Where the world comes to study the Bible

18. The Raising of Jairus’ Daughter


A. Passage Selected: Mark 5:21-43

Also found in: Matt 9:18-26; Luke 8:40-56

B. Progression Stated: Biographical

Biographical because of the different people involved in the miracle and the comparisons and contrasts going on between them.

C. Presentation Summarized:

1. Context

In both Mark and Luke, Jesus has just calmed the storm on the sea and cured a demoniac at Gadara. Now we come to a double miracle in which Jesus deals with both death and disease. The message from Mark 5 and Luke 8 is that Jesus has power over the natural world and the supernatural world and now we see He has power over disease and death. The point of these chapters is that Jesus is the Messiah, He can deal with any problem and He can be trusted.

The context which follows these miracles in both Mark and Luke is one of the commissionings of the disciples. Jesus sent them out, giving them authority over the unclean spirits and told them to take nothing with them for support. The miracles have demonstrated Jesus’ power and care for those who follow him and now the disciples must have faith in Jesus to care for them as they go out to minister. So, I think these miracles are an object lesson for the disciples to give them confidence in Jesus’ power and build their faith in Jesus.

Matthew places the miracle in a different location chronologically and changes a few details. As a matter of fact, this is one of the toughest passages in the Bible to solve the harmony problems between the gospel writers. The problem is with timing. When is Jesus told that Jairus’ daughter is dead? In Matthew Jairus comes to Jesus, falls to his knees and says that his daughter has died (past tense). But Mark and Luke say that the daughter is about to die. In the Greek, the three authors used three different words for death. One means she had died, one says she was dying and the other says she is at the point of death. When did death take place?

I. Howard Marshall, a well respected evangelical in Europe, was unable to sign the Chicago statement on inerrancy a few years ago because of this passage. He felt sure that there had to be errors in one of the gospel’s accounts of this miracle. There was an obvious contradiction here.

The real problem is reconciling Matthew’s account with the other gospel writers. I think the explanation is that Matthew often telescopes or condenses his miracle accounts and leaves out some of the details because he wants to stress other things. He does this with the account of the centurion who comes to Jesus asking Jesus to heal his servant. In that miracle account Luke says the centurion sent Jewish representatives. Matthew simply says that the centurion came to Jesus. It is basically the same thing because when someone in authority delegates a task, he is responsible.

Here the correct sequence of events is that the daughter was not dead yet, but would be before Jesus got to Jairus’ house. Matthew just relates that she is dead and doesn’t have to add the details about the person coming from Jairus’ house to inform Jairus that his daughter was now dead. Matthew also leaves out several other details. He doesn’t mention the crowd pressing in on him, the thoughts of the woman who touched him, Jesus’ question as to who touched him and the disciples’ response to Jesus’ question.

These differences really bother some people, but we have to remember that the gospel writers had different personalities, different audiences, different points that they were trying to make, etc. Most apparent contradictions between the gospels can be explained by taking these differences into account. Those that we cannot explain I attribute to my lack of understanding rather than jump to the conclusion that the Bible is in error.

The intertwining of these two miracles has a sandwiching effect. Jairus and his daughter are the bread and the woman is the “meat.” Jairus’ daughter is twelve years old. The woman was sick for 12 years. What does that mean? Who knows. We don’t know, but it is probably just a literary device to link the two stories together. Jairus is a synagogue ruler. The woman was unclean because of the blood problem. So you have an insider and an outsider compared and contrasted. There is a woman and a child, death and disease, a public miracle and a private miracle. Lots of contrasts and comparisons going on. Perhaps the point is that it doesn’t matter what your social status is, Jesus is the answer.

2. Content
a. The constraint of Jesus (22-23)

He is stopped by the man and pressed in by the crowd. Luke uses the word sunepnigon which is the same word used of the thorns which choked the word in the parable of the seed (8:14). The crowd is crushing Jesus. Matthew doesn’t mention this which is in keeping with what we just said about his tendency to condense the accounts.

b. The concern of Jesus (24-36)

For The Synagogue Ruler

Jairus is the leader of the local synagogue. It could very well be the synagogue in Capernaum. We don’t know what his reaction to Jesus was prior to this. Perhaps he witnessed the casting out of the demon in the synagogue and the healing of the man with the withered hand in the synagogue. Since he is one of the leaders, and the leaders didn’t typically respond well to Jesus, I wouldn’t be surprised if Jairus didn’t think too highly of Jesus prior to this. But now that his daughter is dying and he is desperate, He comes to Jesus. I wonder if it was difficult for him to kneel before Jesus? We can only speculate, but I doubt that Jairus’ faith was that Jesus was the Messiah—only that He could heal people and might be able to heal his daughter.

