Too late? (Mark 5:21-43)

We’ve seen already how the story of Jairus’ daughter wraps around the healing of the woman with a discharge of blood. Here we see at first a contrast because Jesus is willing to pause for the one that no one else would notice even as he goes to help a man who is used to prominence, used to getting his own way. 

However, there are also comparisons in the story.  Jesus is willing to be mocked a little in both cases and what is more, if the woman was unnoticed then in many ways, so too was a child and a girl in her own right.

When Jairus finds Jesus, his daughter is seriously ill, close to death. It seems that time is of the essence, they need to hurry.  Indeed, it appears that they delay has been costly.  A messenger turns up to tell Jairus that it is too late, the girl is dead (v35).

Put yourself in Jairus’ shoes at this stage. How are you likely to feel? There will be grief and despair obviously but maybe also frustration and anger. That frustration and anxiety has no doubt been growing as Jesus has paused to talk to the woman. He must have been thinking “won’t Jesus just hurry up? Does he not get the urgency?  It’s going to be too late.

Certainly, that’s how I would have been. I struggle with delays, I don’t like to be late and I like things to be clearly sorted and everything in place up front.  However, note this. There is something significant here about Jesus pausing and taking his time. A dominant word through the Gospel is “immediately” so when something isn’t immediate, it should catch our attention. 

We may wonder at times how everything is going to work out. Maybe it seems that God is taking his time in working in our lives. We look at the mess and damage that still needs sorting out or we think about that potential calling to serve him.  We want the answers to our prayers to be “Yes” and “immediate” and there is something wonderful about the faith which expects that. But sometimes Jesus says “Can you trust me enough to wait for what I’m going to do?”

The crunch question is this. Do we really believe that Jesus is the Lord of Space and time? If we do believe, then we can trust him to act in his way and in his time.

So, Jesus insists that the girl is sleeping. He’s mocked for this but you may recall that he later used the same words to describe Lazarus’ condition. It’s not that he’s denying the physical reality of death but rather that he wants us to know that death is temporary.  For this little girl, the temporariness of death is seen very visibly now as Jesus raises her to life again in this world.

For you and me, the normal expectation is that we will physically die.  That is perhaps why sometimes we are desperate to find healing now because we fear the sting of death.  However, just as much for us, death is not a permanent terminus but a temporary transition point because the promise is that we will sleep but that we will rise. Death does not have the last word and so believers in Jesus do not have to fear death. We know that when we die, we will be safe with him.

The healings we see in Mark are pointers to his kingdom breaking in, they offer little foretastes of what is to come.  Here is one such foretaste.  Kingdom life is breaking in and so too is resurrection life. What a few people such as a ruler’s daughter, a widow’s son and a saviour’s friend would experience during Christ’s earthly ministry has become available to all through his death and resurrection.

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