For Jesus, No One is Invisible or Too Far Gone

Jun 30, 2024

Sixth Sunday after Pentecost
Mark 5:21-43
Pastor Jean M. Hansen
     For Jesus, no one is invisible or too far gone.
     Today’s story of a woman and a girl make that clear. We read about the daughter of Jairus and the woman who had been hemorrhaging for years. They were two people with many differences, but one important similarity.
     The girl was a part of a family, while the woman was isolated and alone. One’s father was an important synagogue leader while the other could not step food in a religious space because she was considered unclean. The young girl likely had financial resources at hand while the woman was left destitute by her search for healing. The girl was 12 years old and had her father to intercede for her. The woman had been bleeding for the child’s entire life-time and she had to act on her own behalf. It is the father’s faith that brought healing to the girl while woman’s own faith was what Jesus praised. About the only thing they had in common was their need for Jesus.
     Fortunately for them, no one is invisible or too far gone for Jesus.
     We read that a leader in the synagogue came to Jesus; he was an important man and, yet, he threw himself at our Lord’s feet because his daughter was dying and he believed if Jesus laid his hands on her, she would live. He was desperate. Jesus’ response is stated simply; he went with Jairus.
     On the way, they had to deal with the crowds who were pressing in on them, among whom was the woman. Had the crowd realized that they would have been horrified and angry. She was unclean and if they touched her, they too would be unclean and required to go through a ritual cleansing. She was taking a risk by leaving her isolated life to join those waiting to see Jesus and she did it for one reason – she was desperate.
     Let’s pause here for a moment and consider how it was that this woman came to Jesus. The text simply says, “She had heard about Jesus.” Don’t you wonder what stories or praise she had heard, and what moved her enough to believe he could help her, so that she took risks to reach out to him?
     As commentator Matt Skinner points out, this reminds us that we never know where the things we say about Jesus will end up. We may plant a seed of hope in someone who finds their way to other followers of Jesus and then finds their way to Jesus, even without our knowledge. (1)  
     Consider that as we return to the story … like Jairus, this woman believed. She believed Jesus could bring her healing and new life, even if she only touched his clothes. And he did so, although there was a bit of a drama when Jesus called her out, so to speak, aware that there was a transfer of power from him to her. Her joy at her healing became fear; she was afraid of being identified, of the crowd’s wrath, of Jesus taking back the blessed gift of a new life.
     Instead, though, Jesus drew her in, called her daughter, acknowledged her faith and fully healed her with the crowd as witnesses – the invisible one became visible. “Go in peace,” he said, “be healed of your disease.”
     As all this was occurring, Jairus’ desperation increased; word had come that his beloved daughter had died. Jesus assured him that the situation was not too far gone. “Do not fear, only believe.” This time, the crowds were dispersed and with only her parents and Peter, James and John in the room, her life, and her parents’ lives too, were restored by Jesus,.
     Consider this … the woman touched Jesus in her uncleanness and was healed. Jesus touched an unclean, dead girl, and she lived again. Both encounters should have made Jesus unclean, but instead he transferred his holiness to them, transformed desperation to hope, made them clean and gave them new life. No one is invisible or too far gone.
     That is who Jesus is, and what the Kingdom of God is like, which is what these accounts convey to we who are far removed from them by time and miles. In the midst of circumstances that are far different than when these events occurred, we can know what the kingdom of God is like and who Jesus is and apply those truths to our lives.   
     Two weeks ago, we heard Jesus’ parables teaching us that the Kingdom of God is like a seed the farmer plants that flourishes in mysterious ways. Even when its beginnings are small, hardly visible, it can become a place of security and welcome for all. That’s what the Kingdom of God is like.
     Last week’s account was of Jesus controlling the forces of nature and reminding the disciples to trust him even in, especially in, life’s storms. That’s who Jesus is.
     We did not read the story that immediately precedes today’s text, but it fits with today’s message. It’s about a man from the Gerasenes, Gentile territory, who lives among the tombs, howling, bruising himself, and he could not be restrained. He suffered with, the text says, “an unclean spirit.” Jesus heals him and he ends up sitting at the feet of Jesus, “clothed and in his right mind”, the text says, telling everyone how much God has done for him.
     That’s what the Kingdom of God is like. It’s also like a woman who has run out of hope and options, taking a risk, and being given new life and a young girl taking Jesus’ hand and rising from her deathbed. In other words, no one is invisible or too far gone for Jesus, in the Kingdom of God.
     Christian author and pastor Frederick Buechner writes that the enormously moving part of these stories is when Jesus takes the child’s hand and says, “Little girl, get up,” because he thinks beyond that child. I’ll quote him: “Little girl … old girl … old boys. Old boys and girls with high blood pressure and arthritis, and young boys and girls with tattoos and body piercings. You who believe, and you who sometimes believe and sometimes don’t believe much of anything, and you who would give almost anything to believe if you could. You happy one and you who can hardly remember what it was like once to be happy. You who know where you’re going and how to get there and you who much of the time aren’t sure you’re getting anywhere.
     “Get up,” he says, all of you…all of you…and the power that is in him is the power to give life not just to the dead like the child, but to those who are partly alive, which is to say, people like you and me who much of the time live with our lives closed to the wild beauty and miracle of things, including the wild beauty and miracle of every day we live and even of ourselves.” (1)
     I would add that a miracle of every day is the grace-filled nature of the Kingdom of God, which is among us now, and that, for Jesus, no one is invisible or too far gone. AMEN
  1. “Commentary of Mark 5:21-43” by Matt Skinner,
  2. “Frederich Buechner Sermon Illustration – Jairus’ Daughter (Mark 5:21-43)” by the Rev. Frederick Buechner, June 21, 2021,