Jairus’ daughter was at the point of death. He wanted Jesus to hurry and come to his house to heal her. Jesus consents to go with Jairus, but soon after they get started, there is a delay. A sick woman comes up and touches Jesus’ garment. I can imagine that Jairus is probably frustrated at the delay. And the delay adds to the drama of the story. It also shows us that Jesus did not neglect the needs of a lowly woman to impress an influential religious leader.


For The Woman with the 12 year Hemorage

Because of her condition, this woman was continuously unclean according to Lev 15:25-31. She could not go to the temple to worship. She could not touch anyone or they would be unclean for the rest of the day. If she sat in a chair, it was unclean for the rest of the day, etc. So she was basically cut off from normal fellowship with others and with God.

(1) The physicians of the world (25-26)

Mark wants you to know that the doctors couldn’t help her. He says, “She suffered much at the hands of many doctors, had spent all her money and was not helped at all.” Luke doesn’t mention that she suffered at the hands of many doctors, nor that she had spent all her money on medical bills. He just mentions that she could not be healed. Why do you think Luke left that part out? Because Luke was a doctor.

(2) The Great Physician (27-32)

In contrast to the physicians of the world, we see the capabilities of the Great Physician.

Superstition said that power was in the robe of a great man, priest, rabbi, etc. Her belief was that touching the fabric would make her well. In fact, when she did touch His garment, she was healed.

Jesus was aware of the fact that a miracle had taken place. Was she healed by touching his garment? Was it the garment that healed her? No, Mark 5:30 says Jesus felt the power flow from Him. Mark wants to distinguish between the fabric and her faith in Him.

Matthew says she was healed from that hour, which might seem to mean she was healed after Jesus spoke, but again I think this is just Matthew’s summary style at work.

(3) The faith of the miracle (33-34)

The woman is probably ashamed and embarrassed. She was unclean and her touch would have made anyone she touched unclean. But as we have seen before, the reason Jesus doesn’t become unclean when He touches an unclean person like a leper or a corpse, is because He transfers cleanlines and life. Haggai 2:10-14 makes the point that if something clean touches something unclean, then the thing that was clean is defiled. Not so with Jesus. The details of the miracles where Jesus transfers cleanliness parallel the spiritual healing that Jesus brings where He cleanses us of our sin.

I also think that the numerous events where Jesus touches unclean people illustrate the doing away with the law and the whole idea of ritual uncleanness. Something new was happening and Jesus accepts all people who believe in Him no matter what their status is in the society.

Jesus declares to the woman that it was not the touch but her faith which healed her.

First, I want to point out that Mark uses the word swzw to indicate that she was healed. But the word usually means “saved.” There is a double entendre or double meaning here. Not only was she healed physically, she was healed spiritually. She was saved.

Second, we need to ask, “When did she demonstrate her faith?” She had faith that He could heal her when she approached Jesus. She demonstrated her faith further when she touched him. She was focused on touching His garments as if they had some magical powers, but God was gracious enough to respond to her faith even though it was not mature.

I think one of the reasons Jesus stopped was to tell the woman that it was her faith that healed her so that she wouldn’t continue in her superstition.

Does God answer children’s prayers? Do they understand how it all works? There are still times when I don’t pray very smartly, but God still understands my heart and answers. God uses inadequate faith, imperfect faith, immature faith, etc. He responds and then clarifies it later.

How many of you became Christians through hearing or reading a verse in the Bible that is truly a justification passage like John 3:16? How many of you became a Christian after hearing some passage or passages that were not justification related, but convicted you anyway? Since not everyone raised their hand, maybe I should ask how many of you have not yet become a Christian?

