She had heard about Jesus, so she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his robe. (Mark 5:27)
Relate: The single mother is a fairly common sight here as well as in America and the West but for very different reasons. Here it is sometimes because the husbands and fathers have gone off to fight and die for one side or another of the mess that is the multisided Syrian civil war. More often the father has sent his family off to safety while he remained behind to work and support them, or he has gone on ahead into Germany, the UK, or somewhere else to save up and begin to prepare while the rest of the family looks to join up through more legal means. That illegal, but often necessary immigration is safer and easier for one man to make alone than for a husband and father to try with his family, but it leaves the women behind with kids almost as if they were widowed or divorced for a time themselves.
No matter the reason, this growing worldwide trend of single mothers presents unique challenges simply because throughout most of history it simply could not exist in such numbers. In Israel during Jesus time and before, very few women would be able to live on their own, let alone do so while raising kids. A girl lived with her father until she was old enough to marry. Then she lived with her husband. If he died she would either remarry quickly, go back to living with her father, or if her children were old enough then she would live with them. This last case was most likely the one Mary and Jesus were in. Although the Bible doesn’t mention it, most scholars think one of the reasons Jesus did not begin his public ministry until thirty was because he remained at home until his brothers were old enough to be able to support the family. My dad died in my late teen years and I can only imagine what it would have been like at that age having to leave college to go back home and support my family. Back then the human race simply could not grasp the concept of working mothers or relatively equal wages. There is still room for improvement on that last point but thank God we have evolved to where the concept is possible and desirable.
Jesus is in many ways the reason we have. In His time most men and certainly nearly all in leadership gave women as little thought as possible, but Jesus seemed to go out of his way to let them know they are valued. There is his conversation with his mother in Cana, the Woman at the Well, the woman caught in adultery, the Syrophoenician woman, the widow of Nain, Mary and Martha, Mary Magdalene, Peter’s mother in law, the woman anointing his feet, the women at the cross and the resurrection, and I’m sure I’ve missed many others. No other man would have had so many occasions of interactions recorded. Considering how much it was a male dominated society the sheer volume of such instances is amazing. Its almost as if Jesus were seeking these opportunities out.
React: In this chapter Jesus first stops, and then refuses to stop. Both times He does so to show someone they are loved. First He stops to let someone know she has been noticed. This poor woman has had a condition for a dozen years that has forced her to live in the margins of Jewish society. Not only was she unclean but anyone that she came in contact with was also made ceremonially unclean. Imagine being forced, against your will away from human contact. Imagine being beggared as you have spent everything you have seeking a medical cure where the doctors have been stumped in their attempt to bleed you dry. (Pun intended) I would guess she is either widowed and unable to remarry because of it or else her husband left her because he is nowhere in the picture. Her touch of Jesus garment healed her physically but that was not the only healing she needed. Jesus stopped even though he was on an urgent task to let her know, “I’ve seen. I know. I care.”
This delay was lethal. The next thing we hear is that Jairus’ daughter has died. There is no need to go any further. We were too late. But now Jesus refuses to stop. Someone has come to him and relied on him for a truly urgent need. He would not let them down. In spite of skepticism and mockery, in spite of death itself He presses on. Jesus was a recognized religious leader in the home of another religious leader. Even the father would avoid touching his daughter so as not to make himself ceremonially unclean. Jesus symbolically spits in the face of this taboo when He reaches out and takes the daughter’s hand. Then he says to the twelve year old, “Little girl… Rise.”
I thank You that You still call the dead to rise because once I was dead until You gave me life. I thank You that You still step into impossible situations with us. You still take our hand. You still lift us up. Because I have been given so much, help me take notice of how I can give back Show me how I can give You to my world. Help me to learn to stop and take notice. Give me Your heart that I might have the faith and the courage to press on when those around me say stop. Help me bring healing and life to those You love.