. He spoke the Word of life and brought her back.

That’s what Jesus does. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. His Word brings water to the barren soul and life and light those who dwell in the shadow of death. It’s not dependent on who you are, where you’re from, what you do, or what social circles you run in. The salvation of Jesus Christ is for all people. He suffered for the sins of the entire world, and by His death and resurrection has reconciled all people to the Father. This reconciliation is given through the gift of faith we receive in Baptism. From the greatest to the least, is for all people. Jesus raised from the dead the daughter of a ruler of the synagogue, and He healed a woman who had been an outcast for twelve years. The Pharisees once commended Jesus for showing no partiality, and they were right. No matter who you are, no matter where you’re from, no matter what you’ve done, Jesus died for you.


[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Mk 5:21–24.

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Mk 5:25–26.

[3] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Mk 5:34.

[4] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Mk 5:39.

[5] Mk. 5:41.

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