I think many people have come to Christ based on Rev 3:20 which says, “I stand at the door and knock...” That is not primarily a salvation passage. It is talking about Jesus wanting to have fellowship with some lukewarm Christians. But God lets people become Christians and then maybe they’ll learn the truth later. Maybe not. I’ve heard people criticize others for using Rev 3:20 out of context to lead someone to Christ. But God is sovereign and can lead people to Him any many ways.


Back to Jairus

(1) The report (35)

Jairus is with Jesus and when Jesus stops to help the woman, Jairus is probably wishing Jesus would hurry. Then some men from Jairus’ house find Jairus and Jesus and report that Jairus’ daughter is dead.

(2) The response (36)

Do not be afraid, just believe. It must be possible then, not to fear, even in the face of death. And if faith can eliminate fear in the worst scenario that you can face, then faith can eliminate fear for any situation.

c. The compassion of Jesus (37-43)

When they get to the house, He tells them not to cry because she is not dead and they laugh at Him. Was she dead? Yes. The text says, “Her spirit returned.” Why does He say she is only asleep? Because He knew it was not permanent. She wasn’t going to stay dead. Jesus says the same thing with Lazarus, the disciples misunderstand and he corrects them saying, “no, he is really dead.” Sleep is a euphemism for “temporal” death. Paul even uses this term for believers. 1Co 15, 1Co 11.

(1) His privacy

He did not let anyone follow except the three. This was going from a public to a private instruction. This miracle is for Jairus’ family and for the disciples.

(2) His power

Matt 11:5 quoting Isa 35 says that it will be a combination of his message backed by his miracles that prove who he is. He is different from the prophets because none of them do all the miracles nor make the claims he does. He does all the miracles and claims deity, Messiahship, that He is the son of man who has authority to forgive sins, that He is His Father’s son, etc., but He never says “I’m a prophet.” He was more than a prophet. Even though Elijah and Elisha each raise a widow’s son, they have to go through a complicated ritual of lying on the child, blowing in their mouth, etc. They are obviously trying to get God to raise the children. Jesus is God. He simply speaks.

When Jesus tells them to give the little girl something to eat, I think it just shows that Jesus is not only concerned with our big problems, He is also concerned for the little details.


  • From the healing of the woman we see that it is faith in Christ, not magical touches that heal. The power is in a person, not a fabric or formula.
  • The removal of her unclean physical condition parallels the process of salvation in which Jesus removes an unlcean spiritual condition. The miracle is an illustration of salvation.
  • The raising of Jairus’ daughter affirms the deity of Christ and proves that He is the Messiah. Matt 11:5 quotes Isa 35.
  • The delay in following Jairus resulted in more glory to God because Jesus had the opportunity to raise the girl from death and not just heal her.
  • Death is not a serious barrier for Christ to overcome.


  • God can use inadequate faith, respond to it and clarify it later.
  • When medicine is hopeless, hope in God.
  • Jesus told the lady to “go in peace.” Peace is the result of faith. How many of you have panic attacks? Not to trivialize the panic attacks, but panic is the opposite of peace, and the root cause is not really believing that God can get you though the situation.
  • It is Jesus who guarantees our resurrection from the dead. Because He lives, we too shall live (Paul tells us). It is him that turns death into sleep from which we can awake
  • We learn a ministry model from Christ: Don’t be afraid to leave the needs of the crowd to deal with an individual. If need drives your ministry, you will burn out because there will always be need. And I think we often assume the needs of the many are more important than the needs of the few. We are numbers oriented. But as I’ve studied the miracles, it seems that the multitudes witnessed the miracles and were amazed, but it never says they “believed.” It is always the individual that Jesus is dealing with who believes.
  • Jesus was never too busy to be interrupted. He was in balance.
  • The compassion of Jesus demonstrated in this miracle should bring reassurance that He is not too busy with the rest of the world to care for me individually.
  • Sickness and death strike the young as well as the old.
  • Sometimes the Lord’s delay brings a greater demonstration of His power. So don’t give up. And when you are tempted to ask God why He is taking so long, remember this principle.
  • The servants tradition (that death is final) blinded them to God’s power.
  • The answer to fear is faith. We see this principle a lot. The number one sin of the disciples was a lack of faith. It is our number one problem too.
  • Related Topics: Miracles

    Report Inappropriate Ad