Bible study – 9th July


Do you hate waiting? Imagine waiting in a queue for something important and someone jumps in ahead of you. What do you do? I can remember waiting in A&E when Isaac was a small baby because he was coughing and de-hydrated and someone barged in ahead of us. It is one of the few times I have seen my husband visibly cross. I hate waiting when I think the person ahead of me is wasting time; ‘don’t they know that I have important things to do!’

  1. Do you have stories of queue jumpers and time-wasters?

Of course, we don’t know why people jump in or whether people are actually wasting time. It might not be selfishness but a genuine emergency. In Mark 5, two stories are deliberately put side by side.

Read Mark 5: 21-43

We have a clash of interests; Jairus and his ill daughter and the woman with a constant bleed. Let’s start with her. According to Leviticus 15 a menstruating woman is ritually unclean and therefore must keep herself away from worship and other people because could contaminate the holiness of others – a spiritual sort of self-isolation. This poor woman has been excluded from her community for 12 years. In order to keep the others ‘pure’ she has to be kept out. Who oversees the religious control? The synagogue leader- in other words Jairus.

Jairus is risking his respectability by seeking the help of this unorthodox preacher but his daughter is ill and he’s heard that Jesus can heal. Her life hangs in the balance. Surely the woman with the constant bleed can wait, what difference will another day make? Time is of the essence to him.

  1. Why do you think Jesus allows himself to be diverted?
  2. When have you thought that people might have an important issue, but it can wait until a crisis is over?

Jesus is breaking down the whole system of what/who is clean. After her healing the woman was meant to go to the Temple and make a sacrifice to claim her ‘clean’ status, but Jesus makes no such suggestion. He makes the Temple and the sacrifice redundant. Jairus may have thought that she would contaminate Jesus, but the flow goes in the opposite direction. Power goes from him to her. Holiness is the most contagious thing. Desmond Tutu writes ‘goodness is stronger than evil, life is stronger than death.’

  1. When have you noticed that holiness is contagious?
  2. What do you make of Jesus’ reaction? Do events/others take our energy without our consent?
  3. What do think Jairus might have felt when the news came of his daughter’s death?

Jairus doesn’t give up. Both these stories are about people who show remarkable faith and are brave enough to break the rule. Jairus allows his daughter to be touched by a man who has been touched by an unclean woman.

  1. Has there been a time when showing love has meant breaking the rules? We so often think that faith is ‘rule-keeping’ does Mark 5 show something different?

Jewish men wore long shawls with tassels at the corners attached by a blue thread (Numbers 15). They are there to help them remember the commandments and live a holy life. It is likely that the woman touched one of these tassels literally reaching out for holiness. The word in Hebrew can also be translated as ‘wing’. Jesus’ garment may have blown in the wind like a wing.

Read Malachi 4:2

This is where we get the reference in ‘Hark the herald angels sing’. I wonder if Jesus also laid his shawl over the dead little girl? Holiness and healing are found in Jesus- the woman and Jairus come from very different position but in the end they both reach out to Jesus and hope against hope- something that looks like faith.


Creator God,

You have made all people in your image,

And through love show the value of each,

Whether we see ourselves as Jairus or the woman- you love us.

Whether others see us as Jairus or the woman- you love us.

Forgive our pride when we automatically think our needs are more important.

Forgive our lack of trust when we worry that precious seconds are passing by.

Forgive us from not being diverted by what’s important because something else is urgent.

Give us your freedom and peace.

There is healing in Christ’s wings and we reach out to Him.


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