I recently preached on the passage in Mark 5 where Jesus healed the unnamed woman who had been bleeding for twelve years. One of the more striking elements in that passage is that Jesus had the rich and powerful Jairus wait while he not only healed the woman, but then went on to teach her about the gospel (apparently for hours). In fact, Jesus spent so much time teaching her, that while he was doing so, Jairus’ daughter died.
Why did Jesus tarry? Why did he let Jairus’ daughter die? Didn’t he know she was at death’s door? There are at least three reasons:
1) Jesus tarried in order to highlight the importance of his teaching.
This was a matter of life and death, and he chose to teach the gospel to the crowd rather than saving the little girls’ life. Those who believed the gospel were obviously mesmerized by this, but those who rejected it viewed Jesus with disdain. You even see it in their words; when the news arrives that Jesus’ delay cost the little girl her life, Jairus’ entourage tells him, “why bother the teacher any longer?” You can read the disdain in their voice, and can almost feel their sarcasm in their use of the world teacher. It is exactly this teaching that cost the girl her life.
Which, by the way, is nothing new in the Gospel of Mark. This had been going on since the start of Jesus’ ministry. Mark presents Jesus as trying to teach, but being interrupted by those who want to be healed (Mark 1:22-23, 32). This was happening so frequently that Jesus steals away in the night to escape the crowd (Mark 1:33-38). In Mark 2, he finally seems to have solved the dilemma by teaching in a house, but the lame man’s friends burrow through the roof to lower him at Jesus’ feet (Mark 2:2)! In Luke, Jesus finally rebukes the crowd for only coming to him for healing, while not caring about his teaching, and then he tells them he won’t give them any more signs except his resurrection (Luke 11:29-30). But—wouldn’t you know it—when people continue to bring their sick to them, he still heals them. There is this obvious tension between healing and teaching, and Jesus came as a teacher, not a healer; nevertheless because of his constant compassion, he healed every sick person that crossed his path. He never turned his back on a single need, and yet he never let his healing crowd out his teaching.
2. Jesus had Jarius wait in order to highlight the significance of the anonymous woman whom he had healed.
That poor woman had been sick for twelve years—the same amount of time Jairus’ daughter had been alive. She was unnamed, destitute, unclean, forgotten and an outcast. Meanwhile, Jairus was known, rich, a religious leader, and esteemed in the city. Yet Jesus was not concerned with Jairus’ social standing, and he did not dismiss the unnamed woman for lacking it. He was no respecter of persons, and he was unimpressed by social status. Instead, he made Jairus wait, while he taught the woman and the crowd. Which also explains why Jairus’ staff was so incredulous with Jesus. Didn’t he know who Jairus was? Well, yes…but he wasn’t impressed. He was more impressed with the woman’s faith who navigated the crowd, opened herself up to public shame, all out of faith in Jesus as the Christ.
3. Jesus allowed Jairus’ daughter to die so he could raise her from the dead.
In some sense this is exactly like when Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick. He waited for days until Lazarus died, then went to him. Why? So that everyone would see the power of God in Jesus’ life. In Mark 5, Jesus wanted to raise the girl from the dead to show his power, to demonstrate himself as the author of life, and also to highlight his role as greater than Elisha—who also resurrected a dead child in a very similar situation. But whereas Elisha had panic, raced to the child’s bedside and then frantically tried anything to resurrect him (2 Kings 4), Jesus calmly walked there. He operated on his own time, and unlike the desperation of Elisha, Jesus would simply grab the child’s hand, and whisper to her. How dramatic that scene must have been, and it only happened because Jesus had enough faith to wait and teach, rather than to run and raise.