Mark 5:21-43

Commentary Excerpt by Tom Boomershine

The impact of this story is directly related to the change in psychological distance between the listeners and a woman with a flow of blood, and between Jairus, his daughter, and Jesus. The story begins with Jairus, an elder in the synagogue, coming and falling at Jesus' feet, and begging him to come and heal his daughter who is on the point of death. It is probably not possible to overdue the emotional intensity of his anxiety and his pleading with Jesus.

The scene is then set for a woman who touches Jesus in the midst of a large crowd surrounding and pressing in on him. The woman and the description of her situation is highly intimate. This is all an inside view so you, as a storyteller, are describing her experience. She could not, for example, sit on a chair in a house, because anyone who sat on that chair would be unclean. She couldn't cook. She had virtually been ostracized from the whole of society because of her condition. The telling is very quiet and very intense and shows the degree of her desperation for help, but also her confidence in Jesus. Even the healing—"After touching his garment she knew in her body that she had been healed"—is very quiet and intimate. You want to convey a tone of intimacy and interior participation in her experience.

Later when the woman falls at Jesus' feet, the same dynamic is present, but now what was private is made public. The woman anticipates that Jesus will condemn her. She has broken the law and by touching him has made him unclean because of her uncleanness.That's why she only touches the hem of his garment. Even though it is a minimal touch,according to the law it doesn't matter. She has made him unclean and he could be rightly angry with her and condemn her for what she has done. Instead he blesses her. He apparently doesn't care about whether she made him unclean. He doesn't seem to pay much attention to those things. What he is concerned about is her well being. He even addresses her as his "daughter."

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