Connections 06.27.2021: Into, Out of, and Back Into the Chaos

Mark 5:21-43

The two stories in this week’s lesson text come right after two stories in which Jesus overcomes the chaos.

In the first of those two prior stories, Jesus overcomes the chaos of the sea (4:35-41). In the second one, he overcomes the chaos of a man with an unclean spirit (5:1-20). In both cases, the chaos originated in an external source (the sea and the unclean spirit), but also in both cases, the chaos threatens the wellbeing of people (the boat passengers and the possessed man).

Jesus also overcomes the chaos in the two stories in this week’s lesson text. He overcomes the chaos in the lives of two people who are in danger of being dragged under by it.

In an interesting twist, both people dive into even deeper chaos before Jesus rescues them from it. That doesn’t happen in the two previous stories. In the story about the sea, the disciples cry out to Jesus for help when the storm hits, but they don’t dive into the churning water. In the story about the possessed man, he has already been involuntarily submerged in the chaos to the point that he doesn’t even want help. But in this week’s stories, the people in danger of being swamped by the chaos dive right into the middle of even more chaos. Their diving into more chaos is the first step in their coming out of the chaos they were already experiencing.

The chaos they dive more deeply into consists of people.

Jesus and the disciples were crossing the Sea of Galilee when the storm hit. They encountered the possessed man after they safely reached the other side. Now they have sailed back across the sea. When they disembark, a large crowd surrounds Jesus. This wasn’t unusual. People were always surrounding Jesus.

Then a man named Jairus enters the chaos of the crowd. You get the impression that Jairus just walks right through the crowd as if he has status and knows how to use it. He is a leader of the synagogue, so everyone in the community no doubt knows and respects him. It isn’t hard to imagine the people stepping aside to let Jairus through. When he reaches Jesus, he falls before him and begs him to come heal his critically ill daughter. Jesus agrees to go to Jairus’s home.

There is also a woman in the crowd. She has suffered from an illness for twelve years. Mark doesn’t even tell us her name. Unlike Jairus, the woman doesn’t just walk up to Jesus, probably because she is ashamed and afraid, and also because the crowd wouldn’t clear a path for her anyway. Picture her as she tries to work her way through the chaos of the crowd so she can just touch Jesus’ clothes. She believes that if she can just do that, she will be healed. Picture her as she reaches out her trembling hand and just brushes the edge of his cloak with her fingertips—maybe with just the very tip of one finger. Imagine her reaction as she feels Jesus’ healing power surge through her.

Jesus and Jairus then resume their journey to Jairus’s home, even though word has come that Jairus’s daughter has died. When they arrive, Jesus restores her life to her. In a very real way, in so doing, Jesus restores Jairus’s life to him.

Both Jairus and the woman brought the chaos of their lives to Jesus. They each in their own way plunged into the chaos of humanity that surrounded Jesus to bring their personal chaos into contact with Jesus. They each did so in faith, trusting their life circumstances to Jesus. And Jesus rescued them from the chaos that had threatened to overwhelm them.

This doesn’t mean that the woman, Jairus, and Jairus’s daughter receive immunity from chaos. They no doubt experience more in the future. As a matter of fact, it isn’t hard to imagine the chaos they must have experienced as they encounter people who want to know what has happened.

Still, from that day on, they would have the experience of Jesus’ delivering them from the chaos to draw on to give them faith and courage to live in and through whatever chaos people, situations, and circumstances would put them through.

We do too. Don’t we?

Discussion

  • What do you think drew crowds to Jesus? What can and should draw people to the church?
  • How did Jairus and the woman both demonstrate faith and humility? What can we learn from their attitudes and actions?
  • Why do you think Jesus told the girl’s parents not to tell anyone what had happened? How likely do you think it is it that no one found out?
  • What do the stories in our lesson text teach us about how our faith can grow and develop?

Michael Ruffin is husband to Debra, father to Joshua (Michelle) and Sara (Benjamin), grandfather to Sullivan and Isabella. A graduate of Mercer University and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, he has previously served as a pastor and as a university professor. He lives on the Ruffin Family Farm in Yatesville, Georgia. He is the Connections Series Curriculum Editor.

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