“Jesus’ commitment to the ministry is on the run, as he meets pressing needs without losing sight of the larger picture.”1
The Kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of a power
In Mark’s gospel, Jesus’ words and deeds are always connected to reveal the authority and identity of Jesus. Last week, Danielle preached about God’s kingdom using three parables (lamp, growing seed, and mustard seed). Jesus uses many similar parables as much as his disciples can understand. Everything comes in parables (4:10-12). However, the Kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of a power (1 Cor. 4:20). And the sources of power are Jesus himself and Mark is telling that such power is available for us as we take the risk of faith in Jesus.
The purpose of the miracles
In Mark’s gospel, miracles are not designed to convince people to believe. Jesus does not do great works of power to produce fear or amazement. Instead, Jesus performs the miracles to meet people’s needs completely. The purpose of the miracles point to his identity and the nature of God’s reign for everyone who can listen and see. They provoke reflection, insight, and convictions about the arrival of God’s Kingdom. But most importantly, miracles reveal the true nature of Jesus.
Having recorded the victories over the storm (4:35-41) and Satan (5:1:20), Mark weaved together these two stories of the healed woman and Jairus’ daughter. He might have done it simply because that was how it happened, or the way tradition was preserved. But it shows that “Jesus’ commitment to the ministry is on the run, as he meets pressing needs without losing sight of the larger picture.” In other words, Jesus is always available for us, willing to meet our needs.
Why are these stories remembered and retold in the early church?
Geddert helps us understand the reasons as follows:
- It offers a model of faith and courage. The woman takes significant risks; she puts her whole destiny on Jesus. “She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better, but she grew worse” (5:26). Hearing about Jesus, she comes to Jesus and trusts that he is the only one who can rescue her from her past and renew her future.
- It illustrates the meaning of the salvation and wholeness Jesus delivers. “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be free from your sufferings” (5:34b). The language of healing, saving, acceptance, and peace is rich enough to deal with the wide range of problems she has brought along with her into Jesus’ presence.
- It upholds a picture of a woman who, like Jesus, has not let ceremonial restrictions prevent her from breaking through boundaries. In this text, the Markan community found encouragement for the gender equality they were (or should have been) practicing.
- It also reinforces faith in Jesus’ restorative power, something rather crucial for Jairus within the story.
Questions for discussion
- What needs do these miracles meet?
- How do these events serve as signs of the reign of God?
- What do these events say about Jesus?
- Regardingthe question of Jesus’ identity, what are the perspective differences between the biblical figures of the text in the 1st century and us today?
These additional notes on the Gospel of Mark are taken from the Believers Church Bible Commentary written by Timothy J. Geddert.
1Geddert, Believers Church Bible Commentary, 124.
Geddert, Timothy J. Believers Church Bible Commentary: Mark. Herald Press: Scottdale, Pennsylvania, 2001.